Along with the breweries and bars, Asheville also has myriad restaurants for your dining pleasure. I was only in town for a weekend, but you better believe I crammed in visits to as many eating establishments as I possibly could. And I must say, I think we hit some of the good ones. Here are my picks:
Rhubarb in Asheville
Google’s description for Rhubarb starts with “rustic-chic” and I’m not sure I have a better descriptor. This laid-back restaurant features rich wood tables, a dining room with shabby-chic, paint-chipped walls and a big counter kitchen where you can watch the chefs in action. We stopped by for brunch. Going along with the slightly country-inspired atmosphere, this restaurant offers an extensive selection of North Carolina-made foods, so we went with the all local cheese plate. The house-made crackers, along with the buttermilk biscuit and the crème brulee cinnamon toast with local jam make it easy to see why pastry chef Cynthia Wong earned a James Beard nomination for 2016 Outstanding Pastry Chef. Also not to be missed is the heritage Cheshire bacon—complex, smoky and delicious.
It feels like everyone is talking about Curate and Chef Katie Button, and even a quick stop at her restaurant makes it easy to see why. A large menu of Spanish tapas with a long open kitchen with bar stools for food ogling makes it hard not to please even picky diners. I suggest the gambas al ajillo—there’s a reason it’s billed as the number one tapas in Asheville. Delicate shrimp are perfectly cooked with a rich garlic sauce you will want to smother the accompanying bread in.
For a more unique dish, go for the canelones de carne—Spain’s take on pasta features a rich combination of pasta filled with pork, beef and chicken liver topped with creamy béchamel sauce and Manchego cheese. The flavors are rich, meaty, cheese, creamy… pure indulgence.
The Junction’s location in the River Arts District is a little outside the main Asheville walking zone, meaning easier reservations and more reasonable prices. The seasonally changing menus are fun and whimsical—my visit was highlighted by foie gras corn dogs served with black truffled ranch, saffron honey mustard and cherry sauternes ketchup.
Also recommended are the duck confit wontons with dried apples, savory oatmeal and duck fat chili caramel (OMG), as well as the country-ham-powder-dusted scallops with split pea puree, buttered croutons and apple slaw.
On my visit chef David Van Tassel was delivering a lot of the food himself and was happy to chat about his dishes and their playful inspiration—a nice touch that always makes a restaurant visit more personal.
Lots of cities have European brasserie-style restaurants, but few do it right. Per its website, The Bull & Beggar’s inspiration is both European and Appalachian—I definitely got more of the European, but either way it was delicious. The raw bar included an impressive selection of oysters, and then there was the charcuterie and tartare—I almost couldn’t decide what to select, but ultimately went for chicken liver mousse with house-made jam and venison tartare with curried ketchup and gaufrette potatoes, which are basically waffle chips. Both were absolutely delicious.
Then there was my entrée—amazingly cooked filet mignon topped with Madeira sauce and bone marrow and served with fries. I was basically in meat heaven.
For dessert, don’t miss the sticky toffee pudding that’s covered in cold cream tableside if it’s available.
Table in Asheville
I couldn’t fit my feelings into a paragraph, so read the full post here.