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Posts Tagged ‘Asheville Dining’

Ambrozia- An Unlikely Location Hides a Real Gem of a Restaurant

June 8th, 2014 by abedofroses

Ambrozia Bar + Bistro

Ambrozia Bar + Bistro

When we saw that Ambrozia Bar + Bistro was one of the finalists in the Fire on the Rock Competition Dining Series we were surprised to learn that they were located right here in North Asheville. Why didn’t we know about them? When they won the competition we had to find them and eat there! It turns out that Ambrozia is only about a year old and is tucked in a little unassuming strip mall. The location, on busy Merrimon Avenue, is in an area of Asheville that doesn’t attract a lot of tourism, with its grocery stores and drug store chains. The space used to house a sandwich shop and they kept one unusual and interesting feature. The restaurant occupies two adjacent store-fronts, with one housing the restaurant and the other the kitchen. Glass shop windows give you a full view of the kitchen staff from the street. In the restaurant portion the shotgun layout, with a bar on one side and tables on the other. has been given new life with the addition of subtle lighting, glass and wood.

A Beautiful Melon Salad

A Beautiful Melon Salad

When we arrived for our reservation we were struck with how friendly the staff was and how they seemed to already know many of the other customers. It appears this gem of a restaurant was already a well-known secret to many North Asheville and Beaver Lake residents! The menu was eclectic and promising, focusing on fresh farm to table cuisine with many influences – Southern, Southwestern, Asian, Caribbean, all with a twist. When the first course arrived we knew we were in for a treat. Compressed watermelon and cantaloupe squares topped with a layer of feta cheese were lined up on a long plate and garnished with watercress, candied jalapeno jam with a vanilla bean vinaigrette. The Seared Elk Carpaccio had looked tempting too, but we couldn’t imagine being happier than we were with the refreshing, salty sweet salad. My short rib special was perfectly tender and full of flavor.

Their chef won the Fire on the Rock Dining Competition

Their chef won the Fire on the Rock Dining Competition

The wine list was extensive and the beer list was even more impressive with our own local craft beers represented, but also craft brews from all over the country. The attentive, friendly service was equally impressive. There seemed to be an “ownership” feel permeating the staff. When I explored the restaurant’s background I could see why. The chef/owner, Sam Etheridge relocated to Asheville from Albuquerque, NM, where he ran Ambrozia Café and Wine Bar and Nob Hill Bar and Grill. When he relocated several of the staff members from his previous restaurants came with him and together with some stellar additions from the Asheville area they have created a restaurant that tastes good and feels good. Congratulations Sam!

The Asheville Small Plate Crawl

February 19th, 2013 by abedofroses

AIR small plate crawl

Asheville’s Small Plate Crawl

On the heels of the successful first Asheville Restaurant Week Feb 1-7 Asheville’s Independent Restaurants are gearing up for the Small Plate Crawl, a delicious and fun 3 day event on February 26th, 27th and 28th. Asheville has been dubbed “Foodtopia” with good reason. The farm to table movement has taken hold in a big way here and there are over 40 restaurants in the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association alone, every one of them well worth sampling. What better way than 3 days of restaurant hopping where you will sample small plates priced from $3 to $8 each? When you get your AIRpass punched for each plate you are eligible for raffle prizes besides! There will be drawings for prizes in 5 different levels, from a $20 restaurant gift card if you get 5-9 total small plates to Biltmore Estate Year Passes for 26-29 small plates. Other raffle prizes include Wildwater zipline passes and Asheville Food & Wine Festival tickets. If ANYONE in a group purchases a plate, EVERYONE in the group gets their AIRpass validated.

Somosa Cholle

Chai-Pani’s Somosas

According to their press release over 30 restaurants will be participating in this year’s Crawl and I definitely saw some of my favorites in there. This event is aimed at the locals but visitors can get in on the fun, even if they only participate for one day. We could only participate for one day last year and while we didn’t rack up enough plates to qualify for one of the raffles, we had more than enough excellent food at affordable prices at some world class restaurants. Check out the Asheville restaurant scene and get a feel for what all the good press we’ve been getting is all about.

Eating Indulgence at Cúrate in Asheville

September 5th, 2012 by abedofroses

Curate Salad

A Watermelon Heirloom Tomato Salad

The other day, purely by coincidence, Bill and I and two separate couples staying at our inn enjoyed tapas at Cúrate on Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. Well, it may have been less coincidence and more good taste and adventurous palates that led us all there. The carefully and artistically prepared authentic Spanish tapas have given Cúrate a reputation that goes way beyond Asheville. GQ magazine has even praised their “ace” patatas bravas, a traditional potato dish served in tapas bars in Spain. I love to cook so when I go out to eat I want something that is way too much trouble to cook for myself. That’s why I’ve always loved the appetizers best when going to fine restaurants. Those small morsels of delectable food are so labor intensive, but so good. Those jewels of flavor are what tapas are all about. It makes eating at Curate a pure indulgence.

Flambe at Curate

The view at the bar is part of the experience

We love to sit at the bar and watch the magic. The teamwork is impressive and professional. You can order your heart’s desire, watch them carefully and skillfully put it together, present it to you beautifully, then do it all again!  The staff there is incredibly knowledgeable as well. I know nothing about Spanish wines, but each waiter and waitress can describe in great detail the subtle nuances of each of their wines, and it’s an extensive list. When I asked why they were cutting slits in the bottoms of plastic cups I got a fascinating explanation of how they make individual servings of their pound cake by injecting gas into the batter in the cups rather than using yeast, necessitating the slits for the steam to escape. I had heard that the Executive Chef/Co-owner, Katie Button, had interned at the renowned elBulli in Spain. Arguably the most famous restaurant on the planet, elBulli is associated with molecular gastronomy. While the cuisine at Curate is strictly traditional Spanish, you can see the influences from her impressive background.

Curate Restaurant in Asheville

Curate in a restored 1927 bus depot

The restaurant is a family affair, with her husband Felix Meana, formerly the “Chef de Rang” of elBulli, is the Director of Front of House Operations, her mother Elizabeth Button, a successful caterer with impressive credentials of her own, is the General Manager and co-owner, and her father Ted Button is the Financial Manager and co-owner.

In Spanish Cúrate means “cure yourself”. Whatever ails you, food like this certainly will make you feel good.