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Best of Asheville 2006

Mountain Express (mountainx.com) our weekly free entertainment paper, released its best of. All very subjective of course. Some of the votes I totally agree with and some I don't. Glad to see that Lobster Trap beat out Red Lobster as best seafood - the first couple of years I was here Red Lobster was always 1st. New restaurant Mela's made it on for best Indian which I would agree with but hate to see Carrabas (chain) get #1 spot for Italian beating out the independents.
We went to Marco's (#1 Pizza) recently and must have hit them at a bad time...no water ("repairing dishwasher, it'll be back on in a few") and our pizza was burnt and bland and though we mentioned it to the waitress (admittedly after we ate a couple of slices)she apologetically returned with the bill and said the manager would just take off $8 (little less than 1/2 the cost)- of course we had no leftovers and only one slice each....

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  1. Carrabas aside I can find little fault with most of the Mountain Express readers' choices, although I am disappointed Limones didn't at least place in the Best Brunch category.

    Haven't been to Marco's in a couple years but don't remember their pizza as being anything special...though it's certainly not bad.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jeff C.

      We order Marco's about once a week. Give it another try...big blobs of fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and marinara so good I order extra and dip my crust in it. Yum. I agree with Leah on Limones...so good for brunch and dinner. My compaints were: all choices above 28806 for best sandwich (28806 is the best in town), Usual Suspects for best cocktail (every time I have ordered any mixed drink there it tastes like they put maybe one drop of alcohol in it), and Early Girl for brunch. I really don't get the Early Girl thing. I applaud the use of the local/organic ingredients, but I have been there twice and have never understood what the fuss was all about. Seems like all the egg dishes on the menu are something I could have whipped up at home (and received much larger portions of, and not had to wait in line for 45 minutes for). I am ordering the wrong thing there?

      1. re: miss piggy

        Leah - I think you ought to give Marco's another try, as well. Best pizza in Asheville, IMO.

    2. I so agree w/ Miss Piggy about Early Girl. I think it is totally overhyped. I've been there for lunch and it was packed but I didn't have anything that made me think it was anything special. Also don't like having to walk past a throng of their chefs/cooks smoking outside the front door when I walk down Wall Street.

      1 Reply
      1. re: leahinsc

        The breakfasts are good, not the best (Try Sunnypoint Cafe), but I agree that I always find their cook staff out smoking on the sidewalks as we walk in.

      2. I guess I'm the lone dissenter when it comes to The Early Girl, but here's my two cents...

        I've now eaten there about a dozen times (including as recently as yesterday), and while it's certainly better for breakfast or lunch than dinner, I have had some decent dinners there as well. While the recipes tend to be pretty basic, the freshness of the local ingredients (love their stone-ground grits) compensates in all but a few exceptions (the fish dishes tend toward the bland).

        While I suppose The Early Girl can and should be faulted for not being more ambitious, I think it has carved out a place for itself along side Tupelo Honey as a better than decent purveyor of neuvo-Southern cuisine. (The wait for Sunday brunch yesterday morning was 45 mins., so they are obviously giving their clientele what they want.)

        1. I have only been to Early Girl once, and that for breakfast. I got something fairly plain, so I really can't critique the cooking. However I want to mention that they serve jam from a local producer who sells their products in the open air market outside grove arcade. That stuff is SPECTACULAR. I believe the blend we get is called Berry Best...it's blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry. I wish I could remember the name of the jam maker...starts w/ and I, perhaps.

          I appreciate Early Girl giving us the good quality stuff!

          1. Glad you reminded me of that lovely jam, Danna. Had some yesterday on a yummy biscuit!

            1. I recall having the best omelette I've ever had at Early Girl.
              Maybe it was the 2nd best. No, no. It was the best. It had more
              " best omelette ever " bites. Maybe around 70-80%...

              no bartender/server catagories...:(

              1. I am surprised that anyone who has actually eaten at the Lobster Trap would suggest that the quality of their food is better than Red Lobster.

                Granted, we don't have many options for seafood in Asheville and while I was excited when Lobster Trap opened, those feelings were quickly diminished from the beginning of the meal at the bar with a terrible martini to the dreadful, overcooked, underseasoned mess of minute rice, frozen spinach touted as "creamed", and King Crab legs so dry I literally had to crack the legs down the sides and peel the meat off the inside of the shells. After one leg and a attempted second, I left the rest for them to throw in the garbage along with the microwave quality side items.

                Besides the actual food being horrible, the uncomfortable chairs and tiny tables are crammed in tightly enough to rival any European restuarant and while we were there several people had their jackets and purses knocked off their chairs by other patrons. The waitresses were children and felt dropping the food off was sufficient attention to each table. I kept my purse in my lap for the duration of our miserable visit. To top it off they had some nasal, strumming, songstress providing background noise that was equivalent in quality to the food and ambiance.

                I know those new to Asheville moved here because they want to reject everything remotely mass commercial, but very often businesses and products are successful for a reason. Steaming seafood properly isn't rocket science, but in the area of Asheville a dreaded Tunnel Rd. chain definately has the corner on the crab leg and lobster market. There are of course many better options in Asheville for fish than Red Lobster, but those don't include the Lobster Trap either.

                If in Asheville and desiring a perfectly steamed mound of crab legs or a succulent, moist, lobster tail, don't expect to find them at the Lobster Trap.

                1 Reply
                1. re: appalachianopinion

                  AMEN! I gave Lobster trap two chances. The first, a meal ,was hopelessly generic. Went back a few weeks ago to sit at the bar and eat oysters. Terrible service. Did not even give us napkins or crackers with our oysters which took forever to get. Did not ask us if we wanted a second drink. Will not go back

                2. Recently ate at The Boathouse in Charleston. Noticed that they had a location in Asheville. Has anybody tried the Asheville location?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: byteme55

                    I've ate there a number of times as well and have found the food uneven although we love the sides with the entrees. What remains a constant is the service, unprofessional, young and slow. We did have a wonderful meal there at a private wine tasting and the location and building is beautiful unfortunately if you're in the main dining area on a busy night be prepared to shout. It's very noisy

                  2. The boathouse in Asheville is just "o.k.". the best thing about it is that it really is the only water front dining in the area. In the summer it is a nice place to sit outside. I have never been really wowed about the food. The side dishes are pretty good though..collards, blue cheese cole slaw. if you do go, go when the weather warms, sit outside and get wine and apps.

                    1. I have eaten at the Boathouse twice, drinks once. Sunday brunch was actually one of the better brunches I have had in Asheville, even if it took ages (2 hrs from beginning to end). Dinner was good, not memorable. It was only about 2 months ago and I can't remember exactly what I had, although I do remember suspecting my fish had been frozen. Service is universally very good and attentive. If you want to sit on the patio, you need to make reservations and specifiy you want the patio. It is quite lovely outside and makes for a nice meal (if you dont mind bees).