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Modesto in Asheville (Grove Arcade) open

Stopped by here for lunch today. They have barely been open a week so keep that in mind when you read this. We split a couple of the appetizers and a pizza. The pizza was a tarragon cream with shrimp (tails included) and too large chunks of artichoke hearts, very, very, bland. While service was attentive, it was perhaps a little too attentive - I hate it when you have some morsels left on a plate and you have to hang onto it for dear life. It is pretty expensive for lunch...one pizza basically a light meal for two or personal for one, 1 appetizer, 1 soup and 2 non-alcoholic beverages - $28+tip. It is small, only about 34 seats at tables inside with another 10-12 around the bar. Hopefully they will continue to refine this menu. Based on the fact that this is a Hector of Salsa fame restaurant; I had high hopes and expectations that were not met as the menu, while sounding creative, was not able to follow through on the kitchen and taste portion of the deal.

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  1. Thanks for your review, Leah. Hopefully Hector & Co. will be able to work the bugs out and break the dreaded Grove Arcade restaurant curse. If he can't do it...

    1. In the paper recently they were talking about a different vision or concept for the Arcade which would be more restaurants. Anntony's did very well and I think the Thai place is doing ok. I had lunch at Cats and Dawgs the other week and it was very busy. Modesto was full when I went but it will need to be much better to draw in a consisent crowd.

      1. Thanks for the review. We've been very excited about Modesto's opening. Hopefully they will bring everything together soon. We are going to try it next week. Today's Asheville paper mentioned another Hector Diaz restaurant opening next to Modesto soon (in the Grove Arcade) that will serve Latin foods from Spain to Argentina. Anyone know the name of this one and its projected opening? Also, what happened to Antonny's...did it move or is it totally gone??

        1. Hector's other place is still being worked on. Anntony's is totally gone and being rennovated under a new name and new concept.

          1. Leah, were there any "normal" pizzas on the menu? My husband will gag if he sees "tarragon cream" on a pizza menu ;-)

            What were the apps like? Thanks!

            1. My husband and I and our friends, another couple, spontaneously embarked on a progressive dinner in downtown Asheville last night. Our second stop was Modesto in the Grove Arcade. When we arrived a little after 7:00 the restaurant was about two-thirds full. The atmosphere was pleasantly buzzy, but I must report that as I looked around at the diners, I noticed that we brought the median age of the dining room way down, and we are, shall we say, in our very late 40’s.
              We moved in the direction of the blonde-bobbed hostess, who didn't offer us a greeting, just sort of stared in our direction. One of us said hello and asked if she could seat four. Her first words to us were, "Do you have a reservation?" My husband jocularly remarked that we had no reservation about eating at the restaurant. Yes, I know it was beyond corny. Doris Day absorbed this information wordlessly, then turned and walked further into the dining room. While I was puzzling over what she was up to, she turned, widened her eyes at us and sort of bobbed her head toward the table she was standing near. This tic-like movement was correctly interpreted by our party to mean, “Sit here.” After we were seated, it occurred to me that Doris was sort of a cross between Bubble, Edwina's assistant from "Absolutely Fabulous” and Frau Blucher from “Blazing Saddles.”
              We ordered drinks/wine, the pear-sun-dried tomato-asiago pizza and one of the appetizers, called cogumelo. The ingredients were risotto, mozzarella and tomato sauce. I didn’t recognize the word cogumelo and asked what it meant. Our waiter said, after checking with someone, that cogumelo was the Italian word for mushroom and referred to the shape of the appetizer. Actually, fungho is Italian for mushroom. And after it appeared, I realized that this cogumelo was actually an over-sized arancina, a rice (risotto) ball, filled with mozzarella, rolled in bread crumbs and fried. I love arancini. The word arancina in Sicilian means “little orange,” which refers to the color, and arancini are a popular antipasto. This one was disappointing. In addition to being stupidly named –what was the problem with calling it what it was?—the dish was completely devoid of any flavor or seasoning, including the skimpy sauce. It’s a shame that the chef/restaurateur seems to have spent more time thinking up a way to obscure what was on the menu rather than working on the recipe. I fear this might be a theme. The diners next to us, two lovely women, were kind enough to indulge our curiosity about what they were having. One pointed to a handled soup crock which looked to be full to the rim with some sort of stew. “This is the chicken liver crostini,” she said. We exchanged bewildered looks. “Yeah, I know,” she said. “It’s not what I expected.” It wasn’t what she ate, either.
              The pizza had a hand-shaped, thin crust, the look of which I liked and thought was a cool, authentic touch. The pear, sundried tomato and asiago was a delicious combination, but unfortunately, the unique combination was utterly betrayed by the good-looking, totally tasteless crust.
              We called for the check. While I was amused by Doris, I would have much preferred to be greeted by someone with a big smile, an engaging line of bullshit and a pulse. The food is expensive, which is fine if it is exciting, new and tastes good. Putting a new name on a traditional dish doesn’t really mean it’s worth more, particularly since it was so poorly executed. I suppose we’ll give Modesto a second chance, but right now I give it a 3.5 out of a possible 10.

              1 Reply
              1. re: marthanell

                I had the chicken liver crostini on Saturday. It was delicious. It was not stew, it was chicken liver crostini, drizzled w/ balsamic vinegar and big chuncks of parmesan. An unusually large portion for an app. The ladies should have spoken up. Perhaps Doris took their order ;-)

                I also had said asiago pizza, and I agree w/ your assessment. Nice flavors, bland crust. Intersestingly, my husband, who is normally much more critical of pizza than I, was very happy with his gorgonzola and red sauce pizza. he's the kind of guy who never eats the outside crust, but will complan bitterly if it is thick, doughy, tough, etc. I'm not sure what's wrong w/ the crust...the texture seems right. Salt would help a little, maybe.

                We also had seafood risotto, which was pretty good. Although not runny as I think it should be, the rice WAS al dente.

                I also had dessert (we eat a lot), a chocolate torte w/ mascarpone and candied orange peel. The chocolate was good, not out of the ordinary, but the mascarpone was , of course, delicious, and I am a sucker for candied citrus....so I was pleased w/ the dessert.

                I was also pleased by the wine by glass selection and the availability of 1/2 glasses. This will make it easier to work my way through the list and find out what I like. So far, Valpolicella beats Barolo (I kind-of knew a cheap Barolo was probably a bad idea.)

                Our service was very good. Then again, we were sitting right next to Hector and family, so they had to have been on best behavior.

                In all, I still have high hopes and expectations. There were other things on the menu I was eager to try..favas and ricotta in particular. We were there for lunch, and I'm told there was to be lamb osso buco that evening.

              2. Martha - spot on review and sad to see that things haven't improved in the past 2 weeks. If they don't get with the program they won't make it through the winter when tourists depart and we locals won't support an overpriced, pretentious restaurant that doesn't serve good tasting dishes.

                1. This is so disappointing to hear about the same owner of Salsa's which is so awesome.

                  1. Danna - sorry, overlooked your other post after my original one w/ your questions about pizza and apps but obviously things worked out better for you than for me and the other post(er)...I'll give it another try though.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: leahinsc

                      Leah - You need to try the escarole salad w/ the garlic and pistachios.

                      You know I am a HUGE fan of Hector's, but I must tell you we had a very unfortunate dinner at Modesto last Fri night. I'm worried that Modesto is going to be one of those hit or miss places. I say avoid the pizzas and get multiple apps.

                      1. re: danna

                        Danna - what happened? We had dinner at Salsa's a few nights ago. As usual we were stuffed to the gills - with splitting two appetizers!