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Carmel's in the Grove Arcade, Asheville

Jeff C. Mar 28, 2007 08:03 AM

Rick McDaniel (of the Asheville Citizen-Times) likes it. It was packed last Saturday night when my wife and daughter and I were downtown. (Daughter wanted Tupelo Honey, alas.)

What say you, Asheville Hounds?

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    mark RE: Jeff C. Mar 28, 2007 08:22 AM

    haven't tried it personally, but a friend who's taste i trust said it was fine. nothing really stood out, but nothing was bad either. inoffensive food prepared well. she did note the prices were high for the level of execution & creativity (or lack thereof). said the service was good. her take on it is that it appeals to unadventurous eaters and tourists; a good place for an unchallenging meal. she did say, given other local options, she wouldn't go back of her own volition.

    for what it's worth, i think nelms is the only act reviewer worth a damn. mcdaniel has praised too many places that i know first-hand aren't all that. nelms has been pretty consistent; by far the most truthful, most straightforward the act has had in my 20 years here.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mark
      Jeff C. RE: mark Mar 28, 2007 11:35 AM

      Having been here only six years I don't recognize the name. (I'm also not a regular reader of the paper, except the online letters and editorials.) Does he/she still write restaurant reviews?

      As for Carmels, your comments remind me very much of my own thoughts after Saturday's good-not-great meal at Tupelo Honey. Is it just me or has the place started to slip in the past year or so? (Though I acknowledge that other Hounds never thought it was that great to begin with.)

      1. re: Jeff C.
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        mark RE: Jeff C. Mar 28, 2007 11:46 AM

        nelms is, i believe, their newest food writer (he's been around no more than a year). he actually has a culinary degree of some sort, and i believe restaurant experience. i read his profile awhile back; don't recall all the details. regardless, i've found him to be pretty good.

        as for tupelo, i don't go often, but generally enjoy it. i should note i usually stick to southern-esque specials/menu items (shrimp & grits, catfish, so on). my main complaint with tupelo is the service; never really bad, but rarely very good. not really a place i consider for a leisurely meal/hangout due to the difficulty getting glasses filled/fresh drinks/etc.

        1. re: mark
          Jeff C. RE: mark Mar 28, 2007 11:59 AM

          Actually, I'm not convinced my Tupelo Honey problem isn't MY problem. I had a vaguely Caribbeanish special featuring Tilapia, and with every bite I kept wondering how much better/more flavorful it would've been at Salsa or Limones...kind of ruined it for me. Service (after a 45 min. wait) was fine, though.

          Thanks for the tip on Nelms. I'll be on the lookout for his reviews.

    2. leanpig RE: Jeff C. Apr 6, 2008 03:59 PM

      We had brunch at Carmel's this morning. It was the best brunch I have had since we were in New Orleans six years ago and had brunch at Brennan's. I had tried out a new church downtown (The Underground Church that meets at the Y) and since we I was done at 11:15 he thought brunch downtown was our best meal option and met me there.

      My husband ordered the Salmon Benny and I had Shrimp & Grits. The total was $30 with coffee and diet coke.

      Honestly his meal was better than mine, but I did enjoy mine. His eggs were perfectly poached and the salmon was perfectly cooked. He also ordered a side of gravy to dip his potatoes in. I was disappointed that they don't give you a small bread basket, but they had several options reasonably priced on the menu.

      I thought it was the best shrimp & grits I've eaten in Asheville. The last thing that surprised me is I don't like coffee, but theirs was very good. My husband ordered it and I tried a sip. I will order it when we go back in a few weeks.

      2 Replies
      1. re: leanpig
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        miss piggy RE: leanpig Apr 6, 2008 06:24 PM

        We had a pretty unremarkable lunch there, with bleak service - hard to go back and give it another shot with two strikes against you and nothing really creative on the menu, plus it's pricey. Seems like a waste of a great location to me. Why oh why can't we have more patios here...

        And for the record, I love Tupelo Honey. The wait is miserable, so we don't get there very often.

        1. re: miss piggy
          leanpig RE: miss piggy Apr 8, 2008 05:50 PM

          The last two times we were at Tupelo Honey I just didn't think it was anything special. The salmon was overcooked, the wait was bearable, but wasn't worth the food we received. I'd pick Carmel's based on my experience Sunday anytime over Tupelo.

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