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May 17, 2007 01:34 PM

Asheville - Weekend review

I ate out a lot this weekend and wanted to share!

For lunch on Friday I decided to try Tomato Jam Cafe. A recent review in the Xpress sang its praises and I am in that area a lot for work looking for a quick meal. The review said that the owner of the place was "brash." She was actually quite crass and rude. It was only me and two other diners, and I was getting my sandwich to go. I had been driving all day and felt like standing, so I had a full view of the open kitchen. I ordered a grilled turkey sandwich that sounded really good, with the signature tomato jam included. As I watched this nasty woman griddle my sandwich, I was able to get a full view of her a) sneezing and wiping nose with her hands and b) COUGHING, open-mouthed, all over my food. All the while, she was speaking in this really loud, obnoxious voice to the girl at the cash register, completely ruining any kind of nice lunch break experience for the other two diners. I am truly the least-pickiest eater you will ever meet, and I have to say that what I did that day is something I have never done - walked out as my food was being cooked. (I had even already paid, but didn't feel like explaining why I wanted my money back). It was just too disgusting.

Fortunately, dinner made up for it. We went to Limones and had a fabulous meal and too many margaritas! Boy do they nail you on the drinks...they were more expensive than our food! But so delicious...

On Saturday we went to Tomato Cocina. I had been there once before and thought it was good but not necessarily worth the price - lunch ran us about $30. Also, a lot of their menu items look the same. I had the steak, shrimp and chicken fajitas (not to be confused with the steak, shrimp and chicken mixed grill which is exactly the same thing minus the tortilla). My husband had a marinated pulled pork dish. They were both quite tasty, as were the chips and salsa that came out first - very, very fresh. The tortillas that came with my fajita mix were not at all what I was expecting (think big floury ones like at most Mexican places) - they were smaller, puffy corn circles that were really, really good. Again, very fresh-tasting, with a heavy corn flavor that went well with the slightly greasy meat. (Greasy in a good way). However, I still think this place is a little pricey for lunch - I wish they offered a lunch-portion menu with prices around $7-8.

Sunday we headed to Chorizo. It was really busy, I guess because of Mother's Day and all, but we were still able to get a seat right away inside next to the window. I have been raving to everyone about this place since I tried it a few weeks ago, and have to say that I was a little disappointed this go-round. I ordered the portabella cap, which was supposed to be layered with eggs, grits, manchego cheese and beans. It arrived sans grits and cheese, and the mushroom, while large and meaty-tasting, was pretty watery. Add in the beans and the whole think actually because a big watery mess, which did not complement the scrambled eggs. My husband had the breakfast burrito, which I had last time and found to be quite remarkable, only this time his came stuffed with cold grits (not at all how it's described on the menu) which threw the whole thing off. Hmm. We figured perhaps too many cooks were in the kitchen in anticipation of the busy weekend and they had not all been trained. I think we will still try it again, though.

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  1. uck...I've been to Tomato Jam but if I'd encountered what you described above I would have left as well. Tomato usually does have a reduced price lunch menu but I was in on a weekday and the waitress forgot to give it to me until I reminded her. Their lunch items are mostly $6-8. Haven't tried Chorizo yet but I'll hold off for now.

    1. We've had breakfast twice at Chorizos and have had nothing but great meals, the other day a buddy and I tried lunch he ordered the Chilean style trout al ajo. A butterflied whole trout filet cooked and seasoned to perfection. I had the Puerto Rican roast pork which was good, the sides of plaintains and rice plus guacamole and salsa made the price of $7.50 a great deal. The side salads were just green leaf lettuce dressed with what appeared to be blended avocado and maybe oil, nothing else, very bland (the table next to us commented on this as well). It certainly could have benefited from even a wedge of lime. I agree just like it's sister next door some things are a little uneven at times, but over all I think they're putting out very good food at a reasonable price. I'm ready for the Tapas and tequila bar for my next visit.

      1. Tomatoes is one of very few places in Asheville serving made from scratch tortillas and tamales, and their salsa (heavy on the cilantro) is the best I've had locally. I think most of their food makes up for in authenticity what it lacks in finesse. It is one of my favorite cheap eats in town--which has me wondering what you had that cost thirty bucks!

        4 Replies
          1. re: Jeff C.

            Yeah, I know...I was surprised when i read on this board how cheap Tomato was and then went there and saw prices around $10-15 on a lunch menu. What we ordered is descibed above - the fajita plate was $12 and the pork was $11, plus two iced teas. That was it. Check came to around $25, so thrown in a $5 tip and there was a $30 lunch. It is really good, I am not denying that, and the portions are sufficient (although for $12, I wouldn't mind some leftovers...and I always seem to clean my plate there). Now that I know from Leah that you can request a lunch menu, I'll try that next time. HOWEVER....I will say that having to do that really bothers me. I remember when we tried Magnolia's for the first (and last) time...we were lured in by a decent review as well as the outdoor seating. They sat us on the patio and gave us the dinner menu with everything priced around $15-20. It was not what we were expecting, but we sucked it up and had a nice meal with wine. (Well, actually, it wasn't that good, but that is a different story). We found out only AFTER the meal that you can request a "bar menu" that has the po-boys, etc. that we were hoping for. But you have to ask for it. I think it's bad business, personally.

            1. re: miss piggy

              I can certainly see your point, Miss Piggy. I usually order the La Kristina platter myself (no meat), and it's only seven bucks. I also find most of their main dishes to be a little bit much for lunch, so I usually just have a pupusa, a "gringo salad," and the chips and salsa, of course. Just about perfect no matter how poopy the weather is, and even better if it's pretty enough to sit outside!

              BTW, I think you're right about Limones overpriced drinks, but they're so darned good I always have one anyway. (Make mine a Mojita!)

              1. re: Jeff C.

                Im so sorry to hear about your bad experience with Tomato Jam. Chef Charlie is loud and can be quite obnoxious but she really does mean well. I was their first customer and literally stummbled upon it about two years ago, since then Chef C has always been really concerned about her diners. I am so sorry you had that experience, there is no excuse for food thats been coughed all over :(

                As for Limones, I could not agree more with you about the drinks, they make a awesome mojito almost worth the $13, rezas makes a great mojito too !!!