Asheville - 3 choices
First, thank you for all of the comments regarding restaurants in Asheville.
2 Opposites, 2 Meals.
For our first dinner in Asheville, we choose Table and had an excellent meal and experience.
Creative photography as shown on their website makes the space appear larger than it is. That said, we found the intimacy appealing. We were seated against a wall of glass blocks that diffused the ambient light from the outside street lamps. While the restaurant was full, we did not have any difficulty hearing each other, nor did adjacent conversations intrude into our meal. Once we were seated, our server introduced herself and explained that Table does not have chef specials. Instead the menu changes frequently based upon the change of seasons and the availability of fresh regional ingredients. After some time to deliberate, we chose our entrees and decided to order wine by the glass rather than getting a bottle. For our appetizer, we shared the Tuna Bruschetta- a generous slice of grilled baguette, topped with Tuna Butter, roasted garlic, olive oil and black olives. Since my wife and I don’t care for olives, we put them to the side. This was a simple sounding but surprisingly complex dish. Very crunchy, slightly sourdough taste of the bread, mild tuna, creamy garlic and first pressing olive oil. Each flavor distinct but complementary. Quite good.
We were surprised by how quickly our entrees were delivered to our table. My wife ordered Mountain Trout, sautéed in browned butter and capers, paired with Wilted Spinach, in butter and a hint of garlic. She thought it was very good. The Butter was a nice foundation for the mild fish, with just enough capers to provide a counter, but not enough to overpower the dish. The Trout was perfectly done, with a mild flavor and just flaking texture. I had Seared Duck Breast, with Roasted Brussels Sprouts. When I ordered, I was asked how I wanted the duck prepared- I like rare. I received a nicely presented plate of sliced duck breast, fanned out and over the Brussels Sprouts. The meat had been seared, but the center was cool, rather than warm, IE very rare. The breast had been seasoned with sea salt, fresh pepper and little thyme and rosemary. That’s it and the simpler the better. This was good duck, the simple and restrained seasoning allowed the flavor of the meat to be the dominant taste. The Brussels sprouts had been sliced, and then roasted in butter until the exterior was charred and crunchy. They were finished with a little balsamic vinegar. Very tasty, however they were cooked to a very soft texture; I like them firmer. Still good though.
As you may have figured out by now we opted for glasses of wine because my wife chose a mild fish and I a rich meat. My wife had a Domaine St. George Chardonnay and I had a Ca Cabernet that I can’t recall the name of. Since we consumed several glasses of each, you can assume that we liked them…. We decided against having desert in the restaurant, opting for something back at the hotel. We were in and out in less than 90min and the bill was very reasonable. This was a good meal, not the best we have had, but we would not hesitate to go back.
The next night we ate at one of the restaurants at the Grove Park, The Blue Ridge Grille. The reason we were in Asheville was to stay at the Grove Park for the weekend. We had taken advantage of their “Weekend Getaway” promotion, which included 2 nights, 1 dinner and Sunday Brunch- both at the Blue Ridge Grille, which features nightly dinner buffet. Our chosen night was Saturday or Prime Rib Night.
Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were escorted to our table by a hostess who also gave us a tour of the buffet. Many choices- salads, hot entrees and of course Prime Rib. Once seated, I was handed a wine list that was surprisingly extensive and skewed to very moderate choices. Most of the names would be familiar to upscale supermarket shoppers: Greg Norman, Fess Parker, Coppola etc etc. I chose a bottle of Eagle Crest Pinot Noir (Oregon). Then we dove into the buffet. Fresh greens and accompanying ingredients, but bottled dressings. Several pasta, chicken, vegetable, and seafood salad choices, plus lots of King Crab Legs, boiled shrimp and cured Fish. Hot buffet dishes included several examples of broiled fish, chicken in cream sauce, sliced pork loin, plus steamed asparagus and zucchini bundles secured with thinly sliced cucumbers. The other vegetable choice was roma tomatoes roasted with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Just as we were having our salad(s), a fresh Prime Rib was brought to the carving station. My wife had a slice just after it was cut and pronounced it quite good- tender and full of flavor. I decided to try some of the hot entrees first before trying the beef. The hot entrees reminded me how difficult it is to prepare large quantities of food, keep it at serving temperature in steam trays, but keep it from getting overcooked. When it was time for beef, I realized that I should have followed my wife’s lead…I encountered an empty carving station and the carver explained that more would be coming out in a moment. What was finally delivered was a Bottom Round Roast…that was sliced and served to the waiting diners. I found out from the carver and our server that the restaurant management had underestimated the number of diners. Since everyone supposedly had a reservation, I’ll take the explanation with a grain of salt. In their favor however, they offered a cooked to order rib eye to anyone who was disappointed.
We will return to the Grove Park, but avoid the Blue Ridge Grille.
Thanks again !
Went to Bouchon on my birthday (Dec) because I'd read good things about it on this board. We loved it! It was mid-week, so wasn't packed when we got there (6ish), but was a solid crowd with a few waiting in the wings by the time we left. As Leah pointed out, it is casual, but nice atmosphere. Especially after dark. We didn't find it particularly noisy, but it was mid-week. It is small though - maybe 10 tables inside. They do have outdoor dining in nice weather, but I didn't get a chance to look at it. Anyway, we would go back in a heartbeat. You can check out their menu online and you can also see what the inside looks like www.ashevillegrapeescape.com (logical, eh? ha!).
We have also tried Fig (not long after it opened) and liked it a lot, but weren't blown away. I think we need to try it again though because lots of folks really love it!
We went to Table over a year ago and felt it was very much just "ok". First of all, it was hotter than hell in there (July) because one entire wall is glass block which turns the interior into a greenhouse! I went through about 6 glasses of water. We thought the food was pretty good, but not good enough to support the prices. Luckily for us, we weren't paying that night - ha! I might try it again, but there just seem to be better (more reliable) choices.
Zambra's these days seems to be hit or miss, but we still love their unique atmosphere and enjoy it enough to continue going.
Only been to Rezaz once, but loved it! Their only downfall is that they're outside of downtown which makes post-dinner walks limited to the village, which is ok, but I enjoy downtown better.
Vincenzo's - again - decent - didn't love it. I guess I expected amazing things, but didn't feel like I got it. Seemed like a once lovely restaurant that had gotten a little long in the tooth. ?
I'm not sure I've helped at all! I guess of the bunch, I'd pick Bouchon, Fig or Rezaz
I would pick FIG and I would make reservations now.
Bouchon is nice but casual and noisy.
I haven't been to Table in a while because I was not thrilled on a couple of occasions, though lately it seems like reviews are consistently better.
If you can't get into FIG try Table.