Thirsty Monk - Asheville
I really like the look of this place. From their studded wooden back door you walk down a ramp into a cave-like interior with a long bar to your right and tables and comfy leatherish chairs straight ahead...even a dart board. Reminded me of a bar in Germany. HUGE beer selection both on tap and bottles. I like the idea of trying a flight of beer (3 smaller servings) for $7-9 (depending on your choice).
Limited bar menu but thankfully not the usual bar crap, instead they had a very tasty cheese board, an assortment of crepes, assortment of truffles and various simple sandwiches in a more European style (bread and toppings w/o all the condiments).
This will be a great place to hang out on a chilly fall or winter evening or after a summer meal.
Great variety of beers...even for those who don't love beer. I had a Kriek brown ale made with cherry juice. May sounds like blasphemy, but incredibly tasty and refreshing. Caveats: too noisy with even just a few people, decor is sparse (get some more stuff on the walls, or put up shelving with Belgian and beer ephemera on 'em), bench seating uncomfortable (it's too high for the tables), could use some background music, and some clarification whether you wait for a server or go up to the bar would be nice. A ways to go...but will no doubt be a good hangout with some quality beers.
oh, totally agree w/ needing the clarification on serving. We failed to notice the sign when we walked in and sat a a table ( I didn't find the bench that uncomfortable) and perused the menu for a while and then began watching for a server. There were people behind the bar and one finally came over and explained that they do it "European-style" and you ordered your own drinks from the bar and brought it back to your table. First, I've been to plenty of bars in Europe and had orders taken at my table and not had to go to the bar. Also, they did take orders and deliver to another table nearby. I think they need table top notices.
The thirsty monk is great. From the moment you enter the heavy wooden door, it feels like you are in the friendly basement of a monastery. Fantastic beer selection, some as low as 4 dollars, the boy (true Belgian lover) almost had a stroke with the selection-huge amounts on tap and so, so many bottles. Great, friendly and helpful staff can help guide your choice. The flights are a great deal and they bring out your pours on a chalkboard and write the name of each beer on it. Also, they serve all the beers in the appropriate glassware, which is a real treat to see.
checked it out this past weekend.
nice place with good ambience, although it gets loud as the place fills up (with it half full i couldn't hear the person sitting on the other side of my wife).
as mentioned already, lots & lots of beer. prices are a bit high, though. i guess you're paying for all the glassware. not being one to care about the glass (i've done blind tastings, only the material, not the shape affects flavor). personally, i'd rather they offer a standard pint glass option & knock a buck off. good menu descriptions of the various beers (plus they tease you with brief descriptions of the next kegs to be tapped). the flights are too expensive for the amount of beer you get, although of possible value to the ultra-picky and very inexperienced.
food was so-so. the cheese plate was fine; 5 cheeses, fig preserves & a nice mustard with a small loaf of bread. normally $9, which would be too much, but just $7 on saturday, which makes it borderline worthwhile.
the chocolate plate was a disappointment; 3 truffles from french broad (i think that's the name of the new chocolatier). the salted carmel was excellent, the other 2 (can't recall the specifics, but 1 was orange-flavoured and the other, i think, lavendar & rose) were just so-so. texture was a bit gritty and the added flavours overshadowed the chocolate. also, they were very tiny. $5 for these was a complete rip-off. i'll stick with the european truffles from the chocolate fetish, although i will be seeking out those salted caramels again.
sandwiches were a bit anemic to my eye regarding the amount of filling to bread, but i'm given to understand that these are "euro" style sandwiches. i didn't try one, although they looked tasty enough. again, the price is a bit lower on saturday, which would be the only time i'd feel they're somewhat worthwhile.
service was a mix of self-serve & table service. if the staff happened to be delivering food/drinks, or just in the general area, they took orders, otherwise, you order at the bar. it took too long for food to come out, especially considering that nothing is cooked; it's just assemble & plate.
in short, a nice place to hang out and drink some beer that isn't widely available. too expensive to make it part of the regular rotation, especially as the food is nothing stellar.