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Sq 1 - Hendersonville

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Two visits so far and I’m adding it to my list of regulars for H’ville.

The Space ~ formerly Potenza, maybe some new paint, art work and very modern lighting fixtures. Bar in front and a dining room with three sections; front, raised back area and semi-private room. The semi-private room would work very well for a large group except all patrons must go thru the room to access the restrooms. All surfaces are hard, so noise is an issue.

The Menu ~
Appetizers: corn chowder, onion soup, baked brie, grilled asparagus, smoked trout dip, crab cakes, mussels, smoked salmon. Between $5 and $8
Salads: arugula, meslun, romaine, tomato, corn/potato, flank steak, nicoise, chicken. Between $6 and $9.
Entrees: flank steak, pork tenderloin, sausages, burger, chicken sandwich, scallops, trout, salmon, catfish, tuna, lamb tenderloin, chicken, short ribs, cassoulet, bouillabaisse, garden plate (which is a choice of 4 items from their sides). The two sandwiches were $8, the garden plate $10 and everything else between $13 and $21.

What we had ~
First visit: party of eight had flank steak ($16) short ribs ($16), lamb tenderloin ($21), scallops ($18), chicken ($15). All were very good. I had the lamb tenderloin, cooked to order and served with delicious potato gratin. The romaine salad was to start and the white anchovies were a nice touch. There is a decent wine list and a full bar. All portions were appropriate, not so much that you took home leftovers and you didn’t leave hungry.
Second visit: party of three had two burgers ($8) and bouillabaisse ($17). Burgers were very good, cooked to order (medium rare) and on a delicious bun. Served with arugula, onions, blue cheese. The fries were not crisp, but acceptable. It was like they were pan fried instead of deep fried. The bouillabaisse was not the best nor the worst the diner had ever had. Overall acceptable.

The Service ~
Both times the service was excellent. Wait staff was very knowledgeable in regards the menu. Service was attentive, flatware replaced as needed and steak knives brought before the steak arrived. The chef stopped by the table to see if we were enjoying our meal. Separate checks were no problem.

Consensus ~
Good food, good value, all will be returning. This is not a special occasion or destination dining restaurant, but someplace that we would go to regularly.

Link ~ http://www.square1bistro.com/

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  1. Thanks so much for that report, Nancy! We have it on our to-do list. Thanks for the link too.

    Had you eaten at Potenza? I only ask because it is the same chef and I was not impressed with Potenza's food. It wasn't horrible, just not great. If you did eat at Potenza, would you say the food has improved? There was a different owner before, so didn't know if the chef wasn't cooking what he wanted to before or what was going on.

    Also, one thing I like about Sq 1 is that the prices seem a little less expensive, which is great. Am curious how the quality compares to West First (which we love) around the corner which falls in a similar price range. I realize it's different food, but was wondering about the quality comparison.

    I sat in the semi-private room once when it was Potenza for a big party (25 or so) and being near the restroom was not a problem.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Scirocco

      I had eaten at Potenza several times. I would not have recognized this food as the same chef, perhaps because I like the choices on the Sq 1 menu better. Perhaps this menu has let the talent of the chef shine thru. How often do you see lamb tenderloin on a menu and how often is lamb cooked perfectly? Maybe I just got lucky, but the lamb, gratin & ratatouille was a well balanced trio of tastes and just the right amount.

      It's very difficult to compare West First (which I love too) to Sq 1, they are just so different. There are some very nice quality touches at Sq 1 - white anchovies on the salad, in-house pickled onions on the burger, and the oven roasted chicken was simple and delicious the night we tried it. I always feel crowded at West First, not so at Sq 1.

      Again, Sq 1 will be on my regular list because (so far) the food has been very good at a very reasonable price. Also, the service has been excellent.

      Now if you want to try something new and amazing - go to Cucina 24 in Asheville. Better make a reservation.

    2. We went to Sq 1 last night and the short story is that was only ok for us. When the highlight of the evening is sweet potato fries, that's not a good sign! Should've reread your review first as my husband ordered the bouillabaisse and it really wasn't very good. Everything in it was REALLY overcooked (chewy scallops, etc). Broth had virtually no flavor. It perked up after my husband finally added some salt. I had the salmon which was much better but still didn't blow me away. The bread was good, but I don't think house made (it was cold, but maybe they just make it ahead of time). Beer and wine choices were good. Got the apple tartin for dessert and while the flavor of the apples/filling was very good, the pastry was so tough I had to ask for a knife to cut through it (and I told the server why I was asking for a knife).

      Service was pretty good (very pleasant and helpful) but with one major flaw. She did not clear our empty bread and appetizer dishes until we were done with our entrees! We were at a tiny table for two and could've used the room. She came by several times to check on us, but never removed the dishes (or my wine glass once it was empty and she knew I didn't want another).

      Atmosphere was nice. Not much different from Potenza except maybe different color scheme? Was very dark in spots (including where we were) so a little hard to read the menu, but that didn't really bother me. One thing that DID bother me was that the kitchen door emitted a horrible SCREECH! every time a server came and went (about every 30 seconds). It was like nails on a chalkboard. I'm betting they don't even hear it anymore. I commented on it, but the server just sort of shrugged. WD40 anyone?

      So overall, not sure I would go back. Prices were good though. Might try them one more time and order something else. We wondered if we should've ordered more "land" items, but if you don't do seafood that well, don't offer it. A friend is going for brunch on Sunday, so we'll see how they do with that.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Scirocco

        My friend and her family went yesterday for brunch and she said it was good. They had a variety of things and all were good. I haven't gotten the full scoop yet, but that was the gist. Only slightly strange thing was that the crepes with the apples had the skins left on the apples. I wouldn't mind that, but I know some people would (including my husband!).

        AND, the squeaky door was fixed - yay! My friend had actually brought a can of WD-40 in her purse just in case - HA!

        So, we'll probably give them another try and just choose some other entrees.

      2. My husband and I recently went there. I ordered the cassoulet and loved it, and he felt the same way about his burger.