Cafe Azalea - Asheville
Went to Cafe Azalea on East Tunnel Road on Saturday night and wanted to offer a report since I haven't seen a post on this place for a long while. Previous posts were from at least two years ago.
Went with the family for a nice meal out - treating my dad for Father's Day. I found Cafe Azalea and we decided to give it a try because the menu looked good online and we love trying new places. We had a wonderful dinner, with great service, and really enjoyed the local aspect of the place.
For starters we ordered the Lobster Soup, Bruschetta, and the Beet salad. All were very good. The Lobster soup was creamy, rich, and had lobster, asparagus, and leeks. The beet salad was also good - enjoyed the traditional red beets along with the golden beets. The bruschetta is served on in-house made bread with chef's choice of toppings - we had a sage pesto with melted provolone. This was very good.
For dinner, our choices were:
chicken breast stuffed with sage pesto and capacolla, then pan fried with a balsamic reduction (this was tasty; probably the least favorite of entrees, but good);
lamb shank with olives and red wine reduction served with local organic baby vegetables and saffron mashed potatoes (outstanding; the lamb was tender and cooked perfectly, the vegetables also served perfectly cooked);
frutti d'mare which was seared sea scallops, shrimp, and trout with homemade pasta and in-house smoked tomatoes (very good also; different from the tradtional serving of this dish, mostly due to smoked tomatoes);
and finally a grilled pork chop with a mushroom gravy, baby vegetables, and saffron potatoes (also very good - pork was charred and tasty, mushroom gravy was perfect.)
We loved that food was sourced locally (as much as possible) and they also served locally brewed beer (Highland, Wedge, and French Broad). Breads and desserts are made in-house too.
Service was outstanding - our waiter knew the menu, had great recommendations, and was great at offering advice while letting us make our own choices.
In all we had a great time and had a great dinner. While you can get similar food (and local food) downtown, this was a nice place to visit and we would go back.
We started going to Azalea some time ago and try to get there about every 4-6 months when we are in town. Our opinion is that it is worth the ride from downtown Asheville. Food is always very good as is the service (and yes, it is unfortunately pretty empty). Menu changes with the season; most recently also had the frutti d'mare which was excellent. Favorites (for me) are the duck breast and some vegetarian entrees. In the winter there was an amazing Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding (hope it comes back on the menu!). Others have had the turkey meatloaf and bison burger which they said was very good. We'll be back soon.