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ATTN: Asheville Foodies - 2 questions

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foie grasias Jul 27, 2009 01:48 PM

Hello all
In preparation for our trip, I have done extreme amounts of reading in hopes of getting great, unique food in Asheville.

My first question is about Tupelo Honey. I know everyone says to go for breakfast, and I have read very little (and what I have read has not been great) about TH for dinner. But to be honest, the menu posted looks really delicious. The pork tenderloin with a root beer molasses and jalapeno bbq sauce?? It might seem like a trainwreck, but it sounds inventive and worth a try.
Am I crazy for going to this place for dinner??

Second, I am between 3 places that seem to get all amazing reviews for dinner another night.

Table
Nova
Zambra

I know they aren;t all the same cuisine, but I am looking for the best taste experience. Here is one caveat: We are coming from DC, which has the full gamut of restaurants. So if you could keep that in mind, that would be great.

Finally, so I don't get any recs for these, we already plan on going to... Sunny Pointe, Salsa's (I know it's mixed review-wise, but it looks really creative), 12 Bones, and the above mentioned Tupelo Honey.

Thanks in advance. I have already read all of your good taste!

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  1. c
    caiogirl RE: foie grasias Jul 27, 2009 02:18 PM

    Honestly, I have always enjoyed Tupelo Honey no matter the meal. Its not the best restaurant I've ever eaten out but I have never been dissapointed in their solid southern comfort food or biscuts and jam mmmm. It gets hella crowded so go early or be prepared to wait!

    In order I would choose Nova, Zambra then Table. Nova has wonderful inventive food and out of this world cocktails. Zambra has a really fun atmosphere and good solid food ( I like to have date night at Zambra) you can try and share lots of tapas and I've always enjoyed being able to try many things. Table is good, nothing to complain about, I would just much prefer the other two.

    Good choices on Sunny Point, Salsas and 12 Bones as well. I might would urge you to have sunset cocktails or wine at the Grove Park Inn. Drinks are pricey but its a great experience.

    Have fun and enjoy the funky little town of Asheville :)

    3 Replies
    1. re: caiogirl
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      JoanInNC RE: caiogirl Jul 27, 2009 04:39 PM

      We go to Asheville several times a year, and we always try to eat at Tupelo Honey. However, I just realized that it has always been lunch - never breakfast or dinner. I wouldn't pass it up, no matter which meal you have. Some of their breakfast items are served any time. My favorites: homemade pimento cheese & tortilla chips (served hot), cheesy grill & homemad tomato soup, sweet potato fries, sweet potato pancakes, and the biscuits. My last lunch was the pimento cheese and tortilla chips, an order of sweet potato fries, and half a biscuit. :-)

      1. re: JoanInNC
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        miss piggy RE: JoanInNC Jul 27, 2009 05:37 PM

        Here's my 2 cents...although I am not able to answer all of your questions...

        Tupelo Honey has solid dinner and lunch as well as brunch/breakfast. So no, you are not crazy! They do not take reservations and there is usually a wait, so just be prepared. You can also sit at the counter and watch them prepare the food (and usually not have to wait). If you do decide to go there on a weekend for brunch, you should get their right when they open to avoid a wait. The line starts pretty early - people wait outside the door to get in.

        Keep in mind the original 12 Bones is only open during the week and closes at 4 or 5. The new one is open on Saturdays and closes a little later (6 I believe). Both locations are great.

        It sounds like you have your mind made up about Salsas, but I want you to know I am in the absolutely no, never again, not gonna happen camp. After 3 absolutely awful experiences here I just can't do it. There are lots of reports of bad GI issues after eating here - it's never happened to me, but it has happened to folks on this board, as well as my husband, dad and friend. Three separate occasions, all had really upset stomachs. Just a warning! I'd love to hear your report, because I used to love this place. I think the general consensus here is that it has gone downhill a bit due to the original chef not being ther enough...

        Sunny Point is also excellent. Usually a wait here too, esp if the weather is nice.

        Can't speak for Nova dinner but all I've heard is great things. Zambra is one of our faves. I think it has a great ambiance, a little more funky than Nova. Zambra is tapas-heavy, Nova is small plates with some entrees. So in that regard they are a little similar. Both have killer cocktails. I think you will be really happy with either! Or you could have a few tapas a Zambra, then walk down to Nova for a few small plates...hit both!

        Let us know what you thought about everything you tried!

        1. re: miss piggy
          meatn3 RE: miss piggy Jul 27, 2009 06:10 PM

          I'm in complete agreement with miss piggy - including being in the "never again" camp for Salsas. Just too many times that were awful on every level. If you do decide to go there be aware that it is a small, wildly popular place that gets packed and extremely noisy.

          I really like the atmosphere and food at Zambra. But service can be very, very slow. Not a place to go before a show IMO...

          I always, always go to Sunny Point for breakfast when I'm back in town. I think that is the restaurant I miss the most since I've moved.

          There are mixed opinion on this board, but I do like Vincenzo's bistro area. The service is great and it is a nice spot for conversation, a little music and apps/cocktails. There are a couple of dinner items they do well too. I'm not as into the restaurant area - just a different atmosphere.

          http://www.vincenzos.com/bistro.html

    2. danna RE: foie grasias Jul 29, 2009 06:11 AM

      Rest easy on your Salsa's choice. Although I do, in fact,believe it has gone downhill fairly substantially, it is still very good. It's just no longer magical like it used to be. I fear those days are gone. But in its heydey it was so far above everything else in town that it had room to sink and still be one of the best choices. The plates are HUGE...don't eat it all if you want to enjoy your next meal.

      I love Zambra and don't think you could wrong there, especially if you like spanish wine. Both Table and Nova I have only been to for lunch, and I gave them both a similar, solid "eh". However, both places have dinner menus that look MUCH better than their lunch menu, so I'm interested to hear your review of whereever you go.

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        leahinsc RE: foie grasias Jul 29, 2009 03:34 PM

        having lived in DC for several years I think you would find that though Zambra's has a lot of atmosphere the tapas thing has been done better in DC. Table is better for dinner than lunch but my vote is for Nova and definitely for dinner. They really do a lot w/ local and seasonal products as specials...one week they had managed to work rhubarb into a cocktail, vegetable side and dessert - I had all 3 and they were tremendous! The next time it was peaches...their mixologist is a genius...one memorable cocktail was a duck infused bourbon with mascerated cherries and something else...it was amazing and he took the time to explain to us how he developed it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: leahinsc
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          foie grasias RE: leahinsc Jul 31, 2009 07:21 PM

          Well thanks to all who added above. We are back from your lovely town and are not disappointed. Heres a breakdown of what went down...

          Tuesday dinner: Tupelo Honey
          I had the pork tenderloin with root beer molasses and jalapeno bbq sauce with mashed cualiflower. Being a pork and root beer nut, I would say that my own personal hype let me down...I was hoping for a more magical yet present flavor of root beer in the dish. Instead, the bbq sauce overpowered an only "decent" piece of tenderloin. The mash was tasty. My wife had the grill cheese and soup combo...tomato soup was the way tomato soup SHOULD taste, and due to being pregnant, she couldn;t have any of the gooey white rind cheeses that probably make the grill cheese phenom. It was still good...cant beat buttered texas toast....

          I start a new paragraph to proclaim our love for dessert....the sweet potato pancake. I dont like pancakes. But this....sigh.... was like nothing else. We talked about this dish the rest of the trip and it took a lot to hold us back from getting another while there. Brilliant. Just brilliant.

          Wednesday night: NOVA
          I liked Nova. Had a delicious gin "novation" drink with fresh basil and a whole other cavalcade of ingredients, all blended perfectly. Then I had the special, pork belly on custard grits and cherry mustard. It was good...but I have had much pork belly. It was a tad overcooked and the flavors did blend well, but nothing transcendental. I also had the proscuitto-wrapped scallops, which feels like cheating as a chef. They were good, and I slightly regret not getting a little more adventurous. Overall, and hindsight is 20/20, Table and Zambra could have been a better choice, but no regrets.

          Thursday lunch:
          12 Bones. 12. Bones. The hounds who have praised this place...well, let me join your ranks. Ribs...delicious. The sauce is understated but a great compliment. The other sauces, while not used on the meat, was thoroughly enjoyed with plenty of finger-dipping.
          I had the sandwich that a few on this board have described as the best thing they have ever eaten... and I again, can empathize. Maybe not agree as the BEST, but the pulled turkey with brie and sugar bacon is truly an amazing piece of work....with this caveat. The first few bites were brie-heavy, and it's tough to get any other tastes through it. But once things "settled"..juices, flavors, etc. It really was heavenly bit after heavenly bite. My wife commented on my "emoting while eating". Words were few and far between.
          The 2 sides. the grits and corn pudding were simply the icing on the...er...meat(?). While I am no expert on either, I really really really enjoyed them. I can walk away saying they are the best of their kind on my palette.

          Dinner Thursday: Salsa's
          I stuck to it....and.....I am glad I did. Despite all the back and forth on this place, I very much liked what they have going on. I had the ever-popular spliff roll, and have this to say: without the saffron sauce, I "got" the roll. The flavor combinations were tasty, and the "egg roll" was fresh and crunchy. When the saffron sauce was used, it took front and center. I eventually just ate the rolls and then the sauce. God bless saffron.
          Dinner was a daily special. the Lisa Kudrow Enchilada...salmon, cilantro-lime crema, black beans, etc. It was good, and well balanced. Oh, my wife also had the fried plantains, which were deeeelicious with the garlic and oil playing with the sweetness.

          Finally, we ate breakfast as sunny pointe. It was very good. Huevos Rancheros were delicious... not mind-blowingly spectacular, but very good. I will say that those biscuits are worth some hype. The sugar on top is just too genius to go overlooked. The bacon, while good, was a tad cold and soggy. Good thing for me, that's just how I like it.

          So, that's my report. Thanks to everyone who replied on this board, and also to those who have consistently posted on the Asheville "board". You help make CHowhound my one-stop shop for reliable goodness.

          1. re: foie grasias
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            miss piggy RE: foie grasias Aug 1, 2009 05:14 AM

            Great report...thanks for letting us know how it went!

            1. re: foie grasias
              JKidd RE: foie grasias Aug 1, 2009 06:55 AM

              Happy to see another 12 Bones turkey sandwich believer.

              1. re: JKidd
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                foie grasias RE: JKidd Aug 2, 2009 07:24 AM

                Oh, I almost forgot!! Went to Ultimate Ice Cream, and I tried the mocha stout... it was good...kind of like eating the ice cream and cone without the cone. But I eventually went for their mystic chai, and i am happy to say it was some of the best ice cream i have ever had. That flavor seems to be a no brainer...Im surprised I dont see it more often. It was really worth checking out.

                1. re: foie grasias
                  danna RE: foie grasias Aug 3, 2009 06:03 AM

                  Thanks for the detailed report. You did a fine job of sampling Asheville!

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