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Nova-the best new restaurant in Asheville

Jeff C. Aug 24, 2009 10:58 AM

Ate at Nova Saturday night for my birthday. From the cocktails to the salads to the entrees to the dessert, every item was darn near flawless. Yes, it is expensive if you sample from every menu category as we did, but you could just as easily do a salad, small plate, and glass of wine and get away for under $30 per person. Service is impeccable.

Two quibbles, one minor, one not:
1. The dining room is beautiful but echoey and could use some acoustical tiles.
2. The wine pours are stingy by a couple of ounces.

Highly recommended, esp. for special occasions.

  1. b
    Bogdr2 Aug 24, 2009 11:28 AM

    We were there as well on Saturday night for my Girlfriends birthday!! Happy Birthday!! Were you with the large group in the back? We tried Nova based on some recomendations from this site and were certainly pleased!! My girlfriend and I both had two of the small plates. She had the scallops on one plate and the mussels on the other. I tried both and they were amazing. I had the pork belly and the wnc trout. Both were magnificent!! When i'm in Asheville...Nova is the one!!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bogdr2
      Jeff C. Aug 24, 2009 11:54 AM

      My party only had four in it. The scallops were indeed divine, maybe the best I've had anywhere (and I used to live in Charleston). Try the duck confit next time (yummy), and I'll try the pork belly!

      Oh, and the salad with heirloom tomatoes and pickled green beans was spectacular as well...

    2. c
      coldtoes Aug 26, 2009 10:27 AM

      Was it crowded on Friday? We were just in Asheville for two days - Zambra on Sunday night was fairly empty at 7, although had picked up quite a bit by the time they closed at 9, but Nova on Monday was practically deserted. We had excellent food both places so I was hoping it was the nights of the week and the time of year and not that the economy has endangered these two magnificent restaurants. Our waiter at Nova said also that the end-of-summer/back-to-school transition cut down on locals dining out and that both restaurants have big local followings. So I hope you will tell me that it was hopping on Saturday - I left feeling very worried about these two restaurant gems and Nova in particular.

      3 Replies
      1. re: coldtoes
        Jeff C. Aug 26, 2009 03:12 PM

        Late summer is traditionally the slowest time in the restaurant business, and the recession certainly isn't helping. But I'm happy to report that Nova was indeed busy between 7 and 9:30 last Saturday night.

        One addtional thing I've just learned: The new chef at Nova, Justin Burdett, is a veteran of Five & Ten, the finest restaurant in Athens, GA, and the wonderful new menu has his influence all over it.

        1. re: Jeff C.
          danna Aug 27, 2009 05:29 AM

          how new is the chef at Nova? New since they first opened in that location?

          1. re: danna
            Jeff C. Aug 27, 2009 05:45 AM

            I should've said new EXECUTIVE chef. He actually moved up from sous a few weeks ago.

      2. e
        eh27713 Sep 1, 2009 01:49 PM

        I'm so glad somebody posted about Nova! Nova's sister company, 28806 Catering, did my destination wedding in Asheville a few weeks ago. I know, I know - catering is totally different from restauranting. But, we got to test out Nova in lieu of a standard caterer's tasting "to see how we (the company and chefs) do food." The catering was fantastic, by the way. Rather than a tasting, we got to pick six small plates. That was back in April and I honestly can't remember all six. The scallops - fennel-dusted on a bed of something yummy - were fantastic, and turned my now-husband from a seafood-phobe into a shellfish eater. There was a porkchop with (again) fennel; some really amazing in-season asparagus; bread with carrot oil - you know it's good when you rave about their bread condiment; a crepe with maybe strawberry and goat cheese that the fiance adored. Anyway, it was all really fantastic. The drinks were equally great! They went far beyond the standard fare and ventured into a very foodie creative realm. Their bartender makes his own bitters! I've read more/seen more about that since, but that was a first for me. Finally, I know their staff was trying to woo me to hire their catering business, but they were really nice. They were great as a catering staff, too. I will definitely be back at Nova on my nect trip to Asheville, and would recommend both restaurant and caterer to anyone who asks.

        2 Replies
        1. re: eh27713
          ashenative Sep 5, 2009 04:59 AM

          I would not recommend the catering arm (28806 catering) at this point. I think 28806 has gone under - another caterer in town let me know that Eric handed his menus and catering clients over to her last week. He has yet to contact me or to return any of our phone calls or emails, though he has kept a substantial deposit from us and signed a contract to cater our wedding next month. We can't figure out what is going on, but, until we do, it is not a good idea for anybody to give their money to this catering company.

          1. re: ashenative
            miss piggy Sep 7, 2009 06:13 PM

            I have heard horrible things about their catering.

        2. l
          Leepa Sep 2, 2009 07:43 PM

          Hmmmm..... seems like they're going to offer some cooking classes at Nova. Sounds wonderful.


          14 Replies
          1. re: Leepa
            sluggrock Sep 3, 2009 09:31 AM

            Hope it's not true but I heard Nova closed its doors. Anyone have any info to dispel that rumor?

            1. re: sluggrock
              NANCY Sep 3, 2009 09:47 AM

              Sadly true. I just called and spoke w/ Justin ~ they are offically closed.

              1. re: NANCY
                Jeff C. Sep 3, 2009 10:43 AM


                That is really, REALLY disappointing news.

                1. re: NANCY
                  crimsondago Sep 3, 2009 01:20 PM

                  My girlfriend's birthday is tomorrow and I made a reservation to eat at Nova on Friday night. We're coming from Raleigh-can someone recommend a quick replacement? We're eating at Table on Saturday, BTW. Thanks.

                  1. re: crimsondago
                    Jeff C. Sep 3, 2009 01:55 PM

                    I would go with Fig, in Biltmore Village, or Zambra, downtown.

                    1. re: crimsondago
                      NANCY Sep 3, 2009 03:02 PM

                      I'd also consider Cucina 24 - it's downtown on Wall St.

                      I think you'll love Table - it's my current favorite. Also, consider stopping at Sante Wine Bar before dinner. It's in the Grove Arcade and has a lovely patio. Wonderful people watching ~ http://www.santewinebar.com/ . If you get there just before 6pm you'll be able to enjoy the 6pm bells from the Basilica. And, bonus for you ~ the weather is perfect right now.

                  2. re: sluggrock
                    Leepa Sep 3, 2009 04:13 PM

                    This is really sad news.

                    1. re: Leepa
                      miss piggy Sep 4, 2009 05:52 AM

                      What the ??? We were going there tonight!

                      Comments on the Ashevegas blog are not as positive as the reviews on here and offers some insight as to why. They knock the bad location (no parking), slow service and too $$$ for lunch (not appropriate for downtown business lunches) and the name change setting them off on the wrong foot.

                      1. re: miss piggy
                        Zeisel Sep 4, 2009 01:26 PM

                        I think it was the location that did them in--off the beaten track, hard to find, no parking. Their food was up their with the best in Asheville--and they had just brought on a new chef --he was on par with their old one. They also changed their lunch menu a couple of months ago to make it much more affordable. What a pity they couldn't hang on--hope they resurface.

                        1. re: Zeisel
                          Jeff C. Sep 4, 2009 02:48 PM

                          Maybe it was that they were too upscale for the Lex. Ave. district? As for the parking issue, I really think that's a moot point. I mean, you can park at any city garage on weekends for a buck. Unless people are now too lazy to walk a few blocks...hmmm, maybe it's NOT a moot point...

                          Anyway, I, too, wish them the best and hope they can pull it back together, maybe in another part of town...

                          1. re: Jeff C.
                            pilches Sep 7, 2009 08:42 AM

                            Very sad news!

                            1. re: pilches
                              Jeff C. Sep 7, 2009 11:39 AM

                              If anybody hears any additional news as to what happened, please post it here. Frankly, I'm flabbergasted...

                            2. re: Jeff C.
                              miss piggy Sep 7, 2009 06:13 PM

                              Not sure about the "too upscale for Lexington" theory. Mela and Bouchon are no dives and have proven they can be consistent and successful...not sure the street that has anything to do with it.

                              I do agree with the no parking thing being BS. Any time anyone complains about no parking downtown it really burns me up. There are tons of parking garages and spots downtown for cheap! I just valeted in Charlotte for $15 bucks and the garages here are $3 per half-hour. Thank goodness work is picking up the tab. Threre is PLENTY of parking in Asheville...yeah, you may have to walk a block or two...but big deal.

                              I am not sure the Nova guys are the best business people in the world. There is a lot more to running a restaurant besides dishing out good food and drinks. It's too bad they did not/were not able to give it more of a chance. It seems to me it was just picking up steam...

                              1. re: miss piggy
                                meatn3 Sep 7, 2009 07:17 PM

                                Yes, there is plenty of parking downtown. But the garages are not always an option that visitors seem comfortable with. I worked downtown for years in retail, and visitors had a hard time understanding the different parts of downtown & how they related to each other. Unfortunately, the parking perception coupled with a poor economy probably had an effect. And visitors have a big impact on the Asheville dining options staying viable/solvent.

                                I was a frequent diner at 28806 from the time the first opened. I'm sorry I had not been back in town to try Nova...they were on my Nov. visit list.

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