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The Admiral (A'ville, NC) : I didn't understand

When mark and others talked about how good The Admiral was, I thought they meant it was quirky and fun and had surprisingly good food for a dive bar. I totally did not understand they meant it's the best damn food in Asheville. By a mile.

We made the drive from Greenville last night. We got the last inside table around 7:30. With some help from our waitress, we had: The cheese plate, the arugula salad w/ Humbolt Fog, the Trigger Fish w/ squash purree and apple/bacon chutney, the lamb chop w/ bacon/pistachio brittle, the fried quail w/ blue corn grits and a fried egg. Jeff had a Wedge IPA and I had a glass of garnacha.

Holy Cow! Everything was fantastic. The cheeses were very good (especially the aged goat) and my super-picky husband loved the bressola. The arugula was lovely, nice dressing which went so well w/ the Humbolt fog I actually liked it more than I usually do. The Triggerfish was just ridiculously beautiful, with a firm but not tough, almost lobster-like texture. The fried quail was very nice but the grits and egg were what really stood out to me on that dish.

But the lamb...oh my lord, the lamb. We were sitting right next to the open kitchen, so we watched the chef build the plate, starting with cubes of pickled feta, topped w/ a bit of pistachio bacon brittle. Then a little pile of arugula to display the gorgeous lamb chops (2) which were rare as they could be, just the way we like them (interesting they didn't ask first, but more power to them!) They were excellent quality meat, no hint of mutton which I note a lot these days. They were smoked before grilled. Fab. But let's back up to the PISTACHIO BACON BRITTLE. Did you hear that ? I swore at that moment I would figure out how to make that. Divine. And they weren't chinzy with it, there was a lot on the plate.

At that point we were agog. It's been a long time since I've had a meal I liked that much. We compared the lovely cheese on our cheese plate to the "artisinal" cheese that came w/ our salad at Table last Saturday. Table's cheese according to the husband was "like if your sales rep from Sysco offered you the slightly upgraded industrial cheese." I compared the triggerfish to Charleston's FIG...it was just as good. I compared the salad to those one gets in Greenville...not only better, but at $6...cheaper.

So I thanked our waitress for steering us toward the Triggerfish and the Lamb, and asked her what she thought of the cake (Short Street). "I like the cake, but I like the pot de creme better." So we got the pot de creme, and you guessed it, it was very nice, and was sprinkled w/ Maldon sea salt, which pretty-much guarantees i'm gonna love it.

I feel compelled to think of SOMETHING negative to say (it's in my nature.) My wine, chosen from an interesting list, was fine but not special($7), the glass was what people considered a nice glass 6-8 years ago, before we were all spoiled by oversized pricey stemware. There...that's the best I can do. I loved the place. I'm in love w/ the chefs. I want them to open on Saturday for lunch. Barring that, I'm going to have to start planning longer rides, so we finish up around 5, when they open.

Thanks, Chowhounds, for the recommendation.

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  1. Thanks for the detailed and lovely review, Danna. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm just sorry they no longer serve Sunday brunch. It was wonderful.

    P.S. Did you check out the tres cool jukebox?

    1. Thanks for the great review! It has just moved up on our list....

      2 Replies
      1. re: Scirocco

        It truly possibly is the best restaurant in town.

        1. re: JKidd

          Now that Nova is gone I have to agree.

      2. I can not find a website - what are the prices like?

        9 Replies
        1. re: mustardgirl

          I think they're on MySpace. As for prices, it depends on what you get. The small plates are anywhere from $6-$8. The larger ones usually run from $12-$18. Very reasonable for the quality of the food.

          1. re: mustardgirl

            The meal I described above cost $69 before tip. I considered it a major bargain. I think our apps were $10...but let me again say the apps were as big as many entrees.

            1. re: danna

              Thanks, Danna, for the great review. Like you, I didn't get it until just now. Can't wait to try it as soon as we get back!

              1. re: danna

                I like it as well but husband does not. He finds it claustrophobic - I think it's the dark interior and low ceilings.

              2. re: mustardgirl

                I just stumbled across a website for them!!! Looks like they posted it in January. It is great to see the menu! Wish there were prices though. We are trying to get there in the next couple of weeks.

                http://www.theadmiralnc.com/

                1. re: Scirocco

                  wow! thanks!! I would have broken my no-eating-out-on-Valentine's Day rule if I had known Admiral was doing a tasting menu. Did you look at those pics??? HOLY COW!!!

                  1. re: danna

                    Yes, the pics are amazing!!! Gives me a good feel for what they offer. Wish I'd known about the tasting menu too....

                    1. re: danna

                      <points at Danna> I'll have wnat she's having! :-)

                      1. re: danna

                        oh, and responding to myself...I just re-read my original post, and I thought I should note that the glassware issue has been resolved. Nice, big , pretty glasses now.

                  2. glad you liked it. like you (as it's my nature as well), i've had to work hard to find concerns; and even when i do, they're well trumped by the overall experience. great food & (yes, this is mr. "everything's too expensive" writing this) a good value to boot.

                    1. Ate at The Admiral again last night and had some of the items Danna mentions above. It is a tribute to the consistency of the Admiral kitchen that all were just as wonderful as she says. Let me also add that if they are serving the sweet potato creme brulee with bacon brittle and bourbon whipped cream, you should order one for every member of your party, because it is THE BEST DAMN DESSERT EVER, and there might be a fork fight if you try to share one!

                      The best restaurant in Asheville. Period. And a helluva bargain. ($53.98--before tip--for two cocktails, a beer, the arugula salad, the triggerfish, the lambchops, and the aforementioned dessert.)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jeff C.

                        We went back on Saturday. Arugula salad again, lamb chops (this time w/ fennel), piquillo hummos (I'm counting down to noon so I can eat the leftovers), oysters w/ cucumber mignonette, and the scallops entree. Damn, those scallops were fantastic. Just barely cooked, perfect amount of salt in the fine crust. I liked the 3 Brooms Sauv Blanc, enough that I had 2 and ran the bill up to $72. Still a bargain at this food quality.

                        I feel bad that I skipped the dessert. I was jonesin' for some Ultimate Ice Cream mocha stout.