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Oct 1, 2009 06:23 AM

Three New Restaurants In Asheville

A heads-up on three I am looking forward to trying and would like to hear reviews on if you've been:

Chai Pani - Indian chaat-house style, "street food" - apparently has opened to rave reviews, lines out the door, ran out of food their first few days open. Battery Park, I love Indian and the menu looks great.

Posana - downtown on the square. I did not realize they were serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Article in October's Laurel mag got me interested and Urban Spoon reviews look positive.

Sazerac - ad in Laurel mag touts "Classic Cocktails, Sumptous Small Plates and Rooftop Revelry." Sounds fun! In the old Old Europe Space. From Ashevegas blog:The Sazerac will feature a simple menu of traditional pressed sandwiches on brioche style bread, gumbos and soups, salads and charcuterie platters (cheese, pates, little pickles). Classic cocktails will be expertly mixed and served by the most experienced bar staff in Asheville.

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  1. Wow! thanks for posting. I'm fascinated by the Indian stuff, but I never know what to order. I try not to eat fried things and it looks like everything on the app portion of the menu is either fried or pan-fried. What would you recommend I try? I like veggetables, but also some meat. thanks.

    Posana - walking past, it looks very tourist-friendly, which has put me off. The menu looks pretty tourist friendly , too, but that doesn't mean the food won't be well-prepared...I post if we try it.

    And finally...just to rant...I'll be SO freakin' happy when this pressed sandwich trend is over. Why would you destroy some nice brioche? IMHO, panini are just an excuse to add a bunch more butter to food, long a popular thing for restaurants to do. I love that space, though...did you get the idea that the outside patio will be used?

    2 Replies
    1. re: danna

      Not all the reviews of Chai Pani have been glowing:

      It's my understanding they closed down Monday and Tuesday this week to try and fix some of the problems. Hope they do because the theme sounds like a great idea.

      1. re: catsailor

        wowsa. I think I may let some of the rest of you review the place before I make my Indian-food-hating husband take me there ;-)

    2. Actually, Sazerac is opening in the space next to Old Europe (in what used to be an interior decorating studio). According to a Lexington Ave. merchant (my source of downtown gossip), a Jewish-style deli will be opening in the Old Europe space. He doesn't know where they'll be getting their deli from--so that may or may not be something to look forward to.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Zeisel

        Hmm...sorry I had some wrong info there. I think that OE location on Lexington has so much potential for another kind of restaurant...what with the big patio, prime location, large bar area, etc...that a deli going in there kind of makes me sad! I welcome the idea of a deli downtown (and love the idea of an authentic Jewish deli) but that does not seem like the best use for that space. Oh well.

        Danna, I am not sure about the new Indian spot but I have long been a fan of Mela, so if you are wanting to expand your palate I would start there. I think you have tried it before and weren't as enamored, so may I suggest (if you like fish) the fish curry (mahi mahi perfectly cooked in a light curry cream sauce/broth - this is my new favorite), madras jhinga masala (shrimp) or my husband's fave, chicken tikki masala which is a classic Indian dish that I think Mela executes so well...light tomato-cream sauce base with tender chunks of chicken. Mela's spice-scented rice is simply the best I have ever eaten. They also have an $8.95 lunch buffet that I finally got around to trying and it was awesome. I think they do it on the weekends too. That way you could try a little of everything. I am not a huge fan of their tandoori options, mainly b/c I think they do so well with their flavorful sauces.

        1. re: miss piggy

          Thanks...I'll eventually get back to Mela. You're right, buffet would be a good way to go.

          Deli strikes me as an unfortunate use for the Old Europe space as well. would be awesome if it were actually good. There was a restauratn in H'ville several years back that actually bought their corned beef and pastrami from Carnegie. It was a nice option. I'd love to get some ...chicken liver pate...i never can remember the correct name for it...I thought the waitress at 2nd Ave Deli was going to slaughter me for saying that.

          1. re: danna

            Sazerac is at 29 Broadway ~ which I think is the old Sluder's Furniture store. Old Europe is on Lexington. Sazerac will have a sister restaurant called Tingles.

            Would love to see an upscale restaurant in the Old Europe location - it's perfect for something like that.

            Also, Murgh (chicken) Tikka is classic indian. Murgh Tikka Masala is believed to have originated far from India ~ "The origins of chicken tikka masala are disputed. A widely reported explanation of the origins of the dish is that it was conceived in a British Bangladeshi restaurant in Glasgow in the late 1960s, when a customer, who found the traditional chicken tikka too dry, asked for some gravy. The chef supposedly improvised a sauce from tomato soup, yogurt and spices. This claim has not been incontrovertibly proven, and there are other accounts and hypotheses of its origins. It is generally accepted as an attempt to create an Indian dish that would appeal to the British palate." Despite it's questionable origin, well done the dish is delicious and should appeal to everyone.

            1. re: danna

              Danna, It's just plane old "chopped liver".

              We tried to eat at Posana last month but never did get our order taken, let alone get food. We sat there for at least 10 minutes without getting a menu, water or acknowledged. It was pretty empty, so that wasn't the problem. When we found out the table near us was waiting for their order for a very long time, we decided to leave. It's a great location and a nice space. Maybe they've gotten their act together? I'd be interested in someone posting who actually got served.

              1. re: danna

                We had a jewish deli in the Grove Arcade that didn't last very long right down the street from Old Europe. Hopefully the new owners will have little better luck.

          2. Because of this thread, we decided to try Posana tonight. I checked out Urbanspoon's reviews and they were good enough recently to tempt me to give it a go. Prices for entrees are really good so that helped the decision.

            Our overall impression was that it was good. Some missteps (one pretty big), but overall good. I really like the atmosphere, especially after dark. Warm and inviting with lots of places to sit and lounge. Dining area was a little cramped, but fine.

            Service for us was good. Inside was busy the whole time we were there (we ate inside - arrived about 7pm) with some outdoor tables busy as well. We were greeted and seated immediately (one table left when we got there). Drink and food orders taken reasonably fast. Everything delivered reasonably fast. She checked on us several times. She could've been more on top of the water, but I never ran out.

            I have to say we were both quite enamored with a strange thing. Their iced tea service. Maybe I need to get out more, but I hadn't seen it done this way before. Little cone of tea in hot water in the top glass container which fit onto a large glass container of ice below. Once tea is brewed, you pour it over the ice in the large container, then can have your choice of sweeteners. My husband opted for the simple syrup which I thought was great that they even offered it. But, I digress....

            wine list was pretty small for by the glass (six reds I think??). I had already had some earlier in the evening, so didn't get any. I'm not too picky, so it would've been fine for me; but others who really know their wine, might find it limiting.

            We got the Vietnamese spring rolls which were decent. They were fresh tasting, but very hard to eat. I haven't had those in years so can't really comment on how they compared. I liked them, I didn't love them.

            For entrees, my husband got the scallops with cheddar polenta and fried green tomato on top ($12). Four decent sized sea scallops, a generous amount of polenta, a large fried green tomato on top and some sort of sauce. The scallops weren't amazing, but very good. It was one of those dishes where each ingredient individually wasn't anything particularly special, but all together, it was very nice. My husband loved it. I got the pork chop filled with apple stuffing and served with a cider sauce ($16). Had carrots and braised spinach on the side. The pork chop could've been REALLY good, but it wasn't completely cooked in the middle. Now, I like pork pink in the middle and can even go a bit more rare than that, but there was a small section that was really not cooked (Danna, it was perfect for you - haha! hey, you said you like things rare soooo...). But, the parts that were cooked nicely were really good. Spinach and carrots were very good. Neither entree was overly large, but plenty for us.

            We both had dessert. I got the choc raspberry truffle cake with toasted almond ice cream and my husband got the creme brulee with candied orange peel on top and some berries. My cake was good, but not amazing (but I am the dessert snob). the creme brulee, on the other hand, was excellent. It was the perfect temperature (I hate when they serve it cold) and had a perfect creaminess. I'm not a fan of candied orange peel, but my husband really enjoyed the contrast.

            total bill before tip: $53. not too bad. I brought some of my pork chop home and half my cake. speaking of leftovers, on our way to the car, we were approached by an "urban outdoorswoman" who offered to tell us a joke for our leftovers. It seemed, if nothing else, an original angle. We declined.

            So, we'd go back and try some more dishes. There were several things that looked good on the menu. Fairly mainstream, but sometimes I like that. If nothing else, it looks like a really comfy place to hang out over some coffee or drinks.

            Next stop, The Admiral. :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Scirocco

              sorry, that didn't look that long while I was typing it!!! :b

            2. Ciao Hounds - I went to Chai Pani the other day and look forward to their evolution. Granted I only tried the Veg Thali (small, not too tasty and took a loong time) but they seem to have promise. Time will tell.

              Mela does not have to worry about competition yet.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jbyoga

                Stellar review, tried one dish, small not too tasty and took a long time. What kind of promise is in that?

              2. Sazerac - per ad in Laurel it's at 29 Broadway. I walked by last night and they are a very long way from being open for business. Space still under construction and nothing indicates when it will be done or even identifies it as Sazerac. Space next door at 27 Broadway, which is supposed to be their sister restaurant Tingles is under construction as well - and just as far from completion.

                1 Reply
                1. re: NANCY

                  Sazerac is supposed to be opening this month, I talked to the workers outside the other day.