Good food, not great; go early unless you're incredibly hip [Asheville]
We did a weekend trip to Asheville and I checked these boards beforehand and saw unilaterally great reviews of The Admiral. I made late reservations (9:15) on Friday to leave plenty of time for sightseeing, yet plenty of time before the kitchen closed and turned to bar food (10 pm).
It was exactly as described here in terms of appearance (a dive) and ambience (hipster hangout). What was interesting was that we felt sort of discriminated against based on the fact that we're in our 40s and non-hipster (although also not "That 70s Show"!). Maybe we showed up too late? Too close to party time (10 pm)? Although there were plenty of tables, we were given the booth riiiiiiight next to the door. It was drafty and basically curtained off from the rest of the restaurant.
The server was sweet and fairly attentive, and she knew the menu really well. The food was really good, and had I not been spoiled on really fabulous cuisine here in Atlanta, I would have been fairly impressed. It was really creative food, mostly well composed. However, there were some flavor issues, such as underseasoned fish and an oddly sweet shmear of sauce that didn't really relate to the rest of the dish. Everybody raved on the boards about the sweet potato creme brulee with with candied bacon, but ours was excessively charred on top and runny underneath, and there was no bacon flavor from the candied bacon. Really disappointing.
But really the main takeaway is that if you're not a hipster and not planning to hang out and drink at the bar-alter-ego at the Admiral, don't go so late. They're really over serving ordinary people dinner after, maybe, 8.
400 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
My recent visit did not reflect your experience. My party was composed of people all in their '50's. Nearby was a 2-top, two 4-tops and a party of 8 - all of which were folks 60 and over. The 2-top indicated they come in semi-regularly (what can I say, I was in a chatty mood) and they were splitting an app which they had requested changes on plus wine for each as a dessert. The 8-top was in a celebratory mood with oysters for everyone and several bottles of wine to start their evening. No one was treated as anything less than the normal respect a customer commands.
It seemed as though all of the booths had curtains dividing them from each other. The area you were seated in is closest to the kitchen. I suspect that when they are switching over they try to have the drinkers at the other end.
Talking with our server I found that the menu changes nightly. With such frequent change I would expect some of the the more experimental combinations to not always reach the same heights as the more classic dishes.
I did visit during the week, which may have made a difference - although the entire place was packed. Small, popular and a weekend is a combination which I prefer to avoid.