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Zambra Last Night (Asheville)

Had out of town guests and thought it would be a fun place for dinner. We've been many times and enjoyed it for the most part. We got there about 7:30 and they were fairly busy. We were told it would be a few minutes while they cleaned a table for us. We waited 10 to 15 minutes and were seated and there were at least six empty tables that were clean. Ok, we were still in a good mood and ready for wine and tapas. We sat there with menus for about 5 to 10 minutes before anyone came back to our table, at which time we were poured water and told they'd be back in a minute for our drink order. We sat there for another 15 minutes and no one came back. At this point we were still in a good mood and decided to stay that way and left and went to Bouchon for dinner because we figured if the service was that awful to that point it probably wouldn't get better. Has anyone had a similar experience at Zambra. I would really hate taking it off my "good" list, but it was pretty embarassing after telling our friends how much we liked it there, to have such a bad experience.

62 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

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  1. I never write off a restaurant after one bad experience...or even two most times...but we do not dine at Zambra anymore. I am hesitant to disparage any place too much because off-nights are possible, but we have been unimpressed with food and service the last three times we visited. The space is nice and the atmosphere is usually exciting...just a disconnect somewhere.

    1. wow...that is embarrassing. I've never had that experience at Zambra, but I have been there before at other places and I think you guys were SO SMART to cut your losses.

      1. Wow, I'm so surprised to read this. I hope this isn't the start of a trend. I love Zambra, and my last visit (during Belle Chere, no less) was as wonderful as always, both in regard to food and service.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jla1960

          Yeah, re-reading my post makes me want to clarify: I love Zambra, I didn't mean you were smart not to eat there, just smart to abandon a bad situation before it ruins your evening.

        2. I've had mixed experiences over the years. I love the space and was fortunate enough to be able to observe the process during the remodel some time ago...but about the dining-

          When the food is good it is quite good. The space is always great. I have had major issues with service - ranging from goodnatured ditsy to just out right not giving a damn. The kitchen is responsible for some of the issues too. Dessert once took 45 minutes since "they are still working on the garnish". That sort of detail should have been resolved before service began. The only adequate service I've had was when they offered lunches once upon a time.

          Due to the randomness of the experience I will not bring guests. I will not go if I have plans that have a specific timetable. I will not go if I know lack of food in the next hour will get me cranky. So there are very few instances where Zambra makes the cut for me.

          It's a shame - I love the atmosphere and the concept, but I am no longer willing to pay for a night of frustration.

          1. We went last night (party of 4) and it was fantastic - they were slammed (NYE) and we thought the service and the food was great. I hadn't been in a few years and yes, if you have a flexible schedule I'd say go!

            1. Had another great meal at Zambra last night. The highlight was grilled octopus with duck cracklings. Yum! Service was friendly and quick. Had to wait for a table but the bartender made tasty drinks and we were seated in the section we requested. Didn't see any of the problems referenced above. Food came out at appropriate intervals and the server was able to answer questions and make recommendations with a smile. Zambra will always be on our list when in Asheville.

              Zambra Spanish Wine Tapas & Cuisine
              85 W. Walnut Street, Asheville, NC 28801

              2 Replies
              1. re: mojoeater

                Last night we had a great dinner at Zambra. I had bought the Groupon that came out several weeks ago so we had an additional $35 towards the food. My boyfriend and I both thought the food and service was very good.

                We had gnocci, beef tenderloin, sweetbreads and a salad of crab w mint/melon/roe. All the food we sampled was quite enjoyable. I really loved the gnocci, served with goat cheese and pomegranate. The sweetbreads were perfectly cooked, tender and served with chow-chow and a sunchoke bisque. It was pretty awesome. The tenerloin was good, not special but solid. My boyfriend really liked the crab, it was extremely light and fresh. I enjoyed it as well but it felt a little summery for me (Im holding on to winter comfort foods haha).

                All this accompanied by bread, 3 cocktails and cheese plate for dessert came to $68 before Groupon was added. With the groupon + and tip (based on full price) the meal came to around $40 bucks.

                Based on our experience, I would go back to Zambra with no hesitation (even paying full price) but will jump on a Groupon for a pretty sweet deal!

                1. re: caiogirl

                  They are also on restaurant.com at all times.

              2. I'm so sorry to hear about your experience. We were there about a week ago and had what has to be the best meal I've eaten in the past 2 years. Great food and drinks, good value for the cost, and service that was attentive w/o being stuffy. Grilled octopus, duck tongues, patatas bravas... whether it's traditional Spanish or Spanish-inspired, the menu is inspired, creative and well-executed. So please don't give up on them- in my mind, they remain some of the best that Asheville has to offer.

                Zambra Spanish Wine Tapas & Cuisine
                85 W. Walnut Street, Asheville, NC 28801