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Jul 4, 2011 03:26 PM

Knife & Fork - Spruce Pine NC - dining destination

though about 1 hr from Asheville this small restaurant is worth a trip. Chef Nate Allen does a stupendous job utilizing local ingredients to create visually stunning & incredible tasting dishes. Their menu changes daily. The night we went rabbit and pork were stars of both app and entree dishes and fennel seemed to be the vegetable of choice. An appetizer portion of fried rabbit "wings" with a sweet and spicy glaze was a big hit. In fact, there wasn't one dish that we didn't like. 3 glasses of wine, 3 appetizers, 1 entree and 1 dessert were $81 (tax included) before tip.

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  1. We stumbled upon the restaurant several weeks ago during the Toe River arts tour. It's usually not open for lunch on Saturdays, but it was for this event. We were blown away by the quality and inventiveness of the food--a combination of the Admiral and Table, but with prices below either of them. The chef has had a table at the Saturday City Market at least twice. He prepares sample dishes using local produce and dispenses tastes of his creations free-of-charge. I guess it's a way of publicizing his restaurant. We told him that people would be standing on line if he opened a place here--but it sounded like he's not planning to leave Spruce Pine any time soon.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Zeisel

      I finally made it to K&F Thursday evening. I walked in at 6:20 without a reservation (just me) and was able to eat only because their 3 stool bar had one open seat. It was almost a full house at 7:30 when I left, and I saw several couples turned away for a lack of a reservation.
      I started with the candy roaster squash soup, and then had stuffed pork belly. The soup was great but the pork belly was over the top, stuffed with fennel, garlic, onions, peppers and served over roasted fingerling sweet potatoes. FYI - the portion was surprisingly large. Nate came out to check on me and was very happy to discuss his (local) ingredients and techniques. The experience exceeded my high expectations!
      I will be back as soon as possible, what a gem.

      1. re: Tee

        vote for him for James Beard!!!

        1. re: leahinsc


          I've never heard of fingerling sweet potatoes.... now, a new quest!

            1. re: danna

              Now you guys have me questioning my memory!
              Maybe I was wrong about the fingerling part, I am often wrong......
              They could have been cut down to that size/shape.
              Regardless, they were delicious and a perfect side to the pork belly.

      2. re: Zeisel

        After ordering the braised rabbit over red quinoa with shiitake mushrooms and apples a couple of weekends ago, I'm not surprised at all that this dish was one of Garden&Gun's 50 must-eats in the South in their latest edition. Such an exquisite pairing of sweet, sour, savory and bitter, and an engaging balance of textures. I also appreciated that they offer starting "salads" on their menu that's basically a pile of kale or greens. I like my veggies.

        Pastry chef Brenda Poole is also quite a catch for Knife & Fork. Her local just-picked apple tart with fresh whipped cream dessert couldn't have been better.

      3. Here's a link:

        Sounds like a great addition to the area!

        1 Reply
        1. re: meatn3

          we went recently and really enjoyed a roasted persimmon & potato side. Never would have thought to do this but it works. Chef Nate is very creative and personable and his wife Wendy who runs the front of the house is charming. I like the fact that their servers remember us and haven't changed...always a good sign at a restaurant!

        2. We've got reservations for Friday night at the Knife and Fork. I am soooo excited! What should we get?

          On a related note, we are staying at an ancient ridge-top small hotel/motel: Skyline with the "Cavern Tavern" restaurant. Any Chow-notes about Skyline in addition to Knife and Fork?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Tehama

            Ooooh, Tehama, I can't wait to hear your report. Enjoy!!!

          2. I've heard nothing but wonderful things about this place. I hope to get there one day. Sooner rather than later. So glad to hear another glowing "review".

            1. Y'all -- we had *such* a marvelous time at the Knife & Fork in charming Spruce Pine Friday evening. K & F is on Locust St., and the end where Oak and Locust split into the upper and lower main streets giving you a quaint view of the trains that still pass by with minerals and stones from the nearby mountains. The level of service was terrific with specials kudos to our delightful waitress Liz.

              We ordered a brilliant bottle of rosé and the chicken liver pâte crostini to begin the evening. Every person in my family adores chicken livers and I have *never* liked it, but try it every year or so to see if my opinion changes. It never does - until now. The pâte was creamy and rich without the taste I normally find too pungent. Now my problem is that I am never going to find anything that amazing again until we trek back to Spruce Pine!

              For entrees we had the braised rabbit and smoked trout. My smoked trout was in a succotash of sorts comprised by grilled corn kernels and radicchio. The trout was so tender; it almost tasted as if it had been poached before/after having been smoked. V's braised rabbit was so tender it fell off the little bones. We both belonged to the clean plate club, and quickly.

              We were too full for dessert, but the limited selection did sound incredible. Knife & Fork only serves beer and wine, but the proprietor's establishment, Spoon, serves cocktails in a super-cool venue above the restaurant on Oak St.

              For all the above-mentioned food and a bottle of rosé, the bill was $69 before tip. I really, really wish I could get to Spruce Pine (my mother's hometown) more regularly. This has been one of my very favorite dining experiences in a long time.

              Knife & Fork Spruce Pine, North Carolina

              6 Replies
              1. re: Tehama

                Lovely report, Tehama... and photos too! Thank you! What a beautiful experience you seemed to have and a bargain price tag too.

                I know exactly what you mean about chicken livers and typically don't care for them. I always try them and occasionally I am blown away and love them. I seem to have a preference for them in a paté as opposed to simply sautéed.

                Glad you had a great meal.

                1. re: lynnlato

                  Thanks, Lynnlato! It was really awesome and wish it was geographically more convenient. Your posts are always so fun! Maybe we'll have a joint Triangle/Charlotte chowdown soon! :-)

                  1. re: Tehama

                    I'd love that! I'll be spending a few days in Raleigh over the next couple of months. :)

                    1. re: lynnlato

                      OK! We are going to schedule something soon!! See you then!

                      If you'd like, please send me email to and I'll get you added to our list (you of course can leave the group at any point if need be).


                2. re: Tehama

                  Just there for lunch on Tuesday. The chicken gizzards/neck and the charcuterie were fantastic, right down to the smallest -- but hardly insignificant! -- details, such as the pepper jelly, the pickles and the sunchokes on the charcuterie plate, and the homemade ketchup. Am told that the trout sandwich and burger were equally great. If this meal was representative, this is an almost perfect spot--a refreshing lack of pretense, focusing on the quality of what's on the plate. Service was extremely gracious and helpful. [Disclosure: We went on the recommendation of friends whose daughter works there; but from what we saw, everyone is treated equally well.] Extremely reasonably priced, to boot.

                  All in all, notably better than anything we had in Asheville, and much better than the (fine but forgettable) meal we had at the highly touted Shack in Staunton, VA a few nights earlier. What's more, Spoon (the bar upstairs) looks like an ideal spot for drinks, although it wasn't open when we were there.

                  What I would give for a place like Knife & Fork closer to D.C. . . . . (We have great restaurants, but very little that's comparable anywhere close to this price point.)

                  1. re: MartyL

                    Awesome! Thanks for the report; I want to go back very soon. Hopefully will be able to in the fall to see the autumn colors and such!