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Aug 13, 2011 11:12 AM

Out & About in Asheville

Have previously written about surprises both pleasant (The Junction) and un- (Boca), so I won't belabor those. But I do have some other quick observations from the past month or so of dining in WNC.

--Have been to The Admiral four times in recent weeks. They are now firing on all culinary cylinders to a degree that the quality only slipped maybe half a notch the one time Chef Moss wasn't there. Highlights have included a roast pork dish that was even better than the one I had in Puerto Rico last summer, an exemplary pan-seared Hog-Nosed Snapper, a peach gazpacho with peeky toe crab, and a strawberry cake that was the very essence of summer on a (square) plate. If there's a better restaurant for the price in the entire Southeast, I am unaware of it. (Oh, and The Admiralflower is the perfect summer cocktail.)

--Had a perfectly flaky and delicious Ham & Swiss croissant fresh from the wood-fired oven at the Flat Rock Village Bakery the other morning. OMG, as the kids say.

--Had lunch again at White Duck Taco this week. The place was crawling with locals (including an entire hook & ladder truck full of Asheville firemen)--always a good sign. We had the excellent watermelon sangria, but I'm thinking cava or prosecco and a sprig of mint would send it through the roof. Wife had her usual fish taco, which she loves. I had a bahn mi style chicken taco, which was a bit bland (Do they really use chicken in Vietnam?) but benefitted greatly from the addition of some Mexican hot sauce. (Also: How about a smear of pate'?) Finally, the Bankok Shrimp Taco with cucumber-chili aioli is one of the best things I've crammed into my piehole all summer, a perfect synthesis of sweet, sour, and crunchy. Seriously, this one is a MUST TRY. Dessert was a pleasant but otherwise forgettable watermelon and mint fruit cocktail--maybe a pinch of sea salt?

--Ate dinner at Limones week before last. It was our first time there in over a year, and I have to say I had forgotten how good it is (or can be). For one thing, they make the bast margaritas in town...which they'd better be at $8-$12. They may also have an edge in the local Ceviche War (see also: Curate, Admiral, Storm, etc.). Ours had mahi in it that was so silky and flavorful it could've easily been mistaken for sea scallops. Wife had a lovely cirtrusy shrimp dish with pearl cous cous, while I played it somewhat safe with Tequila-Lime Beef fajitas, which sounds like something you'd find on the menu at Chili's but was out of this world...handmade, freshly grilled tortillas, some kind of pickled jalapeno-cucumber relish, a hand-rolled black bean-chorizo tamal. Tres Leches cake with pressed peach and Mexican coffee for dessert. In short, Limones has seduced me again after too long away...and has solidified its standing on my list of WNC's best restaurants.

--Oh, and we went back to Storm: cocktails still excellent, food still very good, service still slow/ditzy...

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  1. Good post, thanks for sharing. I need to get back to the Admiral soon, maybe even tomorrow.

    Had a nice evening at Zambra last night. I was a little concerned that Curate might take away from Zambra's business, but it was packed. And rightfully so, the food was pretty excellent. Nice to see that two great tapas places can thrive downtown.

    1. Great update. Limones was on our to-do list years ago and it sort of fell by the wayside with other newer spots showing up. You have reminded me that we really need to get there. Tres Leches done well, is one of my favorite desserts!

      And I have been meaning to get back to the Admiral for some time now. Also a must do and SOON.

      Do you think Storm is ever going to get it with their service?? I mean, for the foreseeable future, it won't stop us from going; but geez, how many times do we have to talk about how frequently it misfires before they FIX IT?

      4 Replies
      1. re: Scirocco

        Totally agree with you on Limones...after a not-so-great experience at Storm a few weeks ago (food pretty good but left us wanting more, service abysmal) we went there and it was excellent. Now that Curras is closed I'm sure we will be enjoying it even more.

        White Duck is my new favorite place for lunch or a cheap dinner - their carnitas taco is my favorite and the shrimp isn't far behind - but I actually did NOT like the fish taco. At all. But I am not a tilapia fan. I wish they made it with something else...

        I'd like to add that if you haven't tried the Gypsy Queen Cuisine food truck then you must find her ASAP. She posts to Facebook and Twitter where she is going to be. I am hooked on her falafel and yesterday she was offering a lamb dish with hummus and tabbouli that looked phenomenal. Highly recommended! I've also heard the Lowdown food truck is good (sandwiches).

        1. re: miss piggy

          Does the Gypsy Queen truck park anywhere on weekends? (We're usually too busy to come to Asheville during the week.)

          1. re: Jeff C.

            Yes - she's at the Bywater often on Sundays (really cool bar on the river if you haven't been there yet) and at this weird little flea market thing they've started setting up across from the French Broad Park on Riverside Drive. I think she's also at Wedge sometimes on the weekends? I think she posts to FB and Twitter.

      2. Limones is still our favorite. If the Admiral was downtown Asheville, I might chance my mind.

        13 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801

        1. We finally got to LImones last night. And boy, we should've gone long ago. Loved it. We ate so much we had to sit down at Pack Sq for awhile until we could walk upright again. :)

          Had the mango and blood orange margaritas, lobster nachos (odd item, but we were both amazed at how delicious it was), smoked salmon empanada, scallops and watermelon, short ribs (all small plates), fish taco large plate (my husband got this and thought they were good, but WDT were better - I just thought they were different), Mexican coffee and the bread pudding. I wanted the tres leches cake, but it had nuts in it. :( Tab closing in on $100 w/o tip, but we got a LOT of stuff.

          I also wanted to try the peach-chipotle margarita, but our server steered me away from it. has anyone had it?

          they initially tried to seat us in the "enchanted grotto" next to the kitchen and restrooms, but we asked if we could have a better table. They were fully booked, but were very gracious to accommodate us.

          we will absolutely be back. Oh, and a res at the Admiral for next Saturday! woot!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Scirocco

            Does anyone know if the food trucks are at the Coxe Ave locationj yet?

              1. re: Jeff C.

                Keep us posted. Would love to have more info on the food truck scene in Asheville. Time for a new thread?

              2. re: tommason

                If you are on Facebook, you'll find that most of the trucks make announcements as to where they will be on a near daily basis. Maybe that will suffice until the lot on Coxe Ave is ready.

            1. Hadn't been to Limones in some time so it was nice to revisit. Food was good but it reminded me that I miss Curras. Everyone was pleased w/ their only comment about the food would be that the Lobster Nachos would be better off in a different vessel rather than in an untidy heap in a too small bowl. It was also quite chilly in the restaurant the night we were there and we ate part of the dinner w/ our coats on.