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Romantic or just plain fun dinner in Asheville?

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bpm123 Oct 10, 2011 11:48 AM

Hi all,

My wife and I are celebrating our first anniversary in Asheville, and we'd love any recs for a really good or unique dinner. We're in our early 30s, probably qualify as "hipsters" by most of the less-vitriolic definitions (I promise we're not snide and superficial, but we do enjoy local foods, etc). We don't need something super fancy. However, we'd like the place to be at least a little nice and hopefully fun and unique to Asheville.

We live in NYC and getting decent southern food here is a challenge, so we're definitely open to some southern cooking, but not limited to that. Any ideas?

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  1. Jeff C. RE: bpm123 Oct 10, 2011 11:58 AM

    The Admiral is the best restaurant in town. You'll need a reservation: 828-252-2541. Not really southern per se, but very innovative and they source a lot of local ingredients, including seafood from southern waters.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jeff C.
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      bpm123 RE: Jeff C. Oct 10, 2011 12:02 PM

      Thanks Jeff! We are already booked for the Admiral on a different day, as we had seen it so often in blog posts and such. I should have mentioned that I'm looking for a spot on a Sunday, which is a closed day for the Admiral. We are excited to check it out the next day though.

      1. re: bpm123
        Jeff C. RE: bpm123 Oct 10, 2011 12:21 PM

        Well, let's see then... Brunch at Sunny Point (also in West Asheville) is also a good bet. Some people also like Tupelo Honey downtown, but I think the quality has dropped off a bit in recent years.

        1. re: bpm123
          danna RE: bpm123 Oct 10, 2011 01:03 PM

          Looks like Zambra is open on Sunday evening. Not southern by any stretch (tapas), but quite good and a fun/romantic atmosphere.

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        Leepa RE: bpm123 Oct 10, 2011 04:35 PM

        12 Bones for BBQ (your choice of type - you can't go wrong) and Southern sides. My choice is usually the cheese grits and the collard greens. But not on Sunday, as you probably know.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Leepa
          Jeff C. RE: Leepa Oct 10, 2011 05:27 PM

          ...and not for dinner, unfortunately.

          1. re: Leepa
            danna RE: Leepa Oct 11, 2011 05:58 AM

            yeah, if it weren't for the timing, 12 bones is the best place with "southern" stuff I could think of. Also the corn pudding and corn bread!

            1. re: danna
              Jeff C. RE: danna Oct 11, 2011 06:01 AM

              ...and the Sweet and Sour Slaw!

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            leahinsc RE: bpm123 Oct 10, 2011 07:10 PM

            good rec's here...I'd say the same...pre-dinner drink at Sante....dessert at Chocolate Lounge.....casual lunch Homegrown.

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              NANCY RE: bpm123 Oct 12, 2011 11:26 AM

              Consider Storm or Curate. Both open Sunday, both downtown.

              Storm ~ http://www.stormrhumbar.com/
              Curate ~ http://www.curatetapasbar.com/#/welcome

              12 Replies
              1. re: NANCY
                Notaslavetofashion RE: NANCY Oct 12, 2011 12:21 PM

                I strongly second Curate.

                1. re: Notaslavetofashion
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                  CarrotStick RE: Notaslavetofashion Oct 12, 2011 07:50 PM

                  A third for Curate. Truly excellent tapas in a fun atmosphere. A bit noisy, but eat dinner and the stroll downtown. My favorites there are patatas bravas, jamon, croquetas, and the gambas. The gambas are a must!

                  For good southern breakfast or lunch/dinner, head out to the WNC Farmers' Market and eat at the Moose Cafe. You can't miss with any of the egg plates or pancakes for breakfast. For lunch, go for fried chicken breast or chicken fried steak, both with gravy. They get their veggies fresh from the farmers' market and every meal comes with biscuits and apple butter.

                  1. re: CarrotStick
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                    pilches RE: CarrotStick Oct 13, 2011 05:47 AM

                    We've actually had guests in town for a short visit and wanted to give them a taste of Asheville so we started the evening with wine at Sante, over for a few small plates at Zambra (this was before Curate), over to Limones for dinner, and the French Broad Chocolate Lounge for dessert. It was all delicious and a nice "tour" of town.

                    -----
                    Limones
                    13 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801

                    Sante
                    1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801

                    French Broad Chocolate Lounge
                    Asheville, Asheville, NC

                    1. re: CarrotStick
                      danna RE: CarrotStick Oct 13, 2011 06:16 AM

                      I thought Curate was good food in a nice atmosphere as well. But I didn't think it was AS good/creative food-wise not AS romatic as Zambra. But the great thing about tapas is you could have a nice drink and a couple of bites and decide it it's your type of place, no?

                      I hate to be a total wet blanket here, but I just feel compelled to share my conflicting opinion that Moose Cafe , while serving delicious biscuits, is rather awful for other lunch-type food. Typical Sysco stuff when I went...never to return. Maybe I was there on an off-day.

                      1. re: danna
                        Jeff C. RE: danna Oct 13, 2011 06:46 AM

                        Agree with Danna on Moose Cafe. Last time I went (years ago) it was yucky. I like Curate perhaps a bit more than her, however. (Is comparable to Jose Andres's Jaleo in DC, IMO.) STILL have not tried Zambra! (Note to self.)

                        1. re: Jeff C.
                          danna RE: Jeff C. Oct 13, 2011 07:01 AM

                          "(Is comparable to Jose Andres's Jaleo in DC, IMO.)" Seriously? I haven't been there, but I understand it's fabulous. I found Curate to be nothing more than adequate. And I mean adequate in a good way, mind you, as in "I was happy when I left"...but nothing wowed me. I need to try it again, obviously. But it bugs me that the menu apparently stays the same. (if I understood that correctly)

                          1. re: danna
                            Jeff C. RE: danna Oct 13, 2011 07:33 AM

                            It has been the same the two times I've been there, which is a bit of bummer. (Jaleo's menu was much more extensive.) I understand Curate's brunch menu has some different items on it, however. And I know from personal experience that Chef Button has been known to whip up non-menu treats for special occasions. (Ours was a "Chocolate Napkin" dessert.)

                            1. re: Jeff C.
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                              bpm123 RE: Jeff C. Oct 13, 2011 08:05 AM

                              Thanks so much, everyone! Really appreciate all the tips, and the healthy debate. We'll be going to several of these now (Curate, Admiral, Limones, 12 Bones so far for sure) and we will definitely report back. For the anniversary dinner itself, we're looking for fun and festive, so Curate sounds like a good one. I think we will also try Zambra so we can compare. We'll make a point to check out Storm too, as we're not big rum drinkers so would be nice to branch out a little. If there's more to check out, keep 'em coming, and thanks again!

                              -----
                              Limones
                              13 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801

                              1. re: bpm123
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                                NANCY RE: bpm123 Oct 13, 2011 12:33 PM

                                Definitely lots of rum at Storm, but many other very interesting cocktails. I'm not into sweet, so I stick with the East India Cocktail or the Perfect Storm Mojito.

                              2. re: Jeff C.
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                                CarrotStick RE: Jeff C. Oct 13, 2011 04:09 PM

                                See, that's what I love about Curate. The menu is tight and has the best of classic Spanish tapas. I've eaten at Jaleo in DC (well, the Crystal City, VA location) a number of times, and Curate is as good if not better. I've not eaten at Zambra because I prefer the classic to the "nuevo" that Zambra's menu appears to be. Jamon and croquetas are tapas. Tacos, spring rolls and mole are not in my book. Small plates, yes. Tapas, no.

                                I do stand by my Moose recommendation. Southern born and bred, as are most of my friends and family. Everyone we've taken has cleaned the plate, breakfast and lunch.

                              3. re: danna
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                                NANCY RE: danna Oct 13, 2011 12:31 PM

                                Curate is definitely comparable to Jose Andres's Jaleo in Vegas (was there in March). One of the Curate owners worked w/ Jaleo for their Vegas opening.

                                At Feast event, Curate owner advised they are working on some additions to the menu. The dish at Feast was a sous vide short rib (delicious, but very, very rich) and might make it onto their menu.

                            2. re: danna
                              Scirocco RE: danna Oct 13, 2011 03:15 PM

                              Am glad to hear you say that about Curate, Danna. Like you, I thought it was good, but didn't blow me away. Maybe my expectations were too high?? Don't get me wrong, I totally enjoyed my dinner, but I guess I was expecting more of a wow factor from the hype. And it is a little noisy, but in a "good energy" way. But, if you want a more romantic tapas, I second Zambras (I've had hit/miss food meaning good/great, not good/bad, but overall it's very good). I really like its atmosphere. Cozy and dark. :) Limones is great too, ask for one of the tables in the windows. We love Storm too. Food has always been very good - service, however, was very spotty. Supposedly that has improved. However, I will say their bartender is great and if you ate dinner at the bar (we've only had drinks at the bar), I'm betting the service would be wonderful. Storm is also noisy though on the dining side. Moose Cafe? Eh.

                      2. l
                        leahinsc RE: bpm123 Oct 16, 2011 02:09 PM

                        I would agree w/ Danna on Moose Cafe...biscuits are good- everything else is pretty mainstream at best.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: leahinsc
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                          bpm123 RE: leahinsc Oct 31, 2011 10:51 AM

                          Hi everyone,

                          Thanks again for all the recommendations. We ended up at Curate for the anniversary itself, but tried out the Admiral, 12 Bones, Limones, Tupelo, Salsas, and the noodle joint right in the square downtown, on a tip from a server at Admiral. We really loved Curate, just overall solid place, and asked the server for some of the more interesting options. If any of you haven't tried the fried eggplant, it was the last thing I would have ordered but he suggested it and it was fantastic, drizzled in honey and sea salt. Great staff, we even went back for a lunchtime snack and hung out at the bar in the early afternoon chatting with them.

                          Admiral was fantastic, of course. Every other place was great as well, I have to say. Incredible food town you guys have!

                          -----
                          Limones
                          13 Eagle St, Asheville, NC 28801

                          1. re: bpm123
                            Scirocco RE: bpm123 Oct 31, 2011 01:34 PM

                            the eggplant is my favorite too!! and like you, it would not have been my first choice. A friend (who normally doesn't like eggplant) recommended it.

                            Glad you had a nice time and thank you for reporting back. It's always nice to hear how things went and if any of our usual recs have changed. Or if you found any good spots we may have missed or need to get back to. :)

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