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first visit to Zambra, Asheville

Jeff C. May 30, 2012 09:30 AM

So, helpful 'hounds, what are the MUST TRY menu items?

  1. carolinadawg May 30, 2012 09:50 AM

    Most of the menu (all of the menu?) changes often, perhaps daily, so I'm not sure that's really a question that can be answered. My advice is to see which of the specials sound good and go for them. I've enjoyed everything I've ever eaten there.

    1. danna May 30, 2012 01:10 PM

      You probably read my little note on Zambra the other day, but if not...the bread is no longer as good as it was. I say get some scallops and some quail. Those are the two items that I have enjoyed consistently over the years.

      1 Reply
      1. re: danna
        Jeff C. May 31, 2012 05:05 AM

        Got it. Thanks so much!

      2. Jeff C. Jun 4, 2012 12:05 PM

        Okay, so here's a brief report: Definitely a top ten Asheville dining destination, if not quite top five. Per Ms. Danna, we started with the Pan Rustico, which was good. The olive oil and grated romano that came with was excellent. Then a mixed green salad that had apples and nuts and some kind of maple-based dessing. Excellent. Entries included seared scallops over vanilla grits and an apricot and chorizo stuffed quail with a mole sauce. All were uniformly excellent if a bit overdone in terms of multiple flavors. Dessert was a rather pedestrian flan, but when is flan ever NOT pedestrian? Service and timing of when the dishes were served and the plates removed is the absolute best we've experienced in Asheville. Really stellar. Okay, just a few quibbles from Mr. Picky: The decor is very late '90s, the entrees have maybe one strong flavor too many for them to be truly distinctive, and the restaurant lacks a clear identity, being neither a true Spanish tapas place like Curate nor a true neuvo southern place like The Admiral. (Nuevo Southern Tapas? Southern-Tapas Fusion?) Total, pre-tip, including two cocktails and a beer: $65. We will return!

        4 Replies
        1. re: Jeff C.
          meatn3 Jun 4, 2012 08:15 PM

          Your comment on the decor struck my funny bone - they remodeled around 2002-3!

          I am also amazed at the level of service you received - they were always the 2nd worse service in Asheville in my experience - Laughing Seed holding the top place.

          I've always liked the food at Zambra's, just have rarely had enough time to devote when dessert takes an hour and a half to e delivered!

          1. re: meatn3
            Jeff C. Jun 5, 2012 05:13 AM

            Maybe we just got lucky, but our server was friendly, helpful, and attentive without being overbearing. A second person came by frequently to fill water glasses and clear empty plates. I also noticed a manager floating about checking on everyone, though he never actually made it to our table.

          2. re: Jeff C.
            danna Jun 5, 2012 06:16 AM

            Ha Ha...I ADORED the late 90's...that was my moment ;-) I didn't really think about it when we were there, but timing of dishes WAS very good. I suppose that's the ideal to strive for...the customer doesn't notice the timing, because it's correct.

            Last time I was at Curate it took FOREVER for them to bring our food. I suspect the server couldn't grasp that we were just there for a light snack (hey, it's tapas....) and tried to drag the few things we ordered out into a "dining experience" by bring things out one at a time wiht huge gaps in between.

            1. re: danna
              Foodher Jun 17, 2012 01:50 PM

              I wish I could have more consistent experiences at Zambra. Sometimes the tapas are "knock your socks off" and then just mehh. Sometimes the service is attentive & professional and sometimes they've blatantly forgotten about us or been surly. That being said, I've been dining at Zambra since they first opened in...hmmm mayb 2000 or 2001 and overall it remains one that I will recommend. It's perfect for a cozy romantic dinner or a "tapa" at the bar and a glass of wine.

          3. Jeff C. Jun 6, 2012 09:50 AM

            ...and while I'm thinking about it, there's all kinds of storefront space currently available on Broadway downtown. Will some enterprising young chef please open a Dim Sum place (or at least a high end sushi bar)?

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