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Sep 30, 2012 06:54 PM

Asheville Updates Fall 2012

I for one am super excited about three new places opening soon where I can get my cocktail on! MG Road (downstairs from Chai Pani, sounds swanky and exciting), Nuns On Top (upstairs from Thirsty Monk, described as intimate and heavy on the whiskey...fine by me) and Table's new upstairs bar (said to have a speakeasy feel...could be cool) all seem like welcome additions to Asheville's small but tasty mixology scene.

Peeked in on Chestnut today (just opened, same owners as Corner Kitchen) and the bar looked like a lovely place to hang out. The rest of the restaurant seemed a little stale...kind of hotel-ish? But it was 2pm on a Sunday and there was no one there so I have absolutely no room to judge. I'm liking the "medium-plates" concept as long as they are tasty and not over-priced. Will be checking this one out soon.

Also very interested to see what "Dough' on Merrimon is like. Construction on this new bakery/prepared food/specialty grocer (in my neighborhood, yay!) is shaping up nicely and is set to open this fall.

And finally some kudos for some places I feel like don't get mentioned much on this board. I have fallen in love with Our Taco and El Kimchi food trucks to the point where I now get such intense cravings for them that I force my husband to meet me in The Lot on most Thursdays or Fridays so we can split meals from each. It's a terrible addiction! But oh so good. Have really been enjoying Avenue M as a perfect little neighborhood spot for brunch or a casual dinner. The outdoor patio is especially nice this time of year. Went to Chai Pani twice in two weeks, hooked on their turkey hash cheese fries. Also got lucky both times with a spot on their small patio right in the heart of downtown where the people-watching was wonderfully entertaining. Took out-of-town guests to The Bywater and made a day of it - cocktails and beer were flowing, people were happily sharing their food (none served but you can bring your own and use their grills) - one family was even smoking a whole pig, deep-frying corn on the cob, mixing up potato salad and offering plates to everyone in sight. It was a beautiful day on the river - to me this place is a quintessential Asheville experience. Our friends loved it.

The one recent flop we had was Stone Bowl Korean. I really wanted to love this place - the reviews on websites are very positive and it really seems to wow some people - but we were not impressed. Both of us had stone bowls and while the process was fun (stirring the hotpot to cook the egg and toast the rice), our meats were bland and half the sides (each entree comes with a bunch of different little tastings) were very fishy and inedible. The music was awful (Mariah Carey and Justin Beiber love songs...yikes!), service was slightly cold and the whole vibe in there was just sort of quiet and awkward. Granted it was a Monday so it could have just been an off night. But I don't think we'll be back.

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  1. Thanks for the updates! Never heard of Avenue M....what kind of food? We'll look out for Dough, can't have too many bakeries. And we LOVE El Kimchee, too. We had a pretty good experience at Stone Bowl. I like the bipimbab at El Kimchee better...but I liked stone bowl fine as well...and you get to sit down and you don't have to figure out where they are ;-)

    1. Went to Stone Bowl about two weeks after they opened and thought it was a bit bland (esp. the kimchee) but otherwise pretty good. Service was very warm and friendly. We need to try it again, though.

      Good news on the cocktail front--Asheville has been a bit lacking in that regard. (Where's our Gin Joint or quivalent?) For us beer drinkers, the best news is that the highly-touted Wicked Weed Brewing will soon open a brewpub beside the Orange Peel on Biltmore Ave. I'm also stoked about Atlanta's Farm Burger coming to Asheville. Anybody have a firm opening date?

      I need to lose my El Kimchee cherry! What's the best thing for a first-timer?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jeff C.

        Not sure about FarmBurger's opening date but we walked past it yesterday too - in the old Leader space next to Salsa (great location!) - they were working in there but looked like they had a long way to go. I'm excited about this too - friends in Atlanta rave about it.

        I always get the bibimbap at El Kimchi...but am going to try the bulgogi beef burrito next.

        Avenue M is where Usual Suspects used to be on Merrimon. They make a killer burger and I liked their Mediterranean sampler - falafel, hummus, grape leaves, and baba ganoush. They have great salads and sandwiches or you can pay a little more for entrees - it's a nice variety of types of food and price points. Their brunch is really good too and never a wait. I wouldn't seek it out necessarily but it's in my neighborhood and is the perfect spot for a casual night out. The owner is always there and she's so nice. Trivia on Tuesdays draws a crowd and they always have excellent drink specials.

      2. We had a chance to try M(-ahtma) G(-andhi) Road Saturday night. Lovely space, lovely people, lovely cocktails. They also feature six light appetizers and four desserts if you need somehing to soak up the booze. (We had just eaten, so we didn't partake. Maybe next time.)

        1. yes, I agree that Avenue M is a great neighborhood spot that often gets overlooked. Reasonably priced and good quality drinks, foods and service....we have always been pleased with the food. Chestnut is a wonderful addition to downtown with its blonde, serene interior and beautiful bar area....We just had drinks and apps at the bar but everything was delicious so we'll be back to try a meal.