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Ben's Tune Up (Asheville) now open!

According to their Facebook page, Elliot Moss's new sake/sushi/yakitori place opens today. Am trying Seven Sows this weekend, so I may not get there for a week or so. If anybody goes, please share your thoughts.

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  1. Okay, so I drove by the place tonight after dinner at Seven Sows, and it was dark. So I guess the information on their Facebook page is wrong. If anybody knows when they do plan on opening, please let us know.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jeff C.

      I've been back a second time. Service was very spotty - lots of flagging down the server, etc. Everyone was polite and friendly...just scattered and slow. ALL of the tasty cocktails have been removed from the menu. :( Big bummer in my opinion. Liquor is still avail of course, but no creative cocktails. I asked our server about it and she said it was just getting too hectic. ? Seems like they could find a way to fix that, but oh well. Food was still good...not great...not Admiral quality at all...but interesting and fun to try. We tried the small plates of macaroni noodle (skip this and the "potato" - they're just mayonnaise-y salads), two salads (very good greens and dressings, one topped with some panko-crusted fried chicken that was kind of dry), and some delicious mussels. He really knows how to do mussels based on my experience here at previously at The Admiral. Again, my take on this place remains that it as not so much a place for a full dinner, but more of a unique spot to enjoy drink and a snack. So Ben's, if you're listening, bring back the fun cocktails!

      1. re: miss piggy

        Still haven't made it due to the crappy weather. However, this report and other not-so-hot reports elsewhere make me not as anxious to try it as I was before...sounds like they need a kick-@ss GM to come in take charge.

    2. Burial Beer's Facebook page says both they and Ben's Tune Up will open in June, no exact date given. Looks like it's going to be a yummy summer, if the weather decides to cooperate.

      1. For real this time: It will open "sometime" next week, according to their FB page.

          1. Just saw the first menu on their Facebook pg., and now I'm really stoked. Anybody been yet?

            10 Replies
            1. re: Jeff C.

              Pictures of the inside/outside setup look cool too...we will try to check it out this weekend and report back!

              1. re: miss piggy

                Please! (Looks like it'll be next weekend before I can get there.)

                1. re: Jeff C.

                  Had a fun time last night for dinner. We ordered a few items: shashimi, macaroni, beef yakatori, chicken yakatori, and the ramen bowl. Food tasted great, clean.

                  Just about everything we ordered came out within 5 minutes, but it was their 2nd night open, so I totally expect little hiccups like that, and didn't take issue with it at all.

                  I had their gin cocktail, "Hearts A Fire," I think. Not bad, they had another drink with jalapenos that sounded more interesting, I'll definitely give it a try soon.

                  We sat in the enclosed space between the bar & kitchen. It did get a tad warm, and I think we regretted our choice after we walked through the open air section of the restaurant after dinner, it felt great. The space as a whole is really unique and fun, seems like a great place for dinner or simply drinks, tons of seating "outside." I'll be interested to see how they handle rain, however.

                  Unique in its space and its offerings, I think Ben's is another terrific addition to our restaurant scene. I look forward to going back, and to hearing what the rest of y'all think.

                  Here's a terrific and accurate write-up from the Mountain Xpress a few days ago:


                  1. re: JKidd

                    Thanks for the report. Clean food is definitely better, I've found! :-)

              2. re: Jeff C.

                Jeff, I looked for their menu on the FB page and didn't see it. If it's still there, can you tell me where to look? I checked photos and posts and somehow missed it.

                1. re: Scirocco

                  We went tonight - LOVE this place!!! Very cool atmosphere with the open-air dining setting - beautiful place. If you're opposed to communal seating you're not going to ve very happy here because that is the majority. drinks were CHEAP and strong (although glasses are on the smaller side...still, $6 cocktails...I'll take it). Food is very interesting - we tried the potato salad (topped with roe - quite good), chicken wing yakatori (delicious grilled meat on a skewer) and the ramen bowl (huge portion at only $10, divine broth with noodles and pork shoulder/belly plus veggies and a hard boiled egg - yum). I'll be back again very soon to try more of the yakatori offerings for sure as well as other small plates. We had 3 plates and 6 drinks (whoopsie!) and the bill was $60 - not bad at all. Service was a little sloppy at the bar but we made it work. Music was great, very cool vibe...this place is going to be a hot spot I'm sure. I didn't see the menu online either but I can tell you that picky eaters probably aren't going to like this place. The menu is super-eclectic and somewhat limited which was part of the fun...trying new things. To me it wasn't as much about the food as it was the uniqueness of the place. we will definitely be back very soon!

                  1. re: Scirocco

                    When you go their FB page, click on "photos" near the top. It should come up on the top row, second from the left.

                      1. re: JTomWilson

                        Thanks! Appears to no longer be on the FB page, but it is on that blog link. Very interesting. Am especially intrigued by the fried nutella mochi. Being the sweet tooth that I am, I LOVE mochi but have never seen it fried. Not normally a fan of "fried", but sometimes you just gotta be bad.

                        1. re: Scirocco

                          That wasn't on the menu when we went last night just FYI! :(

                  2. Finally got a chance to try this place last night. First of all, I love the look and feel of it--very hip, very Asheville. I would be pissed, however, if I were dining on a lovely bowl of ramen in the lovely open courtyard and one of our infamous summer showers started. I also don't know what they'll do this winter, since roughly two-thirds of the seating is outside. Retractable roof time? Okay, so the food... We started with sweetbread and chicken leg yakitori, both small portions but lovely and inexpensive. I had Ben's Ramen Bowl with shredded shoulder and belly pork, egg, and nori, and wife had the Katsu Don, a rice bowl with fried chicken, egg, and charred onion. I loved the ramen dish, though I prefer my noodles a little less chewy (wife thought they were perfect, natch). The Katsu Don was very good, though a little bland. Could've used a squirt of sriracha. Speaking of, there are no condiments in evidence anywhere outside of the kitchen--strange. The outdoor tables could use some flowers or votives or something, esp. since they are essentially glorified picnic tables. As others have indicated, the one major flaw continues to be service. Everyone we encountered in the place--from hostess to bartender to waitress--was absolutely lovely, but, man, do they ever need more staff. Service is extremely slow, and I thought we were never going to get the check afterward. Also, dirty dishes, bottles, and glasses were left on the tables around us for 10-15 mins. at a time while napkins and menus blew around the courtyard. Hopefully, these are opening month glitches that soon will be corrected. Total for above, including two beers, a shot of bourbon, and a glass of sake sangria: around $42, very reasonable. If/when they get the service and inclement weather issues worked out, Ben's could become an Asheville late-night dining institution.

                    1. So, apparently they're doing a Tuesday night dance party in the courtyard now--weather permitting, of course. Could be fun!

                      8 Replies
                          1. re: Jeff C.

                            Holy Cow...I'm shocked. We've been 3 times now, and apparently that last time was post-Elliott. I didn't realize that when we had lunch there on Saturday. It was lots of fun, we had snow cones (the non boozy ones), whole trout, roast oysters, grilled chicken, and most interesting - a scallop sausage bahn mi. I loved everything. The sides were a little boring (mac salad, potato salad) but other than that no complaints. We sat next to the beach (a baby pool w/ sand around it) and listened to the band. It's so hip ;-)

                            My one evening meal included ramen (very good) and a raw fish dish that was nondescript. I honestly can't remember what my husand got, but he was PO'ed that I picked Bens over the Admiral. Our 1st brunch at Ben's consisted of egg-type brunch dishes and I can say that the owner has it right to do something else.

                            So, anyway, did you guys get from that article that Elliott kinda got fired?

                            1. re: danna

                              After hearing about the shake-up, I was sort of waiting for a few people to try it post-Elliott before committing to go (I haven't been yet at all), but sounds like you had a good experience. I think I'll put it back on my short list.

                              It sounded to me like there may have been a difference of opinion on the direction of the restaurant. Hard to tell if he left because he wanted to or someone else wanted him to. But leaving after only 2 months, it sure doesn't sound like butterflies and unicorns.

                              1. re: Scirocco

                                Yeah, I'm a huge fan of Elliott and can't wait to follow whereever he goes...BUT....I can kinda see why the owner might have been smart to push for a different direction. That was a pretty weird menu the first 2 times we went. We like weird, and it was challenging for us. There's no way I would have taken any of my friends there if I hadn't known there was a "BBQ party" on Saturday (announced on FB).

                                1. re: danna

                                  Yeah, this whole thing is rather odd. We were there for "BBQ brunch" about three weeks ago, and Chef Moss was manning the grill and serving people himself. And now, abruptly, he's gone. I gotta believe there's more to the story than what is in the article. If anyone hears anything, be sure to let us know. Meanwhile, I eagerly anticipate the opening of Buxton Hill BBQ...

                                  1. re: Jeff C.

                                    What's the latest on Ben's Tune Up? I'm plotting and planning for my annual Asheville chow prowl in October and Ben's sounds right up my alley but I'd love to see a menu sample to get a better idea of what's on offer. I can't seem to find a menu anywhere online, including Ben's FB page.

                                    1. re: ToothTooth

                                      They used to post menus every week or so on FB, but not so much since Chef Moss left. Never hurts to call and ask, though.

                      1. Went today with a couple of friends to try their new lunch buffet ($8.55 incl tx). Eh. It honestly didn't taste any better to me than your average Chinese take-out. Of course, IMO, I think it's hard for most buffets to be memorable in a quality food way.

                        Loved the space though (even on this rainy day), bartender was great. But, it sort of ended there. To be fair, I should go back sometime and try their regular menu, but there are so many places in Asheville now that I KNOW are good, it's hard to give so-so a second chance.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Scirocco

                          Here's my recent Ben's post, copied from another thread. Posted 3/28:

                          "Was a bit let down last time I went to Ben's. Service was good, but the presentation was perfunctory and the flavors less punchy than before. Off night?"

                          Apparently not. And the lunch buffet doesn't bode well, either.

                          1. re: Scirocco

                            "but there are so many places in Asheville now that I KNOW are good, it's hard to give so-so a second chance."

                            SO true. Even though it may not be fair.

                            1. re: danna

                              I afraid this would happen when Chef Moss left. Thank goodness he's doing Punk Wok now.

                              1. re: Jeff C.

                                Have you done Punk Wok? I have a vague memory that you have?? I went once and while it was pretty good, it still didn't impress me as much as I'd hoped. LOVE the concept though. Several of our dishes (there were six of us I think?) were way oversalted. The best thing I had was (thankfully) my own dish which was a fish/curry bowl of some sort. I enjoyed it, but again, probably not enough to go back. Dunno. I might. One of our friends loved the steak tartare that night but I didn't really care for it. I much prefer the Wicked Weed version.

                                Yesterday, after our Ben's misstep, my friend and I wondered if we've become a bit jaded in that we've come to expect SUCH great things in A'ville that when they don't quite measure up to expectations, we write them off pretty easily. ?? But again, I go back to, when there are so many KNOWN good options... tough town to stand out. Which is probably a good thing for us!

                                1. re: Scirocco

                                  Moss does bold flavors, that's for sure--blasts of sour, salt, and savory. Some people--my wife, included--find it a bit much, but it jibes with what little I know of "authentic" asian cuisine.