Three New Restaurants In North Asheville - Ambrozia, Magnolia Ray, Casa Maya
We recently visited Ambrozia and Magnolia Ray...haven't been to Casa Maya based on one bad Yelp review but it looks like they've gotten a few positive ones since so we will check it out soon.
Ambrozia is a really nice little addition to the neighborhood. Very modern, pretty interior - a little sterile even, and it was pretty loud in there the night we went with lots of people trying to converse and the sound having nowhere to go (the fact that there was no music playing also made it feel cold - I think they could stand to play some cool music to add to the "swanky" vibe). We sat at the bar and had good service. Small plates are very reasonably priced and the portions are not "small" so we felt like it was a great value. Excellent charcuterie plate, good shrimp and grits, a nice fresh salad and a delicious short rib dish with pimento cheese mashed potatoes. All of that plus 4 glasses of wine and a dessert to go was only $80 before tip - I thought that was a very good deal. They also have smaller "snack" plates that sound very interesting (lobster corn dogs!) and full entrees in the $20+ range. We will definitely be back to try more, and their brunch menu looked good too. Two friends of ours visited earlier this week and had a similar positive experience.
Magnolia Ray was a big surprise. I thought I had read some bad reviews but revisited the usual review sites and saw a string of positives so we decided to check it out. I also had not been blown away by their menu upon first look a few months ago but they appear to have changed it - much more interesting and lots more "New Orleans" style options now which is what I think they are going for. I had the gumbo which was delicious but very thick...it was almost like gravy. I shudder to think about the calories I ingested sopping it up with bread. My husband had the etouffee and it was also good but not like a traditional etouffee. To me it was more like a shrimp creole, very heavy on the tomatoes. Everything was very fresh and we had excellent salads with the meal. My conclusion is that this place is very good, but if you are a Cajun food purist you may not like it as much as we did as the dishes don't seem overly traditional.
Casa Maya's Linville location gets rave reviews so I'm interested to check out their relocation to Asheville. We love Mexican food and I was happy to see that their menu is not your typical cookie-cutter sloppy Mexican menu...they even offer a large array of Cuban dishes. I'll report back when we go.