[Asheville] Seven Sows
I’m not sure how Seven Sows defines its cuisine. But, if I had to bet on it, I’d reckon they’d say its “Modern Southern” or “New Southern”, or whatever phrase is used in those parts to define food that has its roots in traditional dishes but cooked with a contemporary spin to them.
It’s got a very relaxed vibe, fitted out with some seating in booths, others at tables and a few more still outside on the patio, which is where we ate.
It’s got one of those menus where you’re not quite sure how to order. Is a “snack” really a starter or should you kick off your meal with a “small plate” before moving on to a “large plate”? Or are the “small plates” just there for folk who havn’t brought much of an appetite with them? So I asked. And the answer was “It depends”. Some of the small plates are ideal for starters, others are really main courses for people who want to stay thin. Well, that’s not me. I’m a fat, greedy man who is not really looking to lose weight any time soon. So, Ms Server, what’s a proper starter, please?
That’ll be the crispy chicken livers, then. And bloody lovely they were too. A nice crispy coating protected the livers from over-cooking. Also on the plate, and working really well together, was some creamed corn, thinly sliced radish and a few pickled soya beans. Really clever combination. And a properly sized starter, which led me on to a properly sized main course.
That was a Heritage Cheshire pork chop. That’s a chop from the Chester White pig, originally bred in Chester County, Pennsylvania but this one came from Heritage Farms, Seven Springs, North Carolina. There has to be a co-incidence knocking about there somewhere – I live in the county of Cheshire in north west England. And the county is well known for pig raising.
This was a good, tasty bit of pig. It sat on a butterbean chow-chow and grits. Now it’s fair to say that I am not a big fan of grits. But I enjoyed these, enhanced as they were with a little jalapeno and a little goats cheese. There was a little light jus which the menu told me came from another pig breed – the Mangalitsa. And a little Persian cress (or garden cress, as I’d call it) topped the lot, adding a bit of colour if not much else.
Across the table, hush puppies were being dunked in cheese. This was from the “snacks” part of the menu. To make them, they use buttermilk from Cruze Farm, near Knoxville, Tennessee. The puppies were delicious – soft and light as you want them to be. They were served with pimiento cheese which Google later told me that it’s known as the “caviar of the South”. Presumably tongue firmly in cheek there. But it was perfect for dunking.
For a main course, my partner picked the only item on the menu which didn’t have an identifiable local interest. And she possibly paid the price for that. The scallops were OK – big and fat and perfectly cooked – something of a charring on the outside and only just cooked in the middle. But there was little of the sweetness that we expect from our own local produce. Perhaps, we’re spoiled in that way. It did, however, sit on a very successful lemon risotto which had a little cantaloupe melon running through, which made for intriguing flavours and textures. A drizzle of vinaigrette, enhanced with Sichuan peppercorns, gave a background kick to the plate.
So, all in all, we really loved the food. It’s interesting and imaginative and deserves your custom if in the area.