Rhubarb - Asheville
We went to the newest restaurant in Asheville last night, Rhubarb. The chef is John Fleer, James Beard award winner and long-time chef at the famed Blackberry Farm. It's located right downtown on the square in between Posana and the noodle place.
The interior is gorgeous - casual rustic elegance - open and airy. They also have a large patio. There's an open kitchen with a small chef's table which I'm sure you could request to sit at to watch all of the action.
Service was excellent and both Fleer and the manager were roaming the floor asking patrons how everything was.
Overall we enjoyed our meal. We started with roasted pecans seasoned with flaky sea salt and rosemary. An addictive little snack for sure. Next came 2 roasted oysters with a cornbread and Benton's bacon topping. At $7 we thought this was a little overpriced (a theme that would carry on throughout the dinner) but the ingredients were high-quality and the dish was very tasty. We also shared a plate of fresh herbed ricotta, roasted garlic and eggplant and feta caponata that was served with warm toasty bread. Very good.
For dinner we opted to share a salad ($10) and bison short ribs ($31). The salad was farro, roasted beets and turnips, kale and goddess dressing. They were a little too sparing on the dressing and I thought the dish could have benefitted from a touch more salt (none on the table) but the vegetables were gorgeous. I read an article stating that he wanted to focus on veggies over starches at Rhubarb, and this dish proved that. The short ribs was actually one large rib served over a puree of oats and more kale.There was a sauce, but like my dressing it was not that noticeable. The meat was lean yet oh-so-tender and flavorful. No fat to be found unlike the typical beef short ribs. Just delicious. The oats were sparing as well - and at $31 I thought they should have loaded up with plate with more than a smear.
This with 4 glasses of $10 wine and tip came to $135 - not cheap and we both decided we would still prefer Seven Sows, Admiral, Zambra, Limones or Curate for this kind of special occasion meal. My criticism would be that they should either drop the entree prices by $5 or so or up the portions. But it was fun to experience what I'm sure will be come a new favorite among locals and tourists alike in this high-profile location run by a notable chef. We won't be back in a hurry just because there are other places I feel that offer just as creative and delicious food with better value...but I wouldn't hesitate to go back if someone else was picking up the bill. :)
Thanks for the detailed report. I understand Chef Fleer also has plans for a less expensive three course "family dinner" which will require reservations and be served at a communal table. Also, he told the Mountain Xpress that he wanted to do dessert tastings late night, so there may be more options as things evolve. Let's hope so.
Danna, Rhubarb just put their menu online a couple of days ago. I'm sure the prices will go on soon as they have their hands full with opening.
Miss Piggy, My husband and I ate there last night too. We shared all our dishes and started with the BBQ Lamb Ribs and Salad Lyonnaise. The flavors in both dishes just blew us away. I did wish for more meat on the dish, but the flavors were so over the top, I just lapped ever bit up. Next we had the Sheepshead fish, which also was very, very flavorful.
The food at Rhubarb was some of the best we have had in Asheville....and my husband and I are definite foodies! This place is #1 on my list now, and I have been to all the ones mention above. No it's not inexpensive, but if you want WOW flavors, it is a must try.
oh, piggy...thanks so much for the head's up. this menu looks SOOOO right up my alley.
i do find it disturbing, though, anytime and online menu does not list prices. Especially the wine list. Looks like a great list, but I couldn't tell what was by the glass, nor the all-important "how much?" question.