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Recent Asheville Meals - Fig, Cucina24, Stoney Knob and more

That's too bad that you didn't enjoy Fig (congratulations on the anniversary!). We had really attentive and friendly service, but we also have only been there the one time, so who knows which is more common.

I would say that Umi actually IS New York quality sushi. I have eaten a lot of sushi in New York and while Umi clearly won't stack up against Blue Ribbon or any of those top NYC places, it is right in there with the pack of moderately priced, less high-end restaurants. It's great for Hendersonville, I agree, and better than any of the places I've tried in downtown Asheville - we often make the drive down for Umi!

Apr 10, 2009
angelaf in General South Archive

Recent Asheville Meals - Fig, Cucina24, Stoney Knob and more

That's interesting that Cucina's been hit-or-miss for you. I kind of feel like I should give them another try, but on the other hand the problems with the food were so basic. I know I sound like a judge from Top Chef, but the food we had was not just poorly seasoned, which could be a problem on a given day with execution. But the subtlety wasn't there in other ways: some items could have been vastly improved with just a dusting of a fresh herb, even parsley, or a bit of fresh tomato or other acidic element to brighten the flavors. Everything was flat.

Stoney Knob, though, seriously! Something is going on there...

Apr 09, 2009
angelaf in General South Archive

Recent Asheville Meals - Fig, Cucina24, Stoney Knob and more

We ate at Fig last night for the first time (I'm not sure what took us so long!) and found it really delicious - this has instantly become our new favorite. Although we weren't overwhelmed by the salads we had for the starter course (fine, but nothing to write about) the entrees were so delicious we couldn't stop talking about it. Although I rarely enjoy pasta when I go out, feeling that I usually can make it just as well at home, they had a special pasta with local morels and ramps, which was as good a plate of pasta as I've ever had. Salmon was also perfectly cooked and delicious.

Cucina24, on the other hand, served a plate of pasta much less well-prepared than what I would make at home. Bland, gooey sauce, with barely a trace of the promised mushrooms and a whole heap of asparagus pieces, mostly stems! I'm all for using the whole vegetable and avoiding waste, but please make an asparagus soup and leave the stems off the pasta - especially for $16! The rest of the meal was equally uninspiring, with distracted service (we asked for our check, stating that we were in a hurry to pay and leave, the server dropped off the check without pausing for us to hand over the credit card, and went off to take orders from a table of 6 before returning!) and a stingy portion on the olive oil for bread dipping. We won't be bothering with this place again.

If Cucina24 was mediocre, Stoney Knob has recently been a disaster. We went a while back and were served fish that had gone off and had to be sent back. After staying away for many months we returned not long ago to try again, after all we'd always had good meals in the past, so one mistake should be forgiven, right? In retrospect, bad fish should be considered unforgivable and is probably just the tip of the iceberg, since the return visit showed clear signs that this place is going down the drain. If anyone knows anything about possible management change at this restaurant I'd be curious. For one thing the menu has been lengthened considerably to include an "asian" section, as well as american, greek, etc. This kind of wide variety is never a good sign in my experience, implying desperation to get customers in, and sure enough, everything was canned, frozen, bland and just awful. At those prices, I will never return here, and would advise anyone who is recommending this place without having visited recently to rethink it.

On a brighter note, Admiral is great. Although they seem to love serving every kind of imaginable meat, they actually make a creative and delicious veggie burger so even a vegetarian can enjoy eating here. Clearly a lot of care with the quality of the food. The atmosphere is casual, but I'd prefer it any day to Cucina24, a place with clear pretensions of fine dining, which just can't deliver on the food.

That's all for recent meals. Oh we did try Nine Mile. I give that a shrug. Was fine, but REALLY something I could have made at home. I'm not sure why this place has been billed as "Jamaican" since the spicy food isn't spicy and it's basically just a pasta joint. Not bad and it is affordable, but I'd reserve it for a night when I just need to eat something and I just don't have it in me to cook it myself.

So my rant doesn't appear too negative I'll add that we love Umi in Hendersonville for Sushi. Great! Of course, there are lots of places to love in Asheville, this is by no means a summation, just notes from the last couple of months...

Apr 09, 2009
angelaf in General South Archive

place to eat after the races? saratoga

I couldn't agree more about Country Cafe! This place is terrible. They list on the menu (and charge accordingly for) "fresh squeezed orange juice - you'll taste the difference". As I know what fresh squeezed tastes like and this was not it, I asked the waitress. Her reply? "We order it in and its called fresh squeezed." Huh???!!!??? You can't "order in" fresh squeezed - it doesn't mean squeezed, frozen and then defrosted! Manager clarified that it was "unpasteurized". Well, that's great, but its not fresh and you CANNOT taste the difference between this and Tropicana. Home fries were terrible and only are included with specials - so if you order any omelette off the menu you have to get and pay for a side of home fries separately. We found this place listed as "best breakfast in Saratoga" on chowhound and it is such a disaster. Bad, overpriced diner food - not even the good, greasy spoon kind of bad. Just poor ingredients, not fresh, unseasoned, undercooked, overpriced kind of bad.

Chorizo (Asheville) review - Danna vindicated??

Although I know its not actually the subject of this thread, I wanted to weigh in that we finally tried brunch at Limones too and enjoyed the food very much, though I too hadn't been that crazy about my dinner experience there. The meal was really great, though I still find things a little precious, i.e. refried beans accompanying the tamale special came in the teeniest li'l saucer of all time - come on now. The other negative is that we were seated and then forgotten about - weren't offered coffee or drinks, waiters came and served nearby tables and never even looked our way. After about 20 mins I had to walk all the way to the back to ask someone to take our order - they said we hadn't been written on "the board", but doesn't anyone ever glance around? Really odd. Excellent food, but that experience put me off a bit once more...

Jul 06, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Anybody been to 28806 in Asheville lately?

I agree - thanks for raising the point: of course the fish aren't alone on the planes, just like your SUV isn't the only one on the road, and your vote isn't the only one cast in an election. it's the accumulation of each of our choices that makes our world. I too am most impressed when a chef can create an exciting meal with local and sustainably farmed ingredients, rather than relying on exotic supplies at whatever the "cost". & anyway, to me it feels much more interesting and contemporary when the cuisine reflects an attention to the well-being of our planet as well as to being well-prepared!

Jun 21, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

First impressions of Chorizo and Ultimate Ice Cream, Asheville:

We had dinner at Chorizo as well. Pretty tasty food, though the salad we shared had an extremely oily dressing. However, we noted that there was NOT even one token vegetarian entree on the dinner menu. There are one or two vegetarian apps, such as guacamole and salad so a vegetarian could survive a dinner there, but what's the deal? Isn't this 2007?

May 26, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Asheville Late Night Eating

Rosetta's is good for hearty, casual Vegetarian in downtown and stays open until 3am on Friday and Saturday, making it a great option. I find that eating out inevitably means "eating around tons of strange people" by one definition or another. Often much of the Rosetta's crowd has a hippy/punk vibe, so if that particular type makes you uncomfortable you might be better off eating elsewhere.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Greek in Asheville?

I know this post is a few months old, but Jerusalem Garden in downtown is good for Mediterranean if you haven't tried it yet.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Relia's in WNC near Asheville

We must have gotten lucky: I just saw on the NOC website that Relia's does close for the season and reopened March 31st.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Asheville Walking/Parking?

If it's too late to change your reservation you can certainly call a cab from the restaurant. You can't hail them on the street here, but I'd be surprised if it cost any more than $5 or $10 to tunnel road.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Relia's in WNC near Asheville

Sunday-Thursday 5p-9p and Fri-Sat 5p-10p. Maybe they close down for the season at some point when it gets real cold? But they are open now...

We tried the place on the river recently (River's End? Riverside?) but it wasn't too good, even for what it is (soup and sandwich-type thing), though, yes, watching a kayaker pass basically right underneath your table is pretty fun.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

What do you know about Murphy, NC?

danna mentions Nantahala Outdoor Center, which I just finished writing a post about. Relia's Restaurant there is great (though I don't know about "authentic" - it's not Southern food), but delicious and carefully prepared. I would steer clear of the other dining option, though, at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, I think it's called Riverside Cafe or something - its pretty much bad grilled cheese and canned soup.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Relia's in WNC near Asheville

I haven't seen any recent mention of this place "Relia's Restaurant" out at the Nantahalla Outdoor Center, but think it deserves a nod on this board. We discovered it last summer while googling for a place to have a decent dinner out that way. Its about an hour West of Asheville and I'd highly recommend planning it for the end of an afternoon's scenic drive. We ate there last night for the second time and it's delicious and fresh without being too pricey (maybe as a result of the location).

The restaurant has a lodge-type casual feel, but the menu, while not exotic, is creative in a simple way and really good quality. And some good wines. And the tables overlook their herb garden, which is nice when it's warm enought to sit on the terrace.

We had some of the freshest trout I've ever eaten, lightly encrusted with nuts, over fresh asparagus and other vegetables. Also a pasta with hand-picked local morels and a fresh, light sauce. We were rolling our eyes with enjoyment.

Appetizers were good too, especially an avocado bisque with a touch of something sweet (I think she said it was a fresh pineapple chutney?) and a light spiciness. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the red pepper salad dressing, but there were some other choices that may have been better. We were both too full for dessert due to the large portions so I can't report on that.

Anyway, I thought it was one of the best meals I've had in the area - especially as we spent $65 including tax and tip for two apps, two entrees, two glasses of wine (and salad (as well as fresh bread, of course) is complementary with the entree, so it was quite a lot of food).

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

sorrento in Asheville - worst of all time?

Too bad - there was no piano player.
Also wasn't so cheap for us. I saw an online menu before we went that seemed very affordable, but entree prices were all about $5 more on the actual restaurant menu. Nothing is free, of course, though maybe your perspective is more generous, but as the price of the antipasto (and wine if you are lucky enough to get it "free") is figured into the price of the entree, you are just overpaying for what you get there. If it wasn't all so awful it would be fine.
BUT I agree with you that it was so crazy that we are still amused and constantly joking about it- and maybe that makes it worth it one time.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences - it's interesting to unravel more aspects of the mystery.

Apr 09, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

ISO... source for really fancy salt

This company sells a really nice, unprocessed salt - has a fresh, flavorful quality that is milder and richer than regular sea salt:
http://www.celticseasalt.com/

Apr 05, 2007
angelaf in General Topics

sorrento in Asheville - worst of all time?

We've been looking for decent Italian in Asheville and tried Sorrento - based on a smattering of positive comments here. I'd be curious to know from people who've been around for awhile if the place has gone dramatically downhill or....I don't know what other explanation there could be, actually.

The place had a fun/funny/kitschy decor and the one young guy who appeared to be running things solo were the two appealing aspects (comments on here have referred to an older couple who supposedly own the restaurant - but they were nowhere to be seen).

The "house wine" was clearly cut with a substantial amount of water as it barely tasted of wine at all. & after being told to "help yourselves" to some from the carafe on the table, it showed up on the check at $4.50 per glass (which is admittedly affordable for wine by the glass, but only if it actually IS wine).

The "complementary antipasto" consisted of a small tuft of canned tuna (and not a quality grade, either - no albacore here), some crunchy potato salad, canned green beans and a pair of meatballs that I was too terrified to try, but my husband says they tasted like your basic hamburger balls with a sauce of Ragu. At this point I was already very afraid of what was to come, but it was like watching a train wreck and we couldn't bear to tear ourselves away.

The bread was thin slices of baguette with an herb butter that to me had the waxy taste of a butter/margarine blend. The green salad consisted of supermarket quality baby greens and a dressing that was too sweet to use and had that fresh-out-of-the-bottle taste.

We both had pasta. We took the waiter's recommendation as to choice of sauce for the ravioli. It was a goopy, brie-flavored concoction. The shrimp and asparagus primavera was barely better, with a few undercooked shrimp over spaghetti and halved cherry tomatoes. Both had no seasoning, and both plate rims were dusted with paprika (in an attempt to disguise the lack of even a sprinkling of fresh parsley, maybe?).

This, for both of us, was the worst restaurant meal we've ever eaten, but I just have to know if any of the chowhounders on here have tried it recently and can shed some light on what's going on. Could this one waiter have been preparing the food too (as he claimed, but we thought he must be joking) and just desperately microwaving things back there? Was this a one night aberration where everyone called in sick at the last minute or has something happened to the place lately? Or is the current standard of Italian food in Asheville so low, that this is what passes for "good"? As my husband said, "If Tony Soprano wandered in here for a meal while taking his kid to look at area colleges, he would have put in a call to have the place burned to the ground for giving Italian food a bad reputation."

Apr 05, 2007
angelaf in General South Archive

Asheville, NC

miss piggy: I just moved from a latino neighborhood in New York with great Peruvian restaurants. Ceviche is one of my favorite foods and I can promise you that it's not 99% shrimp. Maybe it is at Limones, but I'm just saying I don't like it that way - to me that's not great ceviche. I gave it a try and I didn't like it. Or the other food I had there.

leahinsc: I ordered tapas at Zambra because tapas are supposed to be small plates - that's understood. I only tried Zambras twice, so you may be right that it's uneven, I can't speak to that.

My apologies to all of you who love these restaurants so much. When I was back In New York City a friend told me she'd visited asheville and been taken to Salsa's and she also didn't like it and didn't understand the fuss. Maybe it's a regional taste...

Dec 15, 2006
angelaf in General South Archive

Asheville, NC

danna, I never said that Salsa's put meat in a veggie dish - I said they served us a squash quesadilla instead of an avocado one. I don't know if you've ever had a quesadilla filled with nothing but squash, but it's barely edible. I think that freely subbing veggies in that way IS offensive to vegetarians. Would you be pleased if you got a turkey quesadilla because they "ran out" of filet mignon? That's the equivalent.

Dec 15, 2006
angelaf in General South Archive

Any cheap eats-with seating-in the Bloomingdales area?

Fresh Basil's, on Lex ave between 55th and 56th is affordable, acceptable Italian.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in Manhattan

Himalayan Yak Report

Does anyone like the butter tea? I loved the first few sips, but then started to feel ill, like drinking watery roux. Are you only supposed to have a small taste? I think the meat choices here seem to be a lot better than the vegetarian stuff.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in Outer Boroughs

Please - Help in Willlamsburg and nearby

Aurora!!!!
Bamonte's is all about the atmosphere, food is not too good.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in Outer Boroughs

Asheville, NC

Yeah, we mentioned the "no avocado" problem at Salsa's, but the waitress just said "oh, they do whatever they want in the kitchen". On a previous visit, a salad that I had liked in the past came undressed, and it was the same kind of response: "that's how they do it". All I could say was "it didn't come like this last time, and can you just bring me some kind of dressing for it?"

As far as Limones, I see that most people love it on here, but I felt like it was trying to be one of those tiny portion places without the quality to back that up. Sorry, but I thought the ceviche was mediocre. It was mostly shrimp, which I don't like and just nothing special besides. Although the free chocolates with the bill were delicious.

I prefer Zambra's.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in General South Archive

Peruvian Food- C Gardens/ C Hill

There is an amazing Peruvian place in Jackson Heights. I forget the name, but it's on 37th Ave at about 83rd street. Possibly the best rest. in the neighborhood, and in J. Heights that is saying a lot. Maybe someone else knows the name.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in Outer Boroughs

Try Tony's Pasta in Chattanooga

I just tried Tony's too, based on chowhounder's reviews. It wasn't bad, but I wouldn't go again. It's affordable, but has the generic feeling of a good-quality chain.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in General South Archive

Asheville, NC

Why does everyone love Limones? I find it overpriced, fussy and not special. Can someone explain?

And DO NOT take a vegetarian friend to Salsa's. They reserve the right to freely swap ingredients - so an "avocado quesadilla" came filled almost entirely with squash (which is a pretty cheap trick, let's face it) and a wrap which lists "roasted red peppers" as the first ingredient came with none. I know Salsa's is an Asheville favorite, but I think it's erratic.

Dec 14, 2006
angelaf in General South Archive