Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dinner at Rhubarb in Asheville

While the dining room at Rhubarb was packed on a weeknight, the bar was readily available with a cozy corner table near the front window. The menu offers Southern fare with a twist and a whole bevy of local cheeses.

Entrance to Rhubarb
The bartender was happy to answer our questions about the menu and we had some mighty fine eats.

Fried Hominy with Chili and Lime
Fried Hominy with Lime and Chili - Great item to share
Berber Pie with Rhubarb Jam, Benton's Prosciutto, and Spiced Onions
Berber Pie - I had no idea what a Berber Pie was. Turns out to be a hand made savory pie. This one was stuffed with Rhubarb Jam, Benton's Prosciutto, and Spiced Onions. So tasty!
Wood Roasted Whole Sunburst Trout with Fennel Confit
Roasted Sunburst Trout stuffed with  Fennel - Delicious local fish
Cheese Plate
Local Cheeses with Rhubarb and Chutney

The menu tends to change seasonally and with the variety of large and small plates, everyone should find something to make their taste buds happy.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Breakfast at Early Girl Eatery

We had a delicious breakfast at Early Girl Eatery. The farm-to-table establishment is laid back and sunny. The breakfast menu contains all of the traditional Southern favorites (and Benton's bacon!), but also features vegetarian and vegan fare.

Enjoy the pictorial.

Early Girl Eatery
Early Girl Eatery located in downtown Asheville
Early Girl Supports Local
Early Girl supports a whole host of local producers
Early Girl Condiments
Wildflowers, salt, and raspberry jam
Eggs Bacon Potatoes Biscuit
Traditional country breakfast
Breakfast at Early Girl Eatery
Breakfast scene at Early Girl

Since we arrived on a weekday and after 8 AM, we were easily able to snag a table. I've heard tales of lines on the weekends.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Two Chocolate Places in Asheville

We experienced two mighty fine purveyors of chocolate while we were in Asheville. Our hotel included a turn-down service and provided us with two delectable and exquisite chocolate bites from The Chocolate Fetish. The package enticed us to drop by the shop for another free sample. We did. These guys were definitely artisans. We took our free sample and then loaded up on some of their other temptations. The sea salt caramels were my favorites.

Enjoy and Give the Best

We discovered the French Broad Chocolate Lounge after dinner one night. We thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to get dessert here, but it's after 9 o'clock." Lo and behold, this joint is open until 11 PM on weeknights! And contains all types of ways to enjoy chocolate - chocolates, brownies, cakes, ice cream, drinking chocolates, and the Mudwrestler (ice cream, local nitro stout beer, and espresso). And the Lounge was packed. We opted for a couple of chocolate milkshakes.

Order Up at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Artisan chocolate and a late night lounge - gotta love Asheville.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Amazing Pubcycle

While we did not take a tour on the Amazing Pubcycle, it looked like the folks were having a blast on a Spring evening.

The Amazing Pubcycle

Two questions we had: How did this concept pass the NC ABC Board? and Wouldn't this be fun in RVA?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Table in Asheville

Table is a modern farm to table restaurant concept in downtown Asheville. We kind of stumbled upon it and the menu looked delicious. The place has lots of windows giving the place a light airy feel.

The menu can change up depending on the season. When we arrived ramps were in heavy rotation which prompted us to order the Whipped Feta and Grilled Ramps as a starter.

Whipped Feta with Grilled Ramps

Most of the meats are from local farms in the area. Hubby ordered the Hickory Nut Gap Pork Chop with turnips and apple butter. A Winter into Spring kind of meal.

Hickory Nut Gap Pork chop

I had the Brasstown Coulette Steak with crispy potatoes and duck egg. The ravioli-type item was supposed to be filled with a runny onion soubise. It didn't quite work. The filling was more solid and did not add much to the dish. Everything else was divine and I enjoyed the runniness of the duck egg adding body and cohesiveness to the entire dish.

Brasstown Coulotte Crispy Potatoes Duck Egg

Our waitress provided attentive service and happily answered our questions about the various dishes. I would welcome a chance to return.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Nightbell in Asheville

We stopped by Nightbell for a cocktail before dinner. This speakeasy bar and restaurant is the little sister to Curate (which we did not get to try).


The decor is eclectic with accents of turquoise.

Nightbell Sofa

And while we had bourbon and scotch based cocktails, the most popular and eye-catching concoction was definitely the Cold Roses.

Cold Roses

Rose-infused Tito's vodka, St. Germain, lemon, soda, berry ice, and lavender foam. And garnished with dried rose petals. Wow. We sampled a bit of the lavender foam and it was divine.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Alleia Restaurant Chattanooga

Our second evening in Chattanooga we dined al fresco at Alleia. The place features a dark cavernous interior and a bright side patio. We ate on the bright side since the weather was perfect.

Busy Kitchen

Alleia features Italian dishes with a nod to the local food scene. Wood-fired pizzas, pasta, and a wide variety of starters tempted us. Cocktails were thoughtful and inventive; wine prices a bit high (maybe this is the norm here?).

We experienced good service for the most part except at the very end. We were very full from our pasta dishes, but decided to at least look at the dessert menu. Upon relaying this to our waiter, he brought us the check instead. Hopefully, it was a misunderstanding? In any case it was a missed opportunity.

A few highlights of our meal:

The Awakening - Bufflo Trace Lavender Cynar
The Awakening with Buffalo Trace, Lavender, and Cynar. Great to see bars utilizing an amaro for its cocktails.
Benton's Bacon-Wrapped Dates
Dates wrapped in Benton's Bacon and drizzled with Balsamic Vinegar. Benton's has some of the best pork products in the nation. It was great to see Alleia make use of some local fare.
Tagliatelle with Rabbit and Ramps
Tagliatelle with Rabbit and Ramps. What a wonderful Spring delight! If you are in the Chattanooga area, it's worth your while to order while the menu still offers this dish.

Despite the question mark of service at the end, Alleia was a delicious choice for our last night in Chattanooga.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Chattanooga Whiskey and Tennessee Stillhouse

Downtown Chattanooga features the Tennessee Stillhouse, a micro-distillery for Chattanooga Whiskey. They proudly proclaim "Whiskey to the People" and "Making Up for 100 Years of Prohibition." My kind of place.

Whiskey to the People

Making Up For 100 Years of Prohibition

The Stillhouse features two whiskeys: 1816 Reserve - a bit mellow and good neat or in a cocktail. The 1816 Cask is 113,6 proof so while tasty, a bit harsh due to the high alcohol content. For $12 you get a personalized tour and a taste of both whiskeys and a sample of four different cocktails made with the whiskeys. The place is open until at least 9 PM most days and I'm sure regulars now skip the tour and just sample the goods. It's also the only place to buy a bottle of whiskey on Sunday in Chattanooga.

Tennessee Stillhouse

1816 Reserve

1816 Cask

Chattanooga Whiskey had to lobby the state legislature to change some of the alcohol control laws in order to begin their endeavor. It's nice to see folks forging ahead and turning their whiskey dreams into reality.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Easy Bistro and Bar - Chattanooga

Without realizing it I think we just happened upon the best restaurant in Chattanooga - Easy Bistro and Bar.


The space soared up two floors with black walls and well-placed mirrors.

Easy Bistro and Bar

Robin, our most excellent server greeted us with a lovely spring green amuse bouche and a vinegar based tiny cocktail which turned out to be an amazing pairing.

Amush Bouche with Cucumber

We didn't stop at the tasting cocktail. We had to try the Dixie Smash which featured Chattanooga 1816 Whiskey, lemon, and cinnamon syrup. So delicious that we had to visit the distillery, which happened to be a few blocks away.

Dixie Smash

While sipping cocktails we enjoyed a Smoked Pork Belly with Watermelon and Rhubarb. So, yummy. Throughout the menu, Easy Bistro featured local and seasonal ingredients.

Pork Belly with Watermelon and Rhubarb

We selected a Tuscan wine for our entrees. Easy had a nice list, but prices were a bit higher than we are used to. The wine prices were the only slight drawback to the place. And while we paid a bit more for the red, the wine service couldn't have been better.


For the main course, hubby selected a Pan-Roasted Alaskan Halibut with Ramps. Ever since we were on the Oregon coast a few years back, hubby had been hankering for halibut, and not just any halibut, but Pacific halibut.  He was not disappointed.

Halibut with Ramps

I had to have the Smoked Duck Confit with Favas, Charred Okra, and Morels. Yes, I am partial to duck. The smokiness with the fall-from-the-bone meat was a bit between duck and pork. A Southern twist on a classic dish. And when I visited Oregon, I fell in love with morels. The only mushroom that I don't just tolerate, but venerate. These were awesome!

Smoked Duck Confit with Favas and Morels

To complete the evening we splurged on a spring-time dessert - Strawberry-Rhubarb Panna Cotta with Chartreuse Ice. So lovely.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Panna Cotta

Our server Robin also recommended other places to eat the next evening. Since it was a Monday, she made sure the places were open before handing us her list. Service + Excellent Food. We did dine at the best restaurant in Chattanooga.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Family Meal

The fried chicken and biscuit at Family Meal was delicious.

Fried Chicken and Buttermilk Biscuit

The kitchen coordination, which could be observed from our table, left a lot to be desired. Orders were forgotten and no one seemed to be in charge. From my vantage point it was definitely not the wait staff lacking execution skills. The hope is for all of the hiccups to be remedied in the near future so the food can shine.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Enoteca Sogno Continues to Please the Palate

We always enjoy eating at Enoteca Sogno.  Recently, we imbibed Aperol Spritzes (lovely for Spring or Summer)...

Aperol Spritz

...split a Roasted Beet and Orange Salad...

Roasted Beet and Orange Salad

...and indulged in Duck Confit and Arugula Salad.

Duck Confit and Arugula


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Petit Pois in Charlottesville

While you may not be looking for a classic French boite when you visit Charlottesville, your taste buds will miss out if you overlook Petit Pois. A tiny spot situated on the Downtown Mall treated our palate and the rest of us very well.

Petit Pois
Green is the color scheme at Petit Pois
Petit Pois Bar
The tiny bar at Petit Pois
The menu contains many French classics with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The menu also changes based on season and sourcing.

We experienced Petit Pois during the height of Winter and selected a couple of hearty dishes from the lunch menu.

The Steak Frites delighted. Medium rare and so tender. It was just the right size and came with a lovely side salad and delicious fries.

Petit Pois Steak Frites
Extremely tender steak
And the Cassoulet was perfection. The crock bubbled upon presentation with the white beans cooked through (thank goodness!) and chunks of chicken, duck, and sausage. The chicken was a bit surprising, but Petit Pois sources chickens from Polyface Farm and after cooking the chicken they pull it apart so the cassoulet contained large shredded chunks of tasty poultry. A wonderful meal on a day when snow still blanketed the ground.

Petit Pois Cassoulet
Hearty fare for a cold day in Winter
We had a nice French wine from Languedoc. While lunch prices were fairly reasonable given the ingredients and preparation, wine prices were a bit higher than I would have liked. But, of course, the meal begged for wine, and we succumbed.

Chateau Camplazens La Garrigue
A nice compliment to the meal

As we finished our entrees, we lingered and decided to close out lunch with a cheese plate. There was a variety of cheese options including a house-made boursin.

Petit Pois Cheese Plate
A lovely ending to a delicious meal
Ah, c'est magnifique! Very happy taste buds.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shoryuken Ramen - Go Before It's Sold Out

It took us two tries to get in and we still had to wait for a table. But Shoryuken Ramen was delicious and well worth the effort.

From now until the end of April they have taken over Lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays. Go early. Prepare to wait. Go next door to Supper to have a drink or a brew. Get seated. Slurp those noodles and that wonderful broth.

Shoryuken Ramen
Ramen Heaven
Arriving early is key; on most nights they sell out.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Urban Farmhouse in Scott's Addition

We had lovely Country Ham and Egg Sandwiches for brunch at The Urban Farmhouse in Scott's Addition. A simple, yet satisfying meal accompanied by an iced coffee.

Ham and Egg Sandwich

We loved the open airy space and the patio for outside dining. So glad to have this Farmhouse in the Scott's Addition neighborhood.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

McCormack's Big Whiskey Grill

Yes, go to McCormack's Big Whiskey Grill. The converted Texas de Brazil dining room is a bit cavernous, so the the next time we go we plan on cozying up to the bar. Another reason to be at the bar - gazing at all of the offerings and obtaining knowledge from the bartender. While our waiter was very nice, he was not familiar with most of the bourbons and whiskies. I grant you the menu contains a goodly number, but the waiter indicated that there wasn't, as yet, an educational program for the staff (I hope that changes). I would love to be able to pair some of the whiskies with the food options.

Putting aside my picky observations, we enjoyed our outing.

McCormack's Big Whiskey Grill
Western touches add to the atmosphere of the restaurant.
As I pondered the dinner selections I enjoyed a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, neat. Smooth with delightful vanilla tones. My kind of bourbon.

I ordered a Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich. Get your mouth in line because the bird was hot! and crispy and delicious.So nice to see (and taste!) that extra touch of grilling the bun.

Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich
Hot and awesome!
Great food. A whiskey for every taste. Saddle up and go west people for some whiskey and grub. Anyone want to be my designated driver?