Eating Asheville Tour
Last week on one of those beautiful springy days, we enjoyed an afternoon with a walking restaurant tour called Eating Asheville. The group was 3 young couples, two older couples, and a mother-daughter duo, plus our intrepid leader, Stephen Steidle. We are “locals” but everyone else was vacationing in the area. We started at the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar (in the Grove Arcade). You can’t go wrong starting with some lovely bubbly with little bites of Sunburst Farm smoked trout pate, and soon we were on our way.
Zambra’s was our second stop, on Walnut St., and we tried their Sangria with a small plate of pulled pork from Hickory Nut Gap Farm, topped with slaw. Stephen shared with us a couple of menus from Zambra’s, to entice us to come back in for dinner. Many of the downtown restaurants are closed mid-afternoon, or at least have few customers, and this tour is designed to use that time and introduce a group of downtown restaurants.
Next was The Gourmet Chip Company on Broadway. The chips themselves are hand cut and fried in small batches, and the toppings vary - we tried some with truffle oil, goat cheese and rosemary, others with Apple smoked bacon and aged gouda, and then sweet potato chips with chocolate, brown sugar and spice.
Next stop we went to Rhubarb on Pack Square, which just opened last fall. We had a small glass of white wine from the Graves area of Bordeaux with a delicious canapé: Sturgeon rillettes on a house made cracker, with mustard and a house made pickle slice, on a bed of pea shoots. Chef John Fleer, formerly of Blackberry Farm in TN, greeted us, and explained his dish - who knew they are raising sturgeon in WNC?
Down the hill on Biltmore Avenue next to Barley’s is Chestnut, Joe Scully’s second restaurant in Asheville, after the very successful Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village. Chef Joe explained his concept as we were given a tasty small plate with spinach salad and two sautéed shrimp. It’s directly across from the new Aloft hotel.
Last stop - but not least, of course - we went to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. There were plenty of “loungers” there for the free wifi, but we tasted a small chocolate bar and a yummy maple-bourbon truffle, before we made our way back to the Grove Arcade and said goodbye to new friends.