ASHEVILLE, N.C. In downtown Asheville, good restaurants are as handsomely conspicuous as the artsy boutiques and bodegas that give the Blue Ridge Mountain mecca its trendy, vibrant flair. Across the French Broad River, in West Asheville? Not so much. This is the funkier side of town, where families, artists and workers live in frame bungalows lining narrow, hilly side streets, and the main drag, Haywood Road, has an earthier, slightly gritty feel. Thats why driving down Haywood, youre more apt to notice the gas station across the street than the squat cinder block building that houses The Admiral. Chances are, you will pass us at least three times. You wont be able to find a good parking place, said Admiral co-owner Drew Wallace. When Admiral opened in 2007, Wallace and business partner Jonathan Robinson called this the wage-earning side of town and their aim was to create a successful dive bar/unexpected restaurant. It has more than met their desires. West Asheville has blossomed since those early days, and the Admiral has morphed from a neighborhood tavern into a destination restaurant, but it still feels like a wonderfully hidden gem. Reservations are a must, unless you want to sit at the bar and are willing to wait. But those are the best seats in the small, dimly lit space. Thats where you get the best view of the open, galley kitchen, where a quartet of chefs busily cook up small plates of unforgettable mussels, bathed in a slightly smoky sauce of San Marzano tomatoes; entrees like meaty, barbecue sauced pork chops with collard greens and root vegetable gratin; or an other-worldly version of steak frites, featuring black Angus rib-eye, sweet potato chips, green beans and quail egg salad. Desserts might include a sinfully delicious chocolate mousse with cherry clotted cream and red wine cherry sauce, but the eclectic menu changes regularly, so prepare for the unexpected. There is really no straightforward summary of our style Wallace says. The food tends to be a little more experimental than most of our peers. And much of it is locally sourced, from family-owned businesses. The slightly kitschy decor includes a neon Dive sign in one corner, a handful of industrial-looking hanging lamps, and black-clad, tattooed and welcoming servers. There are no uppity attitudes at the Admiral, and thats partly what draws Boomers, hipsters, business execs and obvious out-of-towners. Most appetizers and small plates cost $12 or less, and entrees run up to $30. On Friday and Saturday nights, tables are pushed aside at 10 p.m. for dance parties. Also on Haywood Road is the informal Sunny Point Cafe, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but best known for amazingly fluffy and delicious biscuits and legendary waits for breakfast and brunch.
Photo by Matt Rose Asheville Citizen-Times February is looking to be an impressive month for the restaurant scene. Thats particularly true for West Ashevilles Haywood Road, which is experiencing yet another restaurant boom. Among restaurants like King Daddys Chicken and Waffle (by the Early Girl Eatery owners) and a new pub, Buffalo Nickel, February will also see the completion of a new location of Nine Mile on West Ashevilles Haywood Road. The restaurant is likely to open in early March. What to expect from the group that opened Nine Mile in Montford in 2008? Nothing terribly different, it turns out just a whole lot more elbow room than in its 1,350-square-foot Montford space, and perhaps a slightly expanded menu. As it turns out, this second Nine Mile is one you might call a reluctant expansion. Owner Aaron Thomas said that Nine Mile Montford, which can serve up to 250 people a day, has simply outgrown its footprint. This Nine Mile here became so busy so fast that we cant prep or store enough to keep it going, said Thomas, sitting in the buzzing dining room of the current restaurant. Thomas, who will open the restaurant with wife June Thomas and co-owners Roland Knoll and Nate Ray, said the level of business Nine Mile has experienced made the expansion a near necessity. Its exciting, but I didnt really want to do it, he said. Nine Mile Montford will stay exactly the same, said Thomas, though the restaurant may lose some of its staff to the new Haywood location. The staff we have here right now is the best weve had here, said Thomas. And now we have to split that up. Thats probably the toughest thing about it. Still, Aaron is excited to have the growing room; the new restaurant is more than double the space of the original. Right now, hes storing some refrigerated goods at Lucky Otter, the restaurant that business partner Roland Knoll also owns. The new place has a basement, a freezer walk-in and two refrigerator walk-ins, said Thomas. Here we just have one refrigerator walk-in and a single-door freezer unit. Everything is cramped. The new restaurant will have a full bar with a top-shelf rum selection. The Nine Mile bar will have several Caribbean-themed signature drinks. The restaurant is likely to open as early as the second week of February, approximately the same target opening for Buffalo Nickel, the restaurant that shares half of the new Nine Miles Haywood duplex. Aaron said many people have asked him if he thinks its a problem opening almost literally on top of another new restaurant. I see it as, competition makes you better, he said. And if youre putting out good food, which I feel Nine Mile does, at an affordable price, you can compete with anybody, if youre doing it right. Nine Mile will be located at 747 Haywood Road. Written by Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen-Times
Photo taken by Erin Brethauer Haywood Road in West Asheville has quickly transformed into a hot strip for new restaurants. The Barleycorn recently opened in the former Burgermeisters building last week. And the Asheville Sandwich Company and Buffalo Nickel both expect to open on the busy restaurant row next year. In February,Asheville Sandwich Company will move from its location on State Street to 794 Haywood Road, the former site of Digable Pizza. A second Asheville Sandwich Company is slated to open the second week of January in a Roadrunner Market convenience store building at 491 Sardis Road in Enka. Plans for more Asheville Sandwich Company restaurants are in the works. Brian Good opened Asheville Sandwich Company with his father Tom and business partner Lawrence Perkins on State Street in October 2012. Since then, the restaurant has been serving a menu of sandwiches such as banh mis and po boys, stuffed with its signature shoestring fries. The restaurant partners took over the Digable Pizza property earlier this year, with plans to renovate it and open a new concept there. Theyve since decided to move their flagship restaurant to Haywood Road. The former Digable Pizza building is currently under renovation to expand seating capacity to 25. A patio with room for another 15-20 seats will come with warmer weather. Good said he thinks the move is a good business decision. We asked a lot of them what they wanted, and the majority thought the move would be a positive one, he said. They wanted us closer to where the action is. Down the road, Buffalo Nickel is also pushing for a February opening on the corner of Haywood Road and Herron Avenue. Ryan Kline, the Buffalo Nickel chef, said hes settled on a menu concept: Americana. And hes adamant about what that term doesnt mean. Were not going to cook Southern food there no grits, no collards, nothing like that, he explained. The menu will instead reflect Klines version of Americana. The former Storm Rhum Bar sous chef grew up in western Pennsylvania, and his sous chef, Brandon Miller, who worked on Seven Sows opening team, is from Cleveland. Were going to focus on things we grew up eating, said Kline. According to the chef, that means pierogies, or ravioli-like dumplings of eastern European origin. Kline calls the dish his ultimate comfort food. Americana also means scrapple to Kline. A mid-Atlantic breakfast staple, scrapple is made with leftover bits of pork. Its something Ive wanted to do in restaurants for years, and this is the venue to do it, he said. Scrapple gets a bad rap, but think of it as another form of charcuterie, which Klein said he wont otherwise focus on. Excepting the kielbasa, which Klein said he grew up eating and making. It stunk up our house for days, he said. Its great. The original Buffalo Nickel menu has the traditional sausage in a clam dish. Kline will also have steak Pittsburgh-style, a cooking method that leaves the meat charred on the outside and rare on the interior. That, too, has a story. The history behind it is that the iron and steel workers used to bring a piece of meat and sear it on the steel they were working on, Kline said. Kline will also reference family recipes for his menu. Its the sort of tack Mike Moore took with Seven Sows, where Kline is currently moonlighting. Its taking inspiration where you came from and modernizing it a little bit, making it work for your restaurant environment, he said. Buffalo Nickel will open at 747 Haywood Road. Article written by Mackensy Lunsford
Photo by Paul Clark, Asheville Citizen-TimesWest Asheville may be Brooklyn to Ashevilles Manhattan, but when Orbit DVD was moving in 10 years ago, it wasnt that way. Sure, West End Bakery and Westville Pub had pioneered the area. Young families were buying old houses that lined West Ashevilles tree-lined sidewalks. But on the outskirts were sketchy neighborhoods that saddled West Asheville with its now-cute sobriquet, Worst Asheville. Thats the neighborhood Marc McCloud moved into when he opened Orbit DVD in the Bledsoe Building on Haywood Road. And it was one he was well acquainted with, living with his wife and two young children just a block away. The wild West was a good place for a man to reinvent himself. McCloud had just quit his job managing the Blockbuster store on Tunnel Road, frustrated by its refusal to stock less-than-blockbuster titles. And now theyre closed and Im celebrating my 10th year, he said. Hes inviting everyone to celebrate with him at a free video performance show Dec. 14 at The Mothlight. For entertainment, McCloud is offering up the video performance art of Everything is Terrible. Its 2013 holiday found-footage special strips together clips of Christmas fistfights, erotic Santas, Nazi elves and misplaced sentimentality. Full of holiday cheer, McCloud said. Their head is where my head is at. Orbit has lots to celebrate. Business is great, he said. There are many titles people cant stream online. Were in a town that thrives on eclecticism, he said. I pride myself on listening to what people want. We have the most obscure cult films and the latest Christian dramas. I dont discriminate in what people want to see. McCloud said his timing was right for opening the store. People attracted to West Ashevilles affordability didnt necessarily have a lot of money. But they wanted to rent movies, and if they could walk there, babies in tow, all the better. One of McClouds neighbors was an investor in the Bledsoe Building, and McCloud took a chance. On any given night, his store is full of people pushing strollers through the aisles. Dog walkers too, he said in a recent interview. We had about six dogs in here at 9 oclock last night. The shop stocks about 25,000-30,000 titles in all kinds of genres bios, martial arts, pirates and nature films among them. One of the most popular sections is divided by directors like Hitchcock, Scorsese and Allen. The 10 years have gone by fast. It seems like the blink of an eye and a million miles, all at the same time, he said. His store downtown closed because the area oriented itself more toward tourists than residents, he said. His store in West Asheville remains strong, attracting a lot of 20-somethings that youd think would be watching most of their movies online. Renting a movie is a social thing, he said. Article Written by Paul Clark, Asheville Citizen-Times
Photo by Matt Rose, Asheville Citizen-Times
Last week, we reported that former Greenlife owner John Swanns Katuah Market in Biltmore Village would likely open this weekend. But construction has pushed back the project a touch. The Katuah group said this week the grocery store will be open by Dec. 16 or 17. Once open, the store will have a large prepared-foods section and a focus on organic and local in the grocery aisle. Katuah Market will be at 2 Hendersonville Road, Suite D. Jayson and Kristina Im have been working since July to get Korean House open in downtown Asheville, just across from City-County Plaza. Jayson is a former employee of Stonebowl Korean and his sister Kristina is still a co-owner of that restaurant. At press time, Korean House was awaiting inspections and was slated to open within the next two weeks the target date is Dec. 23. Though it will be Ashevilles first Korean barbecue restaurant, Korean House will initially open without the tabletop grills that essentially make it what it is. Well still have the grill dishes on the menu, but it wont be where people can grill their own at the table, said Jayson, who added that the grill dishes could still be made by the staff in the kitchen. Down the road, within the first 90 days, people will have the option of grilling on the table, he said. Were still trying to figure out the ways to install our ventilation system, and thats being completed as we speak. Korean Houses menu will be a 40-item strong list of authentic Korean food, where people can Google Korean and, if they see it online, chances are well have it, according to Jayson. Korean House is at 122 College St. Barleycorn sprouts The Barleycorn, a new bar and restaurant on Haywood Road in West Asheville, opens Dec. 13. The restaurant originally was slated to open in November, but construction delays interfered. Its typical of building you look at it on the surface and think, This is what needs to get done, said Jon Campbell, who owns the restaurant with his brother, Greg. And then you take off some drywall and think, This isnt going to work, The Barleycorn opens with 16 beers on tap and a full bar. Brew selections include a beer special to Barleycorn, brewed by Lookout Brewery in Black Mountain. Theyre a nano-brewery, but theyre brewing what we think are great beers, said Campbell. Wed like to do something similar with other nano-breweries. The Barleycorns menu includes what the Campbells are calling twisted traditions, or tweaked pub fare. Fish and chips have a spicy batter, pork pie comes with a Stilton timbale and shepherds pie comes topped with tots. And theres something called the improper English Breakfast, a riff on the classic, gut-busting Full English Breakfast. Small plates include Welsh rarebit with bacon jam and farm egg. Find steaks, kabobs and cider-brined roasted chicken for entrees. The Barleycorn isnt the only new bar and restaurant coming to Haywood. Just two-tenths of a mile away, another bar and restaurant called Buffalo Nickel is under construction. The owners there also plan to focus on an ambitious menu, and theyve hired Storms sous chef, Ryan Kline, to execute it. We think well execute a great product and have great service and well let the neighborhood decide how they like it, said Campbell, whos taking somewhat of a more-the-merrier approach to his new neighbors. As it relates to them being obviously right down the road from us, it will be great for everyone, I hope, he said. The Barleycorn is at 697 Haywood Road. Baan Thai Kitchen now open in south Asheville Noi Dimaio, who opened Nois Thai Kitchen on Merrimon Avenue in 2005, opened a new restaurant in south Asheville this week. The new venue, Baan Thai Kitchen, has the same traditional Thai menu as Nois. Dimaio was a dentists assistant and caterer in Raleigh, before moving to Asheville to open a restaurant. Her dishes include Thai standards like tom yum and panang curry as well as her own take on classics. Her version of pla rad prik, for example, tops deep-fried salmon with Nois sweet and sour sauce, sweet basil and cilantro. Baan Thai Kitchen has just over 40 seats, an open kitchen and an airy feel. Its the first open kitchen Ive ever worked in, said Dimaio. That area of south Asheville is quickly becoming a hot spot for solid Asian food. Baan Thai Kitchen joins Pho R Us and Lees Asian Market in Skyland Crest, a small strip mall on Hendersonville Road. Less than half a mile away to the north is Stone Bowl Korean. Pons Thai Cuisine, located in an Exxon gas station at 3101 Sweeten Creek Road, is less than one mile away. Baan Thai Kitchen is open at 1950 Hendersonville Road Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. for lunch and from 5-9 p.m. for dinner. Nois Thai Kitchen remains open at 535 Merrimon Ave. Punk Wok rolls Elliott Moss, James Beard-nominated former chef of Ben's Tune Up and the Admiral, has taken over the kitchen at MG Road on Monday and Sunday nights. Moss Monday night pop-up is called Punk Wok and will serve smaller, pan-Asian dishes from $7-$10. The decor, service, drinks will all be changed over to reflect a cheap but awesome Chinese-Korean-Vietnamese-you name it restaurant, said Meherwan Irani, owner of Chai Pani and MG Road. The inaugural menu included lamb dumplings with Sichuan peppercorn, banh mi and popcorn congee with pickled shrimp. Moss and Irani have worked at events and dinners before, most recently at an MG Road dinner where the chefs collaborated on an Indian street food menu. We started talking about fun things we could do together, said Irani. He had this idea that had been germinating for many years about a pop-up kitchen doing rock and roll, punk Chinese-Asian wok cooking. Moss also takes over MG Road on Sunday nights, engineering what the venue calls, in a very self-explanatory way, night brunch. MG Road is at 19 Wall St. Article written by Mackensy Lunsford, Asheville Citizen-Times