Category Archives: Tastings

REVIEW: Sitti – Raleigh, NC

If you work in or near downtown Raleigh, there are so many dining options that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Let me help. Start eating at Sitti once a week. The healthy options will make you feel good about your decision to dine out, while the freshness of the meal will keep you coming back.

I am a huge fan of baba ghanouj (bah-bah guh-noosh), a dip made from roasted eggplant, olive oil, tahini and spices. Sitti’s version of this dish is garnished with pomegranate seeds and bursting with freshness. Along with the restaurant’s warm pita bread, this could be a meal!

Baba Ghanouj – roasted eggplant whipped with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice

Baba Ghanouj – roasted eggplant whipped with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice

My friend ordered the goat cheese & orange salad. It was full of fresh fruit, goat cheese and walnuts. This is what I would have ordered too, but I didn’t want to get the same thing – I wanted to be adventurous!

Goat Cheese & Orange Salad – mixed greens, sliced orange, goat cheese, dates and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette

Goat Cheese & Orange Salad – mixed greens, sliced orange, goat cheese, dates and walnuts in a lemon vinaigrette

I ordered a falafel wrap, but the real star of this dish was the deliciously seasoned french fries. The fries are seasoned with thyme, parsley, sea salt and olive oil. Is your mouth watering too?

Falafel Wrap – crushed chick peas, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce.

Falafel Wrap – crushed chick peas, seasoned and fried, with lettuce, tomato and tahini sauce.

Sitti has a selection of appetizers, sample platters, wraps, salads, kababs and flatbreads. Take advantage of their special deals during Triangle Restaurant Week.

 

Happy eating!

-Haley

 

Sitti on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Relish Cafe and Bar – Raleigh, NC

Now that I have eaten at Relish for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I can truly say it is delicious. Relish does southern comfort food in a way that no one else does.

Breakfast – I took my parents here for breakfast and they both enjoyed it, but we all agreed that my dish was the best. My dad got the “Southern Comfort Breakfast,” my mom got a veggie omelet and I got gingerbread pancakes. Everything was delicious, from the sweet potato biscuits to the fresh fruit cup. The gingerbread pancakes had bananas cooked into them and it was a surprisingly delicious combination.

Veggie omelet

Veggie Omelet

Southern Comfort Breakfast

Southern Comfort Breakfast

Gingerbread Pancakes

Gingerbread Pancakes

Lunch – Relish has a bunch of options for lunch, ranging from sandwiches to grilled cheese sandwiches. They have a selection of “Mac and Cheese Skillets” that sounded delicious, but I was in the mood for a sandwich. My friend Eric got the “Alfredo Mac,” which is macaroni and cheese with blackened chicken, garlic and parmesan cheese. My other friend Edith ordered the “Black Eyed Pea Burger,” which is essentially a fried veggie burger. We all enjoyed our meal – this is a great, casual lunch place!

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Dinner – If you go here for dinner, get the fried avocados as an appetizer. They are on the Tasting Menu, so hurry before they change it up. Although I hope they add this to their permanent menu! For dinner, I ordered the Strawberry Fields Salad, which had strawberries, mandarin oranges, pecans and feta cheese with poppyseed dressing. It tasted very fresh and was a good healthy option to go with the deep fried appetizer. The salad came with homemade pita-like chips which were amazing! They were golden, flaky, crunchy pieces of heaven. My friend Sallie ordered shrimp and grits, which she enjoyed as well. We both got sangrias – I got red and she got white. They were very tasty, and the white was especially sweet!

Fried Avocados

Fried Avocados

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits

Strawberry Fields Salad

Strawberry Fields Salad

I hope you enjoy whichever meal you decide to try at Relish!

-Haley

Relish Cafe & Bar on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Steel String Brewery – Carrboro, NC


It’s brutally cold when I walk into Steel String, and after a long day I’m looking forward to a beer. Since it’s a Tuesday and 19 degrees outside, the bar is pretty much empty when I walk in. This is completely nonstandard, as most weekend nights the place is packed. Since opening up last spring they’ve managed to gain a following in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and have regular events like trivia night and live music which usually draw a crowd.

Tonight is an exception, and one that I frankly don’t mind. I pick one of the many open seats at the bar and settle in with a flight of four of their beers. Steel String currently has 10 taps, but have five for guests like Foothills, Mother Earth, or Old Mecklenburg. These are all great breweries in their own right, and work to fill in the taps that Steel String doesn’t quite have the production to cover.

One of the best things about Steel String is that they are a functioning brewery. It definitely brings a lot to the atmosphere, adding shining fermenters and the smell of steeping malts. Local art adorns the walls, and a beautiful bar counter gives the place a nice warm feeling. When it’s crowded it does seem to get smaller but overall it’s a great place to hang out, with games and music.

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I sampled four of their beers, starting with their Big Mon IPA. This is a slightly heavier IPA, that lent more towards the bitter side of things than the floral. While it did have a solid West Coast citrus nose, it seemed to have more of a bitter finish than I was anticipating. This is not to say it’s a bad IPA, if anything it’s solid and easy to drink,  but the finish might surprise drinkers who are used to a lighter IPA.

Next up was the Sound City Altbier. This is a nice, caramel lager with a very smooth mouthfeel. It’s clean and crisp, but again has a bit of bitterness to it that differentiates it from other lagers. The bite to it is surprisingly refreshing and definitely had me wanting another sip.

After that was the Rubber Room Rye Pale Ale. Rye beers are very divisive in the beer community, with some people hating them and some people loving them. I like a good rye myself, but prefer a full on bitter bomb with the heartiness of rye worked in. Rubber Room is a lot softer than I was anticipating, with a surprising floral aroma. However, the beer itself was overwhelmed by the rye, leading to a strange compromise of rye flavor with the lightness of a pale ale that left me intrigued, but not quite sure how much I liked it. I would have preferred a straight pale ale or straight rye, but this beer definitely has potential.

Finally, there was the winter seasonal, the Secular Non-Denominational Holiday Ale. This was by far my favorite of the four I had. This was a nice, spiced winter warmer, with a higher ABV that drove away all the cold. It was easy to drink despite high alcohol content, which is perfect for this style. I think this beer more than any shows Steel Strings potential to be successful.

It’s clear that Steel String cares about their beer. The make sure to have proper glassware, and clearly aren’t afraid to experiment. I think with more time and practice, they’ll be a fantastic brewery. The setup is there as is the passion, and once they have a few years under their belts as a commercial operation I have no doubts about their future. I’ll continue patronizing them, and I think we can expect great things down the line.

Five Brunch Spots in Raleigh

Brunch: That special meal reserved for the weekend, sometime between getting out of bed and actually waking up. Here are my top five choices for brunch in Raleigh, with #1 being my favorite.

#5 State Farmer’s Market Restaurant

After hearing great reviews about this restaurant, I had to try it. The biscuits were phenomenal, home-made from NC ingredients. Breakfast is served everyday until 3 p.m. and it gets rather crowded on the weekend. I ordered pancakes which were tasty, but not the best I’ve ever had. They have a large variety of options ranging from pancakes and french toast to omelets and breakfast sandwiches. Because this restaurant has such good reviews, I would give it another try.

#4 Brigs

I was looking for a casual Sunday brunch spot, and this restaurant seemed to have a lot of good options. I ordered strawberry pancakes and my friend ordered french toast. He finished it all before I could try it – so it must have been good! – and my pancakes were also good. Brigs has a combo deal where you can get pancakes, waffles or french toast with two eggs any style and one of their sides. While this seems like a good way to get something sweet and  salty in one meal, I would not recommend it because the eggs were bland. I suggest going here if you are craving something sweet for breakfast. They have a special Eggnog french toast dish during December.

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#3 Buku

This is the place for you if you like to try a little bit, or a lot, of everything. Don’t know what you want? They have something from almost every region to satisfy your omelette craving, taste for hummus or fried chicken needs. They have a brunch buffet with made-to-order omelets and waffles, a meat carving station, pastries and fresh fruit. Brunch is about $20 per person, but luckily I had a Groupon deal that got me two brunches for the price of one. I got a waffle with strawberry syrup, an omelette with smoked salmon and spinach, a biscuit and fruit. Everything was delicious, especially the omelet and the buttery biscuit. The name “Buku” comes from a twist on the French phrase “merci beaucoup,” which means thank you very much.

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#2 Beasley’s Chicken and Honey

Even if you’re not a fan of chicken and waffles, Beasley’s is worth checking out for Sunday brunch. This hipster-esque restaurant sits on the corner of Wilmington Street and Martin Street. Minimally decorated and maximally delicious, Beasley’s gives simple dishes a makeover – honey drizzled fried chicken, red bean rancheros and creamed collard greens are just a few of the options.

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Of course, I recommend trying the chicken and waffles, but there are many other options. We split an order of the signature dish and we also got an order of “Eggs Beasley,” 2 poached eggs with creamed collard greens and grilled cornbread. The chicken was drizzled with honey, making it deliciously sweet. The flavors in the poached egg dish were quite complementary to one another. The creamed collards had a kick that I was not expecting, but the cornbread helped to soak up that flavor.

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#1 Irregardless Cafe

This is my top choice for brunch in Raleigh because you can taste the freshness in the ingredients and you can tell that they take pride in every dish. I ordered a smoked salmon dish, and it was very good. My sister ordered crab cake eggs Benedict, which was also tasty! I usually don’t eat hashbrowns, but these were seasoned in such a way that made them addicting. Irregardless Cafe prides itself on using local ingredients, and it is noticeable in their dishes! The restaurant even has a community garden. Not only do they serve delicious brunch, but they also have great options for lunch and dinner. There is a large selection for vegans and vegetarians, but for the carnivores, there are also plenty of meat dishes. The fresh food is complemented by live music performed by local musicians.

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Leos: Classic N.Y.C. Lower east side specialty dish of house cured salmon scrambled with eggs & onions. Served with toasted bagel and apple sauce. $13.00

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict: Fresh crab cake griddled and set on a toasted English muffin with poached eggs, and fresh Hollandaise sauce, served with home fries. $14.75

Crab Cake Eggs Benedict: Fresh crab cake griddled and set on a toasted English muffin with poached eggs, and fresh Hollandaise sauce, served with home fries. $14.75

 

 

State Farmer's Market Restaurant on Urbanspoon Brigs Great Beginnings on Urbanspoon Buku on Urbanspoon Beasley's Chicken & Honey on UrbanspoonIrregardless Cafe & Catering on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Plates Neighborhood Kitchen- Raleigh, NC

“Globally Inspired. Locally Produced.” That is the motto and exactly what you will find at Plates Neighborhood Kitchen, a new restaurant in the Glenwood South neighborhood near downtown Raleigh. Plates opened November 1st and you will need to make reservations if you plan to go during the weekend. The atmosphere is comfortable and welcoming. The food is elegant yet the prices are reasonable. The servers and bartenders are helpful and friendly. What more could I ask for?

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I went with two friends on a Friday night and we did not have reservations but luckily there were three seats open at the bar. The bartenders were very personable and we had a great evening. I started out with a lavender julep which was carefully made and thoroughly enjoyed. For dinner I ordered a smoked salmon and leek salad with a citrus vinaigrette. I would definitely order it again!

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My friend ordered chicken with grits and kale. He especially enjoyed the grits and finished every last bit. For dessert, I saw that Plates had a persimmon creme brûlée. I don’t usually eat creme brûlée but I love persimmons, so I ordered it. I also tried some port with my creme brûlée. It was a perfect dessert.

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The menu changes often because Plates uses fresh ingredients that they try to source locally whenever possible. You can expect local food with an international inspiration, served by friendly people.

The menu provides just a few options which is nice because you won’t be overwhelmed with choices. Until it comes to dessert… chocolate chess pie, creme brûlée, sticky toffee pudding and cheesecake.

Check out the New Year’s dinner menu at Plates.

I hope you enjoy Plates as much as I did.

-Haley

Plates Neighborhood Kitchen on Urbanspoon

 

REVIEW: Venable – Carrboro, NC

Venable Rotisserie Bistro in Carrboro takes comfort foods like chicken pot pie, ravioli and udon soup and turns them into something fabulous. I lived in Carrboro for two years and I can’t believe I didn’t try this restaurant until now. It is one of my new favorite restaurants in the Triangle. Venable is a fine dining establishment with the attitude (and price!) of a casual Carrboro restaurant. We started our meal with the chèvre salad, “local beets with hazelnuts, goat cheese, mixed greens and a sherry hazelnut dressing.”

Chèvre Salad

This salad was perfect. Creamy goat cheese, sherry vinaigrette and a waffle-cut beet. The presentation was very nice but equally important is the taste, which was phenomenal. It was difficult to pick an entree, given the elaborate choices. Here are some of their options (check out the full menu here):

NORTH CAROLINA FLOUNDER – $22
Bacon-wrapped NC flounder with butternut squash purée, braised red cabbage and roasted sweet potatoes

ROOT VEGETABLE CHICKEN POT PIE – $15
Rotisserie chicken with carrot, parsnip and celery root stew topped with puff pastry crust

GRILLED SALMON – $16
Grilled Atlantic salmon with soy-ginger green beans and skillet-roasted fingerling potatoes

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon

We went with the grilled salmon, and it ended up being a great choice. The photo above is a half-portion, but with the salad, it was just the right amount of food. We got our salmon cooked medium, as our waiter suggested. It was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. With the description of “fingerling potatoes,” I was expecting a heap of fried potato strings. I was pleasantly surprised with the healthier option of large cuts of sautéed potatoes. I would definitely get this dish again!

Bonus: Venable has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options! And check out their brunch menu…so many delicious options!

I hope I’ve sold you on this wonderful restaurant! It is a great place to eat dinner before checking out a show at DSI Comedy or enjoying a local band at The Station.

-Haley

 

Venable Rotisserie Bistro on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Guglhupf Bakery – Durham, NC

I used to drive past Guglhupf three times a week on my way to an internship. I drove past it for months before trying it because by the time I would get off work, it was closed. Once I finally went there, it became one of my favorite cafes in the Triangle area. The unmistakeable European feel will put you at ease and allow you to make new friends out of strangers. The cafe is spacious, with plenty of outdoor seating and two floors inside. The adjoining bakery emits the delicious smell of freshly baked bread out onto the patio area. If the weather allows, sit outside and enjoy a sandwich or a snack like you have no where else to be.

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

Guglhupf Bakery in Durham, NC

I visited Guglhupf before Thanksgiving to spend some quality time with my friend Liat. It has become somewhat of a tradition for us after I took her there for the first time last year. I don’t usually stray far from my favorite item on the menu, a turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich. However, this time I got something a bit different, a turkey, grilled pear and gorgonzola sandwich. The sandwich was heavy on the turkey, but the strong flavors of arugula and gorgonzola cheese complemented the sweet, grilled pear. I still prefer the turkey, brie and apple chutney sandwich, but this one is a close second. Guglhupf also has an assortment of small plates and salads.

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

House-roasted turkey with a grilled pear, arugula and gorgonzola on rustic house bread

Liat got what she always gets – the strawberry tart. I have yet to try it because the sandwiches always fill me up. The menu is not large but there is an option for everyone, whether you are craving a hearty soup or something sweet. After, or even before, going into the cafe, check out the bakery. I dare you to walk out without trying anything.

Nutzen den tag!

-Haley
Guglhupf Bakery on Urbanspoon

REVIEW: Amelie’s French Bakery – Charlotte, NC

If you have been to Charlotte but not to Amelie’s French Bakery, shame on you. This 24-hour bakery in the NoDa neighborhood of Charlotte is perfect for a lunch date, a late-night macaron craving or Sunday brunch – if you’re willing to wait in line. The pastries and the decor will fight for your attention as you walk in. A chandelier made of pots and pans, a translucent lamp shade, Parisian themed photo montages and the tempting bakery case.

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You will be tempted to try one of everything, but the prices may steer you away from that – $1.99 per macaron is a steep price for a small delicacy, but it is worth it. Amelie’s prepares their pastries around the clock, ensuring that everything is fresh. I had the salted caramel hot chocolate last weekend and it was one of the best hot chocolates I have had. What can beat a delicious hot chocolate, a reunion with an old friend and all the board games you’ve ever wanted in a coffee shop?

Macaron vs. Macaroon – One is a chewy coconut treat and one is a crispy merengue. The delicacies pictured above are macarons. They have a crisp outer shell with a ganache-like filling.  My favorite flavor is rose, but you cannot go wrong with chocolate. While macarons have more of an almond flavor, macaroons have a coconut flavor. You can read more about the ingredients and find some recipes here.

If you don’t have a bottomless stomach or wallet, order at least one macaron and one salted caramel brownie. Or take some goodies home with you! But stay at Amelie’s long enough to enjoy the creative interior design. You will be hard-pressed to enjoy all the nooks and decorations in just one trip to Amelie’s.

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I suppose I should have mentioned the “real food” before dessert. Amelie’s has a selection of sandwiches, salads and soups. My favorite dishes include the spinach asparagus leek soup and the turkey and brie sandwich – roasted turkey, brie and seasonal compote on a baguette. These light dishes are satisfying while still allowing room to try some of the desserts.

I try to make it to Amelie’s whenever I am in Charlotte and no matter if I get the same flavor macaron every time, it is always a different experience. It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Charlotte, otherwise I’d never leave Amelie’s! It is open 24 hours, after all.

Cheers!

-Haley

Amélie's French Bakery & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Competition Dining: Final Fire

They spend hours slicing, marinating, sifting, curing and preparing our food. It usually doesn’t take us more than 10 minutes to finish the masterpieces they create.

Now, imagine they get a secret ingredient that they must incorporate in every dish. Things like caviar, pecans, pintade (guinea fowl), peaches, Cheerwine and truffles. The chefs who participated in North Carolina’s Competition Dining Series took these North Carolina ingredients and transformed them into appetizers, main courses and desserts.

Orange-Scented Brioche Doughnut with Truffle Honey Creme, Cashew Truffle Twill, Caldo Zinfandel Gastrique, Caramelized White Chocolate Mousse, Keep Your Fork Farms Truffle Dulce de Leche (Chef Adam Hayes, Red Stag Grille)

Orange-Scented Brioche Doughnut with Truffle Honey Creme, Cashew Truffle Twill, Caldo Zinfandel Gastrique, Caramelized White Chocolate Mousse, Keep Your Fork Farms Truffle Dulce de Leche (Chef Adam Hayes, Red Stag Grille)

Host and founder of the competition, Jimmy Crippen was right when he said, “Tickets will be gone in less than an hour.” If you were not lucky enough to be on your computer at 6:55 p.m. the night the tickets went on sale, please enjoy the post and visit the link at the bottom for more photos.

During the “pecan battle” in the Final Fire series, Dean Thompson of Flights was up against John Bobby of Noble’s Grill. The battle was held in Raleigh at the Renaissance Hotel, home to the Flights Restaurant, so Chef Thompson was the favored competitor. The mystery ingredient was pecans from High Rock Farm in Gibsonville, NC.

Quail & Waffles, Pecan Fried Quail, Cornbread Waffle Chipotle Sweet Potato, Honey Butter Apple Ginger Honey, Candied Pecans (Chef Dean Thompson, Flights)

Pecan Fried Quail, Cornbread Waffle
Chipotle Sweet Potato, Honey Butter
Apple Ginger Honey, Candied Pecans (Chef Dean Thompson, Flights)

Chef Thompson appeared to be making a dish that resembled chicken and waffles for the appetizer round. The smell in the kitchen while he was making this was irresistible. I found out the dish was quail, which I had never had before, but I can say that this pecan-crusted quail and waffle dish was delicious!

The most interesting dish I tried during this battle was Chef Bobby’s entree dish. What stood out was the citrus ravioli. The mix of the tangy citrus filling and the savory ravioli was a nice complement to the flounder. “One dish will make you or break you,” said Crippen. “One dish could be everyone’s favorite to the point where it won the competition for them. Other times it will lose the competition for them.”

Flounder, Citrus Ravioli, Pecan Sausage Pecan Smoked Fennel, Tarragon Emulsion (Chef John Bobby, Noble's)

Flounder, Citrus Ravioli, Pecan Sausage
Pecan Smoked Fennel, Tarragon Emulsion (Chef John Bobby, Noble’s)

Chefs are not allowed to cook anything from their restaurant’s menu. This allow for creativity and anonymity. “We don’t want this to be a popularity contest,” Crippen said. “I’m looking for true opinions of food based on the food itself.”

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The teamwork I witnessed in the kitchen went above-and-beyond. When it was time to plate the dishes, the chefs and Chef Refs, headed by Laurence Willard of Southern Foods, came together to stack dishes three to four plates high on an island in the kitchen. They had 150+ people to feed and no time to waste. The chefs assembled their teams and the Chef Refs gathered to form an assembly line. Chef Bobby and Chef Thompson may have had quail in the deep fryer or whip cream to prepare, but they helped each other as much as possible. Chef Bobby finished the battle first with round five, and the relief on his face was evident. He gladly helped Chef Thompson plate the final dish of the battle.

Chef Bobby helps Chef Thompson in the final round of the Pecan Battle

Chef Bobby helps Chef Hayes in the final round of the Pecan Battle

Chef Bobby made it to the final battle. Chef Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grille won against Chef Gerry Fong of Persimmons to advance to the final. The secret ingredient in the final battle was Battle Black Perigord Truffles and Truffle Honey from Keep Your Fork Farm in King, NC. This battle proved to have an interesting dynamic in the kitchen. Both chefs were competitive; while Chef Bobby and his team were more reserved and focused, Chef Hayes’ team was more energetic and seemed more confident. Chef Bobby’s wife, Lucia Bobby, was perhaps the most patient chef in the kitchen – or at least she gave that impression.

Chef Lucia Bobby concentrates as she prepares the plate for dessert

Chef Lucia Bobby concentrates as she prepares the plate for dessert

The community involvement in the competitions involved tweets, sometimes between tables. The dining room had a large screen that showed up-to-date tweets with the hashtag #CompDiningNC. Some of my favorites:

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The competition, teamwork, camaraderie, hard work and cooking was unbelievable. The way the chefs assembled like clockwork to plate the dishes took a lot of practice and patience getting used to the other team’s work style.

Chef Hayes won the Final Fire, but both chefs, and all chefs who competed in the Competition Dining Series, deserve a round of applause.

Check out more photos here.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all! Eat up!

-Haley

Asheville Day Trip: Wicked Weed, French Broad Chocolate Shop & Urban Orchard

Asheville makes for a great day trip, if you’re hungry, thirsty and willing to make the drive. Our first stop was Wicked Weed, where strangers and locals meet to drink great beer. And that’s exactly what we did. We sat downstairs in the tasting room, at a community table, and met a local gentleman who suggested some of his favorite items on the menu.

When I go to a brewery, I usually don’t expect anything more than average pub food. So, when I saw the food options, I was surprised by the creative combinations on the menu. Just check out these sandwiches on their menu:

Sandwich Menu

Sandwich Menu

I ordered the fried chicken sandwich. The crispy fried chicken was complemented by the sour, fermented cabbage (kimchi) and the sweetness from the miso mayonnaise. It was different than any sandwich I’ve ever had and it was quite satisfying.

Fried chicken + kimchi + miso mayonnaise

Fried chicken + kimchi + miso mayonnaise

Classic beef burger + lettuce + tomato + onion + pickle

Classic beef burger + lettuce + tomato + onion + pickle

My friend ordered the classic burger. If I were him, I definitely would have gone for the bison burger with haystack shallots and blue cheese coleslaw. However, he enjoyed his classic burger, although he said it could have been juicier.

If you are an IPA fan, you must also try Wicked Weed’s “Freak of Nature Double IPA.” The Freak of Nature is 8% abv and has too many ibu’s to put a number to it. They have quite the beer selection, ranging from local IPAs and pale ales to Belgian and wood-aged beers. I sampled the muscadine beer, because I have only ever had Muscadine wine, and I was intrigued. I am not a fan of muscadine wine, but the beer was pretty good. They also had “apple pie saison” and perhaps the most interesting was “sweet potato and grits saison.”

Selection of pale ales

Selection of pale ales

After getting some food and beer, it was time to visit the highly regarded French Broad Chocolate Shop. This is where you want to go to indulge. Try one of their brownies, whether you eat it there or take it for later. I took mine for later (ate it that night) and ordered Mexican hot chocolate. I could not let this delicious sounding concoction pass me by: “contemporary Mexican-style hot chocolate with house chocolate, almonds, sugar, cinnamon, and milk.” It smelled delicious and after letting it cool enough to drink – or so I thought, until I burned by tongue – I was disappointed because it didn’t taste as good as it smelled. While the chocolatey taste was phenomenal,  the chili powder was overpowering. I was hoping to taste more of the other flavors, like the cinnamon and almond. Nevertheless, still visit this lovely shop if you’re in Asheville. Just make sure you will like what you order!

French Broad Chocolate Shop

French Broad Chocolate Shop

While at Wicked Weed, the gentleman told us of a cidery down the street. Urban Orchard is a new establishment in Asheville, serving a selection of ciders and beers. We both ordered the flight, which included a seasonal cranberry cider and an apple-ginger cider. The ginger cider was my favorite and tasted the most like actual cider. I also enjoyed the unfiltered apple cider. However, the other ciders seemed to be missing the crisp, refreshing taste that I am used to in ciders, rather leaving me with the taste of flavored champagne. Urban Orchard is a good spot to meet friends, kick back and have a beer. But if you’re going for cider, don’t waste your time on the flight. Go for the ginger cider. With that said, I like the idea of the company, which sources apples from Hendersonville, NC, and crafts the ciders in-house.

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Urban Orchard Cider Company

Urban Orchard Cider Company

Noble Cider was also recommend and I sampled their cider at Wedge Brewing Company. We didn’t stay at Wedge long because it was getting late, but I will be going back because of the friendly laid-back vibe and the big outdoor courtyard that hosts food trucks and corn hole games.

Thank you for all of your suggestions on our Facebook page. I will be making a trip back to Asheville soon to try some more of your recommendations. If you haven’t already liked our Facebook page, you can find it here: https://www.facebook.com/eatitnorthcarolina

Have a great week!

Haley

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