Inn at Biltmore Estate, our digs for a long weekend in Asheville
A month ago, my husband and I went away for what was our first vacation alone together since I was pregnant with our little guy in 2011. Since I’m still not ready to go too far away for too many days, Asheville seemed like a good spot for us. Although Ravi grew up fairly near there, he hadn’t been since he was a kid, and I had never been before. (which is crazy since it’s a pretty easy drive from Nashville!)
Asheville had been on the front of my ‘to travel to’ list since last winter when, as I was sweating away on the arc trainer at the Y, I read all about their food and drink scene in Food & Wine magazine. (side note: everyone knows that working out while reading food magazines is the best motivation to burn more calories, right?)
From that article, I began putting together my list of places to try while visiting. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I gathered more intel from Sweet Betweens and a few others on Twitter. What follows is every restaurant and bar we visited and recommend. Some were, of course, more impressive than others, but all are worth checking out.
11 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
Serving a real, authentic Spanish tapas menu,
Cúrate was our first stop upon arriving to Asheville. I was probably more excited for this place than any because, as you know, I’ve been moaning about our lack of tapas in Nashville for ages now. It did not disappoint! We ate so much – these photos aren’t even 25% of what we ordered – and left there stuffed and happy.
Rebujito cocktail at Cúrate Asheville – manzanilla sherry, bitter lemon, mint
Cúrate’s Piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese
Cúrate’s sauteed spinach, apples, raisins, and toasted pine nuts
7 SW Pack Sq
Asheville, NC 28801
Wood grilled broccoli rabe at Rhubard – pig bread and pickled red onions
Okay, I’ll be completely honest. This was dining experience was a bit of a letdown because our service was severely lacking. I’m not sure what the issue was – if the server had too many tables or what. All I know is that we sat with empty water glasses for way too long, no one stopped by between courses to check on us, and no one came by to ask if we needed another drink from the bar (which we did).
Our food came out fast, so I can at least say they were efficient with that. But we were in and out the door in less than an hour- which for us wasn’t necessarily a good thing. We would’ve liked to savor our food a bit more and enjoy another drink.
All that said, the food was great. The broccoli rabe, grilled lamb ribs with collard green kimchee and goat cheese gnudi are all dishes I’d love to have again. Despite the service hiccup, I’d be willing to give Rhubarb another shot.
Rhubard’s goat cheese gnudi
roasted shallots, local mushrooms, yellow branch cheese, wood grilled radicchio, toasted pumpkin seeds
400 Haywood Rd
Asheville, NC 28806
Hands down, by far our favorite meal of the entire trip was at The Admiral. This place epitomizes the saying “looks aren’t everything”. The cinder brick building and completely no-frills dining room gave absolutely no indication of the incredible food and service we would receive. From the simple arugula salad to the escargot with romesco, basil pesto, and pecorino on lemon risotto to the last sweet bite served with the best French press coffee I’ve ever had, my taste buds were giddy.
The Admiral is a do not miss when in Asheville!
The Admiral’s arugula salad with granny smith apple, hazelnuts, humboldt fog
Pork Belly at The Admiral
sweet potato puree, braised red cabbage, crispy rutabega, smoked maple syrup
teriyaki duck leg with pimento cheese fries, orange fennel slaw; angus flat iron steak with bacon and green onion rasti, grilled romaine, bearnaise foam, creme fraiche; Espresso brulee, tiramisu with lime milk fudge
(Note: wish the lighting had been better so I could give you photos that did justice to the food!)
733 Haywood Rd
Asheville, NC 28806
Two words: Butter Bar.
Yes, Biscuit Head has a butter and jelly/jam bar that is insanely ridiculous. I learned a trick while dining on this first visit that I can now pass along to you. Order one of the biscuit sandwiches, but ask them to put all of the toppings on only one side of the biscuit.
You need that other half of the biscuit to partake in the butter bar. You can thank me later. (and thank the local that I overhead sharing this tip with her friend. Only wish I’d heard her BEFORE I ordered so I didn’t have to scrape all kinds of stuff off one half of my biscuit)
Biscuit Head Asheville’s Butter Bar Selection
1 Roberts St #101
Asheville, NC 28801
If you’re looking for a casual lunch spot in Asheville, White Duck Taco is a fun place to go. It’s a little off the beaten path, but that definitely doesn’t seem to deter anyone, as there was a long line out the door before, during and after we left!
Bangkok Shrimp Taco at White Duck Taco Shop
10 S Lexington Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
On our first night in town around 9 pm, we walked past French Broad Chocolate Lounge and saw an incredibly long line snaked out the door and down the street. I knew this place was popular, but until I saw that, I didn’t realize just how popular. We weren’t in the mood for dessert at that moment anyway, but I was glad that I saw the line because it made me readjust my thinking about when we would visit. I’d planned to try it out after dinner the next night, but instead decided to hit it mid afternoon on Saturday instead.
Perfect plan! When we got there around 3 pm, there were a few people inside waiting to order, but the line moved quickly and we got our coffee, cookie, and tart within a few minutes of arriving. So keep that in mind for your visit. Daytime desserting is better than late night desserting!
91 Biltmore Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
I’m not a huge beer drinker, but Asheville is a beer brewing town, so I wanted to try at least one of the breweries. Wicked Weed seemed to be the most highly recommended, and it turns out, there’s a good reason.
I love this place. Fire pit outside, a giant mural of King Henry the VIII inside and a high alcohol beer aged in whiskey barrels for 4 months. What’s not to love?
Troy & Sons Old Fashion at Wicked Weed Asheville - dare I say THE BEST beer I’ve ever had?!?
The 9.8% old ale brewed with sweet cherries and orange zest, then aged in whiskey barrels for 4 months to capture the essence of an old fashion.
19 Wall St
Asheville, NC 28801
MG Road is the basement bar and lounge of Chai Pani, an Indian street food joint. The cocktail list contains interesting ingredients like lemongrass, cardamom, and sabji masala, just to name a few. Really cool, relaxed vibe.
48 College St
Asheville, NC 28801
The Imperial Life bar in Asheville, NC
Oh, this place. For a cocktail lover like me, it’s a MUST.
I won’t say how many drinks I ordered, but I’ll tell you that every one was fantastic. My evening ended with a request for a “bartender’s choice” dessert drink, which turned out to be a Bourbon Milk Punch, something I’d never had before. It is also something that I will now be having often.
Bourbon Milk Punch at The Imperial Life, Asheville
1 Antler Hill Rd
Asheville, NC 28803
We really enjoyed our stay at the Inn at Biltmore Estate. It’s a little bit of a drive to get into town, but the views and atmosphere are great. It was exactly the kind of place I needed to force me to relax and truly get into vacation mode.
Biscuit Love Marketing Makeover Reveal
Wednesday, December 11th
Dinner service from 4 – 8 pm
2908 12th Ave S
(corner of 12S and Kirkwood)
Nashville, TN 37204
The TODAY Show (yes, that TODAY show!) will be in 12 South tomorrow filming a segment on the marketing makeover of our very own Biscuit Love truck!
The Marketing Makeover is the creation of the marketing and branding guru Martin Lindstrom and is part of a series being filmed for the TODAY show featuring small businesses across the country trying to take their business to the next level.
If you have a dream of being on television, then head on over to 12 South tomorrow evening because this might be your chance! Biscuit Love will be open for business with a delicious (as always) dinner menu:
“hot” chicken, topped with housemade pickles, housemade mustard, local honey, on a scratch baked biscuit
The East Nasty
Buttermilk fried chicken, Sweetwater Cheddar Cheese, local Bear Creek Farms housemade sausage gravy, on a scratch baked biscuit
Local Jake’s Sausage patty, Bloomsbury Farms fried egg, and Sweetwater Valley Buttermilk cheddar, on top of a scratch baked biscuit
House-ground peanut butter, caramelized banana jam, Olive & Sinclair chocolate gravy, topped with pretzel crunch, on a scratch baked biscuit
Creamy Grits topped with Slow Roasted Beef Brisket
It may be cold out, but I’m quite sure this food will warm you up. And if you need a little more warmth, pop into the brand new White’s Mercantile to do a little holiday shopping while you’re there!
Last week I shared a list of locally made products with you in case you wanted to put together your own gift baskets to give at the holidays. Well, this week I’ve got a couple of gifts for people like me who have very little time on their hands for shopping, but still want to give something local. I would personally love to receive either one of these gifts at Christmas! (hint, hint)
Local Eats Gift Card
Local Eats recently launched a gift card program specifically designed to promote locally owned restaurants. Unlike a typical gift card that must be used at one location or one certain chain store, Local Eats has created a national network of restaurants that will accept their gift card.
Here in Nashville I can use it at some of my favorites like Holland House, Cupcake Collection, Woodlands, and 1808 Grille just to name a few. Check out this list to see all of the current spots where the gift card can be redeemed. They’re constantly adding new restaurants, so even if your favorites aren’t there yet, stay tuned. They may very well be soon!
Now is the perfect time to buy some cards too, as they’ve got a special going for the holidays: You get $10 FREE for every $50 you spend! Even if you don’t have any gifts to buy, you might as well buy some for yourself, right? This bonus deal ends on December 31st, so take advantage and purchase online now!
Batch Nashville launched a few months ago, and while I missed the boat on getting the very first delivery, as soon as I saw my friend Leah’s post about her experience, I immediately hopped online and signed up for the 3-month delivery option (October, November, December).
So exactly what is Batch Nashville? The best way I can describe it is a grab bag (errr, box) of artisan Nashville goodies that delivers to your doorstep each month. While many of the items are food related, they aren’t limited to that. So far I’ve been delighted with the candle, cards, and a cute Tennessee ornament I’ve received.
Recently, when it was time for me to send a birthday gift to a friend who was born and raised in Nashville but now lives in Denver, I couldn’t think of a better gift than a little taste of home courtesy of Batch!
I hope this doesn’t sound lazy, but I never in a million years would have been able to find some of the really cool locally made products that Batch Nashville has gathered. I don’t really enjoy shopping, so I’m happy to let them do all the work for me!
For the holidays, Batch has a few options to choose from, starting with subscriptions:
Seasonal Subscription (3 months) – $90
Half- Year Subscription (6 months) – $180
Annual Subscription (12 months) – $360
If those are a little more than you’re looking to spend, but you still like the idea of a Nashville goodie box, then check out these:
Rise and Shine Gift Batch – $50
Hint of Bourbon Gift Batch – $35
Smell Like a Man Gift Batch – $35
Note: For the Hint of Bourbon and Smell Like a Man Gift Batches, you must order by December 15th to ensure delivery by Christmas. Quantities are limited, so pre-order today!
Edley’s Celebrates 2 Years in 12 South
Wednesday, December 4th
4 pm – close
2706 12th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37204
TONIGHT ONLY!! I know it’s short notice, but if you don’t already have dinner plans, might I suggest dropping by Edley’s on 12 South? They’re celebrating their birthday with two-for-one pulled pork sandwiches, a (free) tasting of Yazoo brews and some great music. Party goers also get to take home a commemorative Edley’s glass.
Saturday, December 7th
10 am – 6 pm
Track One Building at 4th and Chestnut
(around the corner from Fort Houston)
I remember being really jealous of all the great items people bought at Porter Flea last year, so I definitely wanted to make sure I got it on my calendar this year. The free artisan market showcasing modern handmade apparel and accessories, home goods, furniture, jewelry, prints, posters, and paper goods is the perfect spot to find unique items for those hard-to-shop for friends and family members.
This year Porter Flea joined forces with Hey Rooster General Store to create “Porter Pantry”, an artisan food tent featuring packaged consumable goods from local makers. In addition to these food vendors there will also be plenty of food trucks on hand so you can nosh before, during, or after your shopping spree!
For more information, visit the Porter Flea website.
Grilled Cheeserie 3rd Birthday Party
Sunday, December 8th
3 – 6 pm
519 Gallatin Ave
Nashville, TN 37206
There’s another big birthday celebration happening here in town, as the Grilled Cheeserie turns 3 this weekend!
They’ll have their full menu for sale at Barista Parlor on Sunday afternoon, including a special ‘melt of the moment’ using local ingredients donated by Porter Road Butcher and Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese. The best part: the first 100 customers will receive a free melt!
And that’s not the only free part. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream will also be on hand serving up free scoops of Cloverton ice cream with honey cornbread gravel (that stuff is soooo good). In addition, they’ll have other flavors available for purchase.
I’m sure you’ve probably heard the weather forecast for the weekend – rain, ice, freezing temps – but don’t worry, you can eat your melts and ice cream in the warm interior of Barista Parlor!
Publicity Lazy Magnolia Beer Dinner
Tuesday, December 10th
7073 U.S. 70S
Nashville, TN 37221
$50/person (includes tax & gratuity)
For the beer lovers out there, Publicity in Bellevue does some really great beer dinners on the second Tuesday of every month. Representatives from the brewery come to talk about the beers, and a four-course meal with pairings is served. This month’s featured brewery is Lazy Magnolia based out of Mississippi. There’ll be cornbread salad, cheese straws, beer battered catfish and pecan pie on the menu, plus (of course) plenty of delicious beers!
Seats are going fast, so call or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve yours!
Table Talk: Ladies Night Out
Wednesday, December 11th
Kocktails and Kouture
316 11th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203
Nashville Lifestyles’ Table Talk this month is themed “Ladies Night Out”, combining food and fashion. While nibbling hors d’oeuvres and sipping on specialty cocktails, you can shop til you drop at Kocktails and Kouture in the Gulch. The $15 ticket also includes touchups from the Babe Beauty Bar and a 20% shopping discount.
Piedmont Regional Dinner Event
Tuesday, December 17th
210 25th Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37203
$50/person plus tax and gratuity
I get a lot of emails regarding special dinners at restaurants around town. Unfortunately it is completely impossible for me to share every one of them with you. However, when I see a menu that I’m absolutely drooling over, I just have to share!
That’s the case with this four-course dinner happening at Sardinia in a couple of weeks. Check it out:
polenta, corn meal bread with robiola cheese, mushrooms and truffle oil
baby lamb meatballs with swiss chard
pumpkin ravioli with butter, sage and black truffle
risotto al Barolo, risotto with Barolo wine reduction and asparagus
scaloppine ravioli, veal medallions with artichokes and sage
pork ossobuco with pesto couscous
Torta di nocciole, walnut cake
Each course will be paired with a wine tasting and brief remarks to educate diners about the meal and the Piedmont regional influence. Reservations required in advance by calling 615-320-9147.
The Bitter Wife cocktail at Pinewood Social
Perhaps the most highly anticipated opening on the Nashville scene this year (at least for me!), Pinewood Social will open their doors tomorrow morning at 7 a.m.
Yesterday I got a little sneak peek, so I thought I’d share with you.
I know from conversations I’ve had recently that many of you are bewildered by this concept. It is perplexing. Definitely hard to completely understand until you’ve seen it with your own eyes. Not just restaurant, not just a bar– it’s a gathering place. A place to have meetings. Grab a bite to eat. Caffeinate. Karaoke. Bowl with friends. (And in a few months, take a dip in the pool!)
The bowling lanes at Pinewood Social
It seems like every concept that brothers Ben and Max Goldberg come up with turns to gold, and I don’t think this one will be any different. Actually, I’m sure of it. Chef Josh Habiger, who opened Patterson House with them, and then Catbird Seat, has come along for this new project too.
I’m fairly certain Josh’s food has some sort of magic dust sprinkled on it. That’s the only explanation I have for his ability to make me eat things I don’t think that I like, yet I end up loving.
Yesterday, it was a Reuben. Not just any old Reuben, but a Reuben with beef tongue. Beef tongue, Thousand Island and sauerkraut sounds like my worst nightmare, but it was truly delicious. Magic dust, I tell ya.
Fried Broccoli at Pinewood Social
While all the food we tried was great, there are two items that I definitely must insist that you order. Oddly enough, they are actually both cruciferous vegetables, of all things! More magic dust?
The fried broccoli appetizer with lemon zest, sea salt and almond/garlic dipping sauce and the cauliflower salad with peanuts and raisins will certainly be ordered by me many, many times in the future.
Pinewood Social’s pork belly salad, winter soup, and turkey/cranberry sandwich with cauliflower salad
Even though I was checking out the new space in the middle of the day, you know me- I couldn’t pass up ordering a cocktail.
No doubt I had high expectations for the bar program here. I mean, these guys opened Patterson House, still my #1 favorite place to get drinks in town. Add to that, Matt Tocco, who was at Patterson House before moving over to Rolf & Daughters to develop their bar program, is now at Pinewood Social. Verdict: high expectations met. So thrilled to add a new bar to my short list of places I enjoy going for a drink with friends.
Matt, Josh, Ben, Max. They are quite a team.
Speaking of Max, he’s the one that mentioned to my friend Kristin and I that Pinewood Social not only has amazing Crema coffee, but they also have coffee cocktails! He had no idea how much I love a good coffee cocktail. Of course we had to try them. I mean, duh.
The ‘Southern Limerick’ had coffee, bourbon, sorghum and heavy cream. The ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’, a cortado with fernet and demerara sugar. So in L.O.V.E.
Of course, the coffee bar and surrounding area is good for other things besides just boozing it up. Drink a few cups of java while working at the big communal table or lounging in one of the comfy couches or chairs.
So think about it. This place could, in fact, house you for an entire day. You could take a breakfast meeting and then work over coffee. Meet business associates for a power lunch. Have a friend join you for after work drinks at the bar. Then your honey meets you for a dinner date, followed by bowling.
Get a few drinks in her, and she might even sing “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” in one of the karaoke rooms. Maybe. If you’re lucky.
33 Peabody Street
(Trolley Barns on Rolling Mill Hill)
Nashville, TN 37210
M – F 7 am – 1 am
Sat & Sun 9 am – 1 am
Readers often ask if I have a list of Nashville made products that could be put into gift baskets for the holidays or out of town guest bags for weddings. Up until now, I didn’t have an actual list. Usually I would just rattle off a few ideas that quickly came to mind, but the four emails I’ve gotten in the past four days prompted me to create this post so I can reference it from now on.
As I learn of new locally made products, I’ll keep this updated. If you notice that I’m missing something, please leave a comment and let me know. You can click on the names of the products/companies to go directly to their websites.
Snacks and Sweets
Bang Candy Company
Goo Goo Clusters
Grab the Gold Bars
Mountain Jim’s Tennessee Tea Cakes
Nashville Chocolate and Nut Co.
Nashville Toffee Co
Olive and Sinclair Chocolate Co.
Pralines by Leon
Tennessee White Trash
Walker Creek Confections
The Nashville Jam Company
Breads and Grains
Sunday Morning Pancake Mix
Just Love Coffee Roasters
Fat Bottom Brewery
Tennessee Brew Works
Belle Meade Bourbon
Collier and McKeel
Corsair Artisan Spirits
Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream
Note: a few of these products are made just outside of Nashville. All are made in Middle Tennessee.
Riffs Cafe grilled cheese, creamy tomato basil and chicken & dumpling soups, latte, peanut butter pudding & concord grape hand pie
I’ve been a pretty vocal fan of the guys of Riffs since Day 1 of them coming on the food truck scene. Actually, before Day 1. I know they’re great at the mobile food thing, I know their catering is fabulous, and they’ve thrown some awesome pop-up dinners. So it comes as no surprise to me that their new brick and mortar cafe is cranking out some delightful fare too.
The no frills diner is not exactly located in an area I typically spend much time dining in. Actually it’s an area I’ve pretty much avoided dining in up until now. Riffs Cafe at Highland Ridge is in an office park, just off of Briley Parkway and Elm Hill Pike, over near the airport.
While I don’t work there on a daily basis, the main office of my company is actually located not too far away, also just off of Elm Hill Pike. Occasionally I’m there for meetings or drop by to pick up samples, and I discovered early on that there was nothing good to eat nearby. Last year when The Chew and CBS Sunday Morning were in town to film stories on Goo Goo, I got the same question from the crews- “Where can we grab a bite nearby?”. My response: “Uhhhh, there’s a Hardee’s down the street.”
Riffs cafe lattes, samoa, chocolate dulce cookies, ‘moon pies’
Seriously, this area desperately needed a place like Riffs Cafe. While I’d love for them to have a brick and mortar location on my side of town (maybe one day??), the spot they landed in is the next best thing for me personally. At least when I am over at the home office I can swing by for breakfast or lunch.
For those of you that work around there, if you haven’t been, you’re missing out. There is no reason not to be dropping by once, twice, 5 times a week! And truly, it’s pretty easy to get to from downtown also – maybe a 10 minute drive? Definitely doable for a lunch break for you downtowners. Anyone heading to Shopry Mills to do some Christmas shopping on a weekday? Avoid the mall food court. Fuel up at Riffs beforehand!
Okay, so I guess I should probably describe some of the food, right? Well, if you’ve eaten from Riffs food truck before, you’ll recognize a few things, though they may have made a few changes or slight twists. They offer some more adventurous options but have plenty for those that like to stick to the basics as well.
Riffs Top Hat Burger and Fries
I’ve had everything from grilled cheese & soup to a burger, to Korean tacos and a Banh Mi. Served with cheddar cheese, a bacon onion hash, lettuce, tomato, and top secret Riffs sauce, their Top Hat Burger is insanely delicious. Oh, and their fries? Ridiculous.
Last week I got to sample a jerk chicken sandwich that was being tested out, and it was fantastic. Really looking forward to seeing it on the menu, as I think I should probably lay off the burgers and fries a bit, or I’m going to gain 5 pounds before the holidays even hit.
Plus, I’ve always got to leave room for the dessert calories when dining at Riffs. That case full of treats doesn’t tempt me, it owns me. There is no way I would even think of walking out that door without first getting something sweet to eat. No way.
Chocolate Caramel Coffee Shortbread Bar at Riffs Cafe
I first met and learned of pastry chef Audra Dykes’ brilliance when she worked at the then newly opened Coffee, Lunch last year. She participated in the Goo Goo Cluster 100 year anniversary dessert promotion and created one of my top 3 favorites, the Goo Goo Turtle Bars.
A few months ago she left Coffee, Lunch. and began working with Riffs Fine Street Food, opening up the new cafe. Her take on some of our childhood favorites like Swiss cake rolls, Twix bars, oatmeal cream pies, and Moon Pies blow the originals out of the water. Trust me on this – get one of the Moon Pies. I was floored.
You really can’t go wrong with any choice you make from the ever-changing array of sweet offerings. While I’ve only had it a couple of times, there is one item that I can’t get out of my head and wish I was eating right now. The ‘Riffs Bar’, a peanut butter-chocolate-pretzel creation can only be described as pure joy in bar form.
While Audra does fill the dessert case with amazingness every day, I also need to mention that she makes all the biscuits, buns and breads used on their savory dishes as well. And let me tell you– I don’t think there is any bread finer in this city.
Okay, now I’m hungry. Off to Riffs Cafe for breakfast! (I’m completely serious.)
In addition to liking the cafe’s Facebook page, you can also follow the truck’s Twitter and Instagram accounts to follow all of their adventures in food.
555 Marriott Drive
(Building Two) #105
Nashville, TN 37204
Hours: Mon – Fri 6:30 am – 3 pm
Photography credit: some images my own, others courtesy of Audra’s Instagram.
Every year about this time people start asking me where they can go to purchase several local items to create gift baskets. I don’t always have a good answer for a “one stop shop”. However, this year I’ve got one! This Saturday at Sunflower Cafe in Berry Hill, Local Table is hosting a Holiday Market. Several awesome vendors will be on hand to make for a super easy, very local shopping experience. Check out this list:
Amas Veritas Body Care
Angelight Candles w/Massoud Sacred Mandala Art
Goo Goo Clusters
Gypsy Design Jewelry
Laurie George handmade cards
Short Mountain Distillery
Tennessee Valley Pecan Co
Walker Creek Toffee
During the shopping event, Sunflower Cafe will be serving a $10 Veggie Burger Special that includes a glass of wine or beer. Eat, drink, shop!