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Brunch in Asheville: Tupelo Honey

18 Apr

At the center of downtown Asheville, North Carolina, is a great place for brunch – Tupelo Honey. There’s a nice enclosed patio area, but it was intensely heated, so we chose to eat inside.

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My husband built his own omelette – stuffed with roasted red peppers, asparagus, caramelized onions, and goat cheese.Tupelo Honey - omelette

This plate-sized sweet potato pancake with pecans is a signature dish. Definitely large enough to share!

Tupelo Honey - Signature Sweet Potato Pancake

I was a bit disappointed that the egg white frittata was no longer on the menu, so I ordered the Eggs Betty instead: two medium poached eggs on a buttermilk biscuit.  I really liked that Tupelo Honey let me choose asparagus instead of ham on the side, and sliced tomatoes instead of hash.

Tupelo Honey - Eggs Betty

The Final Word: Tupelo Honey serves up a solid breakfast with Southern flair.

Info: Tupelo Honey Cafe, 12 College Street Asheville, NC, 28801 USA,  and several other locations

Tupelo Honey Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Fantastic Beer, Misleading Food: Heist Brewery

28 Mar

In the middle of Black Friday, at a random time between meals (3 pm in the afternoon), my husband and I wandered into Heist Brewery for some drinks and to grab a snack. The place was fairly quiet and empty, and we sat in the main space.

He ordered the pint on the right – Wheat Me Baby, an easy drinking wheat beer.DSC01343

For Black Friday, Heist offered a flight of small batch beers with a coffee theme, like Nova’s Bakery Chocolate Caramel Truffle, a Russian Imperial stout (9.1% ABV) and the Central Coffee Ethiopian Guji, an American IPA (6.4% ABV).  Yum. Heist has some pretty fantastic and beers.

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Now here’s the misleading food: Rosemary Parmesan tater tots

DSC01346As a side dish for $4, I expected enough tater tots to share. But there were only four to an order. Though they are delicate and flavourful, with made-from scratch shredded potatoes, they still felt like a rip off. A heist indeed.

We came back to Heist Brewery on a Saturday night. It was busy and incredibly loud due to a football game on the screens. The noise was on the verge of being annoying due to the repeated chanting and screaming of the fans. If you’re not a football fan, don’t go to Heist on game day.

Fantastic beer: I ordered another beer flight and discovered one of my favorite Heist beers: Cross-Pollen Nation, an American stout brewed with Belgian yeast. It’s smooth, with hints of chocolate and in my opinion, coffee, even though the flavours are supposed to be fig and plum.

DSC01364“Burger Burger Burger”

Misleading food: For our entrees (or so we thought), we each ordered “the Burger.” (priced like an entree). The server did not indicate that we would not be getting regular-sized burgers, but three sliders. I’m not sure if I was supposed to understand that from the name of the entree (“Burger Burger Burger”), but the description made no indication of mini burgers!

Still, these sliders were delish. I ordered the “burger” medium-well and my husband ordered his medium. Both our plates came out perfectly. The jalapeno jelly, creamy goat cheese, spinach, and little brioche buns made for some pretty gourmet sliders. Too bad they didn’t come with fries.

 DSC01357Salmon tacos on “sticky bun” shells beat my expectations:  Excellent marinated sashimi tuna on crispy Asian-style buns

The Final Word: Definitely come for the beer. The food is good but a bit pricey for the portion size.

Info: Heist Brewery, 2909 N. Davidson Street #200, Charlotte, NC 28205 USA

Heist Brewery on Urbanspoon

Fantastic Tapas: Curate, Asheville

24 Jan

Curate is one of the top restaurants in downtown Asheville. If you’re in the area, perhaps to visit the gorgeous Biltmore Mansion, I highly recommend dinner at Curate. It’s a long space, with a bar down one side, and tables for four on the other, opening up to a dining area at the back. The name “Curate” means “cure yourself”… and it’s true, if you’re not in a terrific mood when you step in the doorway, you will be when you’ve taken the first few bites of your meal.

For a small party of 2 or 3 people, I definitely recommend sitting at the bar, to get a great view of the open kitchen (a great way to impress a date 😉 Watch charcuterie plates being assembled, potatoes and eggplant being fried, and cocktails being mixed.

DSC01390For a small party of 2 or 3 people, I definitely recommend sitting at the bar, to get a great view of the open kitchen (a great way to impress a date 😉 Watch charcuterie plates being assembled, potatoes and eggplant being fried, and cocktails being mixed. For larger parties, make a reservation! 

It’s no surprise that this restaurant is busy: look at these beautiful and delicious tapas!

Curate: Butternut squash soupButternut squash soup (Crema de Calabaza) – deliciously smooth

Curate: grilled octopusPulpo a la Gallega – octopus served served with olive oil and potato puree, and sprinkled with Spanish paprika

DSC01399Chicken croquettes

DSC01402Canelones de carne – described as “Spain’s gift to Italy”, it’s a unique, delicate pasta filled with pork, beef, and chicken liver in a creamy bechamel sauce and topped with manchego cheese.

Curate: eggplantBerenjenas la Taberna – fried eggplant drizzled with honey and sprinkled with rosemary

Curate: calamari sandwichBocata Calamares – calamari on a fresh baguette – a delicious and filling sandwich!

DSC01409Chisatorra con pure de patatas – grilled chorizo with potato puree

Curate: spinach with pine nuts and raisinsEspinacas a la Catalana – sauteed spinach, apples, raisins, with pine nuts – a simple, yet elegant dish.

The Final Word: With delicious food and attentive service in a bustling atmosphere, dinner at Curate was one of my most enjoyable dining experiences yet!

Info: Curate, 11 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801 USA
Cúrate on Urbanspoon

State-by-State Guide to Good Food

3 Jan

The media seems to have an obsession with lists – top 10 ways to get flatter abs, 15 things you didn’t know you had to fix, and 20 ways to make better lists…. the list goes on (ha ha). So what better way to kick off the new year than with a list of yummy restaurants, state by state? Ok, I haven’t yet dined in all 50 states (even if you count forgettable roadside stops), so this list is incomplete. But I did want to share some list-worthy establishments I think you should try, and I’ve included dishes I’ve enjoyed at each place. I’ve included links to my reviews of some restaurants, and I’ll update this page for reviews I’ll add in the near future. Bon appetit, and happy travels!

State, Restaurant, City Cuisine What to Order
California Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco French Soul Food, obviously Eggs Benedict, crawfish beignets
Connecticut Rein’s Deli, Vernon New York style Jewish deli Turkey, roast beef, mac ‘n cheese. Order a half pound of meat to take home with you!
Florida Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa Steak, desserts, and the largest private wine collection Steak, obviously! (Exquisitely cooked to perfection every time) Grilled shrimp appetizer. Upstairs in the Dessert Room, Bern’s signature cappuccino, macadamia nut ice cream. Full review to come.
Iowa Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant, several locations Midwestern comfort food Huge cinnamon rolls (featured on the Food Network), the Cattleman’s Choice, baked sweet potato. Hearty food if you’re road-tripping through the MidWest! There’s a cute country store, and you can take photos next to farm vehicles outside.
Illinois Mercadito, Chicago Mexican Amazing margaritas, shrimp tacos
Massachusetts Atlantic Fish, Boston Seafood Calamari (ask for half-and-half grilled and fried), crab-crusted haddock, pan-seared sea bass
Maine Fore Street, Portland American, local foods Menu changes often. Order the tomato tart if it’s available!
Nevada Wicked Spoon, Las Vegas Buffet Kale and watermelon salads, poached pear…like any buffet, things can be hit and miss, but Wicked Spoon offers an awesome selection, beautifully presented. If you want to experience Vegas’ over-the-top buffets, this is the place to go.
New Hampshire Gypsy Cafe, Lincoln International Niçoise salad, enchiladas, sangria.
New York Porteño, New York City Argentinian Grilled octopus, empanadas, quinoa salad
North Carolina Curate, Asheville Spanish Tapas Butternut squash soup, grilled octopus, canelones de carne. Sit at the bar for a great view of the open kitchen.
Ohio Skillet, Columbus Breakfast/Brunch Menu varies daily.
Oregon Mother’s, Portland Comfort food Breakfast and brunch, French press coffee
Pennsylvania Tommy DiNic’s, Philadelphia Sandwiches Brisket sandwich
Rhode Island Nick’s on Broadway, Providence American Everything! Expect to wait an hour for brunch.
Texas Rudy’s BBQ, several locations Barbecue Meat! Order it by the pound. You’ll be served a whole loaf of bread to accompany it.
Vermont Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Burlington Farm-to-table gastropub Local beers and cheeses, giant onion rings (enough to share), burgers
Wisconsin Safe House, Milwaukee Pub food I didn’t actually dine here, but the experience getting into the restaurant was fun! Think secret doors and passwords…
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