So my wife and I had the opportunity to visit Asheville last week for a work event that put us at the Grove Park Inn for three nights. The hotel is quite amazing, especially around Christmas and we both admitted that after the experience we were much more in the Christmas mood. Things that helped: very cold weather (the high on Friday was 32 degrees Fahrenheit), the decorations were incredible, and we got to examine the Gingerbread House competition. Because it was a work weekend, I did not get the privilege of enjoying the resort during the day, but our evenings were filled with food and drink!
Posana (Link to Restaurant)
First, I’m not sure I can say enough about this restaurant. It is located in the heart of downtown and is a completely gluten-free restaurant. They do not go out of the way to advertise that, but the GF crowd is quite adept at getting the word out. As my wife was on the border of full on celiac’s disease, this was her request that we stop there for dinner on Thursday evening. As you will see in this writing, we ventured back to the same restaurant on Sunday for breakfast, breaking a hard and fast rule of not repeating places over a weekend… that should tell you something!
That evening, we enjoyed craft cocktails and an appetizer of brussels sprouts, which were amazing, but the food that stole the show before dinner even arrived was the incredible breadsticks. I will be the first to admit that often, GF “replacement” food is often met with disaster. These breadsticks were better than “real” breadsticks. Warm and delicious, they melted in your mouth. I would return here just to enjoy the breadsticks, thankfully the rest of the meal was fantastic as well. Our main courses were chicken and trout, both of which were excellent sized portions and cooked to perfection.
Before I move on to other restaurants, I have to briefly hit on our return to Posana on Sunday. Our waitress spoke of the brunch menu and the copious GF options. Terri was supper excited so we used OpenTable to once again acquire a reservation. That morning, we returned. Multiple bread options (biscuits, cinnamon rolls and other baked goodies) along with pancakes and sandwiches. Again, a great spot, but incredible if you have any gluten concerns.
Strada (Link to Restaurant)
Another one of our favorite restaurants, we ventured out to Strada in downtown Asheville. Once again, they have several GF options, and most of their pasta dishes can be made without traditional pasta. Fried calamari is a delicacy that Terri has had to relinquish, but not so at Strada. The squid was cooked to perfection (and we all know how chewy it an be when over cooked) and it was a great starter. Terri had the egg plant and I enjoyed a bolognese (veal, beef and pork sauce). A great wine selection and I enjoyed a negroni before the meal.
Bouchon Creperie (Link to Restaurant)
Bouchon is a staple of my regular visits to Asheville. The french restaurant has a great following, and they are known for their all-you-can-eat mussels. A little known shop two doors down is also run by Bouchon called the Bouchon Creperie. Once again, my wife was in search of Gluten Free options, and all of their crepes are just that, GF! This charming restaurant (that also offers AYCE mussels) closes early on most evenings, but stays open until 9:30 on Friday and Saturday. On a crazy busy Friday, this was a wonderful respite to the crowds. We had no problem getting a table on Friday night for dessert and met some of our local friends there for drinks and crepes! Great place to meet, and we were able to carry on a conversation without loosing our voices!
Smoky Park Supper Club (Link to Restaurant)
I was introduced to this restaurant last winter by some dear friends of mine who live in the area. In the river district north of town, this venue is a collection of shipping containers welded together to create a masterpiece. Given another few years, and this area along the French Broad will be completely revitalized. Only minutes away from New Belgium Brewing, this is a hot spot for great food and outdoor fun. As it was cold, our experience was again relegated to indoors. Wonderful craft-made cocktails and a unique take on mussels. They are prepared on iron flatwear over an open fire. The sauce was unlike any I had ever had, but we failed to take a photo of the presentation. I was tempted to order another plate, they were that good! Terri had a wonderfully prepared chicken dish, while I craved full-on red meat. The wood grilled steak was cooked to perfection.
Izzy’s Coffee (Link to Restaurant)
A favorite of mine is Izzy’s Coffee in downtown Asheville (off of Lexington Ave). They often use Counter Culture coffee (from Durham)… so it feels like home. I met an old cycling buddy of mine there for coffee a year or so ago and he introduced me to their Mexican Mocha drink. It is wonderfully spicy. Terri and I enjoyed them one afternoon (she also was able to have a GF banana bread while I enjoyed a spicy “snickerdevil” cookie.