Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rhubarb

If you're like me and peruse copies of Southern Living, Bon Appetit, Garden & Gun magazines and the like, no doubt you've heard of Rhubarb, the hottest new restaurant in Asheville (though they get one every week it seems). Chef John Fleer has been praised for this new downtown staple, and during a recent trip West, I decided I couldn't leave town without stopping by. The open kitchen and well-lit restaurant is inviting, not stuffy at all. Conversations are lively as people are clearly enjoying themselves, and as expected, every morsel I consumed was exquisite.

Lobster Corn Dogs!


I ordered an Ilkley Siberia Rhubarb Saison. When in Rome. I can't think of a better appetite whetter than the Lobster Corn Dogs with Comeback Sauce. This spicy rendition of the classic sauce lives up to its name. It's creamy, tomatoey and dangerous, especially when you dunk hush puppy-shaped Lobster balls in it. They are fried, producing a crunchy and slightly sweet exterior, like Corn Dog batter. It doesn't get much better than this. 



Scallop Perfection.

I was lucky to negotiate a trade with one of my dining partners - a Lobster Corn Dog for a Meyer Lemon-Crusted Scallop. I'm a SS1 (John Batchelor may be the only one to get this reference). The Scallops are plump and delicate, perfectly cooked. Peas and Butter Beans add a nice pop and color, Country Ham adds a necessary saltiness to cut through the creamy Buttermilk sauce, and Dill adds a fresh earthiness. This is my kind of food.

I always love when a vegetarian dish makes me forget that it lacks meat. The Goat Cheese Gnudi is exceptional. It would make me get gnude. Five tender dumplings are bursting with flavor and literally oozing with cheese, but it's not runny, it's creamy. (There's a difference.) Oyster Mushrooms and Braised Cabbage guest star, and I believe I was subbed Butter Beans for what were supposed to be Pumpkin Seeds, but I preferred the beans! Cheers! I cleaned my plate. I could rave about these dumplings all day. Outstanding. 
I'd get gnude for this gnudi.
The Malted Mudslide is a lovely sweet note to end on. Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips are soft and have a brownie texture. I love a soft cookie. A scoop of soft Vanilla Malt Ice Cream sits atop and is so much sexier than plain ole vanilla. Cocoa Nib Brittle is a slightly nutty crunch, and I could drink a gallon of the Sierra Nevada Stout Caramel. This dessert has everything. Except a photo. Apologies.

Mimosa Fried Chicken Biscuit!
I have to throw an honorable mention breakfast bone to Asheville's Biscuit Head. This place is unbelievable. I would love to try and eat through their entire menu. They have gravy flights (!) and several jams and sauces for you to sample. The Mimosa-Fried Chicken Biscuit is a Sunday buffet in itself. The Biscuit stands alone though - fluffy, buttery, the best I've had in a Southern restaurant in a while. The Mimosa-Fried Chicken tasted slightly sweet, but all the toppings made it difficult to detect a sweet or citrus flavor. Toppings included Sweet Potato Butter, Sriracha Saw and a Poached Egg on top. This was also before I added a little Sriracha Honey, Rhubarb-Strawberry Jam and Coconut Vanilla spread. I tell you, this place is a condiment lovers' dream (me and mine).

Incredibly long story short, I look forward to eating and drinking more of what A'town has to offer. I have a crush on this city and its culture.

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