>I may have mentioned this before but we are closed next week so that we can get a new roof put on and move in some of our furniture and artwork from overseas. This means a lot of mess and chaos at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast but it also means James is here and we will have some free time to explore some of the many restaurants and nightlife Asheville has to offer. This is important in so many ways, not only for our marriage but also because as innkeepers we are often asked for restaurant recommendations. Up to now, I have relied on our assistant innkeeper, Sara, who has extensive knowledge of this area but I am increasingly aware that January is coming and she will be moving on leaving me to field the questions!
As usual, James’ flight was late last night so we went directly from the airport to the restaurant. I had chosen Tupelo Honey, the iconic Asheville restaurant, as our first restaurant of the week. Tupelo Honey prides itself in “Southern home cookin’ with an uptown twist” and it is a very popular spot. Even though it was after 8 when we arrived, the wait was more than an hour. James was somewhat resistant at this point but the restaurant has personal pagers with a large range so we were able to go across the street to Pack Square and watch the Drum Circle. The Drum Circle is a Friday night tradition in Asheville and there were tourists watching, people dancing, lighted hula hoops swinging and a general party air so the hour passed quickly.
We started our meal with the special appetizer of Country Fried Housemade Dill Pickles with smoked jalapeno aioli. Wow! The roof of my mouth is blistered from my inability to wait for these lovelies to cool off. It was worth the pain (and the wait). We paired this with Cheesy Grit Cakes off the regular menu. James had hoped to order the Root Beer Molasses Marinated Chicken from the specials menu for our main course but sadly it was sold out (of course it was after 9PM!) Instead our server suggested the Nutty Fried Chicken with Milk Gravy. The chicken, when it came, was overcooked and tough and the milk gravy could have used a touch more spice. ButterCracked Crusted Carolina Mountain Trout was my choice off the specials menu. Served on Goat Cheese Grits it was flaky and light, each bite a well-orchestrated event. Our verdict? The dishes of the day were very good, the fried topping was light and the accompaniments fresh and delicious. We both felt that the main menu items suffered a bit in comparison. They were good but not great.
Tupelo Honey is also open for breakfast and lunch. I can’t recommend the breakfast (the Carolina after is a Bed & Breakfast !) but the lunch menu looks good and Sara says it is worth it. In the end however, the experience is about more than the food. It is about Asheville people and music and atmosphere as well. Tupelo Honey deserves its spot on the must-do list in Asheville!