Thursday, January 22, 2009

Black Forest Restaurant 01/11/09

Since friends were in town, I decided to go someplace reasonably fancy for supper. I was also trying to accommodate my friend's lack of adventure in dining, while entertaining his wife's enthusiasm for new experiences. I thought perhaps German food was the best of both worlds.

The restaurant is well lit, but the decor is dark. I'm not complaining, though. It's typical Alpine motif let's you know what kind of place you're in. I decided to have a beer with dinner, even though I really don't care for German beer. I went with the pork wiener schnitzel. I thought the price was a bit steep, but when it arrived, there were two breaded pork cutlets that more than made up for the price. It was served with sauerkraut, German potato salad, spaetzle, and red cabbage.

My friend decided just to go with a New York Strip, which he claims he doesn't normally like, but he wound up enjoying. His wife had the schnitzel, same as me, so I can't comment on anything else. I'd come back, I suppose, but I wasn't as impressed as I thought I might be.

**** four asterisks

Black Forest Restaurant

2155 Hendersonville Rd - 828-687-7980

Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe 01/11/09

OK, so it took me a week or two to catch up on these. I ate out a lot the weekend of my birthday..

That being said, some friends of mine called up around 11:00AM to say they were coming into town and we should go grab a bite together. I agreed and pointed them to Patton & College, because I thought we'd hit up Mayfel's, who it turned out were closed for 2 weeks. Bummer.
We walked down to Tupelo Honey, but as usual, there would be a ridiculous wait.

After walking several blocks, we decided to duck into Green Sage. I recalled having a decent brunch there once before. I was leery, because the Green Sage caters to the gluten-free and organic crowd, but I think we made a decent choice.

My buddy from out of town is a finicky eater - a real meat and potatoes kinda guy, but he decided on a bacon & egg biscuit. He initially complained about the price, but decided based on the size and the quality and freshness of ingredients that this was, indeed, a $4 biscuit. I had the Farmer's Omelet but had requested it without kale or tomatoes. When it arrived, it had both. I was able to pick out the tomatoes and decided to eat the kale. The omelet was good, and so were the grits, but I'm not blown away by the sweet potato home fries. His wife had the quiche, which I sampled. It was excellent.

The atmosphere of the Green Sage is typical coffeehouse: some comfy chairs and some wobbly tables in a dark room. The cuisine is probably a godsend if you need a gluten-free diet, or if you just prefer vegan & organic meals, but I find the exotic take on regular breakfast staples to be kind of forced and I'd really rather just go to the Waffle House....or Mayfel's if they are open.

*** three asterisks

Green Sage Coffeehouse & Cafe

5 Broadway Street - 828-252-4450

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mela Indian Restaurant 01/10/09

I love Indian food. Mela offers a great dining experience if you love Indian food. They also offer a heckuva nice buffet if you hit them for lunch. I drop in every few Saturdays at lunch to eat way more than I should. They have a great selection of chutneys, salad, soup, rice, breads, and several entrees that are either vegetarian or chicken dishes.

I've been in at night before, also, and their entrees are also excellent. Most of their curries are flavorful without being over powering. The decor is pleasant and subdued. My only real complaint is that I am used to being served by either a Sikh in a turban or a Hindu lady wearing a sari when I go out for Indian. Here, they have pretty white girls in black dresses. I suppose what they lack in authenticity, they make up in aesthetics. It's a minor point. I've not had a bad meal at Mela and I find the prices reasonable, especially the buffet.

**** four asterisks

Mela Indian Restaurant

70 N Lexington St. - (828) 225-8880

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Asiana Grand Buffet 01/08/09

Back in the day, when I was 30 pounds heavier, I was a big fan of buffet restaurants. Back then, perhaps Asiana would have really been up my alley, as it is, I'm not a big fan. Atmosphere wise, the place is pretty swanky. They have nice decorating and it's well lit. The buffet is clean and well stocked. It's probably the biggest buffet around, offering a huge selection of different Asian dishes. Yet, I'm left feeling like it's missing something.

I certainly always get my fill here. They have sushi, egg rolls and other appetizers, chicken, seafood and beef dishes, soups, desserts, etc, but I have never left Asiana feeling like I had a spectacular meal. It's as though they are trying so hard to be the biggest and offer the most variety, that they forgot how to excel at any one dish. I'm certain I've had better meals at lesser buffets in town. And at the price of Asiana, I could eat twice at some of the other places.

I do appreciate the free meal on my birthday, though. Thanks for the birthday present.

*** three asterisks

Asiana Grand Buffet

1968 Hendersonville Rd. - (828) 654-8879

153 Smokey Park Hwy - (828) 667-0410

Monday, January 5, 2009

Doc Chey's Noodle House 1/5/09

OK, so I frequent Doc Chey's. It was the first place I really tried when I first moved to Asheville, and I guess I liked it a lot because I eat there about once every 2 weeks at least. I typically order the same thing: Pad Thai with Chicken and Tofu (that's a little extra because you're supposed to pick one, but I like both). One time I did try the Tomato Ginger Noodle Bowl, but I guess it just wasn't the Pad Thai to me. It wasn't bad, though. Anyways, the staff are really friendly at Doc Chey's. I'm sure it could be considered a romantic atmosphere; it's dark with some subdued lighting. It's also very noisy, however, because it is a small room and they have a lot of people in there. Prepare to wait if you are eating in. I usually eat at the bar to expedite being served.

Oh, another thing: they have really interesting iced teas. Inquire about that. It's something different every time. Tonight I had a caramel apple tea. I also ordered a beer. They have a decent beer list that contains some of the local microbrews. I ordered a Highland Oatmeal Porter. I drank my beer, enjoyed my Pad Thai and my tea and I got out of there for ~$14 with a tip.

I feel compelled to mention that someone told me Doc Chey's is a chain. It is not a national chain, but it is also not exclusive to Asheville. I don't make it a habit to eat at chain restaurants, but regional chains can be excepted.

**** four Asterisks

Doc Chey's Noodle House

37 Biltmore Ave. Asheville, NC - (828)252-8220

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Kubo's Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar and Hibachi‎ 1/2/09

I was going to hit up one of my regular haunts, but apparently a sprinkler malfunction closed the place I was going down for repairs. I decided to step in Kubo's because they happened to be remarkably empty for a Friday night. The atmosphere is very nice. It is a classy place with beautiful hard wood and fancy lighting fixtures. There are fiber optics in the ceiling that simulate twinkling stars in the night sky. This would be a great romantic date restaurant. I was sadly alone this evening.

I sat at the Sushi bar, although they also have hibachi tables in the back and regular seating in the front. I ordered tuna rolls, a baby octopus salad, and vegetable tempura. I thought the tuna rolls were great and also really liked the baby octopus salad, but I must say, their vegetable tempura was excellent. Just the right amount of crispy without being overdone or greasy. It was like each course of my meal got better. I decided after eating, I'd go ahead and get desert also. I ordered green tea ice cream (a personal favorite at Japanese places) and had it tempura style. It arrived wrapped in a fried crispy shell. It was terrific. I got out of there for around $26 with tip, so overall I can't complain considering this place was quality. Presentation on all of the dishes was also excellent.

***** Five Asterisks!

Kubo's Japanese Restaurant Sushi Bar and Hibachi‎

5 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC - (828) 251-1661

Friday, January 2, 2009

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant 1/1/09

I grew up eating Mexican food about once or twice a week. When I was in college, a local Mexican place used to offer a 2 for 1 coupon weekly, so Mexican food has become a staple of my diet. Upon moving to the Asheville area, I immediately set out to find a decent Mexican Restaurant. My requirements are simple; cheese is white and there is a soccer game on in the corner. I haven't actually seen a TV with a soccer match on it at La Carreta, but otherwise, the atmosphere is great. It is dimly lit, but not so much so that you couldn't see La Cucaracha on the wall if there were any. I've been here several times. The food is pretty much what I've come to expect from the typical Mexican restaurant in the Southeast. The Number 11 is one taco, one enchilada, & one burrito, just like every other place around here. You can get out of La Carreta feeding 2 people with a decent tip for around $20.

**** Four Asterisks

La Carreta Mexican Restaurant

100 Merrimon Ave, Asheville - (828) 225-4006

1916 Hendersonville Rd, Asheville - (828) 651-4462