Having spent most of the first half of our trip to Asheville in a food induced coma, I began to wonder how I could ever return home to the Chili's and Outback's of the world. In just two nights, I had become spoiled beyond belief, and there were still four amazing dinners to come. It was clear that this was sure to get more difficult, as I had saved the highest rated restaurants in Asheville for the last two nights of our trip.
We toured the Biltmore Estate in the afternoon, and went back for their Candlelight Christmas at night. The house is beautiful, especially in the evening, as the crowds in the afternoon took away from the experience a bit. We were joined by my mother-in-law for the day, and after a full bout of touring, it was time for the main event of the day, which was dinner at The Corner Kitchen.
When I began planning our trip, I had run across an article about The Corner Kitchen, and their hosting of President Obama on his recent trip to Asheville. After checking out their menu and reading the reviews on TripAdvisor, it didn't take me long to decide that if it was good enough for the President, then it was good enough for us. And given that they were ranked #2 in Asheville on TripAdvisor, they were well within my top 25 requirement for dining...
Sticking with my desire to try new things, I started with a cup of the corn and crab chowder. As a guy that would usually order just about anything over soup, this in and of itself was a departure from the norm. It was a great start, and the warmth was appreciated given that I was sitting next to a window who's seal had failed allowing a trickle of the 20 degree air inside.
Next I moved on to my appetizer of Smoked Salmon Julienne with Crisp Potatoes. This dish without a doubt made my evening, and rivaled some awesome creations for the best thing I had all trip. The best way I could describe it is a combination of smoked salmon with KC Masterpiece barbecue potato chips. It may sound terrible, but it was amazing, and given my love of smoked salmon, I enjoyed it thoroughly..
My one regret from the experience at Corner Kitchen was my selection for the main. I was feeling a bit carnivorous that evening, and opted for the sliced filet mignon and whipped mashed. Am I complaining about filet mignon? Absolutely. The reason is simple really...it was boring. For a brief moment when ordering I reverted back to "Steak and Potatoes Deej," and failed to take advantage of a prime opportunity to explore. Don't get me wrong, the dish was fantastic and went great with the wine I had selected, but as I looked around the table I definitely had a bout of "Entree Envy," especially my mother-in-law's "3 Meat Meatloaf" which from the bit I tasted was awesome...
After reentering our food induced coma, it was time for perhaps the biggest decision of the evening...dessert. I usually have a pretty easy time choosing dessert, as most of the time there is only one, maybe two, options on the menu that sound appealing. The problem we encountered at Corner Kitchen, was that no less than a half dozen options sounded amazing. So the solution was quite easy really.....we all chose one and the three of us shared a bit of each. Needless to say, the combination of cheesecake, flour-less espresso cake, and key lime tart was the perfect end to what had been a perfect day spent with family...
For the last day of our time in Asheville, we decided to hang around the Biltmore Village area which surrounded our hotel. We would be driving to Savannah the following morning, and I figured it would be good to squeeze in a bit of rest, given the busy day we had prior at the Estate. We meandered around the little shops in the Village, but since that's only fun for about an hour, we soon found ourselves back in the hotel lobby, playing many hands of gin rummy by the fire place.
Our final restaurant for dinner in Asheville was a small place called Fig Bistro, conveniently located a short walk from the Grand Bohemian. Fig was about the easiest choice I made in planning our meals, as it's #1 rank on TripAdvisor was hard to resist. In addition, their menu was also quite intriguing, with choices ranging from Vietnamese Pho to Shrimp and Grits.
For my main, I did something I almost never do in a restaurant...I ordered the special. Most of the time, I tend to tune out the servers as they go through that night's offerings, as by that time I've usually already decided on some other boring dish of most likely beef and potatoes. However, there was something about the flounder served atop collard greens and mushrooms that pulled at my tastebuds. Not that my tastebuds had any idea what collard greens or mushrooms tasted like... Without a doubt, it was the finest dish I had in Asheville, and solidified my desire to move beyond the kiddie menu.