Asheville celebrated Restaurant Week January 17-26 this year. Many restaurants participated, offering prix fixe menus for both lunch and dinner. We were in town that weekend for the Mountain True Winter Warmer Beer Festival, and were able to take advantage of some of the restaurant week specials.
We got into town on Saturday just in time for lunch. While we were walking around, we got to see some of the Asheville Women’s March. It was an incredible experience, and I wish we’d had more time to watch and cheer. The whole atmosphere was energized and positive, and it was inspiring to see so many people coming together.
We chose Strada Italiano, since we were headed to a beer festival and wanted something filling in our stomachs. Strada is a quaint little restaurant on the corner of Broadway and Walnut Streets. It’s unassuming, and from the outside, easy to miss. When you walk in, the first thing you notice is the ambiance. It’s all dark wood and soft lighting. The space is long and narrow, with a good-sized bar taking up the majority of the right side of the restaurant. There’s a staircase in the back leading to a group dining space, and a private function room off to the right behind the bar.
Despite being just after noon, the place was empty and we were seated quickly (it later filled up with March participants). As we debated over the restaurant week menu, the couple behind us got their food – a pizza that both looked and smelled incredible.
I chose the Tuscan Figs and the Italian Chicken Philly; Jimmie had the Arancini and the Grilled Florentine Ravioli. While it was all delicious, the figs were the highlight – the perfect combination of smokey and sweet. That said, two figs was more than enough; I couldn’t have eaten any more than that.
After lunch, we met up with the rest of our group for the beer festival, where fun was had by all.
The next morning, Jimmie and I met my mom for brunch at The Blackbird. Another little place, The Blackbird is on Biltmore Avenue, right across from the double-decker coffee bus and right next to the Aloft hotel. I love their logo, which they put on everything from the menus to the paper towels in the bathroom.
The Blackbird, like many Asheville restaurants, prides itself on sourcing local ingredients, and that includes the coffee. The Blackbird serves coffee from Dynamite Roasting Company out of Black Mountain, NC. Normally, I’m not a huge coffee snob…but that was some of the best coffee I’ve ever had, and next time I’m in Asheville I’m going to buy some to have at the house. (Huge thanks to the folks over at The Blackbird for responding to me on Facebook when I asked about the blend!!)
After a lengthy debate about what to order, Jimmie chose the Spinach and Goat Cheese Omelet with Country Potatoes and Bacon, and I settled on the Huevos Rancheros. Though beautifully plated, neither dish looked to be enough food when it arrived. I’m pleased to say it was more than enough, as both of us were fully stuffed by the time we left. The food was fresh, filling, and tasty, and the service was lovely. Definitely a place I’d return to.
We love Asheville, and are trying to make it over that way more often. Where should we eat next time we’re in town?