Brand New Downtown Restaurant-Sort Of
Last night, I finally had the opportunity to attend a soft opening preview party for a new Asheville restaurant. I’ll begin by saying, it’s difficult to critique free food, but someone’s gotta do it. That someone is me.
Bar 100 is going to be the front room of the Market Place, catering to a hip, young crowd of folks who can’t always pay $100+ for dinner. Why the name Bar 100? Hold on to your seats for this answer, I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. Because all of the food is grown or made within 100 miles of the restaurant!!!! The Locavore’s Paradise has arrived! The menu consists of small snacks to share, a course of cheeses, tasting plates, dipping plates, appetizers, and finally fish, pasta, and meat courses. But I’ll begin by re-examining the beautiful prologue to it all:
Cocktails at bar 100 were the most fabulous cocktails I have tasted in WNC. I don’t know if they’ll keep the steep price ($10!) but they sure won my tongue and heart over with their inventiveness.
The Grey’s Hound: vodka, red grapefruit, rosemary. I could have drunk five of these after running a marathon, they were so refreshing and thirst quenching. The rosemary filtered into the cocktail quite strongly and made a punget, refreshing drink.
The Bee’s Knees: Junipero gin, sourwood honey, lemon. This golden cocktail was magical. Honestly, if you came to bar 100 for nothing but the Bee’s Knees and the cheese plate, you would be on the right track. Is there anything more glamorous than sipping a chilled, golden, honey-drenched cocktail in a darkened bar? I don’t think so.
The deviled eggs were a great idea, but not enough kick for me. I’d probably order them again in whatever decadent drunken haze brings me back to Bar 100.
We quickly moved on to the shared cheese plate. This was well worth the $15, featuring Spinning Spider cheeses as well as Meadowcreek Dairy. Each cheese was paired with a perfect bit of earthy fruit or veggie- blue with winter squash marmalade, semi-soft appalachian cheese with marinated shitakes, and musky stackhouse with roasted beets. I had an absolute blast tasting everything on the cheese plate, and I will return for this again and again.
Skipping both the tasting menu, and the dips, we moved on to appetizers. Having just watched a boring film about clam diggers, I felt the serendipity of clams on the menu necessitated my ordering them. They were tasty, steamed in local pale ale with smatterings of country ham. I enjoyed each carolina steamer until I got to the last, when I bit into a chunk of sand. Hopefully, that will get worked out before opening.
We moved on to salads, which were crisp, festive and wonderfully dressed- mine with a thyme vinaigrette, my companion’s with a buttermilk vinaigrette. She had butter lettuce with beets, I tried market lettuces with radishes, and we were both thoroughly overjoyed with our selection.
The wine was stellar, I had a falanchina (white) while my companion went for the valpolicella (red), and we were both enthused by our options. The best part about the wine- they charge $7 for a 1/3 a bottle, which seems to me a much more reasonable serving than a mere glass.
We had skirt steak with mashed potatoes, and quail with dirty rice. The quail was succulent and tender and pretty amazing-tasting, but the rice should have been risotto, instead of a thick starchy paste. Steak and potatoes were admirable, and it was at this point we had to call it a night. We spent a few minutes talking things over with head chef Mark Rosenstein, an easy-going gentleman with obvious passion and ambition for local food. He spoke eloquently about the joy he gets from supporting local farms, and I felt proud to be a part of his dream. So keep a great big eye out for Bar 100 when it opens February 28, and just remember who sent ya.