This past weekend we explored the up and coming River Arts District. It’s been a while since we ventured down there in the evening and “wow” has it grown. There are several new galleries, restaurants and even an electric bike shop. We met up with our good friends who happen to also own a Montford bed and breakfast just a few doors down from us on Cumberland Avenue. It’s always nice to have an innkeeper friend you can call on at five till 9 in the morning when you realize you are missing one of the key ingredients for your breakfast, like butter or eggs and even 2 slices of bacon. Thanks James and Susan. They have been great friends and a source of support in many ways.
We began our evening at The Magnetic Field — a bar, restaurant and theatre venue. This is a great place to catch dinner and a show. The plan included dinner and the first performance of the evening (at 7:30). On this particular evening, they were featuring “MILF the Musical” and later in the evening “No she didn’t…Good Girls Gone Bad and the Dances that Happen” — probably not a show that has been cleared for family entertainment.
I am usually a wine drinker and rarely venture down cocktail road, but our friends were very excited about a favorite drink that was fortuitously featured on this special evening out and so we all went along for the ride. Our friends first experienced this delicacy while visiting Peru and have rarely seen it on a menu in the homeland. So if you go…even if it’s not on the menu, see if you can order a Pisco Sour Cocktail. You won’t make any friends with the bartender – it is a high maintenance drink –but this concern will melt away after just one and you can restore the relationship with a decent tip. This cocktail was invented in Peru around 1900 and uses Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy and “it’s to die for!” The brandy itself is a bit stark, but when skillfully mixed with the other ingredients (sugar, egg white, lime juice), it becomes a smooth, frothy refreshment pleasure. Avoiding the risk of damaging a long-established relationship with your favorite bartender, I am going to include the recipe at the bottom of the blog so you can try this at home.
The dinner menu is small but focused on quality and features local and seasonal ingredients. I had local trout that was on a bed of butter beans and sea island peas over a lovely cauliflower puree and surrounded by a brown butter sauce. The portion was the perfect size and just scrumptious. My husband enjoyed the flat iron steak with roasted fingerling potatoes, local shitake mushrooms, sautéed greens and a Cabernet demi-glaze. The meat was very tender and the sauce a perfect accompaniment to the plate. Our friends enjoyed a plate of local cheeses, crab bisque soup (which had a nice little kick) and peel and eat shrimp which were a good size and fresh and tender. The service was also “spot on”.
As can be the case with dinner theater, the dinner component can be quite lacking. This is not the case at The Magnetic Field. This restaurant can stand on its own merit. Everyone had a great meal and great fun at the “theater” portion of the evening.
Next on our list is the Junction (which is located just up the block from Magnetic Field) and is also focused on local and seasonal ingredients. It is rumored they just may have the best burger in town…as self-proclaimed experts on the topic; we’ll be the judge and let you know. For more recommendations on great dinner spots don’t forget to ask your innkeepers at this Asheville bed and breakfast.
• 1/4 cup (2 oz.) pisco (grape brandy)
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
• 1 teaspoon pasteurized egg whites
In a blender, whirl 3 ice cubes, Pisco, sugar, fresh lime juice, and egg whites. Whirl until smooth (you’ll no longer hear the ice cracking against the side of the blender) and serve straight up in a martini glass with a dash of aromatic bitters and a wedge of lime.