As Asheville has emerged as a premier food destination, it’s become more difficult for new venues to find the space to cut out of the market. This makes opening a restaurant even more risky than normal. The competition is fierce out there.
Into the ring comes a brash new contender, Seven Sows, a collaborative effort between chef Adam Bannasch of Zambra, chef Mike Moore of Blind Pig Supper club and Jason Caughman of Pisgah Brewery. Seven Sows celebrates southern cooking and serves dinner and weekend brunches that feature local and heirloom products and a bar that focuses on bourbon.
We ventured out with friends to investigate this new eatery during its opening week. There were several birthdays around the table and I have to say that some members of the party were giddy with anticipation.
Through the doors, we found the décor rustic, nothing fancy – but definitely down home and welcoming. Authentic barn siding here. Tin roof there. A wall painting of a lady holding a ham. Nothing pretentious – you are here to eat, or drink, or both. No hoity-toity here – just good food and drink.
And the menu – what fun! But, I get ahead of myself. Drinks first. It would be safe to say one of the better selections of Bourbon and Rye in the area. Actually, the selection of Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Scotch, Brandy, Rum, Gin, Vodka, Tequila and Apertif’s are all top of the line. My husband chose the “Larceny” – for its name and he was rewarded by the butterscotch aroma and smooth, smoky flavor that warmed its path. Half of the party selected a bourbon of personal fancy (no easy choice given the list) and the other half chose grapes (of the fermented variety). Both halves were pleased with the selection and their decisions. Being a Bourbon enthusiast my husband could not resist following up the “Larceny” with a signature cocktail, a Buffala Negra (W. L. Weller 12 Yr Bourbon, Fresh Basil, Aged Balsamic, Fever Tree Ginger Ale, Simple Syrup concoction) that shoots up the charts as one of Asheville’s top elixirs.
For appetizers and to get into the theme, we sampled: Shaved Country Ham Board with selections of Benton’s Tennessee Month and Mangalitsa and Colonel Newsom’s Aged Kentucky ham. Pickled vegetable, grilled bread mustards, Texas Pete Mayo, and Sweetgrass Dairy Appalachian Cheese.
And Cone O’ Chicken Cracklins and the Buttermilk Hushpuppy Basket (with hot pimento cheese). We turned our gazes on to the entrees. Not one of our self-described “foodies” was adventurous enough to try the Pig Head Meatloaf with apple chutney, pickled mustard seeds, Southern Appalachia Sorghum, crispy pig ear and grilled bread, but maybe next time and after a few more bourbons.
We did have and enjoy the Mountain Goat with Brunswick Stew (and cornbread). No self-respecting southern kitchen could hang its sign if there were no fried chicken wasn’t coming out of it. No offense Gramma, but this buttermilk fried chicken with crawfish mac and cheese and giblet and egg gravy — oh my.
And more items you would not expect on a “new Asheville” menu. The Laughing Seed (a very popular vegetarian restaurant here in Asheville) is not laughing at this lineup of southern fare. Beeler’s Farm grilled Duroc Pork Chop, Quail, Foothills Braised Pork Shank and Dry Aged Cab Ribeye to name a few.
Given the birthday celebrations, we ordered one of each of the desserts, sampled and passed them around the table — partaking in Crème Brulèe, Blueberry Buckle, Butterscotch pudding and a sweet Fudge sauce, marshmallow, Cheerwine Syrup treatment that elevated the traditional Train City’s Moon Pie. I was surprised not to see any banana pudding, but not a complaint was heard and none of these particular decadent treats made it around the table twice.
Side Historical Note: The south’s favorite snack food, the Moon Pie originated in 1917. During the 1930’s, the Moon Pie found its place in Southern folklore as part of the “working man’s lunch.” Coal miners and laborers would enjoy the biggest snack on the rack, a Moon Pie and a 10 ounce RC Cola each for a nickel.
This is fine southern cooking treated with creativity and respect. I don’t remember Mama serving up any such fixins.’ A great place to visit before you head out on your dirt track date or go to see a show.
Here at Pinecrest Bed and Breakfast we’d be happy to secure you a dinner reservation during your visit to this Asheville Inn. Please call our toll free 888-811-3053 or visit our website at www.pinecrestbb.com