Culinary Weekend in Asheville, NC: Tupelo Honey Café

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This is definitely one of those posts where I say to proceed with an open mind and form your own opinion. This is solely my opinion, and I am saddened that the below is true. But….it is.

There is this restaurant that I have heard absolutely nothing but brilliant things about in Asheville. In fact, I had been planning our day specifically around making it to Tupelo Honey Café. Due to the busyness of downtown that particular Saturday, there was about an hour wait for a table. This isn’t too bad considering we heard it is always like this at the downtown Tupelo. When our pager went off, we were seated at a little table mushed up beside the wall, under a mirror, extremely close to another table. You really felt like you couldn’t have a private conversation without everyone hearing you. We had two different people come up to our table, and I’m still not quite sure who our server was. There was absolutely no warm and fuzzy interaction with our server(s). However, the table next to us, had amazing service…we could have just had a server with a bad day. Hey, it happens.

We ordered the BBQ Egg Rolls as an appetizer. They were actually quite decent. The flavor was great, and yes, we would order those again. Next came the main courses…ugh. I ordered the Not Your Mama’s Meatloaf, and the hub ordered the BBQ Plate. Now, let’s talk about this. The hub and I live in the heart of BBQ country, and this certainly wasn’t the right decision for people that truly adore BBQ, to order it away from home. The BBQ on the BBQ plate seemed to have been sitting in sauce/water/juices all day. There wasn’t a strong smoke flavor, it was dripping with wetness, and had globs of fatty pieces in it. The corn on the cob that came with it was pretty tasty, and the greens were interesting. On the meatloaf…maybe it’s because it wasn’t my mama’s meatloaf (or the hub’s for that matter) could have been the reason why I didn’t really enjoy it. The sauce on it had a very interesting flavor profile, and the actual meatloaf itself was lacking some kind of flavor, moistness, something…wish I could put my finger on what it was lacking. It was just something kind of off with it. On the bright side, the mac and cheese that accompanied it was delicious, but the other side…let’s talk about that now… I understand that it had a “Chef’s choice seasonal side”. I get that…truly do. It’s not my choice, it’s the Chef’s. But, if I truly don’t want asparagus, and I am paying upwards of $10 to $20 for my plate, I honestly really want to trade out my asparagus side….also, if the server is going to tell me in a rude fashion “NO”, that I cannot trade my side, you’re kinda going to leave an even worse taste in my mouth about the situation.

Summary…all in all, it wasn’t a pleasant experience, or worth the hype. The service received that day was lacking, and you know I expect amazing service to be provided…it’s the simplest thing you can provide your patrons to make them happy…your smile and warmth. The food was mediocre, and the best thing about the meal were the biscuits and Tupelo Honey that we took home with us and had the next day. I just didn’t feel the passion in the restaurant that I had hoped I would have. *frown*

Final Summary…Maybe we just ordered the wrong items…maybe the server was having a crappy day…maybe the Chef was a little off that day from it being incredibly busy. The heart of the employees we interacted with just wasn’t there. Honestly also….MAYBE I’d try it again next time just to give it a fair chance, and I’d certainly order something different. There has to be something amazing about the place for me to have heard so many wonderful reviews on it, right? Now, I just have to find that something amazing on our next trip up there……….

Tupelo Honey Cafe on Urbanspoon  <—–  Did you see this?  This is a great grade from Urbanspoon!  There must be something I’m missing!?!?!?

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Skid’s II…Warmth in Diner form…

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It’s not often I sit at home and crave another visit to a restaurant. But, at this very moment, I am craving some more of Skid’s II in Burlington, NC. RIGHT NOW!

Honesty….

I lived near Skid’s II for a couple of years, and heck, I grew up in the same town for 27 of my almost 30 years. Did I ever make it in there? Nope….well maybe once when I was super young with my grandparents. Other than that, I have no memory of this little treasure. However, I do remember passing it multiple times and always seeing the parking lot very active. Little did I know, when I agreed to take Maw-Maw there Wednesday, that I was feeding a little bit of my addiction……

The first step into the restaurant immediately revealed a clean restaurant. Key thing to remember, a clean restaurant is a happy restaurant with happy and repeat clientele. *smiles* Maw-Maw and I were greeted by what proved to be one of the best servers we’ve ever had. He was nice, kind, great smile, and most of all….knowledgeable (ok, I’ll admit it, and attractive *wink*). I ordered the sweet tea (because we all know you can judge a good Southern restaurant by the tea) and Maw-Maw had her standard water. The glasses came out and Maw-Maw said she really liked the glasses. I thought they were catchy with the outside light shining through on them. They were a nice blue shade.  The menus were super clean as well (which that won me over).

See, this restaurant holds family memories in it. When Paw-Paw was alive, he and Maw-Maw used to go to Skid’s II and split a hamburger steak. It’s memories like that, that get us through the moments after our loved ones are long gone. This time though, it was Maw-Maw and I….perfect dining companion. *smiles* Fortunately, they have a small hamburger steak option, and this is what she ordered this time for her grand return to Skid’s II since Paw-Paw had passed. I, a complete and utter sucker for Greek food, ordered Souvlaki. Oh…..My…..Goodness!!!

If you have been reading on here for a bit, you would know that Souvlaki is one of my favorite dishes. I frequent the local Greek Orthodox Church when they have their semi-annual Souvlaki lunch, and have even attempted to make it myself with a recipe I found. But, honestly, this was the BEST Souvlaki I have ever consumed. The most beautiful thing….it came out looking picture perfect. I didn’t have to do anything to it to capture the beauty. The cook slathered the cucumber sauce on it perfectly to the edge, layered all the goodness in it, and wrapped it perfectly. Did I mention that our server, Todd, suggested grilled onions on it??? I just never would have thought of combining two of my loves…what is wrong with me for not thinking of that myself??? Well, now I know! Thanks, Todd! *smiles*

Maw-Maw enjoyed her Hamburger Steak immensely, and she said it tasted just like the old days. I know it would have been better though if we still had Paw-Paw with us at the table…*sigh* Her fries and my hushpuppies were perfection as well.

In closing, it was a fabulous experience all around, and we will definitely be going back…(in fact, I’m planning on lunch today there before I head to Mom’s to make Oreo Cupcakes!) The building itself is small, and I wouldn’t assume the food to have that big of a flavor punch if looking from the outside in. But, this is when I continually reiterate to not judge a restaurant by the outside, just as we shouldn’t judge each other. You never know what treasures or favorite dishes you might come across inside.

Kudos to Skid’s II for reminding me of the warmth a little diner can provide to a Foodie’s heart.

Skid's II on Urbanspoon

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Vesuvios Pizzeria! And no…I’m not talking about the group from Guitar Hero…that’s Vesuvius

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If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m very much into local restaurants, and supporting local businesses. I really thought I had heard of them all here locally, but there was one that I discovered on UrbanSpoon that I had not been to yet. Vesuvios Pizzeria is located on Church Street in Burlington, NC.

It’s a handsome Italian man that is married to a beautiful local woman…classic love story. Something about a man with an accent…I’m sure he said the same about her and hers. We Southern women do have nice accents. *smiles*

The first experience we had in there consisted of pasta and bread. Oh…My…Gosh! The bread was absolutely amazing, and when the Mrs. confirmed that this was the same bread their pizza crust was made out of, we were surely going back soon. Um….yeah…the next day for lunch in fact. And, we have been there three times in the last two and a half weeks. *shameful but happy smiles*

For the second visit, it was of course Pizza, and we took our wonderful neighbors with us! We adore pizza, we really do, and when you can find a good pizza place, you hang on to it and frequent it often! The pizza was fantastic, and you can see pictures of it with the steam coming off of it perfectly. The crust was great, the sauce was great, the toppings were sliced to the perfect thickness…perfection!

The third experience, it was a Philly Cheesesteak for me….love me some cheesesteak – one day I will actually make it to Philly for a real one. But, this one was really tasty even if I weren’t in Philly.

But, you know what I admired most…it’s when I asked the Mrs. (the owners have been in there each time, which I love that fact!) if she had any “housemade” desserts, she was honest and said no. I appreciate honesty, and that was great to hear! She did recommend the Limoncello Cake that was brought in direct from Italy…so, we couldn’t resist. Needless to say…super glad we didn’t resist. *big smiles*

Do yourself a favor and check out Vesuvios Pizzeria. It really was a wonderful experience…all three times in the last two and a half weeks! *smiles*

Also…if you’re not using UrbanSpoon on your Smart Phone…you should be! My favorite Foodie App!

Vesuvio's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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