Updates from Asheville’s French quarter

Max Cooper
Max Cooper

As the mash-up of English words suggests, brunch was born in America and the U.K. Since the 19th century, when the word was first recorded, the French have learned to love the leisurely weekend meal, too.

Michel Baudouin, who owns Bouchon French Bistro, said he has reservations about brunch in his own life, but his staff convinced him it was time to bring the meal to the restaurant. “Everybody got involved, and we designed the menu together,” he says. “I'm not much of a believer in doing lunch and stuff like that in general, but it's exciting to have a team who wants to do stuff like that.”

Front-house manager Jenn McGibbon says the menu offers more than just eggs and bacon. “It's less of a breakfast and more of a brunch,” she says. “We have a couple of dishes from our dinner menu on our brunch menu.”

Some of the dinner favorites, such as beef Bourguignon, get upgraded with a 64-degree egg, which is sort of like a poached egg but slow-cooked in an immersion circulator. Many of the brunch items use the egg, which takes on a buttery, spreadable texture. A savory bread pudding featuring bacon and maple syrup benefits from the addition, as does the eggs Benedict.

The new menu isn't the only update from Bouchon. Baudouin says the year got off to a very strange start. In January, the building behind Bouchon, 15 Carolina Lane, collapsed, destroying some of the restaurant's freezers and leaving piles of rubble around the back staircase and Bouchon's sister restaurant, Crêperie Bouchon.

The Carolina Lane building is owned by Dawn Lantzius; Bouchon rents it. Baudouin says he hopes to continue renovating the building for use as a private dining room and event space with seating for 80 to 100 people. “From what I understand, the goal is to rebuild it,” he says. “Nobody is in trouble. Nobody is being held responsible or anything like that. From what I understand, the insurance company has already come to some settlement.”

If Bouchon receives a permit to use the storage space beneath the collapsed building, The Crêperie will reopen in April with enhanced seating, new air conditioning and mussels on the menu, Baudouin says.

[STILL NO WORD FROM THE CITY ON WHETHER EVERYTHING MICHEL SAYS IS TRUE; I WILL CONFIRM WITH THEM TOMORROW]

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