Small Bites

Olive or Twist?

Decades Restaurant Bar is shaking things up with a new moniker and all-new menu. The restaurant and bar is trying to shed the impression that it is still the same Decades nightclub connected to the former downtown Best Western. To that end, they have dropped the name Decades and are now going by the name of Olive or Twist, Restaurant and Bar.

Cooling off: Desoto Lounge in West Asheville is a neighborhood watering hole that now offers outdoor, dog-friendly seating. photos by Jonathan Welch

The new menu features steaks, seafood and salads, as well as a small-plates menu featuring 27 small appetizers. Small plates include a local cold-smoked trout plate, white-wine steamed mussels and fried oysters with remoulade. Large plates include a macadamia-crusted mahi, hickory-smoked ribs and various personal pizzas. A revamped martini menu features more than 60 selections, many of which include a selection of house-infused liquors, including a just-released bacon-infused vodka. Olive or Twist features live music every weekend, with two house jazz bands that play from 7:30 to 11 p.m. For more information, call 254-0555. The Web site is still under construction but will be updated soon.

More than meets the eye

Been by the Asheville Wine Market lately? You may be surprised at what you find beyond bottles of wine. Did you know that the AWM also carries imported cheeses, as well as gourmet dried goods? "Everything from fava beans, different kinds of lentils — all restaurant quality — to cold-pressed olive oils at supermarket prices," says owner Eberhard Heide, who started the wine store with his wife, Jean, in 1993. "We also have balsamic vinegars, mustards and tapenades — all things geared toward the Mediterranean diet," adds Heide. "Not only do we sell health in the bottle, but good food too."

Indeed, inside the large refrigerators in the back of the store, I spied Double Gloucester, brie, Italian buffalo mozzarella, as well as a selection of sausages, like chorizo and salami. "We also have really good Parmesan," says Heide. "It's real Parmesan, not crap from Argentina." Heide adds that they keep a small stock of cheeses and meats, so the selection is always fresh.

Heide also says that many of his wines are quite inexpensive with a large selection under $10. "You don't have to spend a fortune getting a good bottle of wine," says Heide. A lot of them are estate-grown, he adds, and the market also carries a wide selection of organic and biodynamic wines. "We don't have a whole lot of mass-produced wines," he says.

The market features frequent wine tastings and case specials. Get the latest news about the Asheville Wine Market by visiting www.ashevillewine.com. The Asheville Wine Market is located at 65 Biltmore Ave. and is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, call 253-0060.

Just a front: Desoto is one of those blink-and-you-miss-it places. Keep your eyes peeled, though. It's worth a stop. Here's the way it looks from Haywood Road.

Al fresco Desoto

Been to Desoto yet? The funky little West Asheville lounge has recently added a patio right off of the game room, according to Lisa Gambrell, one of four owners.

Gambrell says that the patio is surrounded by big oak trees, "so it will be nice and shaded when the leaves fill in," she says. "It's been a big hit so far." Gambrell adds that canine pals are allowed to visit as well.

Desoto also has a food menu that includes a selection of sandwiches and munchies, which Gambrell says has been well-received. The most raved-about item, she says, is the southern-style pimento grilled cheese. "We make the pimento cheese in-house with aged white sharp cheddar," she says. "People are also really liking the meatloaf sandwich that we make in house."

The lounge is also set to feature an Ethiopian night on Tuesdays, partially in an effort to soothe nostalgia for Portland's Ethiopian food scene. All four owners of the lounge, says Gambrell, lived there for about a decade. "I used to make it for New Year's Day meals because it's so much like southern food — the collard greens and black-eyed peas," she says. "I've heard so many people lamenting that there's no Ethiopian food in Asheville, so I thought that I would start serving some on Tuesday nights and see how that goes." Everything will be served family-style essentially, she says. "It will all be on a big platter, so it's probably best to come with at least one other person. It will be lots of fun to share with a big crowd."

Gambrell also reports that Desoto Lounge will be applying for a liquor license soon, so stay tuned for news on that front. Desoto is located at 504 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For more information, visit www.desotolounge.com or call 255-1109.

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