Small Bites

Get Down!

A new, very casual and bare bones — in a comfortable way — bar is opening on the west side of Asheville.

Feeling fishy: Bluewater Seafood offers lunch as well as seafood by the pound from their Charlotte Street location in Asheville. Photo by Michael Muller

Mikki and Sam Fox, both well-experienced in Asheville's bar/club scene, are opening the Get Down with Frank Merenda, who calls himself a "coding monkey."

"It's going to be a dive bar, but safe," says Merenda. "We want everyone to feel welcome here. We want people to come in after work, relax and have a good time."

To facilitate that, the ownership team has installed plenty of new lighting for the parking lot — which used to, he says, be somewhat of a shady space, in more ways than one.

The Get Down, after all, is located where Cowboy’s Nightlife used to be, a spot with a bit of a checkered history. Call it street cred, if you will. Without losing too much of the original grit — at least the honest-to-goodness shabbily charming part of it — the Get Down team has dialed up the atmosphere. They've scrubbed years of smoke from the walls and ceiling, and applied fresh coats of paint. The bathrooms have been renovated and the bar has been refurbished.

The Haywood Road club is going to be a beer-and wine-only joint, at least at first. A liquor license will depend somewhat upon customer demand. The bar will house pool tables, at least one pinball machine and a foosball table. A small stage in the front corner of the bar will host local bands of all genres, and a juke box in the corner will hold plenty of local music. "That's something that's really important to us — the creative music scene around here," says Mikki. "We want to support that, and converge all the cool scenes into one spot."

Fresh catch: A bowl of San Francisco-style cioppino is one of Blue Water Seafood Company’s lunch offerings. Photo by Michael Muller

Kristin Wifey, the bar's first employee, says, "For me, this spot caters to the real people of Asheville — the working people, not the tourists, necessarily. Though, there's some tourists that really do want to see the local wildlife when they come to town, and not some sort of show of what we think they might want," she says. "All of us have been in the service industry for so long that I think we have a good idea of the diversity of our clientele."

"It's going to be awesome," says Mikki. "My mom always used to say that if something was really, really good, it was the 'get down.' That's where the name came from."

The Get Down will be opening this month at 1045 Haywood Road in West Asheville. The bar will be open seven days a week, from noon until 2 a.m. Visit getdownasheville.com for more information, or call 505-8388.

Ahoy!

The Blue Water Seafood Company, on Charlotte Street in downtown Asheville, celebrated its much-anticipated grand opening on Monday, August 2. Tracy Griffin, owner of the restaurant and fish market with her husband David, says that the feedback has been positive thus far. "When people come back for the fresh fish, we'll know for sure that they liked it," she says.

The new venture is the first of its kind in Asheville, with gleaming steel ice bins full of fresh whole and filleted fish separating the bar area from the brightly painted dining area. The market serves a full lunch menu from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with additional to-go items available until the market closes at 7 p.m.

The lunch menu is fairly extensive, with salads, steamer buckets, snack items and sandwiches in the lineup. A number of bayou-region specialties like crawfish etoufée and po' boys show up on the menu, alongside coastal northern dishes like the juicy, tarragon-spiked Maine lobster roll.

Those po' boys, it should be said, are something special — guests may pick the fish of their choice from the fresh seafood display to be blackened and served steaming on crusty French bread with lettuce, tomato, remoulade and pickles.

Chef Chas Edwards also turns out a very seasonally appropriate "Tropical Asian" salad, a bed of fresh herbs and baby lettuces topped with sweet chili-glazed shrimp, carrots, cucumber and crushed peanuts, served with a ginger-peanut dressing. Small plates include clams casino, crab cakes and an artichoke-spinach-crab dip.

Taking a dive: The owners of the Get Down bar on Haywood road want a safe but divey atmosphere, with plenty of local tunes. Photo by Jonathan Welch

King clip, corvina, whole red snapper, local trout, whole bronzini and North Carolina head-on shrimp were all lined up on display on the restaurant's opening day. "Usually we'll also have an assortment of oysters — we'll have some northern oysters, some Pacific northwest oysters, Virginia — wherever we can get them. But they're at a premium right now," says Dixon, referring to impact of the oil catastrophe on the Gulf.

Blue Water Seafood is located at 94 Charlotte Street in north Asheville, next to the City Bakery. For more information, call 253-2080 or visit bluewaterseafood.net.

Quashing the Rosetta’s rumors

First, a certain city councilman and several of his friends were observed fretting on Twitter about the potential closing of Rosetta’s, the quirky vegetarian kitchen on Lexington Avenue in downtown Asheville. Then, after poking around a bit, and endlessly pestering the ever-patient employees at Rosetta’s for details, I recieved this rather cryptic message on my office voice mail, followed by an abrupt click:

"You were looking for more information about Rosetta’s,” said the female voice, rather dramatically. “There has been a pirate mutiny takeover. Rosetta (Starr, the owner) has been fired and the employees are taking over the ship." 

Understandably, I was a bit curious. After a couple of trips to the restaurant, here is what I’ve found out:

The cryptic message, says the crew, was intended to be funny.

“Rosetta is leaving the country for six months, and we’re looking into the possibility of becoming an employee-run collective,” says employee Heather Houbek. “We’re not sure yet, but we have about six months to decide if that’s something we can and want to do. Rosetta’s choosing to take a sabbatical, and she may or may not return.”

The crew will continue to run things as usual and wants to make it quite clear that the restaurant is not closing. For more information about Rosetta’s, visit rosettaskitchen.com.

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