Small Bites

Sprout Garden: Be forewarned: This write-up may be entirely outdated by the time you read it.

Photo by Jonathan Welch

"We're evolving every day," Sprout Garden Cafe's co-owner Jon Braden said when reached by phone last week. "We just started serving breakfast today."

Braden says the Black Mountain eatery, which opened in May, was created partly to "take restaurant rules and throw them out the door." As an example, he cites a recent customer who had a craving for a Philly cheese steak. Sprout Garden doesn't typically include cheese steaks on its ever-changing "seasonal gourmet" menu. But that didn't stop the back-of-the-house team from creating what Braden deemed a fantastic cheese-steak sandwich.

"We're just throwing good food out there," he says.

In keeping with its experimental approach, the restaurant is open for dinner one night a week. Braden envisions making those Friday evenings "guest chef nights," on which different chefs would take over the kitchen.

Braden and his family previously ran a garden shop in the 1917 cottage that houses the cafe. While he says they might "get back into herbs," three years of drought persuaded Braden they needed a more stable enterprise.

Sprout Garden's offerings include sandwiches, salads, pastas and soups, a category Braden anticipates will expand as the weather turns colder. He's planning to add bread bowls to the menu, which emphasizes local and sustainable ingredients.

"We've got a great scene," Braden says. "We're footloose and fancy-free here, and we're having a blast."

Sprout Garden, at 105 Richardson Blvd., is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m; Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Wednesday. For more information, call 669-4442.

Tomato Walk: Asheville's leading chefs will provide home gardeners facing a surplus of tomatoes with plenty of inspiration at this week's Tomato Walk, a happening jointly sponsored by the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association. The event, which runs from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 20, is timed to coincide with ASAP's Get Local tomato month.

"Asheville Tomato Walk brings together the region's great chefs and farm products for a fun, summer celebration," ASAP program director Peter Marks writes in a release.

Participating downtown restaurants include Laurey's and Bouchon, which will offer street-side tomato samples, the Lobster Trap, serving shrimp cocktails with a local tomato-based sauce — complimentary with an entrée order — and Early Girl Eatery, featuring spinach-potato cakes with tomato gravy. Tomato tasters are encouraged to circulate between restaurants.

To learn more, visit wwww.asapconnections.org/getlocal09.htm.

Bavarian Restaurant:  North Asheville's Bavarian Restaurant marked its two-year anniversary this summer with its busiest month ever, and it's returning the favor by offering a deal for guests observing August birthdays. Celebrants with proof of their birthdays will be treated to a free cake made by owner Doc Homburg, who will also play "Happy Birthday" on the grinder organ. To make a reservation, call 645-8383.

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