Small Bites

Cocktails by the water

There's not much in the way of waterfront drinking around these parts, until now. By the side of the French Broad in the River Arts District sits a newly established private club and bar, The Bywater, opened Sept.19.

The Bywater offers an alternative to the downtown bar scene, a relaxing atmosphere and a classy and rustic vibe.

Even better? There's a wide variety of draught beer behind the sleek wooden counter, served at just $3.50 per 20-ounce glass. The taps look sharp, too, arranged in a diamond pattern and built into the wall on a rectangle of earthy red stone.

Local brews include Green Man's E.S.B, Porter and IPA, French Broad's Wee Heavier and Kolsch, Highland's Gaelic and, coming soon, the Wedge's IPA. Standards like Sierra Nevada, Blue Moon and Magic Hat are on tap as well. Owners James Rogers and Chad Battles plan to expand their beer selection to include more local brews in the future.

Battles and Rogers haven't stopped at beer — they also offer a selection of cocktails, from standards to twists on favorites like the fresh-cut pineapple mojito.

A covered area outside holds plenty of tables with a view of the French Broad, and several grills sit close by and at the ready. Since the Bywater doesn’t plan to offer food, members are encouraged to bring their own meats and veggies to grill up a riverside feast. There's also a mini disc-golf setup and a horseshoe pit — a good bar needs drinking games, after all.

The owners dream of several new additions: local food-truck vendors out front, an edible landscape and a greenhouse. For now, the idea of drinks by the water is just fine.

The Bywater is open 7 days a week from noon until 2 a.m. A one-time $5 membership fee is required for entry. Call 232-6967 for more information.

— Warren Wilson student Melody G. Miller contributed to this report

HomeGrown sprouts

HomeGrown, a locally-focused, seasonal foods restaurant, opened Oct. 4 in the building vacated by Picnics at 371 Merrimon Avenue. The concept, says Miki Kilpatrick, who opened the restaurant with her husband Greg (formerly of Savoy and Rezaz), is “slow food, right quick.”

Some of the menu items include a burger with farmstead cheese and sundried tomato relish for $6.50 and sweet corn fritters with horseradish remoulade for $4. The restaurant will also offer an option to graze at the salad bar, with its selection of local veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, as well as soups and breads, for only — get this — $5.

Other menu items include a smoked Sunburst Trout sandwich with lemon-thyme aioli for $6.50, or a barbequed tempeh with Asian slaw for a very affordable $5.
The restaurant is opening amazingly fast, given that the couple just signed the lease in early June.

Kilpatrick reports that HomeGrown will be open Sunday through Friday, from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., serving dinner only on Saturdays.

For more information, visit slowfoodrightquick.com.

Westside gets even more pizza

Peter Affatato's new venture, Pizzeria Ritrovo, recently opened in West Asheville, directly across the street from The Get Down on Haywood Road. When I spoke to Affatato over the phone, he reported that business had been slightly slow since the restaurant's first day, what with kids going back to school and leaf season not yet upon us.

"We're growing every day," he said. "We're getting a good response to what we're doing."

On a recent balmy September Friday, however, Ritrovo was jam-packed full of people, and Affatato was deep in it, sliding pizza after pizza into the oven that dominates the area behind the bar — the flaming heart of the restaurant, essentially.

Though the dining room is lovely, with a lofty, urban vibe, the back porch is a perfect place for an al fresco meal — there's plenty of room and enough space between tables for comfort.

The menu is fairly basic in an honest way, but full of high-quality ingredients. A Rustica salad with gorgonzola, pears and walnuts was perfectly seasoned, if a bit steeply priced at $9. The wood-fired pizzas run from basic to creative. In the latter category sits our favorite dish of the night, the very delicious Angelina with ricotta, pistachio, pickled red onion and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Worth noting? A small yet solid and mightily affordable wine list and a wide and varied selection of house-made gelatos.

Ritrovo Pizzeria is located at 1050 Haywood Rd. For more information, visit ritrovopizzeria.com or call 505-8315.

The Southern picks up speed

The newly opened Southern Kitchen and Bar has now outfitted its back room with a juke box, an Elvis pinball table and a bar-sized $1-a-game billiards table with a bundle of new pool cues. According to owner Joel Hartzler, a foosball table is on the way. They’re calling the event space and casual lounge the “Dirty South.”

Hartzler also says that he and the other two owners have taken some steps to warm up the area, which used to house former owner Zoltan Vitro's Z-Lounge. It appears to have worked. Gone is the sparkly bar, which has been replaced by warm-toned wood.

The Dirty South has eight beers on tap including Bell's Two Hearted Ale and a nice selection of local brews. A full selection of liquor and a wine list is also available. Food from the Southern's menu is also available in the back room as long as the kitchen is open — which Hartzler says is until 2 a.m. every night — although the serving style is bar service only.

Hartzler reports that the Dirty South is now only open Wednesday through Saturday, from 8 p.m. "until late." Hours will be extended as the weather gets colder and outdoor seating on the restaurant’s patio is lost.

The Southern is located on the corner of Walnut and Lexington in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit southernkitchenandbar.com.

Quick nibbles

Dine out for Dickson at Mela on Wednesday, Oct. 13, a half-day for students of the school. Twenty percent of the proceeds from purchases at the restaurant that day will go toward supporting experiential education at Isaac Dickson.
Mela Indian Restaurant is located at 70 North Lexington Ave. For more information, visit melaasheville.com or call 225-8800.

We recently published an article on gluten-free dining in Asheville that mentioned several area restaurants that offer a gluten-free experience. Since the article was published, we've heard from a number of local restaurants that we did not include. Here are a few more places that offer excellent gluten-free options:

The Mellow Mushroom (mellowmushroom.com) offers gluten-free pies on their menu. The dough is an exclusive Mellow Mushroom product, made from a recipe that includes bean, rice and tapioca flour.

The Corner Kitchen (thecornerkitchen.com) in Biltmore Village, says chef/owner Joe Scully, is one of the "pioneers" of gluten-free dining in Asheville. The restaurant serves a wide array of gluten-free options, and the staff is well-trained to avoid gluten cross-contamination. Down the street from the Corner Kitchen is newly opened Gianni Panini (giannipanini.net) which serves gluten-free paninis and other items.

12 Bones
Smokehouse (12bones.com) also offers gluten-free options.

Both the south and the downtown location of Tupelo Honey (tupelohoneycafe.com) feature plenty of gluten-free items.

Know of gluten-free dining options we missed in Asheville? Visit mountainx.com/dining/2010/092210gluten-free-asheville and add to the discussion there.

— Send your food news to food@mountainx.comFor more informatio

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