Small Bites

Asheville Independent Restaurants: Just in time for the recession, the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association is again selling its annual assemblage of coupons good for discounted meals at its member eateries. Now billed as the AIR Dining Club, the $30 package includes 35 coupons that spokesperson Roya June estimates are worth more than $500 in local food and drink. While the deals and restrictions vary by restaurant, many of the coupons are redeemable for two-for-one entrees (Grovewood Café, Martha Nell’s, Westville Pub); 20 percent off the total bill (Curras Dom, The Green Sage, Jack of the Wood) or a free appetizer with purchase of an entree (Mela Indian Restaurant, Ophelia’s World Café.) Dining Club memberships—touted as “passports to a Foodtopian society,” the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau’s culinary tourism initiative—may be purchased at any participating restaurant, the Asheville Visitors’ Center at 36 Montford Ave., or online at www.airasheville.org, where curious diners can also find the complete list of included coupons.

Greenlife Grocery: When it comes to the seas, Greenlife Grocery’s moniker is well-deserved, according to a recent report from Greenpeace. The environmental-advocacy group recently ranked Greenlife as the best place in North Carolina for earth-savvy shoppers to buy their seafood. The store received a seven out of 10 rating, a score that dwarfed the two points earned by Aldi, and the one point given to Trader Joe’s. Harris Teeter finished in the middle of the statewide pack, with a four out of 10.

Groceries were graded on their seafood-sourcing policy, support for initiatives, labeling and transparency of seafood and the number of red-list species (in Greenpeace lingo, those are the species at high risk of being sourced from fisheries using destructive practices) for sale. “Supermarkets play a big part in the future of our fragile oceans,” a Greenpeace release explains.

According to Greenlife’s marketing manager Misty Childs, Greenlife partnered with FishWise, a nonprofit sustainable-seafood consultancy, to develop its sustainable-seafood strategy. “Greenlife is making every effort to sell products from sustainable sources,” she writes.

Corner Kitchen: Corner Kitchen is taking a culinary approach to its cocktails, which debuted last month when the Biltmore Village restaurant added a full bar. Long a beer-and-wine-only eatery, Corner Kitchen now offers a menu of mixed drinks to “complement its meal service,” spokesman Dave Tomsky writes in a release. “Corner Kitchen’s bar doesn’t have ‘well liquor,’” Tomsky adds. “Instead, it offers what [owner Kevin] Westmoreland calls ‘high and higher quality liquor.’” That means the house vodka is Stoli, Tomsky says. Even better for vodka-tonic drinkers, the restaurant is making its own tonic water and ginger ale, which figures into the bar’s signature Bourbon’s Ginger. The cocktail menu also includes a Bee Charmer martini made with Haw Creek honey. For more information, call 274-2439.

Chef’s Table: Chef’s Table in Waynesville is urging diners to find a reason to celebrate during the upcoming week between Christmas and New Year’s, with a prix fixe Date Night scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 28. The $50 dinner-for-two includes soup or salad, an entrée and dessert. For reservations, call 452-6210.

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