Local restaurants serve up some romance this Friday

One of the treats inside Rhubarb’s Box with Benefits. (Courtesy of Ellie Wigodsky.)

Valentine’s Day is only two days away, and (nearly) every Yelp-approved romantic restaurant in town has been booked for days, (though my research shows that Cucina 24 still has two reservation times left – go, go, go!). Lucky for Ashevilleans, impromptu plans and comfy meals are just our style – and even the coziest nooks and crannies in this quaint town are dressing up for the occasion.

Asheville’s Rhubarb is putting together special “Boxes with Benefits” of “four elegant aphrodisiac-inspired pastries,” said Ellie Wigodsky in an email. “Each box will have a description of the ingredients and why it’s considered to have aphrodisiac properties. It will be a perfect sweet treat, and people can call ahead to pre-order and stop by to pick them up on the 13th or 14th.

“On Friday night we’ll be offering an aphrodisiac tasting-menu at dinner in addition to our regular menu. We’ll also continue service late night with aphrodisiac-themed snacks, desserts and cocktails.” To order, call 785-1503.

Sunny Point Café is planning a special “Full Moon Wishes and Kisses” 3-course dinner for $30 per person on the evenings of Feb. 13, 14 and 15. The meal comes complete with an appetizer choice of oysters Rockefeller – three fresh oysters topped with a bacon-herb panko blend and broiled – or a beat salad layered with goat cheese and topped with arugula and toasted hazelnuts.

For the main course, the West Asheville essential will be cooking up three choices (along with the regular dinner menu): jerk steak and fries, described as “Myer shoulder tender marinated in jerk seasonings and grilled, served with house-made sweet potato fries and coconut-curry greens, topped with a habanero salsa”; salmon marinated in stir fry sauce, wrapped with rice paper and pan-sautéed, served with rice cakes and stir-fry vegetables; and bibimap – jasmine rice topped with pickled veggies and raw veggies, a fried egg and marinated tempeh.

For dessert, Sunny Point’s Full Moon menu will boast homemade moon pies, along with the restaurant’s regular recipes.

The Laughing Seed will offer a special Valentine’s Day menu complete with four courses of “vibrant, comforting, yet light Mediterranean-inspired dishes,” according to their menu. All courses can be prepared gluten-free.

The first course is velluta di carote, described on the menu as offering “subtly rich notes of sweet organic carrot contrasted by savory spices,” with “a drizzle of blood orange puree.” Next is the cherry tomato confit, served in a crisp radicchio bowl, boasting “the bold, yet slightly sweet flavors of cherry tomatoes, enhanced by notes of garlic and vinegar.”  The third course, bello risotto, is nestled in a “bed of savory garlic and herb risotto, which is smothered with smoked vegetables, slow-cooked with garlic, onion, celery, carrot, herbs and cacao to create a rich, earthy broth.” The meal is complete with marinated crown-roast portobello steaks.

And the final course of the evening at the vegetarian venue is dolce per due, a dessert sampler of lychee sorbet, double chocolate Milano cookies and sweet peach-apricot pates de fruits. Reservations are available at 252-3445, and prices start at $50 for two – $65 with wine pairings.

If you find yourself in Morganton for the night, Grind Café Coffeehouse will be serving up something special for two – a three course meal for two for $50, accompanied by the music of Bert Sigmon and Royce Smith. The entrées to choose from are pork calvados, sliced pork loin finished with an apple brandy sauce on sweet potato risotto and a vegetable medley; parmesan salmon, seared parm-crusted salmon finished with a basil pesto sauce over sweet red pepper risotto; and pasta primavera, sauteed garden veggies tossed with fresh herbs and linguini in a white wine-garlic sauce. The dinner begins at 6:30 p.m., and reservations can be made at 430-4343.

You may want to try Asheville’s newest in Korean cuisine, Korean House, which still has reservations available and is offering half-price bottles of wine and half-price sake just for the occasion, as well as their regular daily specials, including traditional Korean stonebowls, mixed hot and fresh tableside with seven sides. To place a reservation, call 785-1500.

On Merrimon Avenue, Dough will host a chocolate truffle tasting along with a free lunchtime cooking demo, and Homegrown will be offering half-off bottles of red wine and, the “blue plate special will be something amazing,” said an employee.

Ellie Hoover at The Southern Kitchen and Bar said the venue’s Valentine’s specials will be “Just having an awesome time!” with a laugh. And of course they’re having an awesome time. Have you tried their lobster mac and cheese? Seriously.



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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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