Small bites: French-Canadian cuisine at Sawhorse

MAPLE, MEATS AND POUTINE: Chef Dan Silo celebrates the opening of his restaurant, Sawhorse. The venue specializes in French-Canadian cuisine. Photo by Thomas Calder

As a child growing up in Albany, N.Y., chef Dan Silo was fascinated by his Canadian neighbors — especially those living in Quebec. Every time he visited the province, its French influence made him feel as if he’d been transported across the Atlantic Ocean rather than the U.S.-Canadian border.

Silo, whose culinary skills have landed him in kitchens throughout the country (including a two-year stint as sous chef at Buxton Hall Barbecue), opened Sawhorse last week on New Leicester Highway. Similar to his childhood travels north, he hopes to transport diners’ taste buds to a different region through his menu selection.

Sawhorse pays homage to both Silo’s family recipes, as well as Quebec’s French-Canadian cuisine. Not surprisingly, one key ingredient featured in many of the restaurant’s breakfast, lunch and dinner options is maple syrup. Silo considers the sticky, sugary substance a lifelong obsession. “Basically anything I can put a whole lot of maple syrup on makes me really happy,” he notes.

And happy is the chef. From maple eggs to the restaurant’s meatloaf sandwich (which features maple ketchup) — there are plenty of plates to feed Silo’s maple fix.

Meanwhile, Sawhorse’s décor creates a sense of stepping into an old family cabin. Skis and snowshoes decorate the restaurant’s wilderness-green walls. An electric meat grinder sits on display in the dining room, as does an old ceramic vessel that belonged to the chef’s great-grandmother, who worked as a lumber camp cook in the Adirondack Mountains.

A desire to create a homey feel, says Silo, was a key factor in choosing the site’s location (formerly Leicester Family Restaurant). “I always wanted Sawhorse to be a neighborhood restaurant,” he explains. “That was really important to me — to just be away from downtown and away from the main drag of Haywood Road in West Asheville, so I could just be an all-day place, available to Asheville locals anytime.”

Sawhorse is at 101 New Leicester Highway. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sunday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more, visit avl.mx/5wy.

Dining Out for Life

Blue Mountain Pizza, Button & Co. Bagels, Laughing Seed Café, White Duck and Vinnie’s Neighborhood Italian are among the 100 local restaurants participating in Dining Out for Life. The annual event, happening Thursday, April 25, helps raise funds for the Western North Carolina Aids Project, which helps local community members access HIV prevention tools, engage with medical care and find additional resources. By day’s end, each restaurant will donate 20% of its total sales to the fundraiser.

Dining Out for Life takes place Thursday, April 25. For a list of participating restaurants, visit avl.mx/5wv.

Cider, Wine and Dine

Hendersonville’s Cider, Wine and Dine weekend kicks off with a Thursday, April 25, gala at The Horse Shoe Farm, an 85-acre retreat and event venue along the French Broad River. The ticketed event will feature tastings of cider, wine and mead, as well as small bites, music and dancing. Throughout the weekend, over 50 additional happenings will take place throughout Henderson County. Participating venues include Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider, Bold Rock Hard Cider, Burntshirt Vineyards, Point Lookout Vineyards & World’s Edge Meader, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyards and Wine Saga & Gourmet. The weekend is a combination of ticketed and free events.

Cider, Wine and Dine runs Thursday-Sunday, April 25-28. For more information, visit avl.mx/5wr.

Empty Bowl in Sylva

The Community Table in Sylva will host the latest Empty Bowl fundraiser, which benefits MANNA FoodBank, a local nonprofit that aims to educate and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina. The event will feature home-cooked soups served in handmade bowls crafted by regional artisans and will also feature a raffle. Tickets are $20 and include a take-home bowl.

Soup is served 4-8 p.m. Friday, April 26, at The Community Table, 23 Central St., Sylva. For more, visit avl.mx/5wt.

Azalea Bistro opens

Three-time James Beard Foundation-nominated chef Garrett Tallent will open his latest venture, Azalea Bistro, on Friday, April 26, on Main Street in Saluda. The restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch with a focus on French and Southern cuisine. Menu highlights include shrimp and grits, goat cheese tart, escargot and braised short ribs.

Azalea Bistro opens 11 a.m. Friday, April 26, at 40 E. Main St., Saluda. Lunch hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Dinner is Monday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Sunday brunch runs 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more, visit avl.mx/5wu.

Ramen pop-up

The Broth Shop and Wedge at Foundation are teaming up for an evening of ramen on Saturday, April 27. The event will feature two bowl options, lobster red curry or shoyu pork belly. Each bowl comes with one vegetable and one pork belly onigiri, plus two beer pairings. Tickets are $35.

The pop-up runs 6-8 p.m. Saturday, April 27, at Wedge at Foundation, 5 Foundry St. For more, visit avl.mx/5ww.

Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest

The fifth annual Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest takes place Sunday, April 28, at Highland Brewing Co. Early entry tickets have sold out, but general admission tickets are still available at $14. Online sales end at noon, Saturday, April 27. Day-of tickets are $20 at the door.

General admission to the Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest runs 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at Highland Brewing Co., 12 Old Charlotte Highway. For more, visit avl.mx/5wx.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist.

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