Small bites: Milk & Honey Café opens in South Asheville

SHINING THROUGH: Chef Chris Holden, owner of Milk & Honey Café, says his philosophy is to focus on fresh, minimally processed dishes that let high-quality ingredients shine. The new counter-service eatery features fresh-pressed juices and smoothies as well as a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items.
SHINING THROUGH: Chef Chris Holden, owner of Milk & Honey Café, says his philosophy is to focus on fresh, minimally processed dishes that let high-quality ingredients shine. The new counter-service eatery features fresh-pressed juices and smoothies as well as a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Milk & Honey Café combines healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner options with a fresh, cold-pressed juice and smoothie bar. The new restaurant, which opened July 24, takes over the South Asheville space previously occupied by Medea’s Espresso and Juice Bar, not far from White Duck Taco’s newest location.

Milk & Honey offers something not often found in the food service industry, says owner and chef Chris Holden. “A lot of people launch some really great juice and smoothie businesses but don’t have any kind of culinary background,” he says. “And likewise, I think a lot of people open great restaurants with culinary training but have no background in nutrition.”

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., Holden says his interest in smoothies and juices began while working in fine dining for renowned French chef Daniel Boulud in New York City. The long hours and late nights took their toll, says Holden, inspiring him to explore an overall healthier approach to life.

Milk & Honey Cafe’s philosophy is to use minimally processed, house-made ingredients for its breakfast, lunch and dinner-on-the-go options. “We don’t buy dressing, we don’t buy mayonnaise, we don’t buy condiments,” says Holden. “We make them all in-house. We let the amazing ingredients available here shine through.” Some menu highlights are an avocado kale caesar salad, smoked chicken panini sandwich, smoked wild salmon toast and the Milk & Honey bowl, which includes local goat-milk yogurt, house-made granola, raw honey and seasonal fruit.

The café offers fast counter service, with a dining room seating up to 50 guests. At press time, food prices were slated to be in the $7 to $11 range, with juices and smoothies around $8.

Along with the health-conscious menu, Holden emphasizes his partnerships with local purveyors, including Haw Creek Honey, Mountain Food Products and Dynamite Coffee Roasters. “I’m a huge fan of single-sourcing as much as I can, eliminating that one-truck-stop-shop kind of technique,” Holden says. “We’ll also be getting a lot of produce on a smaller scale at different farmers markets in town.”

These local growers and producers played a large role in Holden’s decision to relocate to and start a business in Western North Carolina. “I’m continually impressed by what restaurants are doing here [with] the simplicity of ingredient-driven food,” he says. “Even in New York City, I’m not seeing farm-to-table done as well as it is done in Asheville.”

Milk & Honey Café is at 200 Julian Lane, No. 220. Hours are 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Its website, currently under construction, is milkandhoneyorganiccafe.com. 

Dobra Tea benefits Rise as One

On Thursday, July 27, Dobra Tea’s downtown location will donate 20 percent of its daily sales to the Rise as One Project, which benefits the lives of women and girls in central India. Dobra Tea’s co-owner, Lyndsey Azlynne, is a member of the organization and plans to tour parts of India in September. “I will be traveling … with my team from the Rise as One Project to help further establish schools to support, educate and empower women and girls who are recovering from female exploitation,” she says.

Dobra Tea’s downtown location is at 78 N. Lexington Ave. To learn more about the project and to donate, visit avl.mx/3y2

The Hop plans fundraiser for ASAP

Flights of ice cream featuring flavors from a number of local farms will be available at The Hop Ice Creamery on Friday, July 28. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, the local nonprofit that works to help link farmers to markets in order to build a healthy community through connections to local food. “Given that produce is at a peak right now, we have decided that July is a perfect time to collaborate with ASAP and the farms they work with,” says Greg Garrison, owner of The Hop Ice Cream Cafe. Flight options will include five dairy and three vegan ice cream flavors. Members of ASAP will be present to provide information about the organization. Garrison says that through ASAP, The Hop has connected with and built lasting relationships with many local farmers. Because of this, he adds, “It only makes sense that [The Hop would] donate a portion of sales to ASAP” as a token of appreciation.

The Hop’s fundraiser for ASAP will run 3-9 p.m. Friday, July 28, at its creamery location, 167 Haywood Road. For details, visit avl.mx/3y1

Gathering Asheville: Wild Foods Dinner

The latest installment of the Gathering Asheville: Wild Foods Foraging and Dinner Series is set to take place on Wednesday, Aug. 2, at Nightbell. Participants can forage for wild edibles with Alan Muskat of Asheville’s No Taste Like Home foraging tours, then see their ingredients turned into a five-course feast by chef Katie Button and her team at Nightbell. Eric Morris, Nightbell’s chef de cuisine, says the partnership with Muskat has given the restaurant an “opportunity to truly appreciate the bounty of our region.” The results, he adds, are “something uniquely Appalachian and wholly delicious.” The series continues into the fall with events scheduled monthly through November.

The tour happens 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 2. The dinner takes places at 6:30 p.m. the same day at Nightbell, 32 S. Lexington Ave. Guests can do the tour, the dinner or both events. Space is limited. Tickets cost $75 per person for the tour and $75 per person for the dinner. Full details are available at heirloomhg.com/events/.

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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. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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