Jay Connor, bar manager at the S&W Artisanal, describes the latest venture inside the historic downtown S&W Building as a multifunctional, one-stop shop. The multiroom, multilevel business includes two bars, a fine-dining establishment and a market that features an in-house bakery and steam table space.
The downstairs bar, The Times, held its soft opening Dec. 6, rolling out a small plates menu featuring items such as assorted Greek cheeses served with smoked creamy eggplant, quince paste, house-made spinach-feta cheese minipies and pork on a skewer dressed with lemon oregano vinaigrette. The remaining sections of S&W Artisanal are slated to open later this month.
“It might take some time for people to understand what it’s about,” Connor concedes. “But hopefully it’s something everyone will enjoy.” What connects its various entities, he explains, is the emphasis on Mediterranean cuisine and drink. From Metaxa Greek brandy to lamb meatballs, from house-made tzatziki sauce to traditional baked goods, guests will get the full range of Mediterranean flavors at all locations within S&W Artisanal.
Beyond its cuisine, Connor is excited about the space itself. “This is a building that a lot of people in Asheville have seen and known about for a long time, but it hasn’t necessarily been accessible,” he says. Designed by Douglas Ellington, its construction was completed in 1929, and it operated as the S&W Cafeteria until 1974.
Since the cafeteria closed, Connor notes, the building “has been kind of a revolving door of different things,” including a catering business and an event space. What makes the S&W’s latest rendition unique and special is its connection to the past. Brothers Douglas and Kenneth Ellington, great-nephews of the building’s architect, are among the business partners who make up the ownership group.
“We all have vested interest in seeing this place succeed because it’s a pretty iconic place in Asheville,” Connor says. “Getting a chance to really spend time in the space and appreciate the amazing amount of detail that’s gone into it is something I’m honestly really excited about.”
S&W Artisanal is at 56 Patton Ave. Operating hours vary for each business. For more information, visit avl.mx/4dr.
Bubbles and Bites at La Guinguette
La Guinguette will host a wine dinner on Thursday, Dec. 14. The event “will give our guests the opportunity to try sparkling wines from around the world … and learn a little about the regions in which sparkling wine is produced,” says the restaurant’s co-owner, Cecilia Marchesini. Wines from Italy, France, Spain, California and Tasmania will be served to complement menu items including bacon wrapped dates, trout mousse, lamb meatballs and caramel profiteroles.
Bubbles and Bites begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 14, at La Guinguette, 105 Richardson Blvd., Black Mountain. The event seats 30 people at $60 per person (plus tax and gratuity). For reservations, visit laguinguettecreperie.com or call 888-434-7810.
Ice cream yule logs return to The Hop
The Hop Ice Cream reunites chocolate jelly roll cake and ice cream for its annual ice cream yule log. Unlike in years past, all components of the dessert will be made in-house. “Previously, we have sourced cake from various bakers, which has been great, but for us to have total control of the process is very exciting,” says co-owner Greg Garrison. Another first for the shop is its mini-log option. Whereas normal logs serve 10-12 people, the new, smaller option feeds four-seven people. Vegan and dairy/gluten-free options are available in both sizes. Dairy flavors include salted caramel, peppermint stick and vanilla bean; all dairy yule logs are coated with chocolate ice cream. Vegan options include vanilla bean coconut milk or peppermint stick coconut milk; all vegan yule logs are coated with chocolate coconut milk ice cream. Custom options are available upon request. Prices range from $14.95-$28.95.
The Hop Ice Cream Café is at 640 Merrimon Ave. The Hop West is at 721 Haywood Road. Orders can be made in person or by calling 828-254-2224 for the Merrimon location, 828-252-5155 for the West Asheville location. Orders will be accepted through Thursday, Dec. 21, for pickup on or before 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 24. For more information, visit thehopicecreamcafe.com.
Vegan cookie swap
Firestorm Books & Coffee will host a vegan cookie swap on Sunday, Dec. 17. There are 18 spaces available. Each participant must bring three dozen vegan cookies — recipes must be free of dairy, honey, eggs, meat, poultry, fish or gelatin. According to the event’s Facebook page: “You’ll go home with the same number of cookies that you bring, and you will have a fabulous variety to enjoy yourself or bring to your holiday gatherings.”
Holiday events and offerings at Hickory Nut Gap Farm
Hickory Nut Gap Farm is offering a number of services and events for the holiday season. Pies, sides and hams are for sale through the company’s website. Those looking for holiday gifts can also scope out the farm’s holiday gourmet food gift baskets and bags. Hickory Nut will also host a Farmstead Christmas Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16-17. During the free event, there will be hot cider and hot chocolate, and guests will have a chance to meet Santa during holiday horse rides.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm is at 57 Sugar Hollow Road. The Farmstead Christmas runs 1-4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 and 17. RSVP at avl.mx/4di. Holiday gift and meal purchases are available to order through Monday, Dec. 18. To learn more, visit avl.mx/4dj.
Holiday sweets at French Broad Chocolates
French Broad Chocolates has announced some new treats for the holiday seasons, along with some familiar winter flavors. Peppermint bark is among the shop’s latest additions. The layered treat includes dark chocolate, peppermint white chocolate, naturally colored cacao butter and house-made peppermint candy. The store is also bringing back its holiday collection of boxed chocolate drops in the following flavors: peppermint, eggnog, Champagne, pecan pie, caramel, cranberry and gingerbread. The store is also offering hot drinking chocolates in milk chocolate and dark chocolate flavors.
French Broad Chocolates is at 10 S. Pack Square. For more information, visit frenchbroadchocolates.com.