Small bites: The Wine & Oyster debuts in Biltmore Village

UNCHAINED: The former owners of Virgola have dropped their franchise affiliation and rebranded as The Wine & Oyster. Photo by Anthony Harden

Steve and Nan Klein were ready for a change. The couple opened a Biltmore Village location of the New York City-based Virgola wine bar in June. But they recently decided to part ways with the franchise affiliation, opting to reopen independently in the same space, renamed and rebranded as The Wine & Oyster.

Creative freedom, says Steve, was the deciding factor. And with this freedom comes an expanded menu. The Virgola menu focused on chilled seafood and charcuterie, but The Wine & Oyster will also feature flatbreads with topping combos such as smoked salmon with cream cheese, red onion and capers; feta, roasted red pepper, hummus, red onion and cucumber; and pesto, tomato, artichoke hearts, mozzarella and walnuts. Salads are also among the food options prepared by the restaurant’s chef, Nic Sanford.

The wine list is also increasing in size and diversity. “We’re still heavy on the Italian wine right now,” says Steve. “But we’re broadening out the list.” The emphasis will focus primarily on wines from Mediterranean countries, as well as some California selections. The couple is also in the process of applying for a liquor license.

While the restaurant’s layout will remain the same, its aesthetic has changed. The Wine & Oyster will feature works from local artists, including Katie Kasben, Stephanie Ledford and Robert O’Sheeran. These new additions, says Steve, are a major shift from the former franchise’s stark design.

Daily happy hour specials will also be available, including a $1 oyster of the day, $9 shrimp cocktail and a $15 charcuterie plate with a choice of three items. Friday and Saturday nights will feature live music as well.

For Steve, a self-described recovering mortgage banker, and Nan, a retired teacher and child psychologist, the new start as independent restaurateurs is a welcome change from their former franchise tag. “We are excited to move forward in a positive light,” says Steve.

The Wine & Oyster is at 2 Hendersonville Road. Hours are 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 3-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information, visit

Olé Wine Dinner with Patrick Mata

Cúrate will host a five-course Spanish wine pairing dinner on Thursday, Feb. 22. Chef Katie Button will prepare the cuisine, and winemaker Alertbo Orte will select the evening’s wines. Patrick Mata of Olé Imports will offer insight and tasting notes throughout the meal. Menu highlights include salt cod fritter with apple honey aioli; Spanish bomba rice with mushrooms, truffle and idiazabal cheese; roasted suckling pig; and orange saffron flan.

The dinner runs 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at Cúrate, 13 Biltmore Ave. Tickets are $125 per person. For more information, visit

Oolong tea class

Dobra Tea in Black Mountain will host an oolong tea class on Friday, Feb. 23. The tasting will include 10 different oolong teas and feature a slideshow featuring Dobra staff’s recent tea travels through China, Taiwan and Thailand.

The tea class is at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23, at Dobra Tea, 120 Broadway St., Black Mountain. Tickets are $20 per person. To reserve a spot, call 828-357-8530. For more information, visit

Asheville Truffle Experience

This year’s Asheville Truffle Experience launches on Friday, Feb. 23, with an opening reception at The Collider. The three-day event will conclude Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville with guided instructions on pruning and caring for truffle orchards by Tom Michaels. The weekend experience will also feature tastings, educational sessions and demonstrations at a number of locations, including a Truffle Market in The Cellar at Isa’s French Bistro, 5-6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 24.

The Asheville Truffle Experience runs Friday-Sunday, Feb. 23-25. The entire weekend package is $729. Participants may opt for individual sessions as well. Visit to learn more.

French Broad Chocolates workshop

East Fork Pottery will host a French Broad Chocolates workshop at its downtown Asheville location. According to the event’s Facebook page, the interactive session will shed light on “how and where French Broad sources [its] chocolate and how [its] commitment to sustainability impacts [its] practices.” During the class, participants will taste a number of single-origin chocolates, and attendees will leave with an East Fork toddler cup, as well as a packet of French Broad sipping chocolate.

The French Broad Chocolates workshop runs 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25, at East Fork Asheville, 82 N. Lexington Ave. Tickets are $35 per person and are available at

Plant restaurant places on PETA top 10 list

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals recently included Plant restaurant’s cannolo dessert on its Top 10 Vegan Sweet Treats list. The cannolo features a handmade anise shell filled with a candied-orange vegan ricotta and topped with chocolate sauce and a scoop of vegan chocolate-cardamom ice cream.

Plant is at 165 Merrimon Ave. For the complete Top 10 Vegan Sweet Treats list, visit

RendezVous by Bouchon

Bouchon’s newest endeavor, RendezVous, is slated to open later this summer in East Asheville’s Haw Creek neighborhood. According to a press release, RendezVous will offer “the same Bouchon experience but with easy and convenient parking.” The venue, which focuses on French cuisine, will also feature eight courts for pétanque, a French lawn game similar to boules.

RendezVous will be at 184 New Haw Creek Road. More details to come.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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