Chef Elliot Moss has been busy. This spring he opened Little Louie’s, a hoagie and peirogi joint at 1478 Patton Ave. More recently, on June 1, he launched Regina’s Westside, just a quarter-mile down the road. Its menu, he notes, offers “comfort classics.”
The James Beard-nominated chef took over the former Happy Hill restaurant spot with his partners Michael Piroli, Lisa Wagner and Taylor Godleski. The building, which is over 50 years old, got a makeover with a vintage feminine vibe — complete with custom-made yellow banquettes and a pink exterior. The restaurant’s name, which means “queen” in Latin, is an homage to the strong women in his life.
“I don’t necessarily have a Regina in my life, but I have a lot of strong ladies … that I draw inspiration from — my grandmas, my mother, my aunts,” says Moss. “We wanted the place to feel welcoming and offer some nostalgia,” he adds.
The menu, which consists of Southern comfort food, reflects some of Moss’ favorites, including a daily meatloaf plate. “Meatloaf is one of my bigger comfort foods — I love making it, I love eating it. I don’t know of a lot of places that offer it with the tomato glaze on it. That’s the way my mom made it and the way I like it.”
Some of the dishes came down to Moss from the women who influenced him. For instance, the pound cake — which is started in a cold oven versus a preheated oven — is his aunt’s recipe.
Other items on the menu include deviled crab hushpuppies, baked ricotta gnocchi and cheese, and spaghetti and meatballs. Most of the savory dishes are Moss’ recipes.
On one side of the restaurant is a full bar, The Rumpus Room, where patrons can order classic cocktails. Surprisingly, there is also a view of the Biltmore House from the large windows.
Moss plans to add outdoor dining by the summer behind the restaurant where there was formerly a carport.
Regina’s is currently open Wednesday through Sunday, noon-8 p.m., with a plan to expand hours in the near future. Moss is also adding a grab-and-go breakfast menu in the next few weeks and will add to the lunch and dinner menu as the restaurant grows, as well as seasonally.
Regina’s Westside is at 1400 Patton Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/crx.
Visitors to the Asheville Art Museum can feast with their eyes on a new exhibition focusing on food. The Art of Food: From the Collections of Jordan D. Schnitzer and His Family Foundation will be on view from Friday, June 16, to Sunday, Oct 22, in the Explore Asheville Exhibition Hall on the third level.
“We are delighted to bring this extraordinary exhibition to Western North Carolina, where we are sure it will inspire residents and visitors alike,” says museum Executive Director Pamela Myers in a press release. “Southern Appalachia is renowned for its food historically, and today, we are fortunate to be surrounded by that uniqueness — from farming to brewing to the creativity and inventiveness demonstrated by our culinary community.”
The exhibition brings together works from postwar and contemporary artists and, with associated programming, will explore the roles food plays in our daily lives. The 37 artists whose work is on display include Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Enrique Chagoya and Jenny Holzer — with more than 100 works in several mediums.
“Exhibition programming will present an opportunity for Western North Carolinians to think beyond food as nourishment and consider ways that food and culture inform one other,” says Kate Faulkner, director of learning and engagement, in the same press release. “[It] will highlight and celebrate topics surrounding our region’s food, people and history.”
Asheville Art Museum is at 2 S. Pack Square. For more information, visit avl.mx/cro.
Mint to bee
Mint grown and tended by students at the Hall Fletcher and Lucy S. Herring elementary school gardens will be used in two flavors at The Hop Ice Cream to promote Bountiful Cities’ Urban Garden Tour and Tasting on Sunday, July 9. The tour, which will be from 1-5 p.m. with the goal of increasing awareness of urban food solutions, is a fundraiser for the local nonprofit.
The first flavor, The Bees Knees, was released on June 9 and consists of the school-grown mint, Haw Creek Honey Co. honey, and rose and lavender water. Inspired by a Dobra Tea drink of the same name, it will remain on the menu for several weeks.
Fresh mint chip, available in both dairy milk and vegan hemp milk, will be released Friday, July 7. The Hop co-owner Greg Garrison says, “An ice cream classic gets some local love to support the community. Mint chocolate chip is almost always available at The Hop, and when mint season comes around, like with most produce, it gets a local upgrade. Fresh mint leaves are pureed into the base, spun and mixed with ethically sourced chocolate chips.”
The school gardens from which the mint was harvested are a product of FEAST Asheville Inc.’s The Edible Schoolyard Project. FEAST is an acronym for Fresh, Easy, Affordable, Sustainable, Tasty.
“The Hop has been involved with the FEAST program for about 10 years or so,” says Garrison.”When we found out that FEAST handled the elementary school gardens at Hall Fletcher and Lucy S. Herring, we started having conversations about making ice cream with what they grew, and mint just made sense.”
“In general, collaborating to make ice cream with other local businesses, organizations and people has proven to be such an awesome way to have a positive impact in our community,” says Garrison. “It allows us to build a greater network of support for each other [and] connect with people to build really transformative relationships. … Plus, it’s just fun to get together to talk about ice cream.”
At the garden tour, The Hop will offer the Pollinator Sundae, made with FEAST garden figs, local honey and a dusting of house-made honeycomb candy. The event will also include tastings from other local chefs and food purveyors, as well as educational opportunities.
West Asheville’s Tastee Diner is now open seven days a week, with new hours including added dinner service.
Chef and owner Steven Goff‘s menu of elevated diner food, as well as casual options such as burgers and wings, is now available 8 a.m.-10 p.m. daily, with dinner service starting at 5 p.m.
Some of the new menu items are steamed mussels, whole fried fish, pickled eggs and Slim Jim dip — made with Slim Jims and served with fried pork skins. “As a kid, I loved the gas station charcuterie aisle — Slim Jims, beef jerky, pickled eggs, pickled sausage, giant kosher dills. It was what I asked for instead of candy,” says Goff. “One of my Raleigh teammates always talked about his mama’s sausage dip and made it for us a couple times, so I was kind of combining those memories. I love pork rinds, too, and they fit in that same space.”
Some new beverages are offered, such as the Shift Drink — a bright-colored cocktail served in a plastic quart container. “We did the Shift Drink because we love serving our compatriots in the industry, and the deli container is the drink container of choice in most establishments that use them,” says Goff. “I’m literally getting a tattoo of one because they’re so important and such a symbol of kitchen work and hospitality. It’s a fun way for our bartenders to do something creative, and we also use a lot of different kitchen products that otherwise may be thrown away.”
Tastee Diner is at 575 Haywood Road. For more information, visit avl.mx/cab.