What’s new in food: Welcome back Welcome Table

OPEN KITCHEN: Pre-COVID, the Cúrate crew members were regular and enthusiastic participants in the Haywood Street Congregation Downtown Welcome Table. When indoor seated service resumes Wednesday, Dec. 22, Cúrate and other restaurant partners will be back in the Haywood kitchen. Photo courtesy Haywood Street

Since the onset of COVID-19, Haywood Street Congregation has tabled its Downtown Welcome Table, which previously served hot meals to nearly 300 people each Wednesday and Sunday in the congregation’s dining room. Instead, community members have been served boxed meals outside the property. But this month, the religious institution is preparing to welcome back the full-service gathering.

“At Haywood Street, our biggest mission and what we strive for is relationship above all else,” says Katlyn Mailman, The Haywood Street Congregation companion coordinator. “Sitting at the table and eating together fosters good relationships between people that probably wouldn’t happen otherwise. The Welcome Table is important to that.”

The Welcome Table model is for the unhoused and the housed, employed and unemployed, to enjoy healthy meals together with china, silverware and glassware. Prepping, setting up, serving and cleaning are performed by volunteers. Additionally, close to 50 locally owned restaurants, food trucks and caterers participate.

Due to the lengthy hiatus and COVID-19-related changes, Welcome Table is asking veteran and new companions to attend a reorientation in the dining hall Thursday, Dec. 16, or Monday, Dec. 20; both trainings start at 5 p.m.

Regular Wednesday and Sunday services begin the following week, 10:30 a.m.-noon and 8:30-10 a.m., respectively. Everyone will be required to be masked except when eating; capacity will be capped between 120 and 150 guests.

Says Mailman, “We are looking forward to welcoming everyone to the table again and getting people out of the cold for a warm meal.”

Haywood Street Congregation is at 297 Haywood St. To learn more, visit avl.mx/ayz.

Hit the bottle

It’s been a busy year for West End Bakery. After undertaking significant renovations in July — knocking down a wall, expanding the kitchen, replacing floors, painting the interior and exterior, adding a community table and creating a cozy lounge in the rear room — the bakery subsequently reopened to indoor service in September for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

More recently, owners Cary Hitchcock and Catherine McConachie have launched evening hours, added wine service and created new menu with options that include charcuterie and healthy, wine-friendly fare under the direction of Charles Clyde Toney II, formerly of Bottle Riot in the River Arts District.

Toney says the bakery’s natural, affordable, approachable wines will be available by the glass, carafe or bottle. McConachie adds that Wednesday nights will be pizza-and-wine night. Come January, West End will launch pop-up dinners on Thursday nights, with the goal of hosting weekly guest chefs. The inaugural event, scheduled for Jan. 6, will feature an Indian dinner from Sunil Patel.

West End Bakery is at 757 Haywood Road. New hours are Wednesday-Sunday, 5-9 p.m. in addition to daytime hours, Wednesday-Monday 8 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, visit avl.mx/ays

Wide open

Now that tourist traffic has slowed a bit, locals can get first dibs on a new restaurant opening and the expansions of two others.

Earthling Coffee & Espresso, 800 Brevard Road, is at full perk in the Asheville Outlets food court. Founded by Jaimi and Chris Gunkel in 2019 as a drive-thru in Candler, the new store will serve, as indicated, coffee and espresso drinks, with 11 milk options for lattes. Earthling is open daily the same hours as Asheville Outlets. avl.mx/ayu.

Meanwhile, in North Asheville, restaurateur Aaron Cheng recently opened a second location of the sushi-burger mashup Sushi Madness at 1020 Merrimon Ave. The first location launched 11 months ago at 275 Smokey Park Highway, Suite 251. Cheng — who also owns two locations of Yum Sushi Burrito and Poke — is clearly drawn to unique culinary fusions. Like the first, the Merrimon Madness is outfitted with multiple screens for sports fans to watch the game over their bento box and Hangover Burger. avl.mx/8ug.

Speaking of unlikely fusions, Huli Sue’s BBQ & Grill, 1 Page Ave., Suite 150, opened Nov. 17 in the Grove Arcade. An April press release from co-owners Lisa Vann and Ben Krueger describes the concept as a celebration of Hawaii’s affinity for all things Southern — who knew? — with the result a Hawaiian-Southern restaurant, with a side of Texas-style barbecue. avl.mx/ayv.

Season’s eatings

During her tenures at Rhubarb and Buxton Hall BBQ, Ashley Capps built a following for her boozy aged fruitcakes. Made with Farm & Sparrow flour, Mills River Creamery milk, Colfax Creek Farm eggs, quality dried fruit soaked with rum, bourbon and Madeira, wrapped in cheesecloth and “watered” weekly with more booze, they are things of beauty. “I only make them once a year and continuously revisit the same recipe and make alterations based on trying to get it closer to something that is close to perfect,” she says. “This year I added black walnuts, pistachios and almonds.”

Though she expanded the timeline of her online Holiday Bakeshop to the entire month of December, time is running short. In addition to the annual fruitcakes, holiday cookie boxes, quarts of made-from-scratch eggnog and panettone baked in No. 10 cans, Capps has added other sweet treats, including sticky fig and plum pudding and persimmon pudding and bread (fruits from Lee’s One Fortune Farm), chocolate mint pies and gingerbread bars. avl.mx/prwd

Also in the holiday spirit is Corner Kitchen and Chestnut pastry chef Mallory Foster, who created Cookies for a Cause, a festive box of individually wrapped holiday cookies — chocolate chip, molasses, spiced pecan pinwheel, gingerbread and chocolate peppermint thumbprint — now available at Chestnut for $10 a box. All proceeds will be donated to ABCCM Transformation Village, with a matching donation from the restaurants. Chestnut is at 48 Biltmore Ave.

Souper bowl

Earlier this month, chef Travis Schultz of New Stock Pantry, 175 Clingman Ave., introduced a soup and bread series to the shop’s online menu. He makes each week’s selection reliant on the local produce at hand in the New Stock kitchen. Each package is a quart jar of soup, a whole loaf of bread of your choice from baker Gus Trout and a pint jar of garnish, for $20. Schultz says almost all soups are vegetarian and/or vegan and that the series will continue into spring. To order, visit avl.mx/az3.

Meanwhile, Sovereign Remedies, 29 N. Market St., recently launched its Monday night Soup Kitchen pop-up series with roasted corn chowder, Portuguese chicken and dumplings, The Chop Shop Butchery beef and house chorizo chili and farm fresh vegetable soup. The selections will change weekly. Doors open at 4 p.m., food service begins at 5 p.m. with the last seating at 9 p.m. Each Monday, 5% of sales will be donated to a local nonprofit.

One stop shop

It’s S&W Market’s first Christmas, and it’s decked out for eating, drinking and shopping. December’s final Mini-Market on the Mezzanine happens Friday, Dec. 17, 4-8 p.m. featuring local artisans and live music. (Live music now takes place every Friday and Saturday from 7 – 9 p.m.)

S&W Market 56 Patton Ave. To learn more, visit avl.mx/9hl.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.