It’s been an exciting year in the Asheville restaurant scene. Numerous new restaurants joined the community (welcome TacoBilly, Smoky Park Supper Club, Buxton Hall Barbecue and Local Provisions, to name but a few), several expanded (Dobra Tea in West Asheville, High Five Coffee downtown, Standard Pizza in Biltmore Village and so many more), some changed a bit or moved around (Laurey’s became 67 Biltmore, Firestorm Bookstore & Café reinvented itself in West Asheville) and a few closed (a sad farewell to Pizza Pura, Urban Café, Nona Mia, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder and others).
Now 2016 is upon us, and fortunately, as New Year’s Eve steadfastly approaches, there is no shortage of places in Western North Carolina in which to count down, crack open the bubbly and ring in the new year in proper foodie style.
Xpress pulled together a short list of tasty and celebratory options. All dinners happen on Thursday, Dec. 31.
- Mini-crab cakes with remoulade, a carving station, bacon-wrapped dates with Lusty Monk Mustard and cinnamon-lavender crème brulée are just a few of the items that will be offered at Pack’s Tavern‘s New Year’s Eve buffet and countdown party. Guests can enjoy a pre-celebration buffet and attend the party for $50, or can just be a part of the countdown festivities for $10. The buffet begins at 6:30 p.m., while the celebration — featuring performances by Lyric and DJ MoTo — will run 9 p.m.-1 a.m. Reservations are required. Call 225-6944. 20 S. Spruce St.
- Dinner and a show starring the Jon Stickley Trio and stephaniesid is the plan at Isis Restaurant and Music Hall. The four-course meal will feature seared sushi tuna ceviche, lobster bisque, Sunburst Farms trout and Champagne mousse verrines. Dinner and show commence at 8 p.m.; tickets are $75. A 6 p.m. three-course dinner-only option will also be available for $55. Call 575-2737 for reservations. 743 Haywood Road.
- The ever-inventive Lex 18 will host two separate events to welcome 2016. Early in the evening, a black-tie early dinner show with a 1920s theme will feature love songs spanning the decades from 1915 through the present performed by the Sheila Gordon Trio. A four-course dinner will be followed by Champagne and dessert. The event is 6-8:15 p.m. Cost is $95 per person, $110 per person for high-top window seats.The first dinner show will swiftly be followed by an alternative for the later crowd — the New Year’s Eve 1920s Variety Dinner Show and Gala Celebration. The experience will be kicked off by a cocktail reception at 8:30 p.m., followed by a five-course dinner and a classic 1920s variety show from 9:15 to 11:55 p.m. The evening will be topped off with music and dancing until 1:30 a.m. Additionally, guests can take home framed, vintage personal photos of themselves and view the televised dropping of the ball in New York City. $145 per person/$165 per person for high-top window seats. Menu options for both events will include consommé of greens and shaved scallops, fig and sausage-stuffed roasted quail and holiday trifles. Tickets are limited for both events. Call 575-9494 for reservations. 18 N. Lexington Ave.
- For those who want to usher in the new year with a bit of culinary adventure, chef Katie Button will offer a special menu at Nightbell Restaurant and Lounge. Expect Button’s signature inspired riffs on familiar dishes — oyster with brown butter, nutmeg and cauliflower creme fraiche mousse; sauteéd squid with Sea Island heirloom red-eye peas and herb vinaigrette; pan-seared trout with sauteéd collard greens, apricots, black olive, yogurt and curry oil; and a South of the Border spin on baked Alaska with Mexican chocolate mousse and dulce de leche ice cream will all be featured on the eclectic menu. The five-course, prix fixe dinner with welcoming snack is $75; wine pairings are available for an extra fee. For reservations, call 575-0375 or visit thenightbell.com. 32 S. Lexington Ave.
- Chef Justin Burdett at Local Provisions will present a six-course prix-fixe dinner of classic New Year’s Eve fare in addition to the restaurant’s regular offerings. Foie gras, truffles, oysters and caviar will have starring roles on the menu, which includes a vegetable course, two seafood and two meat courses and dessert. Guests will be able to select from several options, and vegetarian dishes are available upon request. Optional drink pairings are also available. Cost is $110 per person (additional charges apply for drink pairings). Seatings are 5:30-10 p.m. For reservations, call 424-7815.
- Two restaurants within Omni Grove Park Inn will host events this New Year’s Eve. Vue 1913 offers a three-course dinner featuring fresh, local menu items such as braised lamb tortellini, Prosecco poached pear and prosciutto-wrapped rabbit loin. $90 per person. 5:30-10 p.m. Edison will offer a three-course dinner paired with local craft beers for $55 per person. Select from menu items such as pan-roasted Loch Duart salmon, Ivy Creek Farm spinach ravioli and petit filet mignon. Dinner is served 4-11 p.m. For reservations for either restaurant, call 438-5800 or visit omnihotels.com. 290 Macon Ave.
- The Market Place chef William Dissen has created a special a la carte menu that highlights farm, forest and sea. The long list of small-plate offerings includes house-made charcuterie, local cheeses, Harker’s Island oysters and foraged mushroom gratin. Wood-grilled venison, cashew-crusted grouper and roasted Indian cauliflower with black quinoa and green curry sauce are among the entree choices. The festivities will continue well after the ringing in of the new year with live music by Molly Parti. For reservations, call 252-4162. 20 Wall St.
- Posana will host a prix-fixe, four-course meal in three different seatings — 5 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. All menu items are one-time-only creations specifically whipped up by chef Peter Pollay for this special event. Tickets are $75, with the option to add a wine pairing to each course for an additional $35. As with all of Posana’s menu items, the meal will be entirely gluten-free. Selections will include white asparagus soup, root vegetable salad, duck breast, crépinette and chocolate cremeaux. For reservations, call 505-3969. 1 Biltmore Ave.
- You can bet a foodcentric New Year’s Eve party will be happening late-night at Buxton Hall Barbecue, but the South Slope eatery doesn’t discriminate against early birds. To accompany the regular menu, chef Elliott Moss has created a separate New Year’s Eve a la carte menu that will be available 5:30-9:30 p.m. Smoked lobster with house hollandaise; barbecued New York strip steak with pit-cooked Hasselback potato; smoked confit duck leg with fig and cherry barbecue sauce and fire-roasted oysters will be among the featured items, all of which can be washed down with a bubbly lime-sherbet punch and followed up with pineapple upside-down cake. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., night-owls can attend a dance party with tunes provided by DJ Mathew Storm Schrader and pay $10 to munch on the New Year’s Whole Hog Bowl, which is — you guessed it — a big bowl of Buxton’s barbecue with hoppin’ John, collards and hushpuppies. There’s a $3 cover charge for the party. No reservations are needed for either event. 32 Banks Ave.
- Hendersonville locals will want to book soon to take part in chef Jason Reasoner‘s New Year’s Eve dinner at Postero. The evening’s five-course menu kicks off with an amuse-bouche of oyster hushpuppy with creme fraiche gribiche, caviar and smoked egg yolk, then moves on to include selections such as local honey-roasted butternut panna cotta; foie gras pate de terrine; and pan-seared scallops with crispy pimento-cheese grits, sofrito and cauliflower chow-chow. Dessert is a double-chocolate tart with toasted hazelnuts, whipped brandy cream, chocolate cookie soil and clementine sorbet. Reservations are available between 5 and 9 p.m. Seating is limited. To reserve a table, call 595-9676. 401 N. Main St., Hendersonville