Food news to go: area restaurant news in small bites

All a-Tingle
Are you ready for Tingles Cafe? Lesley Groetsch, who is opening the diner-style restaurant in downtown Asheville with her husband Jack, hopes so. Tingles “is going to be that place that somebody in your party always wants to go to. It’s going to be all about the food,” Lesley says. She can likely deliver on that promise. She and her husband have a reputation for making commercial splashes.

The Groetsches originally moved to Asheville when they were hired by Public Interest Projects get the completely renovated Orange Peel off the ground. And last year, they opened Sazerac, a restaurant and cocktail bar at 29 Broadway in downtown Asheville. Tingles Cafe will be located next to Sazerac.

The couple is modeling their new eatery after the original Tingles Cafe — an immensely popular restaurant that occupied the same space they are currently renovating.

Here’s a picture of the original Tingles Cafe.

“We are in the midst of reviving a historic brand in Asheville,” says Lesley. “We have a postcard that dates back to 1934 that shows the original decor, and we’re trying to — as much as is possible, and as much as code will allow — recreate that decor.” The restoration efforts are so detailed that the Groetsches have spent months searching for the exact style tiles that used to line the floor of the original Tingles. They are currently in the laborious process of laying the new tiles.

What’s more, the owners will base their menu upon the original Tingles bill of fare — with updates, of course. “We’re using their menu, the original diner, comfort-food fare — as the inspiration for our menu,” says Lesley. She reports that the kitchen will incorporate interesting cuts of meat — think pork belly and flat iron steak — into that menu. They also will be featuring plenty of local meats, vegetables — and local beer, of course.

An extensive array of house-made pies, ice creams and soda syrups are planned. “We’ll be pairing our soda syrup flavors and unique ice cream flavors to create really special floats and shakes,” says Groetsch, who cites, as an example, a lavender cream syrup they are developing for the purpose.

Lesley reports that the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner at least six days a week. “We may close one day a week for the sake of recharging,” she says. She also reports that Tingles Cafe might eventually expand into breakfast/brunch if there’s a demand for it. “It’s really going to be an intuitive process,” she says.

Look for the restaurant to be open in mid-June.

Going Stag
Asheville is well positioned to win yet more recognition for our fabulous food — thanks to Red Stag Grill’s executive chef, Adam Hayes.

Hayes recently submitted a very spring-appropriate, very locally oriented dish to the “Best Dish in North Carolina” restaurant competition, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. And now the dish — Sunburst trout with spring vegetable ragout and mint and pea vinaigrette — is currently in the final round competing with dishes from nine other restaurants — including one from the Grove Park Inn’s Blue Ridge Dining Room. (That makes two chances out of nine of Asheville bringing home the prize.)

Trout with spring vegetables.

“I’m honored that we are being recognized as a finalist in the Best Dish competition,” says Hayes. “I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life, and we’re proud to support North Carolina agriculture.”

In the next few weeks, judges from the competition will visit the finalist restaurants — completely incognito. They will judge each dish based upon on its use of North Carolina products, as well as creativity, presentation, taste and promotion of the dish. Winners will be announced in August. 

“The Best Dish in North Carolina” competition recognizes and rewards the efforts of restaurants and chefs who source and implement North Carolinian products regularly in their menus. For a complete list of finalists, restaurant information, entered menus with pictures, chef bios, judging criteria and contest information, visit the competition’s site.

 The Red Stag Grill is located in the Grand Bohemian Hotel in the Biltmore Village at 11 Boston Way.

Black Mountain sushi
There’s a new Japanese restaurant open in Black Mountain called Nori, according to an email from an Xpress reader who enthused (with restraint) about the establishment:

“Trust me, I don’t usually do this kind of thing, but I think this is an exception … Last night, two friends invited me to dinner at a new Japanese restaurant in Black Mountain. I’m a bit reluctant to try a new place till they’ve got the kinks ironed out. Still, my pals were picking up the tab, so what the hey. Even though [the restaurant is] brand spanking new, they seem to have all the little ducks in a row already. They’ve got a genuine Japanese chef from god knows where, and he’s working magic. The food is well above standard expectations, and I’m trying not to gush about it. Remember soggy spring rolls, with sour cabbage inside?  How about crisp, yet delicate wrap with tender, surprising flavors. The atmosphere works too … they have some outdoor tables on a little patio next to a waterfall.

I’m not going to rave about this, but check it out (or not) and form your own opinion.

Thanks for listening.”

Nori is located at 122 Cherry St. in Black Mountain. Call 669-8889 for more information.


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