Food news to go: area restaurant news in small bites

The New French Bar is closing for good on Sunday, Aug. 15. The bar will host a farewell party that evening. There is no word yet what will replace the establishment, which was an Asheville institution for many years. The watering hole never recovered from its expulsion from its popular location on the corner of Haywood Street and Battery Park Avenue, where the Flying Frog is currently located. Former bartenders include Les Doss, who went on to open the Usual Suspects with partner Kathy Taylor.

Speaking of the Usual Suspects, Doss and Taylor have sold their North Asheville restaurant. Xpress will offer a full report once the dust has settled.

The final WNC Chefs Challenge Competition is to be held between the Biltmore Estate and Curras Dom this week at the WNC Magazine Asheville Wine and Food Festival’s Grand Tasting. Tickets are still available for the tasting, which showcases some of the best food our area has to offer.

Meanwhile, according to Jason Allison, the owner of the Universal Joint in West Asheville, Little Iron Man’s Big Night Out, a fundraiser to raise money for a local boy who has neuroblastoma, was a huge success. Between beer sales and donated tips from guest and professional servers from the restaurant, over $3,000 was raised to help with three-year-old Marough Gardner’s medical bills.

Also, the Southern is officially open. The new restaurant, located on the corner of Lexington and Walnut, occupies a gem of a spot that would make any restaurateur jealous with its substantial patio and spacious interior. The kitchen, however, seems like it would be a headache. Due to its location in the building, ventilation is limited, so chef Terri Roberts may not cook with an open flame. You heard that right — no fire in this kitchen.

In Roberts’ hands, however, the Southern is rocking out some mighty fine food. An heirloom tomato gazpacho with jalapeno sorbet is certifiably stellar and refreshing, and the pimento cheese may just be the best in town. Sorry Admiral, it’s true — Roberts wins this battle.

In other news, the space formerly occupied by Instant Karma on Lexington Avenue is getting a major facelift. A Dobra Tea house is opening in its place. This will be the company’s third instillation — there is a location in Burlington, VT and another in Madison, WI. Says neighbor Amber Arthur, owner of Izzy’s Coffee Den, “It’s looking really nice in there!”

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