Bryan Kimmett, formerly of The Swag, an upscale inn located just outside of Waynesville and a former employee of the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington, D.C., has signed the lease on the former Flying Frog Café on the corner of Haywood Street and Battery Park Avenue in downtown Asheville.
Kimmett and his wife, Annie (whose credentials include a stint as Director of Restaurants at the Loews Regency in New York City), will open Restaurant Solace in May of this year. This is not the duo’s first venture together — they owned and operated the Black Coffee Bistro in Middleburg, Va., a small, wealthy enclave outside of D.C.
Restaurant Solace’s menu will focus on European bistro and “comfort food with a twist,” Kimmett says. “I like to take old family recipes, old regional recipes and update them with new twists by working with what’s available local and seasonally,” he says.
Restaurant Solace will offer white-tablecloth-style fine dining downstairs (dinner only) and a more casual experience upstairs with a menu of small plates. “We’re going to do what I’m going to call seasonal plates. They’re a little more substantial, with more components than an appetizer will have.” Diners should expect to find everything from Cuban sandwiches to foie gras alongside recognizable comfort fare like braised short ribs. Kimmett says that small plates will range in cost from $6 to $16.
Don’t expect a stiff dining experience on either floor, says Kimmett. “We want people to feel like we’re bringing them into our home rather than just having a starched restaurant where you’re shuffling people in and out.” Kimmett says that the European café style of restaurant appeals to him and his wife — she lived in Paris for a stint, and he in Munich.
“We want to bring the European, more café feel back to that corner,” says Kimmett. He says that they want to fill the patio with herbs and plants “like you might find in a Tuscan or French villa. I’m very much into going outside and picking things off of vines and having people seeing us do that.” The rest of the patio will be trellised to support scarlet red runner beans and nasturtiums. “It’s bringing that country feel back onto the street,” says Kimmett.
Kimmett says that Tony Fraga, whose FIRC Group owns the Haywood Park Hotel, has started renovating the hotel, and is planning to include the hotel lobby, rooms and restaurant space in the updating process.
“Bringing my concept on and the food that I do was one of the things that [Fraga] wanted to bring to the hotel. We have a good working relationship right there already — and they know good food.”
Restaurant Solace is located at 1 Battery Park Ave. and will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner (café), Tuesday through Sunday (downstairs) with some brunch items available in the café on Sunday.