Attention local foodies: Xpress seeks your ideas

For the past three years, the Xpress Food section has remained essentially unchanged, offering weekly reviews and profiles of local eateries, chefs and bars, along with “Small Bites” of local food news and restaurant listings. With that much culinary history under our belt, we think it’s time to take a careful look at the section: What’s working, and what’s not? What do readers like most and least about the section as is? What are we missing?

We’d like feedback from readers, foodies, restaurant owners, chefs and food educators. How can we make the section better? Or do you like it as is? All ideas are welcome, from simple tweaks to change from the ground up.

Please contribute yours by sending them to or joining the online discussion below.

— Jon Elliston, managing editor

About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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.

10 thoughts on “Attention local foodies: Xpress seeks your ideas

  1. carolinadawg

    I think the restaurant reviews would be much more helpful if the online edition included basic information such as the restaurant’s address, days and hours of operation, price points, etc.

  2. Margaret Williams

    I’ve always thought a food column should evoke MFK Fisher, who wrote about food in terms of culture, artistry, philosophy … There’s a wealth of material in that approach, which uses all these (and other) aspects of cuisine as a commentary on modern life.

    A food section that gets lost in mundane reviews doesn’t lead to the kind of intelligent discourse for which Xpress was created in 1994.

    It does, perhaps, tie in with advertising dollars and give us hints about where to eat in town or which new eatery hasn’t worked out the kinks or simply had a bad day. But like a watered down sauce, it has no depth.

    For some practical advice: Check out “food” coverage in The New Yorker, and “food” magazines such as Saveur, Food&Wine;, Bon Apetit. Read some MFK Fisher, or Craig Claiburne. Give Xpress’ food section more meat on its bones! Get in the kitchen with an Asheville chef a month and try to learn how to make some fave dish of theirs. Turn a restaurant visit into a cultural experience (maybe you don’t remember an expose’ Xpress did on Waffle House many years ago).

    That’s for starters.

  3. vegan mama

    i agree with the 2 above me & i think it would also be nice to know who has specials & when. Ex: pomodoros has a half price bottle wine night on wednesdays & kids eat free with adult purchase at urban burrito & moes on tuesdays… i know these aren’t exactly things that i want to admit fully that i want to know but as someone who has to plot & plan when i get to go out & where that’s the kind of thing that could sway me… certainly places do these things are their slow nights to draw us in, right? thanks for asking :-)

  4. Jeff C.

    Good restaurant critics (and the papers that employ them) must be knowledgeable, anonymous, honest, ethical, and completely objective. Otherwise, what is the point of running restaurant reviews in the first place? My own maxim when it comes to critics is simple: Never trust one who likes everything, and never trust one who hates everything. Anything else is waste of ink, newprint, and my time.

  5. Rob Close

    I just want to know if they’re vegetarian/vegan friendly, and what to watch out for.

  6. Maggie

    Please oh! please, no more Hannah Rachel Raskin or her dull counterparts. They are neither as fascinating nor as engaging as they seem to think themselves. Please find someone who can write. Save the sophmoric overuse of big words and cumbersome run-on sentences for highschool newspapers. Also, a bit of common sense would be nice. Who writes about apple cider in April?

  7. Jon Elliston

    Hey Maggie,

    You question the timing of the apple cider story, which ran in this week’s issue. As the article explains, the timing was pegged to a recent visit to The Marketplace restaurant by Tom Burford, a leading apple historian.

    Burford led a tasting of different ciders, which, seems to me, are good all year long.

  8. Creative Enterprises

    Jon, It isn’t that Hanna Rachel Raskin is writing about apple cider in Spring, it’s that her article hasn’t been clearly edited. Eight paragraphs in, and I still don’t know what the news peg for the article is and why she is writing about cider now and someone vaguely identified as “apple historian Tom Buford.” Mark Rosenstein, “owner of The Market Place in Asheville,” is quoted in paragraph seven, but not until paragraph 15 is he said to have “recently partnered . . .to host” a cider tasting. So this is a story about an event that is already over? Why didn’t Mountain Express tell me beforehand? (Slow Food Asheville is never explained, so if I wanted to participate in future events, I’d be clueless.) Actually, I had lost interest in the article much earlier but kept on going hoping I’d learn what this piece was about. I never did learn who Tom Buford is or if he has any connection to Asheville, Mark Rosenstein or Slow Food Asheville. Contrary to an earlier comment, I think Hanna Rachel Raskin is a competent writer. But she could be better with better editing. I might be more likely to read her stories, even if I don’t frequent the restaurants she writes about, if she and the editor keep asking, “What is this story about?” You don’t want your reviews to all be of the Citizen-Times variety: my companion and I went to this restaurant on a certain night, we were greeted, we were seated, we were waited on, we were served, we liked this, we didn’t like that. The food writers (note plurals, you need more than Ms. Raskin’s voice) of The New York Times tell stories, which I read, even though I’ll NEVER go to any of the restaurants they review. And what about expanding the food section to include stories about cooking?

  9. locally owned

    Just like Crany Hanke may miss the mark on an opinion of a movie, food reviewers will too. Even if you don’t go to the place reviewed, people do and it makes or breaks restaurants.
    Hanna IS wordy and longwinded and often has me re-reading passages to understand the picture she is trying to paint.
    As an 5 year advertiser in Mntx, we have only been reviewed twice and both times the articles covered a group of restaurants. So do not think that advertisers get alot of coverage just because. Maybe they should be covered more. I would hardly think reviews of Applebees or Hooters is necessary so the Moutain X supporting locally owned, independent small businesses makes sense.
    I would suggest that the food writer rotates. Any experience in a restaurant is subjective. Some things are baseline, everything else is nuance. I think that the section should review more places, perhaps less generally indepth. Restaurant listings should be cosolidated to one page, perhaps refering people to the page an ad appears and a website or phone number (spread ads through the publication the way it used to be.) More pictures would be nice, more public opinion too. Some sort of food anthropology, learning about the origins of what we eat and why. I’m all tapped out, the idea well has run dry.
    Good Luck MNT X, you can do it!

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