Have previously written about surprises both pleasant (The Junction) and un- (Boca), so I won't belabor those. But I do have some other quick observations from the past month or so of dining in WNC.
--Have been to The Admiral four times in recent weeks. They are now firing on all culinary cylinders to a degree that the quality only slipped maybe half a notch the one time Chef Moss wasn't there. Highlights have included a roast pork dish that was even better than the one I had in Puerto Rico last summer, an exemplary pan-seared Hog-Nosed Snapper, a peach gazpacho with peeky toe crab, and a strawberry cake that was the very essence of summer on a (square) plate. If there's a better restaurant for the price in the entire Southeast, I am unaware of it. (Oh, and The Admiralflower is the perfect summer cocktail.)
--Had a perfectly flaky and delicious Ham & Swiss croissant fresh from the wood-fired oven at the Flat Rock Village Bakery the other morning. OMG, as the kids say.
--Had lunch again at White Duck Taco this week. The place was crawling with locals (including an entire hook & ladder truck full of Asheville firemen)--always a good sign. We had the excellent watermelon sangria, but I'm thinking cava or prosecco and a sprig of mint would send it through the roof. Wife had her usual fish taco, which she loves. I had a bahn mi style chicken taco, which was a bit bland (Do they really use chicken in Vietnam?) but benefitted greatly from the addition of some Mexican hot sauce. (Also: How about a smear of pate'?) Finally, the Bankok Shrimp Taco with cucumber-chili aioli is one of the best things I've crammed into my piehole all summer, a perfect synthesis of sweet, sour, and crunchy. Seriously, this one is a MUST TRY. Dessert was a pleasant but otherwise forgettable watermelon and mint fruit cocktail--maybe a pinch of sea salt?
--Ate dinner at Limones week before last. It was our first time there in over a year, and I have to say I had forgotten how good it is (or can be). For one thing, they make the bast margaritas in town...which they'd better be at $8-$12. They may also have an edge in the local Ceviche War (see also: Curate, Admiral, Storm, etc.). Ours had mahi in it that was so silky and flavorful it could've easily been mistaken for sea scallops. Wife had a lovely cirtrusy shrimp dish with pearl cous cous, while I played it somewhat safe with Tequila-Lime Beef fajitas, which sounds like something you'd find on the menu at Chili's but was out of this world...handmade, freshly grilled tortillas, some kind of pickled jalapeno-cucumber relish, a hand-rolled black bean-chorizo tamal. Tres Leches cake with pressed peach and Mexican coffee for dessert. In short, Limones has seduced me again after too long away...and has solidified its standing on my list of WNC's best restaurants.
--Oh, and we went back to Storm: cocktails still excellent, food still very good, service still slow/ditzy...