We ate at Fig last night for the first time (I'm not sure what took us so long!) and found it really delicious - this has instantly become our new favorite. Although we weren't overwhelmed by the salads we had for the starter course (fine, but nothing to write about) the entrees were so delicious we couldn't stop talking about it. Although I rarely enjoy pasta when I go out, feeling that I usually can make it just as well at home, they had a special pasta with local morels and ramps, which was as good a plate of pasta as I've ever had. Salmon was also perfectly cooked and delicious.
Cucina24, on the other hand, served a plate of pasta much less well-prepared than what I would make at home. Bland, gooey sauce, with barely a trace of the promised mushrooms and a whole heap of asparagus pieces, mostly stems! I'm all for using the whole vegetable and avoiding waste, but please make an asparagus soup and leave the stems off the pasta - especially for $16! The rest of the meal was equally uninspiring, with distracted service (we asked for our check, stating that we were in a hurry to pay and leave, the server dropped off the check without pausing for us to hand over the credit card, and went off to take orders from a table of 6 before returning!) and a stingy portion on the olive oil for bread dipping. We won't be bothering with this place again.
If Cucina24 was mediocre, Stoney Knob has recently been a disaster. We went a while back and were served fish that had gone off and had to be sent back. After staying away for many months we returned not long ago to try again, after all we'd always had good meals in the past, so one mistake should be forgiven, right? In retrospect, bad fish should be considered unforgivable and is probably just the tip of the iceberg, since the return visit showed clear signs that this place is going down the drain. If anyone knows anything about possible management change at this restaurant I'd be curious. For one thing the menu has been lengthened considerably to include an "asian" section, as well as american, greek, etc. This kind of wide variety is never a good sign in my experience, implying desperation to get customers in, and sure enough, everything was canned, frozen, bland and just awful. At those prices, I will never return here, and would advise anyone who is recommending this place without having visited recently to rethink it.
On a brighter note, Admiral is great. Although they seem to love serving every kind of imaginable meat, they actually make a creative and delicious veggie burger so even a vegetarian can enjoy eating here. Clearly a lot of care with the quality of the food. The atmosphere is casual, but I'd prefer it any day to Cucina24, a place with clear pretensions of fine dining, which just can't deliver on the food.
That's all for recent meals. Oh we did try Nine Mile. I give that a shrug. Was fine, but REALLY something I could have made at home. I'm not sure why this place has been billed as "Jamaican" since the spicy food isn't spicy and it's basically just a pasta joint. Not bad and it is affordable, but I'd reserve it for a night when I just need to eat something and I just don't have it in me to cook it myself.
So my rant doesn't appear too negative I'll add that we love Umi in Hendersonville for Sushi. Great! Of course, there are lots of places to love in Asheville, this is by no means a summation, just notes from the last couple of months...