For what it is worth, I write intermittent mini-reviews of Asheville, NC (and the occasional other) restaurants on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cbjones1943 However, I plan to post most of my reviews to Chowhound in future
For a number of reasons that I detail from time to time on Twitter, the restaurant scene in Asheville is not competitive or remarkable. Some restaurants deserve mention primarily because their climate/ambiance is highly representative of particular neighborhoods in the city [e.g., The Admiral* $$ or DeSoto Lounge (Ethiopian dinner $10 after 4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays) or Sunny Point or Universal Joint or West End Bakery in West Asheville**]. Relative to other venues in Asheville, I consider Bouchon French Bistro $$ to win the prize of "best restaurant" because, among other reasons, this restaurant demonstrates consistency in preparation and quality and, almost unique compared to other $$ Asheville food venues, an impressive degree of quality-control, exerted from within [n.b. this is a (French) family-owned & run business]. Many residents and visitors consider The Admiral to be the best $$ restaurant in Asheville; while I think the atmosphere is authentic West Asheville and the energy funky & unique, IMO, the food preparation leaves much to be desired (though, admittedly, the quality of ingredients are, on whole, local and generally of high order). I cannot recall ever having food @The Admiral that for one reason or another was not, effectively, ruined by some egregious culinary mistake (eg an insipid gravy over exquisite fish & amazingly fresh vegetables) or sloppiness & inattention (eg lukewarm soup) or potentially dangerous items (eg oysters served @ almost room temperature); food concepts, though, are not immature or uninformed--despite the very young staff (typical for Asheville--20- 30-somethings playing gourmand, playing chef).
There are not a few $$ restaurants in Asheville whose owners deserve to be sued for exploitation of customers & for violations of "truth-in-advertising". These venues survive, and probably do well economically, for a number of reasons detailed from time to time in my mini-reviews, not the least being, however, that Asheville lacks, on whole, discriminating, knowledgeable consumers and, because most of the many tourists don't visit for the food, although visiting with lots of ready cash, outlays of $$ to restaurants depends upon seductive, hyped advertising & "fuzzy", highly opinionated, undiscriminating, uninformed, & persistently effusive local hearsay.
Though several pizza places in Ashville designate themselves, "New York Pizza" (and at least one of these places is owned by a New Yorker), I consider Favilla's, a storefront, "mom & pop", street food, neighborhood pizza place in West Asheville, to be the only authentic NY pizza parlor in Asheville. Andrew is a "hoot" (for those of you not from the NE, that's a compliment). BTW, I am a NJ/NY "girl" raised in a working-class Italian neighborhood.
Asheville is a "fuzzy-wuzzy" place; you will not find a critical, much less negative, restaurant review here. In fact, I would guess that the online sites, eg TravelAdviser, are paid by food establishments to censor all but a few negative comments (posting a few negative comments, of course, gives the impression of athenticity. I suspect that most people knowing of high food standards find themselves dishing out a lot of dinero to discover what the restaurant scene here is really about.
Every food-slinger in Asheville is called "chef".
*The Admiral is considered by many to be the best (?) restaurant in Asheville.
**One either is or is not a "West Asheville person"; I am.
Mario Batali keeps food costs <20 % of total cost at all of his restaurants. Whenever I eat out, I very carefully estimate food costs & overhead.
The Admiral is considered by many to be the best restaurant in Asheville.
17 Asheville restaurants are applying for "Green" status. Making $$ on the tails of a national, multi-million (maybe billion-) $$ trend Free advertising Hype Probably higher prices for sub-par food If you are an informed consumer If you value your food $$ If you value food quality If you want to know a restaurant's food cost Think this through for what it means for your pocketbook and for the financial benefits of these restaurants Consider whether a major benefit from a "Green" designation might be attracting a consumer-base beyond the Asheville area, decreasing these restaurants' dependence upon local consumers & increasing profits from tourists & other broad-based consumers The "Green" designation will, of course, creating a ripple-effect for other businesses & benefiting their (mostly successful) owners Particularly egregious is the fact that most of these venues & "chefs" wear the cloak/mask of "counter-culture", environmentalist, alternative, (mostly) young people committed to healthy-living These "counter-culture" entrepeneurs are making their (mostly well-to-do) parents proud--at your expense
Clara B. Jones