My wife and I dined at Cucina 24 while in Asheville. Overall it was a very good meal. If I had to summarize the restaurant, it would be a Farm to Table as prepared by an Italian chef. Our table was ready a few minutes after we arrived and we were seated across from the kitchen. Normally a location like this would be very busy and sometimes intrusive to a quiet meal. Thankfully this was not the case. Our server was knowledgeable about the menu and specials, while also engaging.
Since we had drinks before arriving, we opted for a bottle of wine. Since we both decided on red meat, we opted for robust red….2005 Damilano Barolo which proved to be an excellent choice (and at a moderate cost !)
A few of the appetizers intrigued us. We ordered the Foie Gras (special) and House Made Ricotta and Ciabatta. The Foie Gras was a nice amount of succulent morsels, quickly grilled and served with granola, honey, fresh herbs and a small amount of balsamic vinegar. Flavors were intense, with the lush foie gras nicely countered by the granola, herbs and honey. Very good. Ricotta was smooth and creamy and the Ciabatta had been brushed with herbed olive oil before a quick trip to the grill.
My wife ordered the Hangar Steak, I went for the Braised Lamb Shank (special) and we decided to split the Brussel Sprouts as a side dish. When both arrived, I commented that it looked like Fred Flintstone was joining us…portions were large. The Hangar Steak was perfected grilled, but my wife commented that the seasoning rub was a bit salty for her taste and she is not one who is sensitive to the amount of salt. Other than the rub, the flavor of the meat was fine and it was tender. Her entrée included brussel sprouts (hey we like them) and fingerling potatoes. She thought the brussel sprouts were underdone but the potatoes were very nice; crispy and well seasoned.
My lamb shank tasted great with wonderful flavor, and the meat fell off of the bone. It was refreshing to taste a very fresh gremolata with lots of fresh lemon zest and micro herbs. As I mentioned the flavor of the meat was wonderful, but it was also a little dry, as if it had been prepared hours earlier and held for serving at a later time. My entrée included braised collard greens and goat cheese polenta. Both were excellent counters to the richness of the meat. The collards were cooked slowly and I could taste smoke, vinegar and pork in the flavor of the greens. The polenta was creamy with just enough bite from the goat cheese to add enough flavor to the polenta without overpowering anything.
My wife and I love brussel sprouts. Our side dish arrived sizzling from the oven. The pancetta and shallots were nice and crispy as was the exterior of the sprouts. They were roasted under high heat so that the exterior was charred and caramelized, the downside is that the centers did not cook fully and were bitter.
After such a rich dinner, we decided to split a sorbet. We ordered the blood orange and pomegranate sorbet. It arrived and we dug in. Sweet enough, but with the savory bite we were looking for and an intense orange/pomegranate flavor. Excellent.
We were allowed to eat at our own pace and at no point did we feel rushed. Service was excellent. Overall the meal was a nice balance between quality, atmosphere and cost.
Dinner at Cucina 24 will probably not be “the best meal you ever had” but you will leave happy and satisfied.
24 Wall Street, Asheville, NC 28801