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First impressions of Chorizo and Ultimate Ice Cream, Asheville:


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First impressions of Chorizo and Ultimate Ice Cream, Asheville:

Jeff C. | May 26, 2007 05:32 AM

1. Chorizo is one of two new side-by-side ventures in the Grove Arcade by Salsa owner Hector Diaz. Haven't tried the other, Modesto, which is a southern stab at a northern Italian trattoria, though it was packed last night and the dishes of sidewalk diners there looked interesting.

Chorizo serves Latin American fare and specialty drinks, with a short, handwritten menu of appetizers, salads, and entrees. Only one dessert was offered last night, flan, and we passed (see below).

The restaurant is postage stamp tiny but has enormous, sliding glass panels that, when open, give it a bright and airy feeling. The decor and lighting fixtures are lovely, though the mountain-craftsy paintings currently on display are wrong for both the space and the cuisine.

We started off with two overpriced but potent top shelf margaritas. Our server was friendly, helpful, and prompt though the food was not. Several specials and menu dishes featured squid, so I can only assume it was fresh although I'm not a fan. The wife and I eventually settled on the same Duck entree served in a dark sauce made with shaved chocolate and spices over strange white (but delicious) lentils with fava beans, sauteed greens, and fried plantains. Even at $14 I thought the portions were rather skimpy, and the duck leg quarter was too much work for too little meat. Even though you might sacrifice a little tenderness without the bones, I would use breast meat. The sauce, however, was HEAVEN--no other chef in our neck of the woods does sweet and hot like Hector Diaz. (See: "spliff roll" appetizer at Salsa for the perfect example.)

Total for two drinks, two entrees, and tip: fifty bucks.
FIRST IMPRESSION: Very good, but not great (yet). We WILL return and report again.

2. For dessert, we thought we'd seek out the much-touted Ultimate Ice Cream shop on Tunnel Road are tres glad we did! (It's hidden in a nondescript strip mall behind Pomodoro's Greek restaurant at 1070 Tunnel Road. Drive slowly and don't blink--the sign is teeny.) I had what is probably the best chocolate ice cream I've had in my life: Kahlua Mocha Almond, rich and dense as fudge with nice chunks of toasted almond. Spouse had Toasted Almond ice cream with lots of stringy, fresh coconut. I'm not a big coconut fan, but she loved it.

Total for two single scoops and a decaf. coffee: approx. $8
FIRST IMPRESSION: I'm glad I live twenty miles away from the Ultimate Ice Cream shop. Otherwise I'd be tempted to visit several times a week (and my rumpus would be as wide as Tunnel Road)!

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