By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher ©2015
Second in a Series
There’s nothing better as you approach the weekend than daydreaming about your next great outing that will involve an incredible restaurant meal, right? Well, scoot closer to the screen or your mobile device, and read on.
We just sampled a delightful find in the Queen City. The Asbury restaurant, opened a year and a-half ago, is churning out creative, delicious dishes employing farm-to-table freshness with a vengeance — procured from 45 farms in a 250-mile radius — under the leadership of young, talented, homegrown chef, Chris Coleman, age 31.
This chef has vision. You can tell from the menu he’s having fun — alongside friend and Chef de Cuisine Matthew Krenz. (Krenz Beef on the menu is from Matthew’s family’s farm.)
Coleman, who came from notable Charlotte French restaurant McNinch, was away during our visit (with good reason — a newborn baby). However, Chef Krenz took great care of us aided by knowledgeable and enthusiastic server Donne Kokes. Kokes delights in not only describing Asbury’s dishes in great detail but assisting with perfect wine pairings.
The outstanding tasting menu, which changes about every two weeks, is five courses for $65, and an additional $30 for wine pairings. The price is a steal with large portions for a tasting menu and a great selection of wines. Kathy was full after course three but mustered on!
We must confess that even before our tasting began, we met up with the Asbury’s PR rep and her husband for some starters and cocktails, so we sampled a lot. While there are plenty of craft beers available, we each shared sips of our four different cocktails, loving the variety and original concoctions.
- Green Thumb – Honeysuckle vodka with cucumber and mint;
- Blackberry Gin Fizz – Sans seeds; they’re strained out and the berry is made into a simple syrup;
- Moonshine Cocktail – Not always on the menu, but what a great nod to the heritage at the NASCAR Hall of Fame just blocks away. (For the uninitiated, NASCAR traces its roots to moonshiners, including Junior Johnson, who did prison time for runnin’ ‘shine.)
- Sage Advice – Featuring Don Julio Anejo, sage and grapefruit.
Three pre-tasting starters included Smoked Duck Heart, Deviled Eggs and Watermelon + Spiced Fried Okra. All rave-worthy. (See the slideshow.)
Course by Course
- The official menu got underway with an amuse bouche of Chicken Liver Mousse with Barren County, KY, blue cheese, amarena Toschi cherries and pickled, sliced okra.
- First course – The Olde Salt Oysters with blackberry sabayon, celery relish and Szechuan peppercorn were perfection: “The best raw oysters I’ve ever eaten,” Fletcher declared. They were nicely paired with Prima Perla Procecco from Italy, which also worked well with the amuse bouche.
- Second course – Donne predicted, “Wait ’til you see what’s next; it’s going to freak you out.” The Tomatoes with peach, sunflower seed butter and basil ice cream paired with French Magali Rose from Cotes de Provence was indeed a surprise and beautifully presented. Very meaty. Basil ice cream was new to us; we hope it won’t be our last taste.
- Third course – Benton’s Bacon Hoppin’ John arrived with a heavenly fragrance in a cast iron skillet with rice, sunny-side-up egg, peach-and-peanut salsa and chiles (a filling dish) accompanied by Van Duzer Pino Noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. We’d love to see this on the breakfast menu if it’s not.
- Fourth course – While this was supposed to be Krenz Ranch Beef, good for them that it sold out earlier in brisket form. The substitute, still delicious, was Brasstown Beef, also from NC, cooked to order and served with confit potatoes, fig salad, beet, mushrooms and mustard. The wine pairing, too, was switched last minute and so glad for that. We adored the Ancient Peaks Paso Robles Renegade 2012, which we later found online for a mere $20.
- An Intermezzo palate-cleansing watermelon sorbet with tequila, lime, mint and coconut foam performed on target.
- The dessert finale, labeled Caramel and Nuts, featured peanut financier, caramel popcorn, salted caramel ice cream, peanut butter and apricot. Kathy called it “a Cracker Jack birthday party on a plate.” The Italian Nivole Moscato d’Asti 2012 was the perfect pairing.
- But there’s more: Lastly, a final bite, a mignardise of rainbow-colored cake, bid us adieu with a nod to Charlotte Pride Week. The in-house baker and pastry chef definitely had fun with this one – see the photo.
The Asbury brunch menu features Springer Mountain Chicken + Waffles with ham hock greens, sorghum molasses and apple chowchow. The bloody mary bar, by the way, serves housemade mixes, pickled vegetables and your choice of vodka. “Chef Chris is wild about pickling,” confided the restaurant’s rep.
There’s no telling how far Chef Chris Coleman will go, but it will be a fun ride to witness. We’ll be able to say we ate his fine cuisine way back when.
If You’re Going: The Asbury restaurant, located adjacent to the lobby of The Dunhill Hotel, is at 235 N. Tryon St. in Uptown Charlotte. It seats about 50 plus some patio dining. For reservations, call 704.342.1193. Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays for lunch and dinner; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. weekends for brunch (ending at 2) or dinner.
Whet your appetite with the tasting menu online at http://theasbury.com/menus/chefs-tasting-menu.pdf.
The Asbury is named in honor of Louis Asbury, Sr., the Charlotte architect who, in 1929, designed what is now The Dunhill Hotel.
About The Dunhill Hotel
If dining at The Asbury, consider a stay next door. The Dunhill is Charlotte’s only boutique lodging destination Uptown. Visit www.dunhillhotel.com or call at 704.332.4141 or 800.354.4141.
The hotel was recently inducted into TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence Award “Hall of Fame,” an elite recognition for hotels worldwide that have received TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award for five consecutive years. Only 26 (or 13%) of Charlotte’s lodging destinations achieved “Hall of Fame” status from the 192 lodging choices listed in by the site.
Next in this Series: Our first of two stays in Asheville, courtesy of the Asheville Bed & Breakfast Association. This association is a group of 16 diverse inns that meet set standards of superior quality, ambience, guest service, amenities and outstanding host integrity and hospitality.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other stories by Newbern and Fletcher
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• Stories by Kathy M. Newbern, Luxury Travel Examiner
International and Luxury Travel Examiners J.S. Fletcher and spouse, Kathy M. Newbern, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.