We’d heard that NC in general had good beer, so we stopped at the Village Draft House for a few drinks and some food. The food was good, we tried the spinach salad with egg/bacon/blue cheese dressing, and the French dip with au jus and homemade potato chips. They also have a very, very large draft beer selection. We sampled a few of the local brews, and a Guinness. Whether you’re going for the beer or the food, this place has you covered.
January 14, 2012 – A gorgeous winter weekend seemed like a great time to drive to the mountains. Asheville, NC is our preferred go-to spot – it’s a small, funky, pretty town nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains.
Saturday morning started off with some wine and cheese tasting. We’d snagged a groupon to Vino de Vaso, a discount wine shop, so we headed in around 11am. We were the only ones there, and had a fun time sampling a variety of wines. Our favorites were a Trebiano (sweet Italian white), an Argentinian Malbec, and a few Chardonnay. We weren’t huge fans of the whites, although Tony preferred them more than Louisa did. By the time we had bought a bunch of wine (gotta stock up when you find a good buy) it was lunch time and we were looking for some grub. Pomodoros, the restaurant next door, billed themselves as Greek and Italian and seemed like a good choice. We started off with the (complimentary) crusty bread and oil (very good), and then split the Greek lemon chicken soup. We’d never had this before, but it was very good - fairly light and refreshing due to the heavy use of lemon, but also smooth and creamy. Tony had a fantastic chicken marsala with home made noodles, and Louisa really enjoyed her lamb gyros with tzatziki sauce.
Our original afternoon plan was to drive the Blue Ridge over to Waynesville for some BBQ. Despite the gorgeous weather, the parkway was closed, so instead we parked and took a nice little hike down the closed road. The road made a great hiking trail. We saw a few cool birds, got to walk through a tunnel, and spotted the Biltmore on the way back.
Then we took the (much quicker) main road over to Big Mountain BBQ in Waynesville. The restaurant wasn’t crowded yet (at 5pm), but it quickly filled up. We tried the sweet corn hush puppies with honey butter (fantastic), ribs (fall off the bone tender), chicken (good if you like chicken), pork (good, but none of the sauces called out the sweetness of it), and brisket (fantastic). Sides were sauteed onions (so-so) and mac n cheese (great), and a salad with blue cheese (wonderful). The sauces are all home made, and include a great Kansas City style sauce. Just before the food arrived we caught a glimpse of the sun setting over the mountains.
January 15, 2012 – On Sunday morning we headed to downtown Asheville for some coffee and an eclair at City Bakery, a local coffee shop. The eclair, and vanilla custard, were declared the best we’ve found. After our snack we walked next door to Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. We each got some pepperoni slices, and were pleasantly surprised by the thin, NYC style crust and generous toppings. We also each got a beer flight, featuring mostly local draughts. After lunch we continued exploring and stopped to grab some fresh made sweet potato and chili powder chips before heading back to towards the car.
This time we drove over to the Blue Ridge visitor’s center, parked, and walked up a different (but still closed) section of the parkway. We caught a glimpse of a pileated woodpecker flying away, and got a good view of some smaller downy woodpeckers.
Before leaving town we enjoyed dinner at Early Girl Eatery. We started off with their hushpuppies, then had vegetarian chili (with a biscuit on the side) and an omelet with ham, local cheddar, and mushrooms. As usual, the food was great, and we had a view of the small town square, which had put white Christmas lights throughout the trees.
December 4, 2011 – Decatur, GA, has some really good restaurants. As in, the kind that make you wonder if you can find a way to move to be closer to them (sadly, that’s not looking like a possibility).
First up is the Brick Store Pub. We parked a few blocks away and walked over, since the lot by the store is so small (no biggie, plus parking is free on Sundays!). The ambience is great even before you walk in. A thick wooden door, along with an artistic stained glass image of a beer stein, let you know what you’re in for. Except then the interior surprises you. It’s not large, but the ceilings are high, there’s exposed brick on the walls, lots of light coming through the windows, and a few plants further brighten the space. We snagged a high top table, checked the menus (which are also pretty neat) and decided on a few draft beers to start the meal. Tony picked a great one – Scaldis Noel; it started off caramal-y and eventually turned sweeter, like pear. Louisa played it a bit safer with an American brew (Founder’s Favorite) that tasted a bit like Guinness. This one started out tasting like coffee, and after a few seconds reminded you of chocolate Devil’s Food cake. Lunch was a sampling of dishes – fish and chips, the pierogi appetizer, and a cup of curry. The fish and chips were good, but not overwhelmingly amazing. The pierogies were very good – lightly fried, buttery, served on a bed of buttery sauteed onions and nuts with a hint of fresh basil. The curry, though, was the star of the show. It was a thick sweet potato and chick pea mix, served over rice and with a side of (house made) pita chips. It’s better than curry we’ve gotten from our favorite Indian restaurants.
We took a stroll around the block after lunch, and agreed that we were much too stuffed to consider dessert. Then we wandered by this coffee shop called Java Monkey. Well, we only walked by it because Louisa had Tony look it up on his phone, and this was the best reviewed coffee shop. And it’s good. We had a iced mocha and an espresso con panna… and a slice of chocolate pb mousse cake. The coffee was very good. And that cake was fabulous – chocolate cake, topped with pb mousse, topped with ganache, with chocolate cookie crumbs pressed along the outside of the cake.
We had an uneventful drive back, except for finding a Five Guy’s for dinner in Columbia. This was probably the best Five Guy’s we’ve been to – perfectly done, highly seasoned Cajun fries, and really juicy burgers. If you’ve never been to a Five Guys, be sure to check out the free peanuts and their massive list of toppings (especially the sauteed onions and mushrooms).