Foodtopia: Asheville, NC

What do chefs like to do on their “time off”?   Enjoy great food of course!

I recently found the time to escape town and head up to Asheville, NC.  I had never visited until a couple years ago and now I find myself longing to visit anytime I possibly can.  I know I’m probably viewing it from the “grass is greener” viewpoint and as with any place you visit it’s easy to only see the good aspects, but I have to say…I LOVE Asheville! 

Nestled in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina, it really does bring together a unique blending of small town feel with the food, culture, and eclectic aspects of a much bigger city.  Add four seasons of natural beauty and what’s not to love?

What I really love about the town is the fact that there are so many independent restaurants that serve really great food.  My biggest frustration thus far is the fact that I’m never there long enough to try as many as I’d like.  To be quite honest, the ones that I’ve tried I have liked so much I want to just keep going back!

Table Restaurant

Table is located right in downtown on College Street.  It’s a one way street so unless you’re really watching closely it can be easy to pass by if you’re driving.  If you are, and you did, then circle around the block because it’s well worth a visit!  You’ll probably be able to find parking on Rankin street or in a parking garage off of Rankin which is the street running along the side of the restaurant.

Chef Jacob Sessoms and his wife Alicia opened the restaurant about five years ago.  Originally from the Asheville area, Jacob and Alicia moved to New York City so he could attend the French Culinary Institute.  He worked with various chefs and restaurants in NYC and then eventually returned to Asheville and opened Table.    The menu changes daily based on the local ingredients that Chef Jacob is sourcing from the myriad of farms, farmers markets, dairies, and farms in the area.    Jacob designed the restaurant so that the kitchen is up front…he gets to look out the front window of the restaurant to see the passers-by and keep tabs on the weather, while guests get to see the action of the preparation right in front of them!  There is plenty of action too, considering the kitchen is really only big enough for two to be on the line at any given time.  From a chef’s perspective, I really liked the fact that he not only wants to cook great food, but also connect directly with his guests.  The night of my visit he and his sous chef were busy, but still managed to personally welcome and thank guests as they passed by the bar that separates the kitchen from the entryway.

The menu itself is quite tempting.  I was dining on a Sunday night and had originally been enticed by the Sunday night 3 course menu for $35.  They had only one of those remaining when I arrived and I found many more items tempting me than I could possibly begin to sample so I decided to just put myself in Chef Jacob’s hands and let him choose for me.  I opted for the 4 course tasting menu (quite reasonably priced at $50).

The first course was a very interesting black rice risotto with basil-fed snails.  Chef Jacob says he gets the snails from California where they are raised (or at least finished) on a diet of basil leaves which really did seem to provide a faint flavor to the meat.  The risotto wasn’t as creamy as one made with traditional Arborio rice but every bit as delicious.  It had nice consistency and I liked the toothsome quality of the black rice.   This was one of his off-the-cuff creations which often appear on the tasting menus based on what ingredients he’s playing with each day.

Course two was barbecued local beef tongue with miso, black radish and scallion salad.  This was one of the appetizers I had found to be intriguing and was excited for a chance to try it.  The tongue was nicely tender and the fresh flavor of the salad provided a delicious contrast to play off the rich flavor of the barbecued tongue.

BBQ Beef Tongue with radish & scallion salad

        BBQ’d Hickory Nut Gap beef tongue with miso, black radish, & scallion salad


The entree was a duck and white bean ragout topped with a salad of radicchio and candied walnuts.  While I certainly had no problem finishing it I think it would have benefited from a sauce or jus drizzled around the base to provide a bit of moisture.


Table Restaurant Duck & Bean ragout


            Duck and White Bean Ragout

I opted to add a cheese course that included a local blue cheese and French Boucherin which were accompanied by mustard & rosemary poached raisins and tea poached prunes.

The tasting menus include your choice of desserts…definitely the toughest decision of all!  I was interested in nearly all of them but particularly curious to try the Star Anise & Vanilla Panna Cotta with Jalapeno Lime Sorbet.  What intrigued me was the combination of panna cotta with a sorbet.  I typically try to contrast temperature (warm dessert/cold ice cream, etc.) but had never considered serving a sorbet with a custard style dessert.  Different, but it definitely worked!  The flavors were the key….the slight bit of heat and acidity really helped to contrast  and keep the sweetness of the panna cotta from being overwhelming.

One final bonus point for Table is that unlike a lot of other Asheville restaurants, they are open on Sundays. 

Table Restaurant

48 college st.
asheville nc 28801

ph: 828.254.8980
fx: 828.254.8983

lunch: 11:00-2:30*
dinner: 5:30-10:00*
brunch: Sunday 10:30-2:30


2 Comments on “Foodtopia: Asheville, NC”

  1. We’re so glad you enjoyed your visit in Asheville! Thanks so much for experiencing (and writing) about our food scene! Let us know when you pass through again! Love to meet in person one day!

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