Nothing makes me cringe more than someone who labels themselves “a foodie.” Now, I understand what people are trying to convey when they label themselves this way, but don’t they realize how uninteresting it’s making them sound?
This glorious Reddit post from two years ago with the title I Cringe When People Call Themselves Foodies explains my disdain better than I could, “Every time I hear someone call themselves a foodie, I think about how it shouldn’t be a thing. As far as I know, there isn’t a single thing on this Earth that doesn’t like to eat food. Calling yourself a foodie is a blank statement that doesn’t add to a conversation. It doesn’t make me want to know more about you. It’s the same bank statement as claiming you love to breathe. If you feel the need to call yourself a foodie to describe you like to eat food… just don’t.” ,
Per the Cambridge Dictionary, a “foodie” is “a person who loves food and is very interested in different types of food.” While I may disagree with the term, it’s widely used—according to a recent New York Post article (so you know the accuracy here is bulletproof and fact-checked to the nines), 53% of Americans consider themselves “foodies.”
When someone tells me they’re a “foodie,” I don’t hear that they’re someone who loves food and is very interested in different types of food. I hear that they are someone who thinks their palate is more refined than the average garbage American, likes to make themselves feel important using empty vocabulary, confuses having expensive tastes with having a personality, and is largely the reason that high-end dining gets away with charging outrageous prices for vastly overrated food. They’re chumps, to put it plainly, being played by the restaurant industry to throw money at oft-times mediocre food in the pursuit of making themselves look and feel more interesting, whether they enjoy it or not, the type of people who allow this 2008 study that reveals that the more a person is told a wine costs, the more people enjoy it, regardless of how it tastes, to exist. As someone who works in marketing, I really shouldn’t be bitching about these people, as they essentially make my life easier, but here we are.
Asheville Restaurant Week, which I’ve only dipped my toes into in past years (last year’s Restaurant Week did result in finding Copper Crown, where I recently had an excellent steak dinner), was last week, and I visited three Asheville restaurants I don’t usually frequent: Table, Rhubarb, and La Bodega Curate. I left the experience wondering who restaurant week is for.
In general, the food was good but not great, the portions almost comically small (food marketing has tricked foodies into thinking they don’t need to be filled since dining is more an experience than eating…but c’mon), and honestly, and maybe I’m just a cheapskate, but the prices weren’t that great. I left the whole experience rather underwhelmed, but then I realized that’s because Restaurant Week wasn’t designed for me, someone who merely enjoys eating and trying new foods. Restaurant Week was designed for FOODIES.
So, if you’ve come here for insights into whether or not I dug the newly rediscovered heirloom rice that accompanied my buttery, pan-fried flounder or if truffle butter elevates bread and butter services (I think Kerrygold does that just fine), this post wasn’t designed for you. If you have unelevated tastes (aka you enjoy the occasional McChicken) and want to know if the above Asheville restaurants are worth your time and money, please proceed.
I’ve only heard good things about Rhubarb, but this was probably the most overrated of my Restaurant Week tries, and if it weren’t for the dessert, I probably wouldn’t be back.
Rhubarb’s restaurant week offerings included three shared appetizers for the table, the aforementioned pan-fried flounder and a chocolate-chip cookie parfait. The appetizers were fine, but I really hate the trope of “elevated peasant food,”—our server made it a point to tell us how the “Appalachian Rarebit” was eaten by “hobos” and “traditionally poor people’s food,” which always just sits a bit weird (and also, then give it a poor-person price!) and while she didn’t say anything about the “traditional Cherokee fry-bread” naming it thusly gave it the same vibes (though I doubt hobos or Native Americans ate a ton of fried dough covered undressed radicchio).
The flounder was…thin. Like, I 100% just bought a much larger piece of flounder from Food Lion for $5.00 less this morning. Also, it 100% tasted like overdone tilapia, which I’d know because tilapia is a garbage fish for garbage people, and thus, I consume quite a bit of it.
The cookie parfait? Life-changing and huge. I’d happily pay $20.00 for this dessert on its own and have tentative plans to go back to Rhubarb, sit at the bar, and order only drinks and parfaits. I also have to shout out their iced tea, which was particularly potent.
La Bodega Curate
You will not find any snark in this review. I enjoy La Bodega Curate (and its parent restaurant, Curate, which is well worth the price and hype…I also find that all things considered, it’s exceptionally reasonably priced for what you get). The restaurant week lunch special was $20.00 for an extremely delicious pistachio-laden salad, a fancy ham and cheese sandwich on a baguette, and rice pudding for dessert. I didn’t enjoy the rice pudding, but that’s more of a me vs. rice-pudding-as-a-concept issue than me vs. La Bodega Curate. This lunch actively made me want to visit La Bodega more, which I’m assuming was the point.
My number one knock against Table was the $9.00 price tag for their “bread and butter service” we tacked onto our restaurant week pre-fixe menu. Was it delicious? Yes. Was the bread a mini, freshly baked loaf? Yes. Am I rapidly becoming my father and thus horrified by high prices for things like bread and butter? Also, yes (I believe I officially started my transition into becoming the elder Brothwell eight years ago when I made a friend leave a brunch spot that boasted a “traditional breakfast”—eggs, bacon, toast, and homefries—for $15.00 after we’d already been sat).
At Table, I had a kale Caesar salad with potato croutons (more salads should incorporate potato croutons), schnitzel, and a small chocolate lava cake for dessert. The dinner here was delicious, but again, the portions were small, and I just ended up leaving and feeling like a chump for spending $50.00 on a meal that left me hungry enough to come home and make a late-night breakfast sandwich (also, not for nothing, but I could get chocolate lava cake that’s just as good, and probably better, at any Tunnel-Road chain restaurant).
I technically didn’t do restaurant week at Gemelli—an offshoot of Strada (which I love) located in the Westgate Shopping Center—but I did get the idea for going there when looking up Restaurant Week options. $13.00 cacio e pepe that fills you up? That’s something that’s going to get me to return. Also, while I didn’t have their pizza, it’s thick-crust Sicilian, a salve in a sea of thin wood-fired crusts.