Sorry I’m late. I’ve been busy… eating sandwiches.
Ho-o-o-oly fahhhhhhk, I’ve ate a lot of sandwiches since’t the last time I reported back to you all about the sandwich situation here in Asheville, NC. I’m happy to tell you that the over-all outlook is good, even great at times, but never bad. No bad sandwiches. Only good sandwiches, and better sandwiches.
Döner got better for example. You might recall that I covered the The Döner – Kebabs & Falafels out at the Mall in my 2nd sandwich report [ LINK ] , and although I enjoyed my chicken döner, and gave it high marks in some areas — I called it “the best food at the Mall by far” — I did find fault at the time with a few minor factors. Well, it seems those factors are no longer a factor, and my review played some small part in that!
When I spoke to the owners again on my return visit, they told me that they already knew their chicken döner wasn’t quite dialed-in yet, and when they read my review it became clear that they had to act on their own intuition, and make it better. I didn’t order the chicken this time, I ordered the specialty, beef-lamb döner — which was really great — but they showed me the chicken döner, and explained to me how they had improved it. I’ll get it again next time for sure, but as I said, this time around I ordered the beef-lamb döner and split it with Dawn. Not only did I really dig it, but Dawn did too! Here’s a picture…
Now, some of you long-time readers might already know this, but Dawn is actually a waaaaay more discerning eater, and harsher critic of food than I am or ever will be, so the fact that she liked this döner sandwich carries a lot more cred than my dumb opinion. I’m like, “Breeeaaad…. meeeaaat… cheeeeese…” and I’m all good. Dawn is not “picky” per se, but… yeah… let’s stick with “discerning.” That works best. ANyhoo, she liked it, so thumbs-up.
Our döner came in a Turkish flat bread pocket, with thin shavings of rotisserie beef & lamb, romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red and white cabbage. and vegan tzatziki, which is a creamy cucumber sauce made from tofu. It was all good, Yo. Fresh, crispy produce, with hot meat, and sauce. Fuck yes! It was moist and tasty and hit the spot just right. The vegan tzatziki was really great, and is an excellent substitute for anyone who is dairy intolerant, which I am not, but I like to try new shit. Super high marks for this sandwich.
Gut gemacht, Döner Kebab!
I did a lot of repeat sandwiching for this report.
Döner was not the only place that I returned to this time around, and the venue at which I ate the most sandwiches at during my research was 67 Biltmore Downtown Eatery and Catering. I ate five different kinds of sandwiches there, and some of them I ate more than once. #TrueStories I admit, that one reason for this is that I currently have the world’s biggest — though ever-dwindling — gift certificate to 67 Biltmore, so I’ve been going in there two or three times a week and eating my way through their entire sandwich board. PS – I do not hate my life.
Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, one of my fave sandwiches so far was a variation on their mostly vegetarian “Forager” sandwich, which is usually available from the “hot” side of 67’s cold/hot sandwich menu. The Forager usually consists of garlic thyme roasted mushrooms, shaved zucchini, balsamic tomatoes, melted Havarti, and wilted spinach on a crusty roll, but this day it had goat cheese instead of Havarti, there was also some avocado in the mix, plus it came on toast, not a roll. It was SO good!
Savory, tangy, texturally pleasing.
The mushrooms were not mushy, nor were they slimy, nor overly flavored — which are some of the issues one can encounter with mushrooms at times — but not so here, these were perfect. The texture was slightly chewy, slightly meaty, and very satisfying. Everything else on this sandwich was great too, and I think I might prefer the goat cheese and bread to the Harvarti and roll, but I’m going to go back and try it the OG way before I make my final decision. Either way, this sandwich is a winner, and I highly recommend it for omnivores as well as vegetarians. Oh, and, yeah, they may or may not have asked me if I wanted bacon, and I’m pretty sure I said “yes.”
Speaking of bacon…
One of my new all-time favorite sandwiches is 67 Biltmore’s version of the basic grilled cheese, that they call “Pimento + Bacon = Love.” It’s not too fancy, but just fancy enough to be awesome. It’s made with 67’s pimento cheese, apple wood bacon, & tomato on Annie’s multi-grain bread. (I mentioned in my May 19th Sandwich Report [ LINK ] that I am a fan of Annie’s bread.) I love this sandwich because it has all the qualities of the “fat kid food” that I am well-known for loving to death, but it’s not an over-the-top belly buster like some of my other favorite grilled cheeses around town can be. It’s relatively small for such a decadent lunch.
In fact, that’s something I like about 67’s sandwiches in general: They are lunch-sized. You don’t feel like the cook has presented you to a Guy Fiore-esque chow down challenge in the middle of a hot, humid day. You can go into 67 Biltmore, eat a half, or a whole sandwich, with or without chips and a pickle. Add sides if you’re super hungry, or an extra large person. It’s all up to you how much food mass input you want to subject your system to. Even after I stuff a whole one of these puppies into my aorta, AND crush all of the chips and the pickle, I’m not a’fixin’ to die. I feel good ‘n’ full, but not miserable. I’m a firm believer that lunch should not make a person feel miserable.
Holy shit, that’s good sammich.
Next on the list of 67 sandwiches that I ate… or sandwiches that I ate at 67, I should say… is the “Pilgrim,” which is made with house roasted turkey, brie, sliced crispy apple, Lusty Monk honey mustard, & house-pickled onions, all on Annie’s multi-grain. I got the halfy, with a side of awesome, healthy kale salad on the one day that I was feeling like having less bread and more green things. It was the effing BOMB and I was left feeling like I had made good life choices.
That’s another thing I like about 67 Biltmore in general: I can make healthy choices whenever… on that rare occasion that… I want to. Kale salad, as you may have guessed, is not something I eat a ton of, but hey, sometimes even a knuckle-dragging troglodyte like me needs some leafy greens ‘n’ stuff. What I like the most about the kale salad at 67 is that there’s no raw garlic. Yay! Fuck raw garlic in kale salad, because, y’know what? When you add raw garlic to kale salad, it pretty much becomes just raw garlic salad, because you can’t taste the kale, or anything else, because raw garlic is like, the biggest dick of all ingredients that ever was, always rubbing its dick-balls all over the other ingredients, and being, like, “Now you taste like me. LULZ.”
Anyhoodles… I like hot tuna.
No, not the band… good lord, fuck no, not the band… but yes, the actual food item. The basic hot tuna fish sandwich on the 67 Biltmore menu is known as the “Yellowfin Tuna Melt,” and it’s made with their caper tuna salad, melted Havarti, lettuce & tomato on Annie’s marble rye bread. I’m gonna tell you straight-up: I liked it, I didn’t love it. If there weren’t so many other insanely good sandwiches on the menu at 67 Biltmore I might order this one again, but I think I’ll just keep in it my heart as a good memory. Gooooood memory. Yeah, man. There. I put it in my heart. Here’s a picture…
Now, I might like hot tuna, but I ferkin’ LERV fried chicken!
67 Biltmore’s fried chicken “Shazamwich” is just the ticket. Not too fancy, nor too plain, not too gut-buster-ing-ly big, nor too small, but always just the right amount of high-quality everything to fill you up to your own preferred levels on any given day. As with every sandwich on the board, you can get 1/2 of this chicken Shazamwich to have for just a tasty snack-type thing, or get the whole damn Shazam, with chips and a pickle and call it a meal! Ain’t much to this sandwich, it’s a pretty simple affair, but it’s all good: Crispy buttermilk fried chicken, jalapeno-lime slaw, and mayonnaise, on a buttered Annie’s roll. That’s so basic, yet so awesome. Thumbs-up on this one.
And thus concludes the 67 Biltmore portion of this month’s Asheville Sandwich Report…
…but not the fried chicken sandwich portion! Whenever I see a fried chicken sandwich on any menu, I go for it, so when I went to The Wedge at Foundation, and saw my favorite food truck parked there, with a fried chicken sandwich on the menu, I almost squee’d out loud! I mean, just take a look at the photo below to see the amazing beast of a bird sandwich that was provided to me by good ol’ Chef Dano Holcomb from Root Down food truck!
Dano is one of my Top Ten Cooks in Asheville. For real. This cat knows how to make exactly the kind of… everything… that I love to eat most! So, yeah, when I saw a fried chicken sandwich on the chalk bard, there was no debate: Sandwich me, please, Dano, and I’d like a side of your insanely decadent bechemel mac ‘n’ cheese too, Sir… because… well… I do not give a fuck if I have a coronary right in the parking lot of the fucking Wedge, as long as I die with a plastic fucking forkful of Dano Holcomb’s cooking in my hand. Here’s another picture…
Dano’s chicken sandwich is made with a large piece of battered, buttermilk and Crystal soaked chicken thigh, deep-fried to total perfection, served on a hearty but simple white bun from Geraldine’s Bakery, topped with a creamy jalapeño-avocado aiolo, red cabbage coleslaw, and served with optional house-made pickles. Did I say optional? Yeah, no, I’m opting for Dano’s house-made pickles every single time.
This shit’s got a “GAH!” factor of about 5,000.
So, I ate the fuck out of this monster and it was one of the best sandwiches I had all month, if not all year! Is it possible for a food truck chef to win my “Chef of the Year” Stoobie Award? Fuck yes! And Dano is an early contender for sure! Not just because of this sandwich of course, but because he’s been crushing it with everything he’s served me since the very first time I tried his food, and he proved himself to be worthy of accolades once again with this wonderful sandwich. Fucking… GAHHH!!!
Of course, there is a certain fried chicken sandwich that won my heart almost two years ago, and remains a standard in my diet to this very day. In fact this is the second time I’ve included it it in the Asheville Sandwich Report. [ LINK ] That’s right, Buxton Hall Barbecue’s fried chicken sandwich is still the king of all the fried chicken sandwiches in my heart, soul, mind, mouth, and stomach. I eat more of these than any other sandwich in Asheville. Here’s one I ate not long ago…
I don’t need to tell you much more about this thing, because I feel like I’ve reviewed it, like, twenty times, and it hasn’t changed a bit since the first day they opened, so let me just say that… I fucking love it and I could eat one every day, and if you haven’t had one yet, WTF is wrong with you, go do it now, and if you don’t love it, you’re totally fucked in the head. That’s my current and definitive review of this sandwich, and you can quote me if you want to, Bon Appetit Magazine…
“If you don’t love Buxton Hall’s fried chicken sandwich, you’re totally fucked in the head.”
Okay, let’s go from love… straight past passion… beyond carnal desire… to unbridled lust.
Who here knows what “Hot Brown” is?
Hot Brown, of course, is an open-faced hot sandwich invented by The Brown Hotel in Lexington KY, back in the 1920’s. Traditionally, hot brown is made from bread, turkey, and bacon, covered in Mornay sauce and cooked on high heat until the bread is crisp and the sauce begins to brown. If you’re fucking lame, you make it the traditional way. If you’re The Lobster Trap, you make it with fucking lobster instead of turkey, and some guy named Stu Helm sits at your bar making “I want to fucking die right now” faces with every insanely delicious bite. Ho-o-o-o-ly… My friends… my gahd… This sandwich is… Maine lobster over toasted Texas toast with Mornay sauce, mac ‘n’ cheese, and Benton’s bacon, all broiled in a cast iron skillet, and served with grilled broccolini.
Yes, there’s mac ‘n’ cheese in this sandwich.
Benton’s bacon to be precise, which is the best bacon available, according to many chefs I know, whom I do not disagree with. I stuffed my face with every drop, crumb, particle, and magical morsel of this bubbling hot skillet of sin. When I finished, I was so full, I thought I might either explode, drop dead, or fall asleep at the bar. Good fucking gahhhhhd, Chef Mike McCarty and crew do amazing things with seafood over there at The Trap, and this version of the classic Hot Brown is seriously to die for. Here’s one last picture…
Ohhhhkayyyyy… Stu…. how many more sandwiches are left in this dang report?
I dunno, does this nummy little lobster roll from Bull and Beggar count as a sandwich?
No? Not really? Okay, I kind of agree with that, even though it was really really really good, it wasn’t technically a sandwich, so in that case…
There’s only three more sandwiches left to report on. Hang in!
Oh fuck! I nearly forgot that I ate another fried chicken sandwich, this time from our friends at The Tastee Diner in West Asheville. My mom and I love to go to the Tastee together, where I usually indulge in a cheap, greasy, cheeseburger and fries, while my mom gets the Tastee Chicken and Waffle. Being on a sandwich jag, however, I forwent the usual all-beef patty with American cheese, and ordered up this guy instead…
The Tastee Diner’s Pimento Chicken sandwich has pimento cheese of course, plus bacon, sriracha aioli, and tomato. It was really good and hit all the nails on the head. Am I going to get it from now on instead of the burger? Naw, I don’t think so, but I am going to use it as the launching pad to eat my way through the rest of the Tastee’s sandwich menu, and maybe their entire menu, because I really like this place, and I want to show them as much support as I can. My mom swears by the Tastee chicken and waffles, so maybe I’ll try that next. You can check out their extensive menu here [ LINK ] and see that I will have my work cut out for me!
In the meantime, I went to Laughing Seed for the first time in a really long time, and ate a barbecued jack fruit sandwich, with peppers, onions, and some kind of cheese on it, that came with a pickle and a side of pasta salad.
I didn’t know jack shit about jack fruit.
So I looked it up and here’s what I found out from a website called Today.com [ LINK ]
“A relative of figs and breadfruit, jack fruit grows in tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. While it is a fruit, its consistency is similar to that of chicken or pork. It has a fairly neutral taste when young, so it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce or seasoning you pair it with.”
The same article called jack fruit, “a healthy and sustainable vegan meat replacement… set to be one of the biggest food trends of 2017.”
Well, la-dee-fuckin’-dah. Jack fruit gonna save the planet, and it’s the hip new thing that all the cool kids are talking about. Hey, I’ve got some news for ya, Today.com: 2017 is half over and nobody gives a fuck about jack fruit, so your “biggest food trend” prediction is off to a slow start to say the least. And, too, also, the world is still going to be fucked environmentally, no matter how popular jack fruit gets, because… well, for one thing I’m sitting here in Asheville, North Carolina telling you that people are not about to replace pigs and chickens with a fruit. So… y’know… Give up. Who wants fruit when you could have this instant pot chicken thigh recipe…I mean… come on.
All that aside, the jack fruit was fucking awesome!
I would eat much more jack fruit myself, were it more widely available in and around Asheville. It does indeed have a “meaty” texture to it that I found to be both pleasant and satisfying. It’s more consistent in texture than real meat though, ie: no fat, no gristle, no animal-part-based nastiness. I can totally envision jack fruit as a regular part of my own diet, so if you notice any other restaurants in the area are serving it, please let me know via my Facebook page [ LINK ], and I will likewise seek them out to inform you of your jack-fruity options as well. Maybe we really can save the world with trendy foods after all!
In the meantime, the sandwich as a whole was good in my opinion, but not awesome, and that was mostly because the BBQ technique was very sweet. Sweet sweet Q is not my fave kind, and this sandwich was sweet as fuck. Everything else was fine, the cheese was melty, the onions were sauteed, the peppers were spicy, the bun was great. The pasta salad was a little on the boring side, and had a made-by-hippies quality to it, but was otherwise good enough. I ate every single thing on my plate that day, and I am a new fan of jack fruit, but I won’t be going back for this particular sandwich again.
Okay, and now… the moment you’ve all been waiting for… The final sandwich in this report!
Drum roll please…
Before you scroll down, I have to admit that I totally fucked-up. I showed up to The Montford Pull-up for lunch with my friend Scott so hungry that I took a bite of my sandwich before I took a picture of it. – _ – I absolutely HATE photos of partially eaten food, so I really do apologize to you for this fucking debacle. I had no other pictures of this sandwich, though, so I am forced to use this one, and utilize all of my Photoshop skills to blur out the offending bite. Again, my sincere apologies.
If you know anything about the food I like, and anything about Chef Christopher Lee Cox at The Montford Pull-up, then you know that he’s making the kind of food I like. Point in case was another non-traditional version of good old Hot Brown! Instead of being open-faced, and goopy as fuck, Chris transformed it into a hand-held sandwich made with white ciabatta bread, mesquite smoked turkey, apple wood smoked bacon, Havarti cheese, Muenster cheese, Mornay sauce, grilled tomato, and scallions. Did you get that? Two kinds of cheese, plus Mornay. And bacon. Eff yes. I loved it. Even though I kinda did miss the goopiness of the usual open-faced preparation of hot brown, without any tables or seats at The Montford Pull-up, I totally understand why they made it in the hand-held form. Scott and I found a comfy bench in a community green space that he actually helped to work on, and we both happily tucked into our awesome sandwiches.
Scott got the Hot Brown too!
Okay now, that’s the end of the Asheville Sandwich Report for this month. I know it was epic, sorry. I can’t help it. I like to be thorough, and there’s a LOT of fucking sandwiches in this town. My long-term goal is — of course — to eat them all, but I simply may not live that long, so please, help me eat them all, won’t you?
Below is a list of all the places where I got the delicious sandwiches enumerated above. I encourage you all to go out and get ’em!
~ END ~
Döner – Kebab & Falafel
“The Döner Kebab, Europe’s most popular fast food, comes to the Asheville Mall. We happily serve Turkish inspired fresh and local food.”
Address: Asheville Mall, 3 S Tunnel Rd, Asheville, NC 28805
67 Biltmore Ave Downtown Eatery + Catering
“Downtown Asheville’s best Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner on Biltmore Avenue from 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday. Offering Local and Gluten Free options.”
Address: 67 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 252-1500
Root Down Food Truck
“Creole, Southern and Soul inspired Street Food … made with local and regional ingredients.”
Phone: (704) 881-3819
Buxton Hall Barbecue
“Barbecue & hearty sides pair with beer & cocktails in a high-ceilinged, open room with tall windows.”
Address: 32 Banks Ave, Asheville, NC
Sunday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Monday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Tuesday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Wednesday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Thursday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Friday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Saturday 11:30AM–3PM, 5:30–10PM
Phone: (828) 232-7216
The Lobster Trap
“Cozy, casual spot for seafood, locally brewed craft beer & nightly live music.”
Address: 35 Patton Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 350-0505
The Bull & Beggar
“High-end New American fare & wine offered in a bi-level venue with rustic, yet stylish, decor.”
Address: 37 Paynes Way, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 575-9443
“A West Asheville Restaurant.”
Address: 575 Haywood Rd, Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: (828) 412-5566
Laughing Seed Cafe
“Funky, no-frills cafe & bar serving organic, locally sourced global vegetarian & vegan fare.”
Address: 40 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 252-3445
The Montford Pull-up
“The Montford Pull Up is a fast casual deli and grill serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to-go! Come pull up! Fast Food, Sandwiches, Soul Food, Vegan and Vegetarian”
Address: 231 Montford Ave, Asheville, NC
Phone: (828) 273-3287
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org