EAT OF THE WEEK: Meatballs on the Rooftop


Best Bread, Best Views, Great Balls of Bison!

Last week I wrote the first installment of a new feature here on Ashvegas that I’m calling “The Asheville Sandwich Report,” [ link ] and I went on and on and on and ON about how much I love a particular kind of bread being made by Chef Kaley Laird of The Rhu that is known as “laminated baguette.” I had enjoyed this bread many times at The Rhu, so I was happy to discover that it is now available at The Lexington Corner Market, where it is being used to make wonderful grab-and-go sandwiches. I also mentioned in the Sandwich Report that Chef Philip Bollhoefer at The Montford Rooftop Bar is likewise serving this amazing bread with his charcuterie board, AND as a meatball sub. I already know that Chef Philip makes some damn fine eats, so I soon found myself heading up to the 8th floor of the new Hyatt hotel to visit him and try that dang sub. Um, yeah… I’m really glad I did. It was frickin’ awesome. Here’s a picture…

Three balls of bison in a beautiful baguette. photo by Stu Helm

Lately I’ve been getting into Bison. That’s right, bison. Buffalo. Those giant-sized, woolly, ice-age-surviving, hoofed and horned, big-headed beasts of North America that were nearly wiped out of existence by commercial slaughter and domestic bovine diseases introduced by European invaders in the 1800’s. As we all know, at one time they lived in massive herds that roamed from Canada to Mexico, all across the great plains and woodlands of America, hunted responsibly by native people for centuries, and well regarded for their many uses and benefits. If the American Buffalo had become extinct, that would have been a tragedy, a huge loss for Mother Earth and all of humankind, especially me… because… yeah, man, bison meatball sub.

When Chef Bollhoefer delivered my sandwich to me, he proudly explained that he uses 100% Carolina Bison, raised right here in Asheville, NC, by Dr. Frank King and his family. Dr. King has a web site  [ link ] all about his philosophy regarding health, and bison, and la-dee-dah. It’s all very interesting indeed. Go give it a read if you have time. Here’s the core sentence, as far as my personal concerns about meat farming in America go…

“The animals live a peaceful life grazing on lush pastures seeded with a diverse combination of nutritional non-GMO grasses. In the winter, they consume a supplemental diet of non-GMO native grass hay delivered from the Dakotas.” – Dr. King

I like that. I can feel okay about that. This Dr. King guy seems to give a fuck about people, and animals, and the planet, and so does Chef Bollhoefer, who also happens to care about serving up a delicious muhfuckin’ meatball.

When I mentioned that many meatballs are a combination of beef and pork, which keeps the beef from drying out, or turning into a rubber ball, Chef indicated that bison meat doesn’t need the pork, and he was right. These meatballs were perfect just as they were. The flavor was on point, and the texture was too, being substantial, yet kinda crumbly, while still retaining the integrity of balls of meat. In my opinion, a meatball should be neither too solid, nor too loose, and should never ever be mushy. These bison meatballs were juhhhst right. The sub also came with a cute little side salad of local beets, shallots, and arugula that I ate every bite of. Here’s an aerial view…

This bright, colorful, well made, locally sourced, sub on a really nice plate is truly gorgeous to me. #imreallyintofood

The laminated baguette was about 10″ long, and of course totally awesome, crispy on the outside, and slit down the middle. There were three bison meatballs nestled within, covered in a very nice, bright though subtle, tomato sauce, and topped with cave-aged grated cheese, and some finely chopped chives. I devoured it. It was effing perfect. Exactly what I wanted and needed at that time on that day. It wasn’t too heavy, nor too light, and the salad made me feel like a healthy human being, and according to Dr King, bison meat is also supposed to be more healthy for humans than domesticated breeds of cattle. Something about ancient proteins yadda yadda paleolithic blah blah blah. Don’t care! Just meatball me.

Apart from the buffalo meat, there were no real surprises here: I expected this sandwich to be fucking great and it was. Chef Bollhoeffer can cook, and he knows what’s what, and that is some of my highest praise. I put my trust in him when it came to this sub, and he did not let me down.

Also, despite the fact that the Montford Rooftop Bar is part of a chain hotel, I have to say it’s one of the cooler spots to hang out in downtown Asheville. For one thing, they open at 3pm, which is perfect for me, because I’m always hungry between 2 – 5pm, when many venues are closed. The view is spectacular — the best in downtown in my opinion — and when the weather is right, holy moly, it’s fucking pleasant up there. I’m thinking about making it one of my regular jams. I love their tater tots too!

So yeah, I recommend the bison meatball sub at The Montford Rooftop Bar very highly. It’s local, tasty, unique, and special, and I think it’s pretty fucking cool that a hotel chain allows their Chef to source ingredients like Dr. King’s Carolina Bison and The Rhu’s laminated baguette, and those are just some of the reasons why this meatball sub is my…


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Montford Rooftop Bar
“The Montford Rooftop Bar is a contemporary rustic speakeasy in Downtown Asheville offering cocktails, wine, beer and light fare with spectacular views.”
199 Haywood Street, Asheville, NC
Wednesday 3–10PM
Thursday 3–10PM
Friday 3–11PM
Saturday 12–11PM
Sunday 12–10PM
Monday 3–10PM
Tuesday 3–10PM
Phone: (828) 505-8750


From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

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.


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