Review: Isis Restaurant and Music Hall


A Yelp reviewer offers an in-depth take on the new West Asheville casual fine dining venue, soon to add music. Pretty much spot on, IMO.

I’ve had the chicken breast with mushroom cassoulet he’s hoping to try next time, and it was DELICIOUS:

Tonight my wife and I tried the new Isis Restaurant & Music Hall on Haywood Road in West Asheville.

Overall the Isis is more upscale, more enjoyable and more of a positive experience than I expected. The food didn’t totally knock me out, as it does at Cúrate, Limones or Fig, but it was well prepared and more sophisticated than I thought it would be. I imagine it will get better as the kitchen gets in gear (the restaurant has only been open about a week.)

The owners have done a wonderful job renovating what was Pastabilities and at one point was the old Isis theater, which opened in 1937 and closed in 1957.  I’ll date myself, but as a small child my brother and I used to walk from St. Joan of Arc school to take in shows at this theater.  I remember that we saw “Forbidden Planet” there one time. My favorite barber shop is next door, so I’ve watched for going on two years as the restaurant was being renovated and the parking lot upgraded. I love the exterior front of the restaurant, which has a marquee that looks like the old movie theater.

One the ground level, there’s a mid-size dining area in the front of the restaurant — with the requisite exposed ducting — and the main music stage at the back (where the movie screen was), with a bar, with restrooms across the hallway, connecting the two areas. On the second level (you can enter via either of two stairs) there’s a more intimate bar/lounge, with a piano and small stage, ideal for a lounge singer or jazz trio. Overlooking the main music stage is an Orange Peel-like standing area for drinkers.  It would have to be a big act to fill this area.  Right now the Isis is basically just doing the restaurant; the music will come soon, I’m told.

On a Tuesday, the Isis was busy though not full, and the noise level got fairly high in the main dining room.  Full, it might be a tad too loud.

Now, as to the food and drink.

We started with cocktails.  My Dewars and soda ($6) was fine and reasonably priced.  My wife didn’t particularly care for her Jack Daniels Old Fashioned, but at just $7 why complain?

For an appetizer we shared the Hoppin’ John, with yellow eye peas, red quinoa, bacon and three shrimp ($8).  I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but it turned out to be delicious.

For an entree my wife had the seared rainbow trout with chard and that quinoa again ($15), which my wife termed very good.  I had one of the specials, a small sirloin with Yukon potatoes and broccoli ($20). It wasn’t the best steak I’ve ever had, and it was small for the price, but I enjoyed it. Next time I’ll probably try the grilled chicken breast, Frenched and served with a white bean-mushroom cassoulet ($15).

No espresso here (what’s up with that at so many Asheville restaurants?!) but the Beanwerks French press coffee ($3) was excellent.

Bottom line:  I think this is exactly the kind of place West Asheville needs. It’s by far the most upscale spot in West Asheville, priced fairly and while the food may not yet be up to Admiral standards, it’s a lot classier joint. I don’t how the music hall aspect will work out, but I’ll definitely go back for the food.

Dinner for two, with a total of two cocktails, one glass of wine ($7 for a merlot), one shared appetizer, two entrees and one coffee came to $72 with tax but before my usual generous tip.  If entrees were 10 or 15% cheaper, I’d be happier, but I shouldn’t complain.

Yelp review here.

1 Comment

Joseph Tomczyk September 15, 2014 - 11:19 am

Resulting from a keen ‘ISIS’ E-xchange with their Scott Woody, I first visited them yesterday (Sun 9/14/14) for brunch; and quite enjoyed their decor, feel, and “Pork sweet potato hash and egg on syrupy Brioche french toast”.

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