Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic, on Hi-Fi Cafe


By Stu Helm

Hello Asheville!

So, a while back, I was getting a refill of coffee at Clingman Cafe, when a lady in line said, “Hey, you’re that Food Guy!” She was nice. A local artist.

Then a week or so after that I was walking down Page Avenue when a rather stylish silver-haired gentleman relaxing outside of Sante Wine Bar called out “Hey! Hey!” And when I turned around, he said, “You’re that Food Guy!” He seemed excited to spot me. Like a Yeti.

Then, last week, at Blue Kudzu Sake, a really nice woman walked up and asked, “Are you the Food Guy?” I was! I am! She said she was there because she saw my posts on Facebook. Yeah, Man!

There’s no point to this story… I’s jus’ braggin’.

Last year at this time, I was just a guy. Now I’m that Food Guy. A pinhead’s progress.

Okay, enough of that…

Here’s a review that comes with a plea, and a chance for one of you to eat a great, custom-cooked meal with me, and/or make me eat something that I really don’t wanna eat. First the review…

HI-FI CAFE – South French Broad Ave, soon to be moving

You may or may not recall that I gave Hi-Fi Cafe a Stoobie Award last year for their pizza. I think it is among the best in Asheville. I crave it. I’ve eaten a lot of it. They have other stuff on their menu, like sandwiches and what-not, and that’s all great, but it’s that dang pizza what I love.

Here’s some bullet points… (I also love bullet points)

• IT’S PERSONAL – Yeah, that’s right, this pizza is ALL MINE, Motherfucker. It’s about 10 or 11 inches in diameter, and has a thin crust, so you can scarf this puppy all on your own, no probs. You’ll be full as fuck, but that’s also not a prob. If you must, you can split it with a friend, and both still feel like you ate something.

• IT’S PERFECT – The crust is fucking awesome. This is one of the few pizzas ever that I eat the entire thing, crusts and all. The sauce is all flavory and good, there’s plenty of it, as well as exactly the right amount of cheese, which is of the aged Mozzarella variety. They’ll cook it exactly the way you like it too. They know I like mine with a little extra brownness on top. I don’t even have to ask.

• IT’S PIPING HOT – They cook these li’l fuckers one-at-a-time in a wee tiny oven of some sort, and they come out hotter than Hell! All bubbly ‘n’ shit.

• IT’S PRICED RIGHT – The last time I got one, which was fairly recently, it was only $5.50! Yeah, Man. I’ve got that much money in my pocket at any given time.

• IT’S PEPPERONI – You can get it with just cheese, or add pepperoni for no extra cost. I have never in my life been to a place before Hi-Fi that gave out free pepperoni. That’s awesome. They rule.

There you have it! Hi-Fi pizza: Best aged-mozzarella pizza in town!

Add to that the fact that the fine folks who own it, Katie and Aaron, work the counter every day, and really give a shit about people, and food. Also, their sole employee Lee is so handsome and sweet, I just wanna take him home and keep him forever and ever! Can I?!? I promise I’ll feed him and love him and take care of him all on my own!

Oh, and I forgot to mention that they also brew a really really really good cup of coffee. Thick, strong, deep and mmm… que rico… just the way I like it. I think Aaron is the coffee hound of the group. He hooks that shit up , Man.

Okay, so it’s all good, but here’s the rub: Hi-Fi got squeezed out of the whole Downtown Market refurbishment thing, and now they gotta move. That was looking financially impossible at first, but then some super-nice people popped-up and gave them an opportunity to move right around the corner for a reasonable amount of money, but they still need to raise a hefty chunk to make it happen.

So, now, at the suggestion of friends and customers, they have started a crowd-funding campaign, and they’re auctioning off some different stuff. I wanted to help — because I selfishly can’t imagine living my life without that fucking pizza — and since I have nothing to give, I choose to give… myself.

Here’s more bullet points…

• There are TWO items being auctioned off that involve you and me.

• FIRST – You can bid on a special Dinner with The Food Critic, prepared exclusively for us by Katie and Aaron! Just you and me, Baby. Gazing into each other’s eyes. Eating food. Being awesome. Aaron and Katie will whip us up something super-nice, you can have wine or beer, and if you’re lucky? Well… you never know what could happen.

• SECOND – Here’s the biggie: You can Make The Food Critic eat Chick-fil-A. Yep, that’s what I fuckin’ said. I have agreed to eat a bag of Chick-fil-A, on camera, hating every fucking second of it, if someone donates at least $100 to the Hi-Fi cause. You can come watch me do it, and even take your own pictures. Selfies with the unhappiest food critic in the world. This is a chance for the trolls to have their revenge on me. Or one of my friends to make me suffer. (Oh, how friends like to watch each other suffer! JERKS!) Or maybe… I hope… one of you good people, whom I love, would outbid the trolls and jerk-friends, and then NOT make me eat the Chick-fil-A? Like, rescue me from it. Please. I beg you.

To bid on these two items, and others, please check out:

Okay, so there you go: One of Asheville’s greatest pizzas is on the endangered species list… and only you can help… won’t you please… (insert sad puppy eyes, and Sarah McLachlan song here)

They are open at there current location for about two more months, so you can still pop in for a pie, sandwich, scone, bagel, salad, or cup of coffee to see for yourselves why Asheville’s bellies benefit from Hi-Fi Cafe being here for us.

SARTORI CHEESES – Earth Fare & Greenlife/Whole Foods

Yesterday I went grocery shopping and bought all of my favorite things: Ice cream, pop corn, peanut butter, crackers, bananas, oatmeal, broccoli, meat, etc etc etc… boring shit, I know… except for this item:

Sartori Cheese.

Holy fuck. If you guys haven’t tried Sartori Cheese, do yourself a favor and go get some right now.




For real.

Bar none.

I especially like the Merlot BellaVitano, Raspberry BellaVitano, Espresso BellaVitano, and Basil & Olive Oil Asiago.

BellaVitano is a very sharp, medium-hard cheese, that is perfect for crackers, and goes really well with fig spread, sour cherry spread, dates, and almonds, in my opinion.

It’s so sharp that it has, like, tiny little crystals of intense flavor in it. Know what I mean? Those cheese crystals that some very sharp cheddars, and other sharp cheeses sometimes have? To me, that’s a mark of quality cheese, motherfuckers.

The espresso actually has delicious ground coffee beans on the outside, and all of the flavors I’ve listed above have edible rinds, that are the most savory and tasty part of this insanely good cheese.

As always, the good shit ain’t cheap, so be prepared for a little bit of sticker shock if you’re used to buying giant blobs of Kraft Petroleum Products at Sam’s Club.

When it comes to food, I would almost always rather pay for less of something better than more of something worse. But that’s just me.

Sartori Cheeses are available at Greenlife and Earthfare, and possibly elsewhere in town. Find it and get it. Just leave me some!

Nom nom!

Stu Helm is an artist and writer 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 restaurant reviews strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook in 2013.



Ron Mexico April 23, 2014 - 2:33 pm

One of your best, Stu. I must add “flavory” to my toolkit of adjectives. F the haterz—you got skills, son.

Stu Helm April 23, 2014 - 6:47 pm

Thanks, Ron! I appreciate the positive feedback for sure.

Smytty April 23, 2014 - 1:18 pm

I admire your ability to laugh at yourself with the CFA bit. Nothing beats self-deprecation in the name of a cause you believe in.

By the way, this is earnest, not snarky.


Stu Helm April 23, 2014 - 6:50 pm

Thanks, Smytty, I try not to take myself too seriously. These columns intended to be fun!

Adam April 23, 2014 - 1:17 pm

Def. some of the best pizza and the right price!

Now on the auctions, this is a tough call! The Chik-fil-a or a dinner for two?

Can we eat pizza at the dinner for two?? 🙂

chappell carter April 23, 2014 - 12:31 pm

Never been to WiFi cafe but will now try it. Also, will make run to Earth Fare for the cheese. Great write-up Stoobie!!! Keep em coming!!!

Stu Helm April 23, 2014 - 6:51 pm

Thanks, Chap! That cheese is the bomb-diggity. You will not be disappointed!

LEW April 23, 2014 - 12:19 pm

If I had the money Stu I would outbid everyone on the ‘You can Make The Food Critic eat Chick-fil-A’ auction and release you from this terrible fate. Alas, I don’t …
However I will now try Hi-Fi as a result of your rave and maybe fall in love with them too.

Stu Helm April 23, 2014 - 6:52 pm

Aw, thanks LEW! It’s the thought that counts! I truly won’t mind eating that stuff if it helps out Hi-Fi! Who am I kidding?!? I’m going to filled with regrets after one bite! I’ll still do it!!!

Ashley April 23, 2014 - 9:33 am

Stu, you couldn’t be more right about Sartori cheese. It’s hands down the best.

Stu Helm April 23, 2014 - 6:53 pm

Sartori fans unite! Their web page has flavors I’ve never even seen! Mouth… watering…

Hi-Fi Cafe April 23, 2014 - 9:33 am

Well done and thanks a bunch!!

Stu Helm April 23, 2014 - 6:54 pm

You’re welcome. You Guys = The Best.

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