Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic, on lunch with Duncan the plumber at Newbridge Cafe


By Stu Helm


Hello Asheville!

I made a new friend. His name is Duncan and he’s a plumber. He travels all over the local area all day, every day, doing his plumber thing similar to what you’d see companies like Spartan Plumbing doing, and like me, he eats out a lot, at all kinds of restaurants, both plain and fancy.

He was a total stranger to me, until he wrote me a nice note after reading and enjoying some of my early reviews. He suggested that I check out the Newbridge Cafe in Woodfin.

I responded that I would love to, but that I don’t drive a car, and Woodfin is a little bit of a haul for me to ride my bike to. I asked if he’d be willing to pick me up, and have lunch there together. He said yes!

We made a plan for last Tuesday, and he was right on time, in his big red plumber truck. You can see pictures of Duncan, and our Newbridge Cafe experience, including the food, on my Facebook page.

On the way to Woodfin, he told me that I should get the special, which on Tuesdays, is… of all things… meatloaf. If you’ve been following these reviews, you know that I have eaten a LOT of meatloaf in the past month. Fuck it. I love meatloaf. Bring it on.

Duncan had warned me that the Newbridge was nothing to look at from the outside, and boy was he right. It resembles one of those liquor store / dive bar / slot-machine places on the wet side of the border to a dry county in Kentucky. You know what I’m talkin’ about. You’ve seen ’em. Hopefully only from the outside.

As a person who himself resembles Charlie Manson, I’m not one to judge a book by its cover, so in we went, ready to fucking eat!

I was really hungry, and when the cute little bearded indie-rock waiter came over, we quickly ordered the “meatloaf special times two.” I also asked for coffee.

The waiter was super nice and polite, and he brewed a fresh cup for me. It tasted pretty much like diner coffee, not unexpectedly, so no big surprise or disappointment.

The food was on our table in a jiff, piping hot, looking really good, and there was plenty of it. One large slab of meatloaf, a sizable portion of mashed potatoes, a goodly amount of green beans, a biscuit, and best of all, a huge puddle of gravy. Lots and lots of gravy. Gimme gimme… Gimme gravy.

As a whole, everything was really fucking good, and I wolfed it down like the family dog got on the kitchen table. Nom nom nom! Grrrr! Slobber. Nom nom!

It was what I would call Real Diner Food, at it’s best. The meatloaf was awesome in fact, and had some nice crispy parts around the edges that really sold me. The gravy was perfect. Thick, smooth, savory, and as I’ve noted already, there was lots and lots of it. Mmmm… Gravy.

The mashed potatoes were just right. Nothing fancy, no skins, no lumps. The green beans were mushy, like diner green beans ought to be. The biscuit was a wee bit dry, but whatevs. I may have mentioned that there was no scarcity of gravy.

Gravy, fuck yeah!!!

Now, there was something else on my plate that I need to address. It was a small stack of fresh vegetables that consisted of a single leaf of very wilted lettuce, with a slice of mealy tomato on it, and then a half-a-wheel of raw onion on top of that. It was weird, and I have to say, NG.

I forgave the tomato, because it ain’t exactly tomato season, but that lettuce leaf never should have made it onto my plate, and I’m not sure WTF I was supposed to do with that giant-sized chunk of raw white onion. Seriously, that thing would have killed a horse… if I ate it, and then breathed in the horse’s face.

One day, you and I are gonna have a long talk about raw onions and bad breath, Asheville. A serious talk. Baaasically, you’re killin’ me…. but more on that another time…

For now, back to Duncan. What a guy! He kept me highly entertained during lunch (Best Duncan line: “My life is a long story.”), and picked up the bill! Thanks, Duncan, you fucking ROCK!

The Newbridge Cafe was a great suggestion, and I would def go back for that loaf, and maybe try their other specials. The owner, Laurant, came out of the kitchen and visited every table, including ours. He’s a super nice guy, and seems to take real pride in his food. (Ignoring, for the moment, that fucked-up salad stack.) The decor is very unique as well, and I think it must reflect Laurent’s personal tastes and viewpoints.

All in all, this was a very fun and flavorful field trip to Woodfin!

If you need a plumber, call Duncan at 828-777-2791.

If you need some meatloaf, made & served by people who give a shit about food and friendliness, go see Laurent and his waiter.

Good guys all around!

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.


smytty February 9, 2014 - 1:37 pm

Had a late Sunday breakfast there with the Missus. Tasty food, friendly service, speedy cooking, and charming place. Will definitely be back.

Honestly wouldn’t have even considered it if it weren’t for Stu. One of those place I have driven past for years.

burnsey January 29, 2014 - 12:36 am

And I would be willing to bet they had cream for the coffee.

Stu Helm January 29, 2014 - 3:30 pm

They did.

Becky January 27, 2014 - 10:06 pm

If you like fried chicken, Lorin’s Wednesday special lunch is ‘Holy Shit’ good!

Stu Helm January 29, 2014 - 3:31 pm

I love fried chicken so I will have to try that, thank you!

Stu Helm January 27, 2014 - 7:17 pm

I have just been informed that the Newbridge Cafe’s owner is named Lorin, not Laurant. Sorry!

Stu Helm January 27, 2014 - 7:18 pm

Or Laurent, as I’ve spelled it above. 😛

Big Fan January 27, 2014 - 6:30 pm

I love Newbridge! Thanks Duncan for making this happen!

Alan H January 27, 2014 - 11:08 am

Right on ! Newbridge is the best, I was going to suggest you review it, Stu! I used to live right near there and walk to Newbridge all the time. Breakfast is classic as well.

Stephanie January 27, 2014 - 10:29 am

I think the tomato and onion are a southern thing. When I first started visiting the in-laws they would have a big plate of sliced tomatoes and onions. I wasn’t sure what to do with them but they just ate them raw.

Melissa January 27, 2014 - 10:17 am

I love that place. I need to go more often.

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