If you’ve been following the FREE LUNCH contest, here’s an update: Santa had to cancel, so we’re rescheduling. Sorry, no review of The Oysterhouse Brewing Company this week. Instead, please find a review of the the oyster plate at Mayfel’s, two raw oysters at Bull & Beggar, and the oyster po’ boy at Blackbird.
MAYFEL’S – The Pritch, Downtown A-ville
I gave up on Mayfel’s a long time ago. Their hours are too fuckin’ weird. The hours sign even says “Gone Fishin'” on Tuesdays and Wednesdays? Boo.
After riding o’l Bikey over hill and dale just to get an oyster plate on a Wednesday afternoon, those words: “Gone Fishin’,” put me in the sourest of moods. More than once. Like, three or four times, probably… because… well…
How the fuck am I supposed to remember those fucked-up hours?!?
Holy fuck. Seriously? Do they even know how many other fucking things we have to remember these days?!? It’s too crazy of a fucking world for any restaurant to expect us to remember their random hippy-ass hours! Gone fishin’? Gone fishin’?!? A simple “Closed” would have made me less furious.
I will admit that unorthodox business hours are one of my all-time biggest pet peevs, so take my rant with a grain of salt, but I’ve “Gone Eatin'” elsewhere for years. There are plenty of choices on any given Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday in downtown Asheville. That’s every day of the mother fuckin’ week. You know what I’m sayin’? Fuck Mayfish and their fucked up hours.
My mother is more forgiving than me. In fact it doesn’t bother her at all, and she goes there with some regularity. So, when my li’l Cuz, Alex and her friend Jordan were in town last month, we all went to Mayfel’s. Thankfully it was a Monday or Friday or whatever, so at least some of the staff had abstained from goin’ fishin’ that day, and was there to serve us. Yay.
I got my old fave from days gone by, the fried oyster plate, but… In my opinion… I’m just sayin’… Mayfel’s is slippin’.
Their oyster plate used to rule, but this one was weak. The oysters were not big, or plump, or juicy, and they were fried to within an inch of a cinder. I even wondered if they were frozen bullshit oysters. The fries were anemic and the slaw was a bore. The cornbread was okay, I guess. It didn’t save the day or anything like that, but it was fine. The worst offense was that there weren’t no remoulade sauce on my plate. Mon Dieu! Tres pathetique.
I can’t remember WTF everyone else got, except Jordan, who got a bowl of gumbo. He said it was good, but I noticed that he did not finish it. Make of that what you will.
I just know that it’ll be a long motherfuckin’ time before I go back to Mayfel’s. I’ll tell you what.
Sorry to harsh out, but seriously… GONE FISHIN’?!? Arrrrgh!
By the gods.
BULL & BEGGAR – In The RAD, Man.
I had two raw oysters at Bull and Beggar a week or so ago, and they were — what else? — NNNAASSTTYYY as FUCK!
Holy shit-sticks, I don’t know how people do it.
I will admit to you that until those two, I had never eaten a raw oyster before in my life, because… Well, they look and sound fucking nasty.
I will also admit, however, that I have always wanted to be one of those cool people who just loooves raw oysters, and lives on a yacht or whatever. I think if I got into them, I’d really like them. So, I tried two at The Bull & Begs.
Did they taste good? I couldn’t tell ya. They were in and out of my mouth so fucking fast, it was as if a ectoplasmic spirit had haunted my esophagus for a split second. There was a cold sensation, the brief pressure of a giant troll booger on my tongue, and then a hard swallow, and… nuthin’ but the faint aftertaste of vinegar and hot stuff. Phantom phlegm phood.
But ya know what? I still wanna be one of those people on the yacht, so I’ll keep trying. If anyone can give me any tips, or hints, or insights, I’d ‘preshriate-cha very much! Tell me why you like raw oysters. Why?!?
The rest of our meal at B & B was Effin’ Aye good, as always. Dawn got that chicken-in-a-bowl thing that I raved about a while back, and we all agreed that it is still one of THE best meals in Asheville. If you eat chickens, you have to eat this one.
Our adorable little friend Sebastian got the mussels, which came in a fantastic wine broth, that we crushed as a team.
The shrimp cocktail was great too. The waitress (who was very friendly, and fun, and super pro) said it was a special species of shrimp that tasted a little bit like lobster, and yes it did… a li’l bit. The cocktail sauce is worth mentioning, because it consisted of a homemade red sauce in one tiny dish, and some fresh shredded horse radish in another tiny dish. I’d never seen that before, and I loved it!
I got the veg plate as my main course, and I enjoyed it very much, even though it came on a prison tray. Seriously, like, a metal tray with little sections for the food. At least I had a weapon in case of a riot.
BLACKBIRD – Aloft Hotel – Downtown Asheville
Blackbird is not part of the Aloft Hotel, they simply occupy the space for rent on the first floor. I was confused about that, and the waitress explained it to me, so I thought I’d pass that info on to you.
I went there with my Mom, and was psyched to find fried oyster po’ boys on their menu. That’s one of my top 15 fave foods for lunch, so I ordered one up, and dug in!
I’m gonna give it 2 1/2 stars out of 4. It was Okay. I went back on my own and got it again, but I don’t think I’ll go back for it a third time. It had no “wow” factor (Did I really just say that? Please shoot me.) but my main complaint would be that the oyster-to-bread ratio was off. Too much bread, not enough oysters. I think that a proper po’ boy should be overflowing with oysters, or shrimp, or what-have-you.
The first po’ boy I ever ate was from a tiny, trashy convenient store / liquor store in NOLA, that also served fried stuff from a counter in the back. The fried stuff on their po’ boys was piled high, and poured out of the bread. That’s my standard, which Blackbird failed to meet. I also found the bread on the Blackbird po’ boy to be boring. I’m not panning this sandwich outright, I’m just saying that some more fried stuff, and some better bread would help.
It comes with sides, and there are several good ones to choose from. I’ve tried the Pimento Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and will give it a thumbs-up, even though I’m not the hugest fan of pimento cheese in general. If you like pimento cheese, I think you’ll really like this mac ‘n’ cheese. It’s creamy and cheesy and served piping hot in a small dish, not as a dry, solid block of blah on your plate. If I liked pimento cheese a little more, I’d definitely go back for this.
The staff at Blackbird is always friendly, pro, and well dressed.
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.