Stu Helm, Food Critic: On Hole and hot dogs at King James Public House, Greenlife


By Stu Helm

Hello Asheville!

First of all, I totally forgot to tell you guys that I conducted an hi-larious interview with a horrible Troll a few weeks ago, and have posted it to my blog. Please go check it out, and get a laugh as this hideous creature — a self-admittedly bitter, unemployed sous chef — digs himself a deeper and deeper hole to crawl in. I merely provided the shovel.

If you’re interested, you should check this out first:


And then read this:


And finally , I did an interview with one of “those idiots” who graduated from ABTech’s culinary arts program, in response to the Troll.

You can check that out here:


I would love to interview more A-B Tech grads, Asheville restaurant kitchen and front staff, and other people in the food industry, about pay rates, quality of product, and the job scene, especially here in Asheville.

Any chefs, servers, food vendors and such that have a story to tell and would like to be interviewed can please contact me via private message, through my FaceBook page.

Any Trolls that wish to be interviewed can… FOAD.

Now here’s some stuff about some food…

HOT DOGS!!! – King James Pub and Greenlife Market

You guys know I love me some hot dogs. I think I mentioned them in every other column I write. Well, I recently ate two really fucking good ones, so let me tell ya…

I was at The Greenlife with Dawn when she spied a bunch of hot dogs hanging out in the case at the meat counter. They were made from bison meat. Dawn said, “get one!” I was hesitant. Not in the mood. Besides… bison? Naw. I’ll pass. Dawn pressed. Then the guy behind the counter said it was his favorite hot dog ever.

The double pressure got to me and I bought one. Just one. There’s something really funny, in a very juvenile, Benny Hillish kind of way, about buying a single hot dog. After the counter guy handed it to me, I made an obscene gesture with it for Dawn. She laughed. Or maybe not. I can’t remember.


A day or two later, I busted it out for breakfast, and cooked it in one of my special Stu Helm ways: I speared it with a two-pronged fork. Then I put my toaster over rack on top of one of the burners of my gas range stover top. I then fire grilled that hot dog over the open flames. The fork is to keep it from rolling off the rack, and for turning it.

It got all browned and blackened on the outside, split open, and spit hot fat all over the place… just like a good hot dog should! It even slightly caught on fire. MMMM!!!

I ate it on a plate — no bun — with catchup and mustard.

The meat counter guy is my new hero. This was, indeed, one of the best, tastiest, juiciest, freshest, most awesome hot dogs I have ever had.

Thanks meat counter guy. Thanks, Dawn.

Thanks Benny Hill.

I also had a house made smoked hot dog for lunch at King James Public House and it was really really really fucking good. Because it’s KJP, the dog had lots of “weird” stuff on it, like kimchee and what-not, so when I first saw it I was kinda like, “whatever,” but as usual with Steven Goff’s food, I was sold on the first bite. It was fucking awesome. I think it cost me five or six dollars, I can’t remember. Totally worth it.

The bison dog from Greenlife was, like, $1.65, but y’know, I had to cook it myself, and it didn’t come on a roll or with any kimchee.


Ermerged! I ferkin lerv dernerts!!!

Where I grew up, we ate doughnuts almost every Sunday after church… as well as any other fucking time we wanted, Monday through Saturday all year ’round. Let’s just say, we liked doughnuts. Speaking in the royal sense, we still do.

I especially love Bavarian Creme, Toasted Coconut, and jus’ plain cake doughnuts.

Because I’m from Massachusetts originally, Dunkin’ Donuts was our jam back in the day, but the last time I had an Olde Fashioned doughnut from Dunk-nuts, it tasted horrible. Like super processed chemical bullshit. They must have changed the formula, or maybe my own chemical make-up has changed since I was a kid, but yeah, no… Dunkin Don’t-nuts.

Again, being a Masshole from way back, I am not — repeat NOT — a fan of Crispy Creme donuts. Are you kidding me? Yes, I’ve tried them hot. Meh. A) I totally disagree with the concept of a donut that must be eaten within a few mins of being produced in order to be enjoyed, and B) I didn’t really enjoy it, hot or not. We once bought a dozen and I felt sick after two.

As I’ve mentioned recently, Dough on Merrimon ave fed me a super-awesome Bavarian Creme donut that was like the real deal. Very substantial and cakey. Nom nom. I did once give them a bit of a FAIL on their bacon maple doughnut a long time ago, but I’m sure they’ve improved it since then.

Then there’s Vortex… or is there? I have never in my life seen so much press given to a business that hasn’t opened it’s doors yet. Am I trippin’ balls or were they on the cover of the Scene a week or so ago? WTF?!?

I rode past there not 60 minutes ago and took pictures of a handwritten sign on the door that said “not open yet… soon…” I cried a little bit inside. My mouth has been watering for the promise of Vortex doughnuts — right in my own hood! — for what seems like a decade. Maybe by the time this piece hits the newsstands, they will be open for business… oh wait! Did I just give them more press before they’ve actually opened? Doh! I only hope their doughnuts are as good as their PR machine seems to be.

In the meantime, right over the river, on the borderlands of West Asheville, on Haywood Road, a tiny building was built, an insanely cute and very well executed logo and signage were developed and mounted, and Hole donuts opened its wee doors for Business.

Dawn and I went there one chilly morning, and yeah, man! Good fuckin’ doughnuts!

The building is soops cute, inside and out, and felt warm and cozy and comfortable inside. Plus it smells amazing! The donuts are being made, super fresh, right then and there in front of your very eyes. The kitchen is open, for all to see. New, shiny, clean as a whistle.

I worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts in the 80’s, and believe me, that kitchen was none of those things. I was afraid to go down there. True story. There was actual fear in my heart.

I like that Hole allows the diner to witness the making of the product. Being in their shop kinda felt like being on a school field trip to the doughnut factory! COOL!!!

They had three flavors available that day, and we got one of each, plus hot coffee.

The coffee was very good, but I forgot to ask for a ceramic mug, so it came in paper cups. I’ll have to judge it for real later, on another visit. Coffee in a paper cup tastes, slightly, kinda-sorta, how shall we sayyy? Like paper.

The 3 donuts we purchased were vanilla, chocolate glazed, and toasted almond sesame cinnamon. They were of the “raised” variety, not the cake style that I grew up with, but even so, they were fucking excellent!

Still warm — take THAT Crispy Creme — and so fresh, and delish, and NOT chemically. The toasted Almond jobby was the obvious star of the show. It was super duper tasty, sweet but not too sweet, and had just exactly the right amount salt added to make it interesting.

As we left, I said to Dawn, “That’s gonna be a regular jam for me.”

The bike ride to and from Hole would be brutal, but walking could be quite pleasant in the right weather conditions. A little bit of snow falling from the sky would be ferkin perf.


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.


Michelle xxx October 26, 2014 - 11:09 pm

I rode my bike to Hole. Not brutal at all.

Zep October 24, 2014 - 1:49 pm

“I have never in my life seen so much press given to a business that hasn’t opened it’s doors yet. Am I trippin’ balls or were they on the cover of the Scene a week or so ago? WTF?!?”
-Then you apparently having been paying attention to Buxton BBQ or Buxton Hall or whatever the latest incarnation of the concept is.

Zep October 24, 2014 - 1:47 pm

“I have never in my life seen so much press given to a business that hasn’t opened it’s doors yet. Am I trippin’ balls or were they on the cover of the Scene a week or so ago? WTF?!?”

robyn October 23, 2014 - 7:45 pm

entertaining review as usual!
hold the snow.

Cammy K. October 23, 2014 - 3:57 pm

Love! As always. Good to know Greenlife has a good dog. I’m definitely trying your cooking method next time I buy a hot dog.

And glad Hole gets the seal of approval. But I seriously cannot believe you gave more press to the mysterious Vortex. Uuuugggghhhh. 😉

cwaster October 23, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Having worked at several area restaraunts, it’s true they don’t pay well in general. You’re lucky to get minimum wage to 9 bucks and hour to start, even with experience as a line cook. No benefits, no insurance, no sick days, no vacation, can’t count on enough hours in the winter…. although I don’t care for trolls, he was right as far as poor pay goes. When you factor in Asheville having very high rents and cost of living, it’s very hard to be a chef or cook in this town. I got out of the industry.

Stu Helm October 23, 2014 - 1:04 pm

Sorry about the typos.

Also, sorry that I forgot to mention: Geraldine’s on Merrrimon also makes a very good doughnut!

Post Comment