Y’know what? I do not want to use my new found powers for evil, only good.
I was invited to a certain someplace a while back by the owner, who asked me to try a certain item on the menu, and while the thing was tasty enough, the place & service pretty much sucked, so I took a picture of the thing and posted it on my Facebook page, with a positive caption about the item, and I didn’t write a review of how bad the over-all experience was.
Why not? I mean, wouldn’t you expect me to write something like, “Holy fuckity fuck fuck that fucking suckity suck sucked!” Or some such equally eloquent and well written bit of prose?
Well, the truth is, I didn’t want to write a horrible review that time, because it was obvious to me that the business was struggling, and I didn’t want to drive a stake through the heart of their culinary dreams with one of my typical hateful screeds.
Y’know what I mean? I don’t feel as though it’s my duty, and it’s definitely not my desire to tip a dying business into the grave. Fuck that.
I wanna help people. I want to help the readers avoid bad food and find good food. I wanna help restaurants to not serve ass for lunch and bullshit for dinner. I want to help the world find a place to fucking eat on a Sunday.
I don’t wanna just hate hate hate all the time. I’m not a heartless monster!
That being said… (Don’t you just love when people say that?)
LUCKY OTTER – Haywood, WAVL
I went to Lucky Otter with the Mom Unit the other day and what can I say? I won’t be back for a long time to come, if ever.
I’m willing to write and share the following hateful screed with the world, because I know that The Otter has a loyal following — there was a line out the door by the time we left — and I don’t feel as though they are in any danger of going out of business any time soon.
Besides, I’m just some asshole who doesn’t like most of the stuff that other people like, so you should take my opinion with a grain of salt. I’ll keep this one brief and bullet-pointy.
Here are the things that I did not enjoy about Lucky Otter:
• The Food – I got a cup of meat-based chili, and I found it to be incredibly average. It was watery, and boring, and the cheese on top seemed to be a little bit… I don’t know, pre-shredded and dumped out of a bag? Maybe. I don’t rightly know, since I wasn’t in the kitchen, but the cheese was very un-awesome. My mom got a taco salad, and it was equally blah. She had a great line about how unremarkable our meals were: “Well, we didn’t feel the need to talk about the food, so we had time to talk about other things.”
• The Atmosphere – It was my total nightmare. Boring as fuck inside, hot as fuck outside. It was too hot for me inside too, actually, but my mom was fine, so it was probably just me. Except, no, it was just plain stagnant and gross inside. It wasn’t just me. They needed to turn on a fucking fan or something.
• The Music – Are you kidding me? The station they had on played every lame piece of shit mainstream song from the 60’s to the 80’s that I never ever want to hear ever again for as long as I live. Holy shit sticks. The Eagles? The Eagles?!? It was like being on a road trip, but I forgot to bring my own music. FM Hell.
• The Table – Was sticky. Booo.
• The Other Customers – There were — not one, but two — screaming children an inch away from our eardrums and nervous systems. Screaming children make for the worst lunch-mates ever. Plus, I got punched in the kisser by a heinous cloud of BO while walking past the line of people on my way out. Jesus fucking Christ, Motherfuckers. Have a heart. Take a fucking shower, use some all-natural, chemical free deodorant, get a scrub brush and high-powered hose, do what you gotta do to keep yourself from smelling like you smell because you smell really really fucking bad!!!
Here are some mitigating factors:
• I was soops starvsies by the time we got there, so the low-blood shoogs thing was happening, which turns me into one giant complaint.
• The Otter was our fourth choice for lunch. 12 Bones: too busy. Sunny Point: likewise. Barleycorn’s: closed on Monday. Lucky Otter: Had parking. Parking is never an awesome reason to pick a place to eat.
• It was extremely sunny that day and my mother had the top of her convertible down. The sun was touching on me in the most horrible way, which was fine when we were just toodling over to 12 Bones, but after driving up and down Haywood for an eternity, looking for a place to eat, I was absolutely dying from sun-hateness. By the time we pulled into The Otter, I was one very unhappy vampire, but not the sexy kind of vampire… the ugly kind, that looks all rotten and demonic and like a ravenous, albino, bat-monkey. That was me.
So, you can see that I was not in the best frame of mind at the time, but still, that chili was totally mediocre and those screaming children needed to be ousted by the bouncer:
“Hey, you two! Keep up the crying and you’re gonna hit the sidewalk.”
I don’t think children should be immune from the Bum’s Rush. If my mother and I had behaved like that, someone would have certainly asked us to leave. But again, that’s just me. I’m not the biggest fan of screaming children, I have to admit.
Maybe I am heartless monster after all.
In conclusion, I know that people have their fave things at The Lucky Otter, and that lots of folks love it. I’m truly glad about that. The Lucky Otter doesn’t need me, I don’t need them, and I’m happy to part the ways here.
My mom and I mostly talked about Aphasia by the way. Please read and learn all about it.
VEGAN POT LUCK COOK OFF – Quaker Meeting House, North Asheville
I’m not a vegan, but I am on record saying that I respect and admire the vegan diet as both the healthiest and most humane diet there is.
I am also on record saying that I once ate a quail that reminded me of Woodstock from The Peanuts and he was delish.
I’m a complicated person.
It’s a complicated world.
I’m doing the best I can to be a decent human being, but I have been eating more meat, and more weird animal products, like foie gras and such ever since I started writing these food columns. It’s probably chipping away at my good karma points, and now I’m afraid that I’m gonna be reincarnated as a deep fried pork belly sandwich or something equally horrible — but delicious sounding — like that.
I don’t want some evil fuck like me eating me when I’m reborn as a sandwich! GROSS!
I needed some good karma, STAT.
And that’s when the Universe sent the fine folks from Brother Wolf, The Asheville Vegan Society, and Friends Quaker Meeting House to save my soul. Those three groups recently hosted a Vegan Pot Luck Cook Off, and invited me to be a celebrity judge. Thanks, Man! I really appreciate that. I can feel the Buddha smiling on me already.
Here’s the basic poop:
• The cook off was a pre-event for the much larger Drag Queen Bingo event on Saturday, August 9th, at The Crowne Plaza Hotel! (All proceeds benefit Brother Wolf Animal Rescue’s life saving programs.)
• The pot luck dishes competing in the cook off were all prepared by genuine vegan home cooks.
• There were 6 categories; Vegan Hors D’oeuvres, Entrees, and Dessert, then Vegan AND Gluten-Free Hors D’oeuvres, Entrees, and Dessert.
• The 6 winning dishes will be recreated by Crowne Plaza Executive Chef, and my fellow celebrity judge, Vince Charbonneau, to feed the hungry 1,000+ crowd at Drag Queen Bingo!
• The other Celbrity Judges were: Drag’n SlayHer & Trikki Nikki from the Blue Ridge Roller Girls, and Denise Bitz, who is the Director of Brother Wolf Animal Rescue and the only actual vegan judge there that day.
• The food was really good! I really enjoyed it, and so did all of the judges and attendees, vegan or not.
This event was super-low-key and fun. Everyone was friendly and good natured, even though those dang vegans mocked and chided us non-vegan judges while we hogged all the food at the pot luck before the rabble were set lose on the tables. We just hung our heads in shame while we stuffed our faces with 100% animal free food for the first time in years. We know we’re bad people. We totally know that.
However, it was we who sat in judgement of them on that day! HA!!! That is to say, we judged the winning dishes. There was much celebration as they were announced:
Mock tempeh tuna
Kung Pao cauliflower
and Chocolate chip cookies with sea salt
The cauliflower and the mousse were particularly awesome! We all agreed on that.
Chef Charbonneau has his work cut out for him, converting these small, home made dishes into enough food to feed the masses at Drag Queen Bingo! Holy smokes. I’m glad I’m not him.
The vegans, animal lovers, and Quakers were all very appreciative of our judging efforts and I got invited to come back next year! Nice. If we haven’t all died in a nuclear war, then I will definitely do that!
Wait. Do we still live in collective fear of a nuclear war? Yes? No? Maybe? I think that we’re actually more concerned with a zombie apocalypse nowadays, which is, y’know, science fiction. While, nuclear weapons are real, and still hanging around, being as dangerous as ever, if not more so, now that they’re falling into disrepair and such! I heard all about it on Pacifica radio or some shit. Fucking scary.
But yeah, if we’re all still here by this time next year, then I am absolutely down to judge another Vegan Pot Luck Cook Off Drag Queen Bingo Pre-Event!
WHIT’S FROZEN CUSTARD – Merrimon Ave, North Asheville
On our way to the vegan pot luck cook off, we saw the Whit’s sign, and more or less banged a desperate U-ey right in the middle of everything to turn around and go back for some frozen custard!
Frozen custard is a North Coast thing, and you don’t see it much down South, or even back East where I come from. I ate it for the first time in Wisconsin, the frozen custard capital of the world, and fell in love. Regular ice cream seems almost “lite” compared to frozen custard, which has egg yolk added to make it richer than Richie Rich… and that’s pretty fuckin’ rich, y’all!.
When I first got to Asheville, there was a frozen custard shop called Kamm’s, or Cammi’s or some such in the Grove Arcade building, and I friggin’ loved it! They closed down or moved away though, and I haven’t had any custardy goodness in years. I was jonesing for sure, so when we saw the Whit’s sign, it was ON. Turns out it was their opening day!
Daaaang! Whit’s custard is GOOOD. So creamy. So decadent. So delicious. If I still lived up in NAVL I’d be hitting that shit up every damn day! And weighing as much as a house in no time. They had chocolate, vanilla, and fresh strawberry available, and any number of things could be mixed in. I got chocolate, no mix-in, and it was really really awesome.
They also have a $1.25 hot dog on the menu, so I’ll be going back for that soon.
Whit’s is a small chain with 25 locations, mostly in Ohio. The one in Asheville is the newest addition to their roster.
The folks working there were really nice, and even the building is soops cute. It seems like it was built to serve fun food out of in some bygone era.
I can’t wait to try that $1.25 hot dog!!!
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.
So, let me get this straight – reviewer hates kids and goes out with his mom. That speaks volumes.
Last time I went to the otter…they give you toys as your identifier? So they know where you are when your food is ready? Yeah. They gave us a fucking horse with a broken leg. Sad horse wouldn’t stand up. Sad horse had a shitty zebra bandaid around her broken leg. Sad horse was dirty and sticky. My two year old flipped the shit out. I drank two margaritas and tried to explain to a toddler what happens to a horse with a broken leg.
The food was swell though.
Nice one. This was fun to read. No skimming, lots of chuckling. You’re really fun to listen to complain.
Stu! Been waiting, very patiently, for this very review. So I actually met the owners at the home of a mutual friend, years before I first entered the place. Anyway, I’d been driving sans license, for some time, due to some, shall we say, legal difficulties. Anyway, I’m finally forced to go and apply for said license, and pass the tests with zero issue. I show up to the Otter to have some sort of subdued celebration. This is my first time in the establishment, I apparently miss the sign telling me to go to a designated area to place my order, similar to a Moe’s or whatever. So I walk in and sit at the bar area. Several employees stare at me like I’ve come down with the plague, literally no one walks up and asks me if I’d like anything, for roughly 5-8 minutes. I feel quite alienated at this point and leave. Some background on me, I worked in restaurants, in every capacity, for over twenty years. You can’t encounter someone more compassionate about the job than me. I felt like shit after entering their establishment. So there’s that.
I kinda think if you go to Lucky Otter and don’t get a burrito, you’re at a BBQ place asking for gazpacho, metaphorically speaking.
Extended metaphor, yes, and true.
Doesnt the critic/author usually chime in on the comment thread? Or no?
Careful what you wish for, unless Facebook is your literature du jour.
I learn so much about the true nature of establishment reviews from the comment section…so thanks a bunch commenters.
Damn…Mr. Banjo the whistlepig sure hates kids!
Hmm, perhaps someone is oversimplifying for the sake of online brevity? Random unattended children running around in a restaurant (or brewery or festival, etc) isn’t a good thing. Besides being annoying, said children don’t have supervision. Not that a lot of adults I know are qualified to reproduce, but it is a start.
All it takes is one child being injured or worse and guess what- lawsuit! Maybe it’s the restaurant, or maybe its the adult patron who happens to step on a toe or trample on their self esteem- how do we feel about free range kids now?
Trust me, after a family trip to Red Lobster (only the best for my family) as a child when I dared my little brother to eat a spoonful of mayonnaise (it was actually horseradish sauce, and yes he still talks to me), I quickly found out that eating out with the family was a privilege- (no they didn’t beat me, but no TV for 3 days was worse than waterboarding at age 11)
For Stu’s first negative review or a restaurant, food quality and ambiance can always be changed for the better, but maybe parents should step up to the plate to keep track of the lil’ ones while in public. Or maybe for the sake of snark we just be hatin’.
For the record, I’ve found this disturbing trend to be present at several other restaurants and breweries in town. What happens when Mom and Dad are tanked for having some 9%er beers and can’t remember where their kids are?
Amber Alert, that’s what happens.
By the way, in our hyper sensitive culture, I don’t feel comfortable asking a small unattended child “Uh…do you know where your Mommy or Daddy is? Can you tell me what they look like so we can help you find them?” – Maybe some flyers that advertise cheap babysitters located right next to the flyers for taxis?
As for the bathing and armpit thing, studies since the Middle Ages have proved that bathing is actually beneficial and does not cause demonic possesion or
St. Vitus’ Dance.
And yes, I do have more free time at work than you.
One can only presume you were cloned as an adult, hence were never a child. So, give it a rest. We are talking lunch at the the friggin Otter, not dinner at the palm.
Yeah, we all wish we were Boba Fett. The rest of us learned to behave in public.
I wish parents would realize that not everyone views their little balls of sunshine in the same light that they do. I just want to eat my food in relative piece, not listen to your demon child scream because it didnt get ice cream. But as I said, this is no way the fault of the restaurant. This all falls strictly on the shoulders of the parents.
Yep, but no thread on Ashevegas exists in order to advice ahem ‘parents’ not to teach their kids not to act like them.
So, I have to somewhat agree with your initial reply…free range children are dangerous. It is a little too easy to find a family friendly establishment in the AVL that sells amazing high gravity brews and suddenly forget where you left your children. Its great that there are a lot of eccentric people in Asheville, but their is also a very high rate of mental illness in this town. One quick search on the registered sex offender list also reveals that their are plenty of registered child molesters peppered across town. Parents should always be aware of where their kids are at all times because they can get into serious trouble in a blink of an eye.
That being said, parents need to be able to take their kids out to eat every now and then. If all of the world’s parents ate at home every night, there would be a lot more Andrea Yates. Sometimes parents need a break to help protect their sanity. That does not mean we should all let our kids run around like Robin Williams on meth….We still need to be responsible for our kids.
If my kids start to act up, I get up out of the table and take them for a walk so that they will not disturb other patrons. That is a common courtesy. It should also be a common courtesy for other guests to not stare or scowl if they throw an occasional tantrum. KIDS throw tantrums! They are naturally egotistical and freak out when things don’t go their way. Parents cannot always control this reaction. If I am getting up and escorting my misbehaving child out of the restaurant, please don’t give me “the evil eye”. Especially if it is a family friendly establishment.
Which brings me to my next point… there are some restaurants that you should expect to find children. Please don’t act offended if kids are loud and excited at The Hop or Asheville Pizza and Brewing. That is like being upset at children for running around Chucky Cheese! If you don’t like children, don’t sit at certain places like in the game room in AP&B or next to the toy table at Biscuit Head. Sorry to ramble…just had to get that off of my chest.
I love free range children.
They taste like chicken.
I’ll take the Lucky Otter over Nightbell any day.
Kids! Man they suck. Hey, if you want to go to eat, dont have kids. Or have kids and stay home. I dont want to see you or hear you. And dont give me that ‘children are the future’ crap. That doesnt even make sense. Stay home. With your kids. Forever. And leave me alone. Restaurants are for adults only
Why no open an adults only restaurant and you and a couple other old curmudgeons could dine there?
They already have places like that. Theyre called bars.
Because you would spend all your money there.
indie (not capitalized) sounds like the kind of poster who toots the horn of free market capitalism (taxes taxes taxes) when he doesn’t want to tip yet steps up to the plate of someone else educating his kids, those damn socialists.
yet steps up to the plate for someone complaining about educating his kids.
Still those damn socialists.
Ju-heez Stu what are you worried about telling it like it is for? “Free Range Kids” is still my favorite way to say “Hey parents, get over your power yoga workout and watch your kids! Food service workers are not your nannies, ‘house negroes ala New Age Harriet Beecher Stowe or – hell never mind, just keep track of your kids”. Was that so hard?
Not every eatery earns the gold star, right? The Otter will survive, and not be destroyed for one guy online speaking the truth. The Internets does not work that way. Food improvement comes from within, but annoying parents too weak willed to parent (also a verb) will be harder to cure, for sure.
Otter is the only restaurant I’ve ever noticed a cockroach at.
Photo or it didn’t happen.
Cite your sources, or it didn’t happen, puppy dog.
Big fan of photo shop, are you?
And all I have is “Huh?!”
I was referring to the prevalence of photoshop in online photography vs other old fashioned primary sources to prove something happened, pardon my not explaining. I still chuckle when I read the original article mentioning ‘free range kids’ I never knew what to call them.
I’m going to say this in language that maybe you will understand.
How about for your next fucking review you order the granola plate at fucking Biscuit Head or something? And then base your entire fucking impression of the place on a side dish and the fact that you hated the conversation the two ladies sitting beside you were having.
The jerk chicken burrito at the Otter is so damn good, and the few others I’ve had were also great. Seriously, what the fuck? I mean, fuck. Fuck!
Regarding Lucky Otter: I’ve never had the chili, nor the salad. Burritos- I’ve tried about 5 of them (all great). Margaritas- yup & awesome. Tacos- uh-huh & awesome too! The guacamole is even pretty badass.
I do, however, have one MAJOR complaint: the soda… They recently switched to some Blue Blaze of Garbage (or something like that) soda. The only time I’ve had worse soda was when I was a teenager and went to the coke museum in ATL. They had many different sodas from other countries. I’m pretty sure I cried. Whenever I eat at Lucky Otter now, I only think two things: (A) They’re a-holes, and have switched to the new ‘local’ soda (that they know is terrible) in order to sell more margaritas; and (B) They’ve got to be losing tons of money on lost soda sales. Since they’ve switched, I find the Lucky Otter to be almost a last resort.
And to my dad, it’s the best soda he ever had.
So, well, I guess it’s a tie. Other than the fact that I give a shit what he thinks.
Dad would be so proud.
Love the Woodstock comment, agree with the Otter review, and now I know about Aphasia. Thanks again!
Agreed on the Otter…been saying it for years…unbelievable that it seems to do a thriving business. I’ve given it a chance too many times over and I’m beyond donesies with it…especially with the plethora of other available choices on Haywood now. You should try Bandidos…it’s a hidden gem in the same little plaza as Barleycorns.
Shrimp enchiladas and the plantains at Banditos are beautiful
Totally agree there, loved Bandidos the times I’ve been. The Cuban plate was nice too.
I’ve been to Lucky Otter twice (that’s all the chances a place gets with me since we have so many great options around here) and both times we had mediocre service and blah burritos…and my stomach hurt shortly thereafter. I liked the idea of the little plastic trucks instead of buzzers as you wait for a table, but they were kinda grimy and sticky which was pretty gross to handle in advance of a meal (yes, I went and washed my hands). I really REALLY wanted to love the place, but I guess it’s just not for me. Burgermeisters had that same kind of feel (R.I.P.), but the food was great and so was the service (most of the time) so it worked.
If you go to Bandidos, get the coastal quesadilla. Or the duck confit quesadilla. Ah-ma-zing. Having lived in LA for 9 years and traveled extensively, I’ve eaten at a number of great authentic Cuban restaurants, and the plantains at Bandidos are the BEST I’ve ever had.
I’m always up for trying new places, but I go back to Bandidos weekly for the coastal quesadilla (I personally get it with the toppings from the duck quesadilla b/c I like the combo even better). Plus they love their customers, treat them well, and VALUE them. That’s what it takes to get me as a regular customer here in a town with tons of yummy options!
I agree Lucky Otter, Screaming under parented children and terrible food. I was so disappointed because people rave about that place like crazy. It even smells like dirty old food in there, totally unimpressive. Camms was the best! RIP Camms
Camms did not make their own custard. They bought a mix from Atlanta. http://www.greenwoodicecream.com/ Also The Hop, Ultimate Ice Cream, Woolworth Walk and many other places get their ice cream or mix from them.
I have to completely agree with Drexler on all points. Though I’d sub the quesadilla for the nachos as the 3rd thing that sucks there (rice on a quesadilla…why???).
Also, if it was so fucking hot out, why the hell did you order chili?
Couldn’t agree more about the Otter. I’ve tried them several times, and even given them a 4th chance recently. Food bland, screaming free-range kids everywhere, sullen counter staff (unless you’re a chick), long waits. Sums it up perfectly.
Nice to hear about Whit, have to check that out.
Yes, tried it twice, blandest burritos ever!
excellent review as ever. call um as you see um.
It says on the All Souls website they are open for Sunday dinner.
what plastic paddy said.
Your review of the Otter almost perfectly sums up my view of the Haywood Road Corridor, screaming under-parented children and to many stinky people.
I skipped over the vegan thing.
Now, I do love me some frozen custard and cheap hot dogs, next time I venture north I’ll look for Whit’s.
Great, more for us!
And less you. Double bonus points!
Yes, more brats and stank for you, enjoy.
Yeah, misbehaved children are exclusive to restaurants in w. asheville. Right.
Oh goodness no, people let their children act a fool everywhere, there just seems to be more of “It takes a village to watch our children while we snob on craft beer” type of mentality in WAVL.
And to quote someone on this very comment thread- “I wish parents would realize that not everyone views their little balls of sunshine in the same light that they do. I just want to eat my food in relative piece, not listen to your demon child scream because it didnt get ice cream. But as I said, this is no way the fault of the restaurant. This all falls strictly on the shoulders of the parents.”
Can I scream at your kids for being up in my face in public or should I just bribe a judge for a court mandated vasectomy?
I work with (well behaved) children for one of my jobs, and there is never a problem.
Sorry, thought your replies were by some kind of trollbot or something, not sure if they are a statement, question or WTF. I mean really, it’s like words mildly associated with the main topic just bunched together and thrown out there. My bad.
You guys ordered two of the 3 things that suck at Lucky Otter (the nachos also blow). When you go there, you order one of their burritos or the fish tacos and of course; a margarita. That is what theyre know for, and have a following because of. The screaming brats are not employed by lucky Otter and I dont think the employees can tell the parents of these kids to shut them the fuck up. This could happen anywhere, so its kind of weak to blame the establishment, just as its weak to say the patio was too fucking hot. Im pretty sure they dont have control of the sun either. The patio is definitely the place to sit as the inside does have a flat/dead kind of vibe and the tunes are usually as bad as you stated. But if you havent had one of those burritos, your not doing yourself (or them) justice…
Never ordered chilli or taco salad there, but perhaps only because I’m not a fan of either of those dishes in general.
However, the Shaka burrito and the Lesson of the Sage are, in my humble opinion, two of the best burritos in town. Pair one of those with a margarita and I’m a happy gal.
The Thai Me Up and Dont Be a Jerk are my favorites. They go down nicely with margaritas….
The Elvis, guys! The Elvis. It’s like a peanut butter banana chicken and bacon burrito and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever had. So good.