Steven Doherty, an Asheville food writer who unflinchingly reviewed local restaurants on his personal website, as well as for the Asheville Citizen-Times, under the pen name “Drexler McStyles,” died Jan. 4, according to an Asheville Police Department investigation report. He was 40.
Doherty, who worked at the ABC store on Louisiana Avenue in West Asheville, was a writer and photographer. Doherty had experience in the food service industry, although the extent of his training is unclear to me. He began reviewing Asheville restaurants over the past couple of years, and reviewing restaurants under the “Drexler McStyles” pseudonym for the Asheville Scene weekly entertainment section of the Citizen-Times.
Doherty’s website reviews pulled no punches. You can read the reviews he posted on his website here, including reviews of Zambra, King Daddy’s Chicken and Waffles, Laurey’s, Tiger Bay and more.
Doherty also reviewed restaurants for the Asheville Scene. His review of Eddie’s Dog House was published by the newspaper on Dec. 19. A sample:
Obviously, we’re dealing with a very mixed bag here. The ‘Dog House’ end of things gets a confident thumbs up. I would absolutely swing by for another round of those chili cheese fries and a burger. But as far as their ‘cue goes; I am at a complete loss as to what the story with the chopped pork was. It was the oddest rendition of the stuff that I have ever seen; not a single outer charred end, no flavor, no color, no nothin’. Obviously they’re slinging someone else’s super bright tasting sauce for a reason, and that’s a shame.
Here’s more about Doherty’s philosophy on food reviewing from his LinkedIn page:
As a rule, I try to avoid places that serve pre-assembled or par-cooked foods that come from a frozen bag or box. I prefer stuff that is made from scratch with fresh ingredients. So obviously (with the rare exception) I don’t eat fast food or at chains. I’m looking for an experience thats a little more unique than what those places can offer and also, I feel avoiding these type of foods will give me a chance for a longer, healthier life. At least thats what I hear. Anyhow, I have no problem shelling out 60, 70 bucks for a nice meal once in awhile, but Im just as at home grubbing down on a $5 plate from a hole in the wall. And I think these things all come across in my reviews.
Food trends and fads: I find them, and the people that perpetuate and demand restaurants to cater to such things, completely obnoxious. And you surely wont find me dining in places that pride themselves in showcasing those type of menus. I’ll leave it at that. As far as favorites go; Indian, Thai, Mexican and Southern cuisine are probably what I covet the most when I’m on the prowl. So if you ever hear of a place that offers some kind of burrito filled with fried chicken in a fiery red curry, smothered with green chile and cheese, please; LET ME KNOW.
And here’s a sample of Doherty’s personal writing, posted Dec. 26 on drexlermcstyles.com:
A Certain Silence
the sun is slow in coming
but there are hints
in the frost
in the dissolution
of the shadows
that another day
from the dregs of the last
only a push of breath
from the furnace
eases the silence;
of our home
and even that
for very long
in its absence
I find myself
this tomb of nostalgia;
of our life
and I have
light begins to trickle in
by the inch
by the minute
has no effect
i am worthy
only of the dead air
that populates this
I have carved out for myself
of the thing I cherish
above all else
Hope the food is good and plentiful and lacks pretension wherever you rest
Great writer, poet, photographer, world traveler and food critic. Steve lived a large life in his short time here and will be sorely missed.
I am sorry he is gone. He just helped his cousin, Jess, to plan a trip to Guat
emala. She will toast him when she gets to a beautiful spot there she says. I will miss my nephew, gone way too young
Truly sorry to hear this, condolences to the family and personal friends of Steven. He was a part of what makes Asheville, Asheville. Over the past 6 months I’ve enjoyed his posts, reviews, blogging and photography. I will miss his contributions to our local color. Farewell.
Sorry to hear it. 40 is too young to go. Best wishes to his family.