Stu Helm, Asheville’s Facebook Food Critic, on 5 Walnut, Marketplace

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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facebook_food_critic_2013Here you go:

5 Walnut Street – Asheville

Here’s how it went down:

Me: “Do you serve coffee?”

Bartender: “Yes”

Me: “Great, I’ll have coffee please.”

I took my seat and about 7 mins later a pot of French press coffee showed up.

Me: “Thank you! Do you have 1/2 and 1/2”

Bartender: “Sorry, no.”


Me: “Do you have milk?”

Bartender: “No, I’m sorry.”


Bartender: “We have honey.”

Me: (in my head) “What’re you, fucking insane?” (out loud) “um.”


Bartender: “We’re a beer and wine bar.”

I smiled, and the bartender left my table. I waited a few minutes, assessing my situation, put a five dollar bill under the un-plunged French Press, got up, and left. Never to return, as the legend goes.

Here’s how it should have gone down:

Me: “Do you have coffee?”

Bartender: “Nope!”

Me: “Okay, thanks, bye!”

C’mon, 5 Walnut. Either serve coffee or don’t, but if you do, spend that five bucks on some fucking half and half.

Market Place – Wall Street, Downtown Asheville

I’ll be honest, Market Place was my third choice on a very busy and crowded Saturday Night in downtown Asheville, and I more or less chose it because I was desperately hungry and it was there, with a table available. It was a hi-top table, which I normally hate, because I’m one foot tall, but whatevs. Hungry.

I’m glad I chose Market Place! The atmosphere was great, the staff was friendly, professional, and attractive. The young man who was my primary waiter resisted all urges to call me, “Buddy,” Dude,” “Boss,” “Big Guy” or any of the other annoying terms of endearment that young male waiters sometimes use with me. He called me “Sir.” That’s right, Motherfuckers.

The food? I liked it! It was good. I’ll go as far as to say it was very good.

I had a three-mushroom appetizer, made with locally harvested hen of the woods, chicken of the woods, and lobster mushrooms. It had a cream sauce, and a crumble-crust. It tasted good. It needed a little salt.

Next I had a bowl of Mac ‘n’ Cheese. It amuses me that there is a current trend for the fanciest restaurants to offer Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I love Mac ‘n’ Cheese. I usually order it, and expect an $8 dollop of meh. This was way better than meh. It was good!

It was creamy and cheesy, and pleasingly warm and tasty. It had fresh peas, and diced prosciutto added, which did bring it dangerously close to a Suburban Delight from 1972, but the quality of the ingredients kept it haute. Well, haute-ish. They never should have diced that prosciutto. It also needed a little salt.

I had coffee as well, which came with a delicious side of 1/2 and 1/2. Yum!

Thanks for being there, Market Place! Your food was very good, and your staff was really great!



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.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Jared Rutledge December 28, 2013

    this is painful to read. i got about halfway through the 5 walnut dialogue before giving up.

  2. Tiptop54 December 28, 2013

    I grew up in the restaurant business, my mother owned several night clubs and she always served coffee with CREAMER!! What a bunch a morons!

  3. Nan December 26, 2013

    They ran out of 1/2 and 1/2 at a wine bar. That’s it?

  4. burnsey December 26, 2013

    Stu has a valid point.
    Only 35% of coffee drinkers drink their coffee black. If you are going to offer coffee, offer the appropriate accoutrements, or don’t offer coffee at all. Simple.

    1. Orton December 26, 2013

      This seems to be an alien concept to most people on here.

  5. MontfordResident December 25, 2013

    Drink your coffee like a man you little weasel! Grow up!!

  6. sk December 24, 2013

    coffee at a wine bar? just go to starbucks and call it a day. you said you loved that place anyway

  7. Big Al December 24, 2013

    Normally, when I meet someone who looks or talks like Stu, I would recoil and scream “Shove off you stinking hippie bum!”

    But after reading the crap he is taking from so many sanctimonious snobs on this blog for having the GALL to write straight-talking food reviews, I am almost ready to hug the hairy bastard.

  8. WE December 24, 2013

    The schtick is a bit one-dimensional but I guess enjoyable to read and ok for a laugh or two.’Reviewing’ a wine bar by commenting on the coffee or lack there of seems a bit forced and neither entertaining nor informative. Whatever.

  9. yep December 24, 2013

    “It was good!”… “It was really good.”… “Yum”
    Wow, a riveting review.

  10. Mike December 24, 2013

    I like the casual approach to his reviews. Besides, love it or hate it, at this point he is as ‘qualified’ as any other food critic. Long Story Short He is a real food critic, get over it!

  11. Drake December 24, 2013

    People you are more critical then… well a food critic. This is a fresh perspective that is enjoyable to read. There are plenty of places to get serious reviews around town, everybody just chill out.

    If I was the DD, I would love to have a nice coffee at a wine bar with friends. Stu is right, if you are going to serve something you got to have all the stuff. Even a wine bar needs to consider their non-alcoholic options they serve.

    1. North Asheville Neighbor December 24, 2013

      Please name one source of credible and authoritative reviews.

      1. Sean December 25, 2013

        Oh look. Another comment from Debbie Downer of North Asheville. Here’s a thought: instead of commenting negatively on every one of Stu’s reviews, and then posting smug responses like this to those who support him, try something different?

        Perhaps write your own reviews and submit them to Jason?

        Or maybe just stop.

        One last time….this is a BLOG. A blog written by a regular guy. A guy who, on several occasions, has reminded you and others that even though he has experience in journalism, his and others’ postings here are BLOG POSTS.

        People like you never cease to amaze me. I’m waiting for the inevitable “WE DESERVE BETTER IN ASHEVILLE!” response. Jason, Stu, and anyone else who enjoys writing about their experiences in an honest and straightforward fashion on a social media site don’t owe you shit. Get over yourself.

  12. ashevillain December 24, 2013

    You should be embarrassed for walking in to a wine bar and ordering a coffee. It’s your fault, not theirs.

  13. North Asheville Neighbor December 24, 2013


  14. CraveRecords December 24, 2013

    These installments are embarrassing, Jason.

  15. BTK December 24, 2013

    Please, please, get a real food critic. Please.

    1. BTK December 24, 2013

      Or at least someone who will, say, write reviews rather than jokes.

      1. Stu Helm December 24, 2013

        These are humorous reviews, My Friend. Part of the writing IS the jokes. If you don’t like joke, I’d recommend that you STOP READING MY HUMOROUS REVIEWS, or grow a fucking sense of humor.

        1. chris December 26, 2013

          Do you have to wrap yourself in bubble wrap before going out the door, Stu?

        2. BTK December 29, 2013

          You should probably try being funny then.

    2. icenine December 24, 2013

      Will you cancel your subscription if he doesn’t get a real food critic? Oh wait…

      I personally prefer these humorous ‘reviews’

      1. chappell carter December 24, 2013

        Love Stu Helm and his comments!!! Great addition to Ashvegas!!!

      2. Foothills Dweller December 25, 2013

        I agree – Stu makes me laugh with some of his posts, and I enjoy the fact that he just tells it like it is. It’s a 45 minute drive at the least up the mountain for me, and if a restaurant is crap I like to know ahead of time.

    3. Matt December 24, 2013

      A ‘real’ food critic might be boring and pretentious. I don’t come to this blog for in depth food critiques any more than I come here for Jason’s ‘high integrity reporting’. It’s all about just checking in with my town, getting in on the gossip, events i miss, or getting a little discussion about our micro culture in a friendly way; sharing whats going on in a laid back manner. Stu’s super casual entries are fun and fit the vibe.

      He’s right, too, about creamer-less coffee. Wtf? In this town?

      1. Mr. Yuck December 24, 2013

        This reviewer ordered coffee and got it. He doesn’t like coffee. He wanted some kind of warm milkshake. Learn to say “hot chocolate.” Probably would have been happier with a steaming mug of Ovaltine, with fresh tripe or some other garnish.

        He didn’t want coffee. He totally wanted to mess his coffee up with dairy products and the waitstaff refused to help with that sacrilege.

        Stu needs to make coffee his way in a locked room so nobody else has to see what he’s done to it.

        1. Nate December 25, 2013

          Congratulations on your superior understanding and appreciation of coffee! You must be very proud.

        2. danielle plainview December 25, 2013

          hahahahahaha! Mr. Yuck wins!

    4. Smytty December 24, 2013

      I’d wager that these articles garner more hits and comments than any others…


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