Stu Helm, Food Critic: 2014 Stoobie Award to Deep Fried Thing of the Year in Asheville

Jason Sandford

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

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By Stu Helm

On to the Stoobies…


The nominees for The 2014 Stoobie Award in the category of Deep Fried Thing of the Year are…root_down_stu_2014

BOUDIN BALLS – ROOT DOWN FOOD CART – One of two late entries in this category, I went down to see my man Dano at the Root Down truck parked at the Wedge a couple of weeks ago, and tried his food for the first time.  It was all excellent, but the deep-fried boudin balls were particularly remarkable.  Served insanely hot, with a schmear of mustard and some kind of syrup, they are made of rice and sausage and stuff, and man oh man oh Dano!  They’s good.  Like, real good.carolina_cinemas_fries_dog_stu_2014

FRENCH FRIES – CAROLINA CINEMAS – Another late entry, this most unlikely of venues served me the best fucking french fries I’ve had all year, and that is no lie.  The movie blew chunks (Interstellar AKA Inter-smeller), but the food was awesome.  The fries were cooked perfectly.  Every slender finger of hot potatoey goodness was super crispy, even after they cooled down a bit.  I friggin’ loved these fries.  What can I say?  i was as surprised as anyone.  Maybe they were a beautiful fluke that night, maybe they even come out of bag that says Sysco on the side, I really have no clue.  All I know is that these fries instantly blew every other fry straight out of contention for this particular Stoobie Award.rhubarb_frito_misto_2014

FRITO MISTO – RHUBARB – It’s been a while since I’ve had this dish, but my memories of it linger, and I often think of it when I think of delicious things to eat in this town. If people ask me “How’s Rhubarb?” I always answer, “Great! Try the frito misto.” It is amazing. A very light tempura of seasonal, locally grown and foraged veggies and mushrooms, served piping hot, with a very tasty dipping sauce. It’s a deep-fried treat that’s not gong to leave you feeling like you just ate a ton of greasy bullshit.King_James_Pub_stu_2014

SHEPHERD’S PIE FRITTERS – KING JAMES PUB – Good gravy!  No, I mean it:  The gravy that comes with these things is really good!  Whatever they’re doing in the kitchen to make the gravy at King James Pub, it’s working.  Big time.  But don’t tell me!  It’s probably made out of offal or whatever, and I don’t need to know that.  I just need to know that it is delicious, dark brown, comfort-sauce, and it’s all over my plate of insanely satisfying deep-fried shepherd’s pie fritters.Hole_stu_helm_2014

DONUTS – HOLE – Dawn and I go to Hole together, and always share the three doughnuts they have to offer on any given day.  We friggin’ love Hole donuts.  They are always high quality, well crafted, warm, and tasty as fuck.  Never too sweet, they always have exactly the right amount of salt added to them, and the “specialty” flavor combos are creative and unique.   I hear people bitch about the price of donuts a lot in this town, and I’m kinda with ya on that, but I do think the price of donuts at Hole is right for what you get.  Plus, you can watch them deep fry the next batch while you enjoy your super-fresh doughnuts!  Fun!!!

Aaannnddd, the winner is…

SHEPHARD’S PIE FRITTERS FROM KING JAMES PUBLIC HOWWWWWWSE!!!  Here’s why: They’re good.  Really good. Like super fucking really terrifically awesome and good. Imagine if you will, the ingredients of a shepherd’s pie, somehow, magically transformed into a shape and size about the same as that of a golfball, and then deep-fried until the are have the perfect amount of brown crispiness on the outside, and moist, soft, steaming hot, potato-cakiness on the inside. Then pour some of that unbelievably good, dark, brown King James gravy on top and ho-lee-shit-sticks. So savory. So fucking savory. I want some now. Hungry. I give these fritters extra points for being something I’ve never seen, or thought of, or ever would think of in my life. All the other nominees on my list are a thing. French fries are a thing. Tempura is a thing.  Donuts, and even boudin balls are a thing. I don’t know if shepherd’s pie fritters were ever a thing before Steven Goff put them on his menu. I dunno know if they’re his invention or not, but they are new to me, and delicious as all get-out, so for all those reasons, they win my 2014 Stoobie Award for Deep-Fried Thing of The year!

There are a few more Stoobies to give out before we’re done — including Server of the Year, Chef of The Year, and Restaurant of the Year, but I’ll save them for the next few weeks.2014_StoobieAwards_KingJamesPub

Here’s the pdf: 2014_StoobieAwards_KingJamesPub_big

For now, one last thing….

SOVEREIGN REMEDIES – Market Street, Downtown Asheville

I just want to give a very brief tip o’ the hat to Sovereign Remedies, who opened recently, and offer a really nice atmosphere and menu of very unique and delicious cocktails (according to Dawn and others who have tasted them) and some very tasty and lovingly prepared food items.  I’ve had some of their cured meats, as well as their open-faced tuna melt, and every bite was great!  Plus the staff is very chill and friendly, and they have told me that they plan to offer some kick ass coffee in the not too distant future.

Check them out, you won’t be disappointed!stu_helm_2013

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.

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