You say that you wanna do brunch, but everyplace is too busy? Pfft. You ain’t tryin’ if you can’t find a place to eat brunch in this town lately. More and more restaurants are opening their doors for Sunday brunch these days, and the latest venue to follow suit: Our friends over at Buffalo Nickel, on Haywood (no Jablomey joke this time) in West Asheville.
Let me tell you something about it…
BUFFALO NICKEL BRUNCH – Haywood Rd, WAVL
So, like I’ve said before, Dawn and I kinda know Buff Nick’s Chef Ryan Kline, as well as Co-Owner Lynn Foster, mostly from seeing them at so many food functions. We’re all friendly people, so we get to chatting, and sharing some laughs, and then before you know it, POOF we’re friends. It happens. For one thing, it turns out Chef Ryan and I both enjoy punk rock music, so I often see him on Punk Rock Sundays at the King James Public House.
A couple weeks ago at JKPH, over the dulcet tones of the GG Allin or some such similarly horrid music, Chef Ryan yelled something to me about brunch.
“WE’RE STARTING BRUNCH AT BUFFALO NICKEL! I WANT YOU GUYS TO COME CHECK IT OUT!”
“WE’RE STARTING BRUNCH AT BUFFALO NICKEL AND WE WANT YOU AND DAWN TO COME CHECK IT OUT!”
“OH, OKAY!!!” (Exaggerated thumbs-up.)
A few days later, I got a FaceBook message from Chef Ryan saying that he had us booked for their Disco Brunch Preview, his treat. Disco Brunch? Hell, yes. They don’t call me Disco Stu for nuthin’.
We arrived at Buff Nick’s, and after we were seated and settled, Chef Ryan came by the table and asked us what we thought we might like order off the menu. I told him this:
“I am always inclined towards ordering steak and eggs, which I see here on the menu, but if I get that, I’ll be too full to try anything else. If you’d like for us to sample more than one thing apiece off the menu, so that I can write about more than two items, please feel free to send out a small portion of a few things you’d like for us to try.”
Honestly, I’m not sure if this was a completely obnoxious thing to say, but I wanted to be able to give his menu the widest possible coverage, and I only have so much dang space available in my stomach. Chef Ryan didn’t seem offended by my suggestion, and here’s what he sent out…
STEAK AND EGGS – It seems basic, like nobody could fuck-up steak and eggs, but believe me, I order this dish often and there’s a lotta ways to fuck it up, starting with a sub-par piece of meat, to greasy eggs, to the permanent taste of ass coming off of a diner grill, ordering steak and eggs is by no means a guarantee of a flawless meal… unless, of course, you ordered THIS steak and eggs. Holy jumpin’… the pieces of steak were very high quality, and they were cooked to perfection. The sear on the outside was umami city, and each slice of beef was tender, still red, but warm on the inside, and had a beautiful velvety texture. The eggs were great, and the chimichurri sauce that came with it went very well with both the beef and the egg yolk. The hash browns underneath it all were a savory masterpiece, and were one of my favorite parts of the whole meal. Everything on this plate went extremely well with everything else on this plate.
HO– — USE MADE SCRAPPLE – Q: What is scrapple? A: Scrapple is a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish, also known as “Panhaas” or “Pan Rabbit” that is usually a semi-solid, congealed loaf of mush, made from pork scraps and trimmin’s combined with cornmeal, wheat flour, and spices. Slices of the scrapple are then pan-fried before serving. Please remember the definition of scrapple just in case you ever get asked what it is in a trivia game. I have to say that this dish was beautiful, and I very much enjoyed the soft egg, greens, and fruit compote, but the scrapple itself didn’t do it for me. I’d never in my life tasted scrapple before (I had to Wiki it later to even know WTF it was) and I guess it’s the kind of thing that, if you like it you like it, and if you don’t you don’t. I can’t judge Chef Ryan’s scrapple based on any previous experience with other scrapple, since I’d had none. I can only say that of everything we ate for brunch that day, it was the only thing that didn’t wow me, and the only thing we didn’t finish.
FRIED CHICKEN ‘n’ BISCUIT – It has been well established that I love chicken. This chicken was awesome. Cooked perfectly, it was… I know, I know; I over-use the term “cooked perfectly,” but it applies to this chicken as well as anything else, so I’m using it again. Each piece of chicken was piping hot, really crispy on the outside, and the inside was thoroughly cooked, moist, and steaming hot all the way through. Tender, light, and not greasy in the least. Four star fried chicken. The biscuits were very good as well, small, light, and fresh tasting. The wee pile o’ greens and fruit was a great addition. I like eating greens at brunch. Makes me feel like a grown-up. My one minor gripe about this dish: The gravy — while delicious — was a little scarce. But that’s just me. I’m a gravy fan. I sleep in a bed shaped like a gravy boat. Not really. But I would if I could.
BREAKFAST BRISKET – This was Dawn’s fave dish of the entire meal, and that should tell you something because, while I am a pretty good judge of food, Dawn is a really good judge of food. If my word is worth anything, hers has double the value. The brisket was very tender, and had a really nice flavor that was neither too sweet nor too tangy, but just right. It came with potatoes, a fried egg, some goat cheese crumbles, a nice “BBQ Hollandiase” sauce, and some very nice baked legumes of some sort. There may have been a few other ingredients going on here, because it was a complex little dish, especially for breakfast. It was delicious, and even though it came out last, and we were already very full, we powered through and finished this dish too, because it was THAT good.
So, there you go! Brunch at Buff Nick’s. We loved it! The food was great, our waitress was also great, and so was the rest of the staff. The lighting was perhaps sliiightly on the dim side for brunch, but the atmosphere was very pleasant, and it looked to us like there were some new decorations and pieces of art on the wall since the last time we were there. We approved.
On the suggestion card they gave us at the end of the meal, I wrote “the disco could have been louder,” and I think there could also be more contemporary disco in the mix. A little bit of Scissor Sisters or Chromeo would have fit in nicely with with the usual Gloria Gaynor and Alicia Bridges. Other than that, it was disco-licious.
HERE’S THE B.I.D. – For those of you who need very precise reviews.
FOOD – Super good, loved it all, except for the scrapple, which may or may not be because I don’t like scrapple no matter how good it is, so try it and decide for yourself
SERVICE – Excellent. Our waitress was super attentive and friendly, while remaining pro. The host also approached our table at least twice to see how we were doing, and was likewise friendly and pro. Keep in mind that this was a reservation only preview, for relatively few people.
ATMOSPHERE – The lights were a little too low, and the disco was a little too quiet, but the decor was good and the over-all atmosphere was very nice.
Buffalo Nickel is one more in a fine and growing array of restaurants where you may now get a quality Sunday Brunch in Asheville.
Thanks for the invite, Chef Ryan! You nailed it and we were super happy with our meal!
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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 about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook
I would have to agree w Harry. You practically gave BN a 4 star review and ya’ll are friends??? Seems this is more of a plug then a review. I had brunch at BN on Easter Sunday and the food was subpar at best. If you wanna get on the map in this town, you better start w basic fixes. My FIL steak was rare and his eggs were overlooked. He ordered MR. They took dish back to have eggs prepared properly. My wife had BBQ special. Her beans were not cooked through and the meat was tough. MIL and myself had French Croque Madame. Mehhhh, nothing to scream about. All food was barely warm when it came out, it was easy to tell loaded hash browns were prepared ahead of time. Also, please explain chimichurri sauce to waitress, she had no clue. The scrabble is real bad, take it off the menu. My compliments to mgr who came to table to express his apologies and remove steak dish from bill, he was the complete professional. Bloody Mary was excellent and server was prompt in serving and removing plates/glasses. I would give BN a shot again down the road, but more likely for drinks and snacks.
It’s very generous of Ashvegas to provide free advertising to local restauranteurs who have befriended Stu. If I owned a restaurant in this town, I would most definitely reach out to Stu. Hopefully these establishments return the favor by paying for space on the most popular blog in Asheville.