I am certainly not the first to discover the delights of Asheville, North Carolina. But I did have my first opportunity to visit there a few weeks ago. It did not disappoint.
I had my first ‘frosé’ at Lazoom.
I watched my guy have his first flight of craft brews at One World Brewery. He’s a no carb, tequila, and red wine guy, but he learned he was a rather big fan of an IPA (in his own words, late to the game . . .) and loved himself a stout.
The art districts were so bountiful with gorgeous ceramics and artwork, I knew I needed at least one treasure to take home. I settled on this fruit bowl that now has a special place in our home.
And, yes, I was beyond wowed by the food scene: Curate, omg. We had rounds and rounds of tapas for almost three hours.
We also had a whimsical time at the Sunny Point Café with a cold, local brew outside sitting on a rock wall listening to live music. Then an amazing black bean and egg brunch thing with the best waitress EVER.
Cocktails on a retro rooftop bar at sunset right in the heart of the town were a welcomed oasis in a day of taking in everything we could.
But there is a new little morsel in Asheville that even the locals couldn’t give us directions to.
Benne on Eagle isn’t quite a year old. And in its young life it has already earned a place in the best 50 new restaurants of 2019 from Bon Appétit, and even more amazing, it was listed as one of the top 20 places to eat and drink in the world in 2019 by Time. Our waitress was still a little breathless when she told us this latest news.
Benne on Eagle is located on Eagle Street in Asheville’s historic neighborhood called The Block.
For much of the twentieth century, Eagle Street was the place to be on The Block. Local businesses – ranging from record shops and grocery stores to dry cleaners and beauty parlors – lined the street; each one helped weave the collective fabric of the predominantly African-American neighborhood. In the late 1980s, the once-thriving neighborhood fell into disrepair. Since then, The Block has remained largely untouched and its business community in decline.
Benne on Eagle opened their doors in December 2018 and are proud to be a part of the revitalizing new energy on Eagle Street.
John Fleer, the Chef-Owner of Benne on Eagle, was named one of the “Rising Stars of the 21st Century" by the James Beard Foundation and is a five-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Southeast.
His specialty is transforming local ingredients into world-class dishes which he calls, “foothills cuisine.”
The kitchen staff is comprised of many family members of people who ran businesses on The Block in the 1960s and 1970s. Ashleigh Shanti is Chef de Cuisine and works closely with Fleer to pay homage to the rich African-American culinary traditions that once thrived in the neighborhood, as well as honoring her own history as a black woman from the South.
It’s a great local culinary story and even better food.
Be sure to order the cornbread.