Rhubarb Mixes Rustic With Refined

August 5, 2014 | By | Comments (0)

2293301 hotta 1453 Rhubarb Mixes Rustic With Refined

Photo: Chris M. Rogers

When John Fleer opened Rhubarb in downtown Asheville last fall, the Southern food cognoscenti gave a collective cheer for the long-awaited restaurant.

John, former executive chef of Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, has made wood fire the commanding force of the restaurant’s open kitchen. “I was looking for a way to be more elemental in my style of cooking,” he explains. “That meant cooking great ingredients with the most basic of methods.”

2293301 hotta 1357 Rhubarb Mixes Rustic With Refined

Photo: Chris M. Rogers

The menu is anything but simple, however. A stunning dish of lamb ribs is first smoked and then braised to a forgiving tenderness and dressed in a Mongolian-inspired sauce. The plate evokes barbecue but also transcends it. John’s tightrope walk between refined and rustic defines even the salads: In a playful Lyonnaise, fire-scorched romaine buoys a fried egg, fingerling potatoes, and cured trout bellies that have been crisped on the plancha.

Here, more than in the past, John’s canvas is painted with a more global color scheme: chermoula, chapata bread, and preserved lemon figure just as prominently.

Ashley Capps’ desserts combine church-picnic classics with kid-glove elegance. Using the rubric of a chocolate icebox tart, she adds savory components—a house-made saltine cracker crust and a brooding coffee gastrique—giving the dessert an alluring edginess.

2293301_HotTa Rhubarb Asheville NC

Photo: Chris M. Rogers

The Hot Plate: As a father, John knows how to tread the line between crowd-pleasing nostalgia and sophistication. Try the corn dogs stuffed with pristine lobster meat and served alongside a dish of zesty comeback sauce.

The Buzz: “…a truly creative take on Southern food, the likes of which Asheville has not seen….a great addition to the city’s blossoming food scene.” —Jason Sandford, founder and editor, ashvegas.com

The Essentials: Reservations: Recommended (closed on Tuesdays). Cost: Small plates, $4-$14; entrées, $17-$28. Address: 7 SW. Pack Square; rhubarbasheville.com


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