Posted by eemilla on November 14, 2009
Sunday after Green Bay lost to the Bucs, I coaxed my honey into a trip downtown to spend some money in the local economy. I love roof top bars, and the Sazerac is Asheville’s second entry. The rooftop is spacious with plenty of little tables for Biltmore Avenue people watching, but the Sky Bar has the better view by miles. What Sazerac lacks in views it more than makes up for with their superior drinks and food. The cocktail menu is a handful of classic (and labor intensive) cocktails: mint julep, gin fizz, French 75 (with gin), sidecar, negroni, (my favorite) kir royale, Pimm’s cup, and of course the namesake sazerac. While it may not have had as much alcohol as one would want, my honey’s mint julep tasted so much like a good old Southern sweet tea I had to take another sip to catch the bourbon at the end. I enjoyed the French 75 I ordered before I saw my usual champagne cocktail; although towards the end I had to dump the ice so I could finish the drink. Much to my chagrin, they ran out of champagne before I could try their kir royale. I moved to the gin fizz, which was a disappointment in both presentation and taste.
The plan was to enjoy a cocktail and checkout the roof, but after glancing the menu over we both agreed we should dine so I could enjoy a few more cocktails and he could watch the Panthers almost beat the Saints. I started with the Blue Pear salad which starred bleu cheese and a lovely poached pear with spring mix and walnuts. The serving size was good with a nice balance to the cheese, nuts, and fruit; my husband believes a restaurant’s gumbo tells the entire tale so he opted for the duck gumbo, which he greatly enjoyed. The duck was in addition to the crab and andouille, and he applauded the okra’s preparation. For the second course, I decided to stick with salads and chose the Asheville (butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and quinoa over spring mix with a lemony vinaigrette). Overall the salad was good, but I think I would have enjoyed more cherry tomatoes (shame on me for wanting to eat so much out of season); the quinoa was fluffy, and the squash was roasted and yummy, retaining a nice texture. For his second, he chose the Crepe Myrtle: a crepe stuffed with a dirty rice pilaf and served with béchamel and avocado and a side of spinach. I thought the couple of bites I had were bland; nothing really stood out as either good or bad. If the rice had been more flavorful or if the sauce had carried the punch, this dish might have worked, but as it is, it is just another sad, boring vegetarian entree. The dessert menu looks strong, but we opted to finish our local spending spree at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge.
The bar itself is sleek and sophisticated with reclaimed (looking) wood slats over the lights and plenty of shiny metal; for the sports fans they also have two huge televisions to service each end of the long bar. If you are looking for a more romantic or cozy spot, head upstairs for the second floor bar or the rooftop. I really loved the bathrooms; they were so chic in red, black, silver, and a huge mirror on the door. My husband even commented about how cool the john looked.
At the time of our visit the bar had been open about a week so staff is still getting used to the menu, and as I mentioned above the drinks are labor intensive as they are made to order rather than being poured from mixes. Our service reflected this, but it seemed to get slower and slower as the time passed (even though the bar stayed at about the same capacity). However, the food and atmosphere were good, and even though the cocktails were refreshingly resurfaced classics and good, I have hopes of a stronger pour in the future.