Fancy Food in a Rough Setting

With no one to please but ourselves, John suggested I look for a restaurant in Asheville to try something new. Late at night I copied eight names from the computer, knowing only that they were fairly close to the church and open on Sunday at noon. We found two downtown, but there was no parking nearby. The others were in the River Arts District, an up-and-coming area near the river. Many of the buildings were old warehouses, as rough inside as out. Gentrification is encroaching, and already poor artists are being priced out of the area. It was a good time to be there. Surprisingly, the eateries were not overflowing, like ones in West Asheville we had passed. Vivian was the name of the restaurant we chose. I’d say the décor was workman rustic or in-progress DIY.

Prices were thoroughly modern. I laughed when our food came, because it looked like the orders had been mixed up. The pretty, dainty souffle was in front of John. He wondered if he should eat the violets, and I said yes. The Newberg sauce on it raised the price to match mine.

032518 Souffle.JPG

My plate held enough food to satisfy a workman for a full day. There was a large biscuit holding a big piece of crisply fried pork covered with sausage gravy. On top were two fried eggs. Oh, my! What a treat!

032518 Fried pork biscuit and egg.JPG

I made a mess before having the first bite. After I made the first cut, the knife handle slid into the gooey gravy. Ugh! I fished the knife out and realized no serving person was in sight. Wiping my messy hands with the nice cloth napkin didn’t seem proper. There must have been a restroom there, but I couldn’t have opened the door without consequences. The food was piping hot. I told myself to eat it and worry about clean hands and a pure heart later. I wrote on a blog today that I didn’t have gut instincts, but that was one, wasn’t it? It was the right one, too. John finished before I had eaten a quarter of my brunch. He agreed to eat some of mine until he hit a pocket of pepper, a food repellent for him. By the time I finished, the gravy on my hands had dried. The napkin did a good job without ending up a disgusting mess.

While I’m on the subject of food, I’ll tell you about our shrimp and grits. I think I have it down pat now, meaning it’s just as I like it. This dish originated in Charleston, SC. If shrimp were left over from the catch of the day, this is what the fishermen ate. I’ve prepared it many times since I first had it about four years ago. If you are coming for dinner and like shrimp, request this. Remind me I said you should. The sausage and hot pepper flakes will be served on the side. You can hold the bacon if you don’t go whole hog.

032618 Shrimp and grits.jpg

56 thoughts on “Fancy Food in a Rough Setting

      1. Normally I would have brought half home, but I knew the meat would no longer be crisp. Runny eggs would have been reduced to a crawl, and the biscuit would have been soggy. We shared some fruit before bedtime.

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  1. I admire your food adventures and John’s willingness to try new cuisines/places. We have run out of places with good food to eat here. Glad you enjoyed the food and wiped your hands later.
    Susie

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  2. It’s good to try new things – I laughed at your line about John wondering whether to eat the violets. John’s food was fancy and even on a fancy plate, look at his plate next to yours with that delicious-looking biscuits, eggs and gravy and the plain plate (if you can see it under that tasty meal). I’d choose your dinner over John’s any day … in fact I was salivating just looking at it!

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      1. It looked delicious. I went to the grocery store this morning and found my feet meandering over to the frozen section looking for frozen sausage gravy mix, but could not find any. That is probably a good thing to be honest with you. I can’t remember the last time I bought it, but it has to be at least ten years ago.

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      2. I just looked on Bob Evans’ website for their products as I know I’ve seen it in a freeze pack that you just drop into boiling water, but there was nothing there. Perhaps it was an off brand?

        I did find canned sausage gravy by Libby’s which is available at WalMart. It got very good reviews, except for a few bad ones. This looks good: you said John didn’t like sausage, so you could have a treat when he goes on a train weekend.

        https://www.walmart.com/ip/Libby-s-Country-Sausage-Gravy-15-Ounce/10449104?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227009939975&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40888820192&wl4=pla-56960624345&wl5=9016881&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=10449104&wl13=&veh=sem

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    1. The food was delicious. John was a little annoyed that I took photos of the food, but we can look at it over and over now! I never thought to ask what he thought of the violets. I suspect they didn’t have much taste.

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  3. Just as well I’ve had my morning toast or I’d have been drooling all over the keyboard by now. I was looking at yours and realising what you call a biscuit looks like what we’d call a scone and that we have a totally different understanding of what gravy is. Two Countries separated by a language…….
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

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  4. I just love the quaintness of Ashville. At least it was when we were there last but it’s been awhile. It was hard to choose a place to eat, but we liked what we ordered and the restaurant was also a woman’s name, but I don’t recall what it was now. Brunch! Yum.

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  5. I like the fancified flowers on the food. That means you’ve definitely stumbled into an upscale [wannabe?] restaurant. Anymore it seems that there are many restaurants everywhere that are good. When did that happen?

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  6. The food looks delicious! About shrimp and grits, it’s one of my husband’s favorites. Being Ohio born and bred on biscuits and gravy and Cream of Wheat, I remember what I asked the first time I encountered the dish, “What’s a grit?” They are an acquired taste, and my tastebuds haven’t acquired a liking to them. We will have to try Vivian the next time we are in your neck of the woods.

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    1. I laughed at your question, “What’s a grit?” It’s a good question. I’d love to share baked grits with you. My brother’s grandfather-in-law made them — cooked, then baked with eggs and a little sugar — people have always liked them that way. Of course, no one can be forced to like anything.

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  7. Wow! Your dishes hit on a lot of my dislikes, of which I have a long list; someday I’ll share and you’ll be aghast! Let’s just say that mushrooms top the list, closely followed by olives. Nevertheless, I can see you eat heartily and with gusto! (I’m not sure who gusto is, but I know John was there…) That’s it for my silliness of the day. Glad you had a fun brunch! xox

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      1. “Gusto short for Gustavus” – Haha!! Funny lady! Sounds right, I’ll bet his full name *was* Augustus. Which is a pretty august name, I’d say.

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      1. I really love a good omelet and crispy hash browns! Though I will have to say having caramel cheesecake for breakfast dessert on our cruise brings a whole new level of breakfast food!

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    1. I wish we were that daring all the time. We didn’t pay any more than we would have at a humdrum place. Do you like trying new places? Maybe you have explored them all, since you moved years ago. We’ve been here almost four years.

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