Restaurant Solace opens its upstairs Café on May 10 and the main dining room on May 19, according to a press release from the restaurant. Restaurant Solace, located within the Haywood Park Hotel at 1 Battery Park Ave. in downtown Asheville, will occupy the space vacated by Vijay Shastri's Flying Frog Cafe.
Bryan Kimmett, the executive chef and owner of Solace, and his wife and business partner, Anne-Marie, are dedicated to the slow-food ethic of cooking and to source locally first for all produce and artisanal products.
The café and patio, with seating for 75, will offer small plates and a full bar. The dining room (now accessed by the elevator in Haywood Park Hotel), will offer a more formal, fine-dining atmosphere, with a separate menu from that of the café. Both spaces will feature regional artwork.
Restaurant Solace's café small plates will include items like savory cheesecakes, lime- and ale-braised local rabbit, duck and pheasant confit and basil-fed snails.
The dining room will include entrees like black buck antelope, black sea bass with Sunburst trout caviar and roasted beet oil, coffee- and spice-roasted rib veal chop, spring cassoulet of Venison osso bucco and braised rabbit and a seasonal vegetarian dish. Breads and pastries will be baked in-house.
Solace will also add an artisanal market this month, featuring produce from farms that the restaurant sources and features on the menus. A series of winter cooking classes for those who want to delve deeper into learning about slow food preparation will also be offered.
The chef de cuisine of Restaurant Solace is Peter Murphy, a graduate of Johnson and Wales in Providence, R.I. whose resume includes stints at the Cliffs and Biltmore.
The café will be open from 11:30 until 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 until 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday. Restaurant Solace's downstairs dining room will be open from 5:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday and 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday. The Restaurant will be closed on Mondays. For more information, call 505-8333.
AIR by the numbers
The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association released some interesting numbers last week. AIR, for the unfamiliar, is a coalition of independently owned restaurants in the Asheville region. According to the recent AIR-member survey, the group has a substantial economic impact on the community.
With 55 restaurants in its roster, AIR membership is the highest it has been since the organization was formed in 2001. In 2010, AIR restaurants generated $57,919,790 in revenue, with a combined payroll of $18,998,237. With numbers like that, it's easy to see why the organization wields quite a bit of clout in the area, especially in matters involving downtown commerce.
The group also awards scholarships to culinary students at A-B Tech through its yearly fundraiser, the Taste of Asheville, scheduled this year for November 17 at The Venue on Market Street.
For more information about AIR, visit airasheville.org
Openings, a closing
The Gourmet Chip Company has opened on 95 Broadway St., across from the Mellow Mushroom. The shop sells chips of all sorts — plantain, kettle-cooked potato, apple, etc. — piled in paper cones and topped with your choice of oozy goodies. Think creme frâiche, aiolis, fondue and caramel. For more information, visit gourmetchipcompany.com.
Vinsite also recently opened on Broadway St. in downtown Asheville. The wine shop, opened by Kathy Taylor and Les Doss, who used to own the Usual Suspects, focuses on natural wines. Check out the Vinsite website for information about the types of wines the shop carries — it’s fun to play with and provides plenty of interesting material for the curious oenophile. For more information, vinsiteasheville.com.
And Beans and Berries at 165 Merrimon Ave., has closed. Owners Paige and Dan Scully also own Scully’s Signature Dine and Drink on Walnut St. in downtown Asheville. Scully’s will remain open.