Open sesame: Ali Baba, a new Middle Eastern buffet-style restaurant, is now open at Suite 113 inside the Grove Arcade. The restaurant offers stuffed grape leaves, kebobs, baba ganoush and more for $4.75 a pound. Also available are made-to-order sandwiches and house-made desserts such as baklava. The owner is a native of Alexandria, Egypt, as is his father, the chef, who has more than 20 years of cooking experience. For more information, call (828) 279-2955, or visit www.alibabarestaurant.net.
Relax: The Relaxed Reader announces a new, expanded menu, featuring omelets, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, plenty of vegetarian options and coffee drinks. The Reader is also carrying brand new books for 10-75 percent off the cover price. Owner Jonah Lipsky notes some Reader customers' remarks: "Some say we robbed Barnes and Noble -- it's not true." Check out the prices and the food at 721 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For more information, call (828) 225-6677, or visit www.relaxedreader.com.
Through the grapevine: The N.C. Department of Agriculture's North Carolina Grape Council has done wine-lovers a service, publishing a new guide and map to our state's growing group of wine producers. The guide lists the locations of North Carolina's 41 vineyards and wineries. Local and area entries include Biltmore Estate Winery, Teensy Winery in Union Mills and Rockhouse Vineyards in Tryon. For a free copy, call (919) 733-7136, or visit www.ncwine.org.
New flavor in Biltmore: A new restaurant, Maison, is slated to open in mid-March at 18 Brooke St. The restaurant will seat 35 inside, with additional seating outside. In collaboration with chef Damien Cavicchi, the owners, who also own The Everyday Gourmet catering company, have developed a menu of "creative American cuisine," with a focus on local seasonal ingredients. Cavicchi has a solid background in French and Italian cuisines, and is a familiar talent around Asheville.
-- Mackensy Lunsford