I remember meeting Steven Goff of King James Public House for the first time. At the time he was a student enrolled in the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Culinary program. AB Tech has a long history in Asheville as being the little school with an awesome culinary program. I was the President of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and we recently create the Chefs of Tomorrow Culinary Scholarship for up and coming culinarians at the school. Steven was the first ever recipient of the Scholarship and we met briefly to congratulate him at the time.
The first thing I noted was the vast variety of tattoos as well as his seemingly shy nature. He looked a bit harder in character than he truly is. I learned that he was a single parent that wanted to make a life for his family and had a passion for cooking. Some of the details that I didn’t find out then was that Steven had been homeless and sleeping behind a dumpster. Wow, that wakes you up! A young man with a dream caught in a set of bad circumstances. Yet, he followed his dream.
Flash forward and Steven earned his degree as well as a multiple recipient of the AIR Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarship. He worked hard and made connections. Recently he joined forces to open King James Public House with Peter Slamp, managing partner with Zambra which has long been an Asheville tapas standard.
King James Public House is in the first floor of the King James Apartments on Charlotte Street sandwiched between City Bakery and the Chop Shop Butchery. The newly renovated space is comfortable with high-backed booths, open tables and seating with lots of brick, wood and leather. It’s a bit like walking into Cheers. The only negative aspect I’ll mention is that service was a little slow. It was a Monday evening and it appeared that they were short-staffed in the front. Everything else was something to write home about!
The menu features unique presentations of local foods in a variety of formats such as snacks, jars, small plates and entrées. I’ve never seen a restaurant offer jerky on the menu but I had to try the Pork Jerky snack ($2.) when I saw it. I have a secret affinity for jerky that my wife just doesn’t understand, haha! Great flavor so I think I’ll buy several next time and slip them into a baggie for later.
I also tried the Duck Liver Pate jar ($8.) and was delighted to see it arrive in exactly that a small four ounce canning jar. It was fantastic. I shouldn’t have eaten all of it but when you find something done so well, you have to take advantage of it.
With so many items I wanted to taste I had to ask for a little help from my server and was advised to order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken small plate ($10.). He didn’t steer me wrong at all! A butterflied thigh that was breaded and fried atop a house-made crumpet with black pepper gravy. This truly was slap-your-momma good. The twist of adding the crumpet set the dish even further apart and had me mesmerized.
With a menu I think you’ll love that includes limited wine and beer selections along with several distinctive house cocktails, King James Public House should be on your Asheville Dining Wish List.
King James Public House
94 Charlotte Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801