Monday, November 12, 2012

Chestnut - another new kid on the block with lots of local history

In 1924, Edward Dilworth Latta established the building in which The Chestnut resides.  The space was formerly the BBQ joint Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou Bar-be-Que; it has been refurbished to reflect the era in which it was built.  The restaurant ownership claims that it will bring the same eye for detail to food, service and liquid refreshments.  As many already are aware, Chestnut is the brain child of Joe Scully and Kevin Westmoreland most recognized as the founders of the well-known Corner Kitchen restaurant in Biltmore Village.  Hence the claim about detail in food, beverage and service will be anticipated by locals and tourists alike who have frequented the Corner Kitchen over the years.

Chef Joe Scully
Similar to Corner Kitchen, the menu will reflect a commitment to local foods as well as to seasonal tastes.  The ‘uniquely American cuisine’ brings influences from many cultures with a decidedly American and at times Southern style.  The presentations are unique and thought out as well as the flavors creating each dish.  Use of a ‘Medium Plates’ section offers a variety of fare without being just a tapas bite or a full-fledged entrĂ©e.  I’ve appreciated sharing these with friends as we order for the table and sample them all.

Kevin Westmoreland
The new guy
Joe and Kevin hired a Chef to complete their ensemble for this venture.  Matt Tracy is a newcomer to the Asheville culinary scene that Joe knew previously.  Joe’s introduction of Chef Matt follows:

Executive Chef Matt Tracy
Matt Tracy is new to Asheville.  He has just moved into a little house off Old Fort because he couldn’t imagine living anywhere but “out here”.  Please welcome him as you get to know him.  I will be bringing him around and making him do TV spots and fundraisers, etc., so he won’t be a stranger for long.
Matt and I met at Cherokee Town and Country Club in 1992.  He was a line cook a year or so out of the Culinary Institute.  I was the Executive Sous Chef at the Club, and resident “bad cop” to my boss “good cop”.  On Matt’s first shift, he managed to make a mistake that directly affected me.  Being a younger (and less thoughtful person), I was less than supportive, tossing the offending ingredient to him.  He was not amused and decided in his classic Vermonter style that I was a bad guy.  Needless to say, we did not become friends right away.
After working with us at the Cherokee, Matt took a job at the American Club in Singapore. He came back to the states after three years abroad.  We reconnected, this time on different terms.  Matt understood a little more about my “style” and intensity.  We began talking on the phone while he held the Executive Chef Position at Carmel Country Club.
After that, Matt took a position at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club and stayed there for nine years, honing his craft and building an amazing culinary team.  Then Chef Tracy was asked to move to the Hilton Head area to head up another kitchen.  As friends, we saw each other through divorces, job changes, chef competitions and the general tumult of being in the hospitality business.  During one of our weekly phone visits, I told Matt of my vision for Chestnut.  We talked many times and Matt came to visit.  He decided to do this thing with Kevin and Me.  Please help Matt feel welcome.  He is slightly shyer than me, but has a great sense of humor and warms up nicely.

The Chestnut
Joe, Kevin and Matt have developed a beautiful new downtown eatery with lots of personal sweat and tears into it.  The large table to your left as you walk in comes from a tree that Joe cut down.  But to talk to his kids it was less cut down and more a huge fiasco somehow including Joe’s kids and a truck.  You’ll have to ask the boys instead of Joe to get the real scoop on that one.  Ha, they love setting the record straight.

Daily Menu
The atmosphere
It reminds me of our community with seating that makes everyone visible but with sense of camaraderie.  It seems like someone is always ‘visiting’ with another table of friends that they see at Chestnut.  Of course, Kevin and Joe know everyone in town, so they are always talking it up with friends that are dining.  The beautiful local art offers views of the region that are classic Asheville.  The wood used throughout the dining room gives the place an older feel while remaining quite modern.

The menu
The menu is created daily giving a wonderful sampling of Chef Matt’s expertise and loads of local flavors.  Hints of Matt’s time in Singapore are found among courses showcasing the South as well as classic alternatives.  The cuisine is meant to please yet be comfortable dining for all the patrons.

Grilled Mahi Tacos
Poblano Aioli, Avocado, Jicama Slaw, Sweet Potato Shells ($12.)

Local Charcuterie Plate
Local Meats, Lusty Monk Mustard and Local Cheeses ($12)

Sesame Seared Shrimp
Crispy Rice Cake, Asian Pickled Vegetables, Ponzu Sauce ($11)

Lump Crab Filled Vietnamese Summer Roll
Peanut Sauce, Green Papaya Salad ($12)

Contact Information
(828) 575.2667
48 Biltmore Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina 28801

Chestnut on Urbanspoon

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