The night before, Neil had suggested to us that before we went to Rhubarb for dinner, we should go to the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar in the Grove Arcade for a little pre-game. It sounded kind of strange and he mentioned nothing about dogs (dogs?) but he seemed rather insistent that we would like it. Being a sucker for Champagne, I figured it might be worth a stop to have a glass of bubbly before dinner, but I was wholly unprepared for the ridiculously eclectically cool experience that is this bastion of hip urbanity in downtown Asheville.
I was kind of stunned (Screw that. I was totally stunned) when I walked in the door. Think upscale smoking room meets library meets swank bar meets hipster coffee shop with gay queen over-the-top attitude. Blacks, reds, luxurious leatherclad furnishings, warm and eclectic lighting, nooks and crannies, marble and brass: it's all way, way too much to take in at a glance. Think exposed industrial hip-warehouse HVAC, throwback schoolhouse lighting, red railinged mezzanine overlooking oriental-motif carpets, moosehead on the wall, leatherbound books, heavy drapes, grandfather clock, espresso bar, and dogs, dogs, dogs. Can you even wrap your head around all this?
|Ever Seen This in a Bookstore?|
|This Explains it All. Not Really.|
|Dogs in a Bookstore?|
|So Many Choices|
|Dogs and Champagne? Annie's in Love!|
|Marble Bar, Engraved Stemware, $$$$|
|Really Nice Champagne|
Ann was looking for something different and not sweet so the bartender suggested a Rhubarb Collins made from vodka and house-made strawberry-rhubarb soda. I took a chance on the bartender and ordered a Crusta, an old cocktail that is the forerunner of the modern-day Sidecar. The bartender had never heard of it before so I ran him through it. Aside from the garnish, which should be a wide strip of lemon rind, it was perfect and so superbly balanced. I complimented him on the fine work and tipped accordingly. It is so hard to find a quality bar where we live. Rhubarb has an excellent bar.
|Enjoying the Street Show|
|The Rhubarb Menu|
|Some of the Street Performers|
|2001 Sori Paitin Barbaresco, So Good!|
|Fried Hominy! Amazing!|
|Goat Cheese Burrata|
|Rabbit Leek Rillettes|
|Beef Belly with Saffron Farrotto|
|Local Cheeses for Dessert|