Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of The Bull and Beggar, the industrial-chic French-influenced eatery wedged (pun intended) in its furtive location next to Wedge Brewery in the River Arts district of West Asheville. I knew a couple of things before we set foot into the restaurant: it was pricey and the oysters were quite good.
Sadly, we arrive on a Saturday night for a celebratory birthday dinner, and not on a Monday night, when the much-lauded $9.99 B&B double cheeseburger and fries special takes place. Our remorse was soon an afterthought after our charcuterie plate arrives to our round table, where our party of five soon descends upon the smorgasbord of terrines, patés and cheeses with epicurean glee. The grey slate ($24) is a generous portion, especially paired with occasional bites of supple and crusty bread and sips of red wine, and its beauty in presentation and opulence manages to outlast the whetting appetites of the five seated around it.
Three in our party decide on the rabbit entrée and it’s a wise choice. The rabbit is tender, moist and satisfying pleasing. The hush puppies side item ($6)served with maple butter is less successful, as it arrives to the table as big, bulky spheres with an odd sugary component that may turn off those that pine after a more savory version. The steamed artichoke and aioli ($12) is almost equally as unassuming, a perfectly acceptable, though not outstanding, accompaniment to the filet mignon.
The filet mignon (served with marrow and frites at $30) fires on all cylinders and is almost a dish made for those with intemperance. It’s complete luxury –a tender cushion of beef served over a pool of madeira sauce, heightened by gelatinous unctuous marrow and a cone of frites. My roasted chicken looks almost plebeian by comparison, though it’s no slacker in the flavor department. It’s sublimely perfumed by herbs, roasted until moist and juicy, set on top a bed of greens.
Service throughout the night is attentive, but not intrusive, which may be a bonus given that some restaurants of this hip ilk can sometimes spurn this part of hospitality. Would I return to The Bull and Beggar? Perhaps, but for the caliber of restaurant, I believe that when it comes to visiting Asheville, my heart is still in the clutches of The Admiral.
THE BULL AND BEGGAR | 37 Payne’s Way #007 Asheville, NC 28801 | 828.575.9443