Old Havana Sandwich Shop

A few weeks ago while out running errands we decided to check out the latest restaurant to be getting a lot of buzz in downtown Durham, Old Havana Sandwich Shop.  It was a late lunch on a Saturday and the place was pretty busy.  The sandwich shop is located in lovely old renovated building with huge windows warming the entire space with sunlight.  The staff are helpful and cheery just like the space.

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Corner Kitchen, Asheville

Before leaving Asheville, we stopped at the Corner Kitchen for brunch in Biltmore Village.  The village itself is really cute (I try not to use this word but the village is honestly is cute)!  It is apparently where the workers who built the Biltmore Mansion lived during the construction and the planned housing has been restored into an area with shops and restaurants.  Unfortunately, it was cold and windy that morning so we didn’t enjoy the village itself but we did have a great brunch at the Corner Kitchen.  The restaurant is a converted house with several small dining areas with a few tables each.  We were seated right next to the cozy fireplace.  The entire space is comfortable and warm with bright walls and wooden tables.  I had the Hickory Nut Gap Chorizo and Eggs which was locally produced chorizo with cheesy scrambled eggs, salsa and tortillas.  It was delicious!  The chorizo had a nice spice which was great with the cheesy eggs.  G had the waffles which were awesome, light and delicate!  So light that they didn’t even need syrup!  Overall, a great breakfast in a warm, comfortable space.

Corner Kitchen
http://www.thecornerkitchen.com
3 Boston Way
Asheville, NC 28803-2653
828-274-2439

The Noodle Shop, Asheville

Over New Years we went to Ashville, NC for a couple of days of relaxation.  It is such a charming little town.  Based on a friend’s recommendation our first stop was The Noodle Shop, which is a little dive right in Pack Square in downtown.  It reminded me of the wonderful dive-y joints in Chinatown in Boston.  The interior is quite simple with just 10 tables.  The menu offered a variety of noodle soups and noodle dishes.  G chose a wonton noodle soup which was warm, hearty and satisfying.  I tried a mung bean and tofu noodle dish which was served with an XO type of sauce.  It was delicious!  It had a nice variety of vegetables and the sauce provided a great compliment to the delicate cellophane noodles.  I cannot comment on the authenticity but it was indeed tasty and pleasing.  Since leaving Boston we have not enjoyed a nice hearty bowl of noodles and the Noodle Shop hit the spot on a cold winter day.

The Noodle Shop
W. Pack Square
Asheville, NC 28801
828-250-9898

Spicy, sweet chili

A friend of mine recently won a chili cook-off at a Chicago breast cancer fundraising event.  He shared the recipe which came in first out of 40 competitors (not bad for his first cooking competition!).  It seemed quite non-traditional and intriguing for a chicken chili given the use of sweet potatoes so I decided to try it.  It is delicious!  The base of the chili is quite spicy with both regular chili powder and ancho chile powder.  But, the sweet potatoes provide a sweetness which cuts the spice and also a heartiness to the overall dish.  The recipe makes quite a lot so you will have plenty of leftovers for the week or to freeze.  A great recipe just in time for the cold weather!
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Kitchen on the Common, Belmont

A few weeks ago G and I met some friends for dinner at Kitchen on the Common in Belmont.  It is in Cushing Square with a simple storefront.  Inside the décor is extremely plain with basic wooden tables without any embellishments.  The chef and owner uses all local ingredients so the menu is seasonal and changes frequently.  Two of us started with the haddock chowder which had potatoes and leeks.  It was a rich and creamy chowder with large pieces of fish.  G got the chicken dish for his entrée which he liked but found that the meat was a little dry.  I had the bavette steak which was delicious and well prepared.  We also shared a side of macaroni and cheese which was simple and satisfying.  Our dining companions tried the farfalle and the artic char which they enjoyed thoroughly.  All of the entrées were priced below $17 which is quite reasonable and the sides are $4.  They don’t have a pastry chef on staff so they offer a selection of cookies for dessert which is a fun treat.  The restaurant does not have a liquor license so they allow you to bring your own wine and they provide stemware without a corking fee.  There only seemed to be a couple of staff doing everything so the service was a bit slow.  Overall, the food is well prepared however none of the dishes wowed us.  Given the price, ability to bring your own wine, and relaxed atmosphere I would return.

Kitchen on the Common
http://www.kitchenoncommon.com
442 Common Street
Belmont, MA 02478
617-484-4328