A new restaurant called Curate, opened in downtown Asheville in the original bus depot building. Built in 1927, the place was completely refurbished by local artisans. The Chef is Katie Button who trained in Spain with Ferran Adria, owner and Chef of El Bulli, supposedly the best restaurant in the world.
As you may have guessed, it is traditional Spanish tapas or small plates. We went with another couple and ordered a total of 11 dishes of all kinds - meat, seafood, vegetable, appetizer. They offer local and Spanish beer with some cocktails and non alcoholic beverages. I am on a restricted diet and was thrilled to note that the menu listed all items that were gluten free, lactose free, vegan and nut free - helping me make my choices easily.
The kitchen is open so you can sit at the bar and watch as things go down. With four of us, we ate at a table in the long narrow seating area. The Chef came out a couple of times to see if things were to our liking. We told her that we had just seen the episode on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations on the Travel Channel about her mentor Ferran Adria and had wanted to try out her place in Asheville.
|Pan con tomate with manchego cheese $6.|
We opened with pan con tomate -City Bakery bread with roasted, peeled and seeded tomatoes with added manchego cheese, a sheep's milk cheese. The tomatoes were very fresh tasting and the cheese was a bit like parmesan.
|Bocadillo serrano $8.|
The bocadillo serrano sandwich was excellent - much like the tomato bread but with jamon serrano, a very expensive ham. The ham definitely made the sandwich.
|Chistorra con patatas al acieita de oliva $8.|
The gambra al ajillo (sauteed shrimp and sliced garlic) was delicious with the shrimp cooked just right. The aceitunas curate (home cured olives) were a hit with all - a nice variety of olives. The chistorra con patatas el aceite de oliva (grilled chorizo with olive oil potato puree) went over well - nicely cooked quality chorizo with just the right amount of potato puree.
|Espinacas a la catalana $7.|
Since I could not eat everything, I should have asked for my two choices to come out at once. I got my espinicas a la catalana (sauteed spinach, apples, raisins and toasted pine nuts) early on but never got my vieiras con pimiento del piquillo maestro julian ( seared scallops with roasted red pepper sauce) until everyone else had finished. We had to ask for my scallop plate. At this point I was very hungry. Again - my fault for not speaking up. It was worth the wait - the scallops were cooked to perfection and went well with the sweetness of the red pepper sauce.
|Vieiras con pimiento $12.|
Overall the food was excellent. The plates came out of the kitchen spaced well except for my main dish. There could have been more small plates stacked on the table to use - my husband ended up swallowing a olive pit since we had to reuse the same plates to share the tapas foods. Most tapas restaurants have a large stack of small plates on each table and keep taking the dirty ones away so you could take a clean plate with each tapas entree. No one bussed our table until the end. Our table was cluttered with dirty dishes, leaving no room for the new ones.
Our bill for all this plus two beers and a ginger ale came to about $85. Not bad. The tapas plates were generous in portions. You could easily order two plates for a meal and be satisfied. I would recommend Curates to anyone. A unique and fun addition to Asheville's dining scene. Curate is located on Biltmore Avenue downtown, Asheville. For more info visit Curate.