Monday, July 22, 2013

At last: Excellent tapas, at Curate

My husband and I recently spent a couple of weeks in Spain, where tapas bars and tapas menus are ubiquitous. Much of the time, the food was disappointingly pedestrian. In several cities it seemed as though all the restaurants were operating out of a single, unimaginative and mediocre kitchen -- sort of the same experience I've had in places like Little Italy in New York. Too much of the same thing!
How happy we were to find Curate (pronounced KOOR-ah-tay), in downtown Asheville, NC.
If you happen to be heading that way, don't miss trying this delicious, ambitious and authentic take on Spanish food. We had few experiences in Spain that were as good or better than this. (But note, Curate is the hottest table in western NC right now, so reserve well in advance or miss out.)
Just take a look at the menu, available here, and your interest is likely to be piqued.
We were in town for three nights and managed to eat here twice: for dinner, at the bar (which you also can reserve, and we did), and a couple of days later for lunch.
You almost can't go wrong no matter what you order.
Here are the dishes we liked the best:
Trout salad
--A salad with raw, cured trout, tomatoes, olives and olive oil

Watermelon salad
--Watermelon, sheep's milk cheese and tomato salad topped with arugula

Gambas -- shrimp -- with garlic
--"The number one tapa in Asheville" -- shrimp sauteed with garlic (Gambas al ajillo)
Curate Dessert
--Dessert: "Sabores del mediterraneo" -- apricot sorbet, sweet yogurt mousse, candied pine nuts.

With dessert, I had a glass of sherry that was a perfect match.
Curate is at 11 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville, NC.
Reservations are essential!

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