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131 Main is located in Biltmore Park, just south of downtown Asheville. While it does not have the ultra-local Asheville vibe as many of our other favorites do, it is still a fantastic spot for a romantic dinner date. An upscale restaurant with intimate, dimly lit booths galore and a front of the house staff that wears an all-black uniform keeps my focus on my dining partner and the fresh food and drinks we love and have come to expect. 131 Main has two other locations in NC, and the location here in Asheville is next to Biltmore Regal Cinema, which we often hit for a movie when we are not up to the task of navigating the busy streets of downtown Asheville after dinner. On this particular Saturday night, I was recovering from oral surgery and hubs was nursing a torn meniscus, so we were trying to take things easy.
What’s To Love? Cocktails.
For starters, there’s the Dirty Tito. This is simply one of the best martinis I’ve ever tasted. Made with Tito’s vodka, and served with three hand stuffed blue cheese olives, it is a salty delight. There is a special place in my heart for restaurants that take this extra step with their garnishes. I will gladly pay extra (or, er, have hubs pay extra) for this decadent deliciousness. This cocktail alone is worth a visit to 131 Main.
The Cedar Plank Salmon is one of my favorite dishes there, and it is comes with a wild rice that conveys a mouthful of mystery with hints at flavors from faraway lands. I order this entree regularly and I aspire to find or create a copycat recipe for it at some point in the future when I find a wrinkle in space-time continuum that enables me to spend hours of leisure time experimenting in the kitchen. On this evening, however, my eye was focused on finding something soft and easy to chew, so I went with the Pan Seared Scallops. This 131 Main dish did not disappoint. The lemon butter sauce and white cheddar grits were the perfect pairing for the scallops and I enjoyed every last bite of this entree.
I have to say, the fact that hubs and I failed to photograph this meal is a true testament to our eagerness to get the food ‘in ma belly.’ Guess we’ll just have to go back and get some pics next time. Aaaaw. Shucks.
Luckily, Willy remembered that we’d forgotten pics just in time for dessert. Peanut Butter Pie, a peanut butter mousse filled with chunks of peanut butter cups, topped with a massive dollop of whipped cream and sprinkled with chocolate shavings, chopped peanuts and chocolate sauce was the perfect ending to our dining experience. We split one and still couldn’t finish it. A real rarity for this sugar addicted couple, whose favorite pairing is, you guessed it: peanut butter and chocolate.
Where are all of the pictures??
We forgot to take pictures, believe it or not, right until the very end, so the one pic Will got is of the dessert. The drinks and atmosphere led us right into good conversation, and we forgot that we are now food bloggers. Not a good way to go about launching a food blog, but a great indicator that we had a good date night at Asheville’s 131 Main!
131 Main has been an Asheville date night favorite of ours when we want to do the traditional dinner-and-a-movie date. Doing this at 131 Main, then stepping over to the Biltmore Grande Regal Multiplex Cinema With Reclining Stadium Seating Chairs next door is really easy and nice, especially in cold or inclement weather. That said, I have never been a huge fan of Biltmore Park, aka “White-topia,” simply because the aging punk rocker in me still feels the need to rebel against the planned, intentional safe space for upper-middle-class yuppies that it is.
Pro tip: if you think that buying bulk candy at the toy store in Biltmore Park to sneak into the movie later will save you some cash, think again. You are probably better off paying $3.50 for a box of Goobers at the theater than the highway robbery per-pound bulk pricing at the toy store.
131 Main – Review
There are a couple of questions about this place I always have: one I can’t ever remember the answer to, the other I have never bothered to research.
1. Is it 121 Main, 151 Main, 131 Main…or?
For whatever reason I just can’t ever recall. Maybe now that I’ve done this blog post, it will be ingrained in my memory. Time will tell.
2. Is this a chain restaurant?
I just don’t know if it is or not, but something about it just feels like it is a chain, albeit a small one, if it is. Either way, this usually comes up as a topic with the wife while we eat there.
The restaurant itself is nice and romantic. The dim lighting, the fires, the candles, all help turn it into a cozy experience, even when things around you are bustling and the open kitchen is noisy. This particular evening, there was a large party of 9 or so over in the corner, and they were getting rather boisterous, which was bothersome at moments, but luckily they left midway through our meal.
Appetizer & Drinks
All we opted for was an order of the complimentary bread, which was just some butter and a hoagie roll sliced up into pieces. Nothing fancy, but it was pretty good for what it was.
I went for the Woodford Reserve Double Oaked bourbon, neat. I hadn’t seen the Double Oaked variety offered around town, but I knew WR was one of my favorites, so I went for it. It was pretty good, though it didn’t stand out above the regular Woodford in any way that I could tell except price.
The Fish Tacos
The Catch of The Day was Mahi from the coast of South Carolina, shipped fresh, and cooked on a wooden board of some sort. They were also putting this into the Fish Tacos, and that is what I went for. The fish ended up being really good, as fresh as they promised, and complimented the taco ingredients very well.
They give you three tacos in a little metal stand for easy manipulation. You can pick them up or not, choosing to use your utensils instead. All the ingredients (which I didn’t really pay attention to) were fresh and tasty. My only qualm being the hot sauce they carry just isn’t really that hot, but I am a fire fanatic and already know that what most restaurants offer isn’t going to make me break a sweat. No biggie.
We ordered some big-ass chocolate bomb thing that had mouse, a crust, whip cream, and all kinds of chocolate flakes and drizzled hot sauce. Ordering one to share was definitely the way to go. We could not finish it, it was so rich and good.
The consistency of this dining experience is something I really appreciate. Whether we are stopping in on a whim or have made reservations weeks in advance, we know we are going to get great food and enjoy and intimate dinner for two.
This is a challenge, because there was really no drawback to this experience that can be improved upon to my knowledge. The only thing that I would have liked to have been different, was the presence of a large party that was seated not too far from where we were. There was one member of the party in particular who was clearly ‘feeling no pain’ as she broke out into a piercing cackle every few minutes, drawing the attention of quite a few diners. People, if you’re reading this, and you like dining out with large groups of people, please don’t let the volume of your voice slip just because you’ve had a few cocktails.
A great atmosphere that is conducive to conversation before you hit a movie next door. The food has always been reliably good, and they have a great local beer selection along with an array of fine bourbons. I dig it.
There was a fruit fly that wouldn’t leave me alone, and the loud-ass people at the large table in the corner were a little interruptive with their piercing laughter at times.