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We were tipped off about Copper Crown from one of our readers, who recommended it highly, so we booked a reservation shortly after her suggestion was made. We arrived there about 45 minutes early after having a cocktail across the street at The Social, which I had never heard of, but after looking at their website, my interest was piqued and I was excited to check it out. It appeared to be an upscale bar and lounge where hubs and I could enjoy an intimate conversation over a well-deserved cocktail. (*our preceding week had included sickness and set-backs, and a little romance was the much needed salve).
When we arrived, I was surprised to find myself in a divey-sports bar, full of television screens, pool tables, and beers galore. Wait. Was this the right place?? My disappointment was palpable, as hubs saw the look on my face and offered to leave and find another spot. While I insisted on staying, I did feel a bit misled. Let me be clear here, I have zero beef with sports bars, or beer, or pool tables. These things all have a special place in my heart. But, when I have done hair and make-up and booked a babysitter for the one night a month I get to get away with my man, I do not want to hit a sports bar. To their credit, the service was over-the-top: we were asked three times, by three different bartenders if we needed drinks, and then asked three times by the same three bartenders if we wanted to order food. While the attention we received bordered on comical, at least we knew that the staff cared! Expectations are everything, and unfortunately, the web-presence for this venue sets the bar (all puns intended) too high for this neighborhood watering hole. That said, if you live on the East side, love sports, and need someplace to watch the next big game, hit The Social! You won’t be disappointed (winky face).
The first thing I noticed about Copper Crown was the ambience: the lighting and look from the outside was alluring, especially on a cold winter night. Upon entering, however, I realized that the perceived warmth was more of an optical illusion than a thermostatic reality. Having learned my lesson at another recent date night spot, I kept my jacket on (as did hubs, who does not chill easily) throughout dinner so as not to have the unfortunate preoccupation of shivering while we ate.
Copper Crown is a small, quaint space. It’s modern and has a nice date-night vibe. I ordered the Sazerac cocktail to start, which is made up of Bulleit Rye, Ansac Cognac VS, two types of bitters – Peychaud’s and Boss Lady, raw sugar and Lucid Absinthe. It was served with an orange peel and it fit the bill of a neat and warming beverage.
For my entree, I opted for the NY Strip from the small plates menu, which our server advised had just been added to the menu, that day. Although service was a bit slow, it was helpful, as our server steered us both in the directions of our dishes after a second opinion was needed. When our plates arrived, they looked delicious, but mine was only lukewarm. I wondered if, perhaps my medium-rare steak and potatoes had sat in a heat window while my husband’s burger cooked up to medium-well. This theory was only slightly challenged when hubs made me aware that he had not actually specified or been asked for a cooking temperature preference for his burger. I’m pretty sure his meal was warm, tho… The flavors were tasty and aside from the cooler temperature of both the restaurant in general and my meal in particular, this was basically a positive dining experience.
Affordable and enjoyable food, convenient parking, and a downtown atmosphere without the trappings of downtown, Copper Crown appears to hit a need in the East Asheville dining scene. During our evening there, I couldn’t help but be reminded of North Asheville’s Ambrozia, where we have had some very positive experiences. I think if there was a catch-phrase to go along with this evening it’d be something like ‘if we lived in East Asheville, we’d probably become regulars.’
The Copper Crown was recommended by a reader of this blog, so we were happy to hit the road and head over to the East side of Asheville on this wintry-mix of a night. It was cold, and it was blustery outside, and we decided to stop at a place called The Social nearby for a pre-dinner cocktail. It looked pretty fancy, based on their website, but in reality, The Social was more of a local’s sports bar. There’s nothing wrong with that — it just wasn’t what we were expecting.
After a bone warming bourbon drink, we hopped across the street to find The Copper Crown, which was nestled into the end of what felt like a strip mall type of place, where you’d typically find real estate offices or golf shops. A bit strange, but once inside, you could tell they put a lot of effort into making you feel like you were not actually next to the family dentist office. So that was good.
Stepping inside, you are visually welcomed by the “Asheville vibe” that many of the more hip restaurants in town have, with exposed lightbulbs dangling from wires, lots of wood, and lighted-glass bar features. It definitely felt like it could be a nice place to go have a glass of wine or an appetizer on the way into downtown Asheville. I discussed with the wifey that this place is probably really great if you live in that end of town and want something a bit more romantic than East Village or, uh, Zaxby’s. And this is actually the goal of Copper Crown, as their website says:
Our mission is to provide a neighborhood gathering place in our community of East Asheville where delicious food and drinks may be enjoyed by all.
There were only two things about the ambiance that really bugged me, the first of which is probably difficult to control on such an evening, and that is that I couldn’t take my coat off the whole time. It was cold, and any hint of it getting warmer would quickly get whisked away when someone entered or left the restaurant. The little space heater on the floor didn’t really seem to do much, unfortunately. Perhaps the proprietors will go to Vestibules-R-Us and mitigate this issue in the future.
Second, the bench seating in the middle of the restaurant felt more like a bleacher, as it was not very deep — especially for a taller man such as myself. Not the most comfy of seats by any means. Adding a few more inches to the depth of that thing would really help.
Getting someone to serve us drinks took a bit longer than you’d typically expect. It wasn’t particularly busy in there that night, but the overall service did seem to take a while. The drinks were pretty good. It’s hard to go wrong when you know what bourbons you like, and I was impressed with their slightly larger-than-usual bourbon selection. I believe I started with a Bulleit and ended with a Makers Mark (I think).
I couldn’t decide what to order. I wanted something warm, and I was really hungry, so I wanted something I knew I’d eat all of, rather than picking around something I wasn’t too sure about. The burgers looked interesting, and I asked the server if I should choose the “Lo-Fi” or the “Hi-Fi” burger. On her recommendation, I went lo-fi, and I really wasn’t disappointed, save for the fact that it was a bit more cooked (well done) than I like it (medium to medium-well). It was then that I remembered they didn’t actually ask me how I wanted the burger cooked. Is that because it had two patties? I wasn’t sure.
Whatever the included “burger sauce” is made from is what really made this two-patty burger stand out. Definitely the best feature.
I had remembered seeing “frites” as the fry options on their menu online, so I was a little disappointed to get something a little more full-sized, but they weren’t bad at all. I just particularly love the shoestring-sized frites that you get at some places around town.
By the time desert ideas were entertained, we were ready to go get warm, so we didn’t stick around for that.
I know it’s a little weird, but I feel like the restroom experience at a restaurant is important. This is often a place where a restaurant has an opportunity to express a little creative flair, some humor, or some kind of memorable experience. The restroom at the Copper Crown was fine — I like the “Ursa” bear themed prints on the wall, and this shelf left me wondering if it were simply an elegant visual piece to look at, or a hold-my-beer-while-I-pee ledge. It was a little far from the toilet for the latter, so I left assuming it was the former. What do you think?
I’d definitely recommend this place if you live in East Asheville, are staying nearby or are visiting there. It’s a decent spot for a quick date night meal in what would probably feel much more intimate and romantic in the warmer months. They had a lot of plates to explore that looked good, and if we ever make it back that way again, adventuring through the menu is definitely called for.
The ambience is good, striking the right chord with us romantics.
I would’ve loved the temperature situation to be a bit warmer: both with my meal and with the restaurant itself.
Probably a great spot for East Ashevillians, as nothing else in that area offers the upscale, somewhat romantic atmosphere. Pretty good food, pretty good atmosphere.
It was cold inside when it was cold outside, and some of the other seating options were probably more comfy than where we were put. Worth another try?