Recently we took a short trip to Asheville, NC, for the sole purpose of eating at an entirely gluten-free restaurant. Though we had some wonderful dining experiences in Texas last year at two 100% gluten-free places, nothing could have prepared us for what we found on the main square in Asheville. In the best restaurant location downtown lies a chic, modern restaurant that actually reminded me of places in L.A. or NYC. I’m speaking of the decor and ambiance only – the prices at Posana Cafe don’t come close to those in the other cities. You can read my review of our lunch experience here.
We made dinner reservations for 7:30 since the symphony crowd was dining early that evening. It was busy when we arrived but not hysterically so. Dining out on Saturday nights is something we rarely do unless we’re out of town. Ask any Chef and he’ll tell you the one time that special needs diners complicate their lives the most is during the Saturday night dinner rush. Therefore, we prefer to avoid Saturday night dining unless we go really early or rather late. But if you go late most of the specials are sold out so we just usually don’t go at all on Saturday night unless we’re traveling.
Once we were seated, I checked out the drink menu and ordered a Posanarita – or something like that. It was excellent, huge and quite a bargain compared to what we’re used to in Atlanta. Bruschetta (above photo) was our natural choice for an appetizer. I’m not sure I’ve had any gluten-free bruschetta at a restaurant ever. The French bread used in this dish had a soft center and crispy crust – perfect for bruchetta! I assume the fact that they make the bread in house is what allows them to charge the same as one would find in a gluten restaurant. If they were buying expensive gluten-free bread, they would likely have to charge quite a bit more for anything made with the bread.
For dinner I was set on seared scallops but in fact, they had already sold out by the time my order was placed. I switched to the salmon, asking that it be cooked all the way through. Truthfully, I rarely order salmon out anymore because several years ago Chefs started sending it out rare or medium rare and I want my fish done, period. The problem is that if you order salmon at most places here, you’re probably going to be served some fairly tough salmon. This was not the case at Posana Cafe. The salmon was perfectly cooked through and the most tender piece of salmon I’ve had in years. It was absolutely incredible! The fresh green beans and potatoes served with it was all perfectly cooked and seasoned as well.
The blackened scallops served over polenta that my husband ordered was very good, but he said it could have been a bit spicier for him. I only tasted the polenta which was good but a little more like grits in texture. Polenta is something that every place makes differently. If you are not dining in a gluten-free restaurant, don’t assume the polenta is gluten-free. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals and ate everything on our plates, even though we knew we were not leaving without dessert.
Most of the night we’d seen this spectacular looking dessert being taken to various tables in and outside. The treat turned out to be the special dessert of the day – Pumpkin Remoulade. It was a very thin layer of soft pumpkin cake rolled around some specialty sweet cheese type mixture. It was not like cheesecake at all, but it was one of the best dessert creations we’ve ever had. It looked like a piece of art and tasted even better than it looked. It came with toasted pumpkin seeds and some special honey type sauce drizzled on the plate. We decided it easily made our Top 10 list of desserts of all time. We have been eating dessert together for over 23 years and 19 of them involved gluten desserts. In order words, words can’t really describe how fabulous we both thought this masterpiece was!
The following morning we headed over to Posana Cafe for the last time (this trip anyway). Unfortunately it was a Saturday and their incredible brunch menu is only offered on Sunday. Still, we had more than enough delectable dishes to choose from. We even had appetizers at breakfast – a Sticky Bun and piece of Coffee Cake. My husband really loved the bun I ordered and I loved his cake so we swapped our treats.
The bacon and cheese omelet with potatoes was extremely good and the pancakes were unlike any gluten-free version we’ve had before. They are not made from a mix and they are extremely light and airy, something I’m not used to with pancakes these days. They had a pretty strong nut flavor and I found out the batter contains almond flour. The texture was extremely fluffy and I know they would make killer blueberry pancakes!
The meats served are Jones Dairy Farm certified gluten-free bacon, ham and sausage. There are no nitrates or MSG in the products, just excellent quality ingredients. You can find this brand in your grocers freezer and sometimes I find them on sale at Publix. The “lite” sausage links are our favorite. I first noticed this product line when I bought the Canadian bacon and ham at Publix. I love seeing GLUTEN FREE right on the front of the box. You don’t even have to turn it over!
We took a piece of the Orange Walnut Cake and the Pumpkin Remoulade “to go” after breakfast. The latter stayed fresh until I finally finished it off on Sunday night. I was trying to drag out the delicious-ness for as long as possible. They need to see if they can freeze the pumpkin dessert and sell it nationwide, no doubt! If you can get to Posana Cafe for a meal (or three) you will not be disappointed. We are already thinking about when we might slip another trip up there. Without question, the next time I will not be missing brunch!
Special thanks to Martha, Peter and all the staff members we met during our three visits to Posana Cafe. You made our trip worth the effort – even though we could only stay for a day!