Ambrozia Bar & Bistro is a local retreat located in North Asheville. Situated next to Beaver Lake, Ambrozia is nestled at the end of a small strip center and shimmers like a diamond in the rough. Only open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner and Sundays for brunch, Ambrozia is a brilliant example of that neighborhood spot where everyone knows your name. I found this little gem located around the corner from where I once took residence. Bypassing the hassle of the downtown scene I often frequented this hidden oasis where I found that I could still enjoy great food, creative cocktails and engaging ambience without traveling too far from where I lived. Even today, when I’m visiting Asheville, Ambrozia is usually a part of my itinerary.
Entering Ambrozia you are immediately engulfed by the golden glow of the overhead pendant lamps and the warm greetings from the beaming staff. If I’m alone or with one or two companions, I usually head straight to the bar as there is always a feeling of imminent wellbeing. I know that some well-crafted cocktail in a chilled rocks glass will soon be in my grasp. Caren Kemp, the bar manager is one of the purest adult beverage aficionados in the area. I’ve had many a straw twilling conversation about the history of Prohibition or the difference between bourbon and whiskey. This chick really knows her stuff. She is responsible for many of the creative cocktails available on the drink menu. And if on occasion, you’re not sure what you’re in the mood for, you just tell her what you like and she’ll disappear only to return moments later with some stunningly satisfying creation. If you visit often, she’ll remember your name and may even remember your favorite drink. It was here that I was introduced to St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and had my very first fling with Absinthe.
I’ve eaten dinner here many times, but I really rather enjoy my evening tapas-style, by ordering a handful of their appetizers and small plates while sitting at the bar and chatting it up with the bar staff. The Brussel Sprouts are to die for with the combination of house country ham and gochujang sauce – harmonizing a chili pepper spice against the mellow sweetness of charred pineapple. The Trout Nachos are a tantalizing four or five fried wonton chips topped with smoky flavored North Carolina trout and a drizzle of sriracha aioli – just enough to tempt you for more. Devils on Horseback seems to appear and disappear from the menu, but if you’re lucky enough to be there on a night when the Devil rides in, be sure to order it. It is a delicious blend of cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon. They are divine, but the adage rings true here – everything is better with bacon.
For those of you who are part of the brunch crowd, Ambrozia does offer a nice Sunday brunch. You can either select a 4 course meal or choose a la carte. Course items range from Eggs Benedict to Quiche Stuffed Portobello Mushroom to the southern favorite – Fried Chicken with Waffles. Brunch is served on Sundays from 10:30 am until 2:00 pm and reservations are highly recommended. One thing to keep in mind, if you’re like me and eager to slip your hand around that classic morning Mimosa, arrange to arrive closer to Noon since alcohol isn’t lawful to serve on Sundays before 12:00 pm. Just saying.
Ambrosia has over the past couple of years been my local starting point, or ending point just because the vibe is so welcoming and laidback. You can enjoy a cocktail with friends, partake of the wine and beer list, enjoy dinner or snacks, but the one thing that stands out most of all is that you’ll enjoy a consistent experience from the food preparation to the impeccable service. Ambrozia is the jewel of North Asheville. Visit them in the Beaver Lake Shopping Center at: 1020 Merrimon Avenue, Asheville, NC 28804, Phone: 828-350-3033, website: http://www.ambrozia-avl.com