I travel usually once a year for work to attend a genetics educational conference. This means I get to stay on top of my continuing education credits to continue to be certified but also that I get to try new restaurants in an often new city, which I love.
After a quick google of the “best restaurants in Charlotte” I found The Asbury. From a quick look at the menu, it seemed like elevated Southern food which was exactly what I was wanting. So I gave it a try and was not disappointed.
The chef, Matthew Krenz, won the NC Chef Showdown in 2017. I am a sucker for young waiters being so excited to tell me things like this that I fall hook, line, and sinker in love with a place almost immediately. I love that they seemed so proud to mention this about the place they work. They are probably coached to do this because it works (case example: me).
When you enter The Asbury you are greeted with the kindness you expect in the South: people asking how your night is going and actually looking you in the eye like they care about your answer. The hostess mentioned how they have a new spring menu. When I asked what she recommended from it, she easily recommended her favorite from their dinner menu: Crispy Pork Cheek.
What I ordered:
- Maw Maw’s Cast Iron Biscuits with Bacon jam
- 2 oysters
- Small Crispy Pork Cheek
- Panna cotta
- Asbury coffee
The run down:
The wine list wasn’t expansive but had great options of every type for every price range. I was very happy with the glass I ordered.
Biscuits were good but maybe a little dry. Bacon jam made them just right and I look forward to having my leftovers for breakfast tomorrow.
Oysters were small, creamy, and sweet. As an oyster lover, I am often given the option of 6 or 12 oysters and depending on who I am dining with, that may work or be way to much. I loved how you could order the exact amount you wanted.
The Crispy Pork Cheek was fabulous. This dish tasted like spring and made me excited for my garden. The ginger and carrot bisque was a perfect compliment to the crispy pork and perfectly cooked fresh peas and black eyed peas. It felt fancy Southern and I would have licked my plate if it was socially acceptable. Did the pork cheek need to be fried? No, in short. BUT, the light tempura batter gave it a nice crunch and texture and made it feel even more Southern so my opinion was that it was worth the calories. Also, the seasonal entrees come in small and large portions so you are able to get a small and try more things (which is what I did). I loved this and if my hubby was with me, we probably would have tried three small entrees just to get a good sampling of what they had to offer.
I told the waiter I was having a hard time deciding on dessert and the panna cotta was what he recommended. It was divine. Creamy custard topped with shaved fennel and I believe an apple gel. I loved the little crunchy bites of the fennel with the creamy custard. I’d order it again. And again. And again.
The Asbury coffee was simply good coffee and various liquours but it was good and came in decaf (my waiter swore this was true and was willing to give me his home number to call at 3 AM if that wasn’t the case).
The food was fabulous. Ambience was good. I did think it was a little weird having mainly rustic barn paintings on one side and almost all modern cow paintings on the other. You usually associate that “look” with a coffee shop that has little price tags on all the paintings but that wasn’t the case here. So the art, if there permanently, could be more cohesive but that is a minor criticism of a place with such fabulous food and service.
I would definitely recommend The Asbury and if I am ever back in Charlotte, I’ll be checking out what’s on their seasonal menu and likely booking a table again.