Curate: Asheville, NC

Where do I begin? Curate bar de Tapas is definitely a top 5 restaurant in my book. I can’t express how much I love a good dining experience — be it at home or in an establishment. The last time I enjoyed eating out this much was at Chef and the Farmer with good friends from Greenville. Curate’s near perfection can be attributed to three things: 1) Company and occasion, 2) Waitstaff, and 3) Outstanding food.
Our waiter, John (now a friend), is the best waiter I’ve ever had. Efficient and responsive, he glided through the dining room giving each patron adequate attention. His recommendations were excellent and he was witty and concise. Near the end of the meal, he made a special request of the management to give us an amazing chocolate dessert–on the house.
The food is like nothing else you will find in the area. The head chef, Katie Button, trained at the famous El Bulli restaurant in Spain. She is young and clearly bright (she left her pursuit of a PhD to become a chef; see article about her apprenticeship at El Bulli here: NY TIMES Diner’s Journal). The restaurant, like its proprietor, is youthful–with stylish decor and the likes of Vampire Weekend playing in the background.
Curate, which means “cure yourself” in Spanish, specializes in authentic tapas. This is what we tried:
-The Pig Platter — with 3 types of Spanish ham, including jamon Iberico (made from pigs that are fed a strict diet of acorns).
-A salad of watermelon, cherry tomatoes, serena cheese, fresh tarragon, corn nuts and a sherry vinaigrette. This was unexpectedly delicious and fresh. I will spend my life trying to replicate this recipe.
-Fried eggplant in local wild mountain apiaries honey. Simple yet refined. I would have never thought of pairing these flavors, but they worked beautifully together.
-Shrimp in garlic sauce. Again, an understated dish that was perfectly garlicy.
-Spanish bread with Manchengo cheese and tomatoes.
-Piquillo peppers stuffed with cana de cabra cheese. Such a wonderful dish. The peppers were a vibrant red and slightly sweet. The cheese was creamy and soft.
(note: This is a repost from September 2011)

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