We’ve been wanting to try Katie Button’s much lauded Cúrate for a while. It’s certainly been one of the most talked about happenings in Asheville, perhaps only being surpassed by the ever-growing craft beer scene. From recognition by the [easyazon_link identifier=”0811874664″ locale=”US” tag=”bluecanoe09-20″]James Beard Foundation[/easyazon_link] to the New York Times, Button has rapidly ascended to an almost celebrity status. In fact, she now has a television show, The World’s Best Chefs. Rumor around town is that there’s a cookbook in the works as well.
We went to Asheville on a [easyazon_link identifier=”1609496310″ locale=”US” tag=”bluecanoe09-20″]brewery[/easyazon_link] expedition and ended the day at Cúrate. Now, before I go further, I want you to know, we did write a Yelp review that mentioned some bumps we experienced. If you’re interested in that, you can head over to Yelp. We want to keep it positive here…and there’s plenty of that to go around at Cúrate.
Cúrate hums with energy and I would say the atmosphere is loud…but not in a bad way. It’s just full of energy. It is cozy, quite casual, and from what we saw, most of the tables accommodate 4 people. Which was perfect since we were with another couple. (They may have larger tables in the back). The large bar also provides plenty of overflow seating. Chef Button wasn’t in but when speaking with her later, she said the staff were specifically trained to help diners navigate the somewhat overwhelming menu…much of which is in Spanish. So don’t be intimidated to go because of that. Just ask the server to be the driver and you be the passenger on this trip.
We were presented with a jar of olive oil dressed olives to get us in the Spanish mood. Since Cúrate is a tapas style place, we settled on a selection of plates to share amongst the four of us. Each plate was just enough for us to have one or two bites each. In the relaxed Spanish style, you should plan to take your time. Order one plate at a time and enjoy the company of your friends and the vibrant atmosphere of Cúrate. Prices are extremely affordable for such a highly-regarded restaurant. Here’s a look at what we enjoyed.
Charcuterie – There’s a robust selection of cured meats to choose from sourced from Spain. We wanted to sample a variety and settled on the Tabla de Embutidos Ibericos featuring Iberico lomo, cabecero, salchichon and chorizo. While not house-cured, it was flavor-packed and delicious with the toasts.
Croquetas de Pollo – These creamy chicken fritters were perfect for two bites. This style of fritter can easily go wrong if it’s a little too thick. The texture can become off-putting. But these were perfect. Very rich and with a pleasing mouth feel. I would include this as a must-try just because it’s so far removed from what many Southerners are used to.
Chistorra & Chips José’s Way. Chef Button spent time working with José Andréas and we’re to assume this is inspired by the master himself. Think of it as a Spanish Pigs-in-a-Blanket. Comforting and familiar, but with a definite Cúrate twist. Spicy chorizo sausages are wrapped in thinly sliced potatoes and flash fried. We could have eaten a gallon of these!
Cerdo Iberico A Las Finas Hierbas was the priciest selection we had, coming in at $20. Compared to the size of the serving and the other selections portions, it did seem a little expensive but one has to consider it is Iberico pork ‘Skirt Steak’. Perfectly prepared to a medium-well and full of rosemary and thyme punch.
Butifarra Con Mongetes – A flavorful but delicate sausage served with crisped white beans aioli
Tarta de pistacho – pistachio sponge cake, lemon thyme ice cream, blackberries
Espuma de chocolate – chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet, hazelnut praline
Crema catalana con frutas – Creamy custard with berries, caramel and candied caramel
Cúrate has a good selection of specialty cocktails and wines and all are reasonably priced.
For our first experience here, there were some bumps in the road on service, but the food was spectacular. And upon hearing about the rough service, Katie reached out to us and expressed her embarrassment and assured us, that what we experienced wasn’t the norm. Very commendable and based on the food, we’ll definitely return. Presentation is rustic but sophisticated (a little like Asheville itself). Based on the dishes we had, it’s no wonder Chef Button is such a rising star. Next time we’re in Asheville (very soon!), we plan to also visit the more recently opened Nightbell which Button is also the executive chef over.