December 10, 2015
We recently had the opportunity to get a taste of the culinary ingenuity of Executive Chef Chris Coleman at The Asbury. The Asbury, located in Uptown Charlotte, could be described as Southern with an inventive and modern twist, and their cuisine reflects the same influence. Located inside the historical Dunhill Hotel, the restaurant is named after Charlotte architect Louis Asbury Sr. Asbury, who also designed the Mayfair Manor (now The Dunhill Hotel) in 1929. Coleman is a Charlotte native and an astute chef whose cooking style is heavily influenced by his childhood and family roots. With family from Mississippi, those true “down home” Southern meals have inspired him to add some modern flare to his craft while honoring his roots. Coleman has also been involved with some notable events along the East Coast, from Charleston’s Wine and Food Festival to special events with Dinner Lab in New York City and Charlotte.
The five-course chef’s tasting menu was a delectable and visually stimulating culinary journey with distinct textures, well balanced flavors, and very smooth contrasts.
To start things off, an Amuse Bouche was introduced with a very creative presentation. Amuse Bouche is a French term that means “entertain the mouth” and is usually a complimentary appetizer or an hors d’oeuvres. Served over a bed of salt the Amuse Bouche was an invigorating commencement, an Olde Salt Oyster with cornmeal au gratin. Bone marrow is mixed into the cornmeal for the gratin-style crust. It was moderately sweet but had savory qualities that included grilled apple and currant relish.
The first course was an innovative Salad of Fall Roots including beet granita, mizuna Asian greens and dark bread dirt. Dark bread dirt generally consists of brown ingredients such as walnuts, pecans, brown sugar, and coffee grounds, blended to give the visual perception of dirt. The presentation of the dish was radiant. The dish had all of the elements of a salad that you would crave: fresh aromas, bitter and sweet flavors, and crunchy textures.
Up next for the second course was a Smoked Scallop Custard with juniper and thyme shortbread, chili, dried kale, pickled grapefruit, and mandarin. This was another alluring dish and the presentation was impressive. The consistency of the custard helped keep itself in place, resulting in half of the bowl having the actual meal on it, while the other side was an empty and clean bowl. This dish was incredibly smooth and satisfying, however the bitterness of the dish was a little overpowering.
Following that, we were served Bacon Wrapped Duck Confit with beet tartar, arugula, pickled apple relish, cranberry, and spiced pecan along with red wine and apple cider vinegars. This third course in particular was a positive sensory overload. It had all of the elements of a robust and balanced meal. The quality of each ingredient stood out, but the marriage of all of the flavors and ingredients worked impeccably.
The fourth course was a Braised Pork Cheek served with a sweet potato casserole, brussels sprouts, autumn olive jus, and wild berries fresh from the mountains. This was a personal favorite. Not only was the presentation superb but the cozy flavors and the aroma reminded me of a warm and comforting Thanksgiving dinner.
The intermezzo for the evening was a Mango Chili Lime Sorbet. Intense in the sharpness, but very refreshing to the palate. The sorbet was garnished with mint fennel, purple mizuna, and amarena cherries.
The final course was a charcuterie board of chocolate and pumpkin: chocolate mousse, pumpkin anglaise, peanut butter fudge brownie, cocoa nib, pumpkin cake donut, pumpkin cheesecake, and a chocolate chili sauce. This array of different styles of seasonal desserts was a delightful offering. The sweet and spicy contrast of the chocolate chili sauce was especially enjoyable.
Chef Coleman continues to push culinary boundaries with original and comforting food that fits the ambience of The Asbury. Paying homage to his roots, as the restaurant pays tribute to its history, Coleman and his team, which consists of Matthew Krenz (chef de cuisine), and Jossie Perlmutter (pastry chef), strive to propel imaginative, fresh, locally sourced cuisine in the Queen City.
Nearby several entertainment venues such as the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, Discovery Place, and McGlohon Theatre. A little further down is The Time Warner Cable Arena, a few museums such as The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, The Mint Museum, as well as The Knight Theatre. The Asbury is an ideal place for a family meal, cocktail before a show, nice outing before a basketball game, Sunday brunch, or fancy dinner date.
The new winter menu will be released on December 17.
235 North Tryon St.
Charlotte, NC 28202