Dining Outside Asheville: Spruce Pine
August 4, 2011 by Susan Murray
|“Downtown” Spruce Pine|
While many of our guests come to Asheville to dine at some of the many fabulous restaurants which can be found here (over 243 according to TripAdvisor!), there are actually some really excellent restaurants in some of the surrounding towns as well. Among these is Knife and Fork in Spruce Pine, NC.
Chef Nate Allen first crossed my path last summer at one the Asheville Tailgate Markets where he was grilling salmon as a promotion for his restaurant. At the time I was dismayed to learn that Spruce Pine is an hour drive from Asheville as that made it a little far for a regular dining haunt.
|The Door to Nowhere|
I had pretty much forgotten that encounter until Nate surfaced again at the Western North Carolina Chef’s Challenge. Our experience with his food was enough to make us plan a trip from the Carolina Bed & Breakfast to the small village of Spruce Pine in order to have dinner at Knife and Fork.
The economy of Spruce Pine is grounded in mining. Much of the feldspar used in the USA comes from the surrounding mountains. The town of Spruce Pine was built around the Carolina, Clinchfield and Ohio Railroad Depot. Train aficionados will enjoy viewing the large stockyard and the many train cars found on sidings throughout the town.
|The Menu is Posted Daily|
The town is built on the side of the mountain and as such has two “main” streets–a high one and a low one. James and I were curious about this lone standing door to nowhere and the cleanly swept tile floor it opens onto. It turns out that the town suffered a serious arson attack in August 2007 with much of the lower downtown being destroyed. This door and the lot behind it stand as a monument to the recovery the town has made.
Knife and Fork is a small restaurant situated near the top of the lower end of town. Nate and his wife relocated here from LA. He says they chose the town because it gives him the opportunity to source all of his food extremely locally, within a 20 mile radius. The menu changes daily and dishes are centered around produce in season so that main ingredients may appear in more than one dish. The evening we dined there the focus was on beets, wild mushrooms, fresh garden greens, mountain trout and rabbit. Don’t be put off by this list of ingredients. As is so often true, the difference between freshly picked, well prepared produce and the sad substitutes we find in our supermarkets is transformational. I find that, in the hands of a good chef , I am enjoying food I would otherwise avoid!
The dining room is unpretentious and fairly small, maybe ten to fifteen tables. It was a Monday night when we ate there and we were wise to have booked a table. People were being turned away as late as 9PM. The diners seemed to include a number of locals as well as some well-heeled guests who may have come from one of the golfing communities in the area.
|Wild Mushroom Salad|
If you go:
Knife and Fork
61 Locust Street
Spruce Pine, NC
Tuesday-Friday: Lunch and Dinner
Saturday Dinner: 5-9PM
Sunday Brunch 10:30AM-3PM