Hard to believe Greg & Miki Kilpatrick opened HomeGrown at 371 Merrimon Avenue just two years ago. Since opening, they’ve developed a devoted following (family) and most recently won 1st place in the annual Best of WNC 2012 “Diner-home style” category and 2nd place in this year’s Best Dish NC casual dining category.
HomeGrown’s tagline (as well as their web address) is “slow food right quick“. Here’s a little insight into that choice from the Kilpatricks:
Why “slow food right quick”? We believe in the Slow Food philosophy that “everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible.” We also know that out here in the real world people are in a hurry. So, we serve up “slow food,” that is to say good, clean, local food, “right quick!”
The neat, trim, nondescript exterior belies a warm, cozy, bohemian-“ish” interior.
One of four inside dining areas is shown here. There’s also a patio on one end of the building for outside dining.
Google HomeGrown comments/reviews and you’ll recognize recurring themes: “nurturing”, “comfort”, “family”, “compassion”, “honesty”. All true. I’ve been before and have felt the same vibes.
Miki approached us while we were perusing the huge chalk-board menu. She had figured out we were there to judge her Best Dish NC entries and had made the decision to let us know she knew. Much better than pretending. I can always tell and it’s awkward. She did not fawn and fuss. She was sincerely passionate about her food and mission.
This dinner was really fun because it was shared with someone I’d only corresponded with previously. Have you ever had a long-time “pen pal” (showing my age) and then met them? Knowing each other before meeting and then taking it to another level is really fun!
Jennifer started off her meal with Falentil Cakes topped with Tahini. This is a fun take on Falafels – made with lentils instead of the more traditional chickpeas, fava beans, or both. We both thought the flavor was great, but (IMO) they didn’t look especially appetizing. I’d still order them again as a snack to share.
HomeGrown has become known for their Mac & Cheese Bites ($5). They’re made with three local cheeses and fried after being panko breaded. Definitely dip into the rich, robustly flavored Herbed Pomodoro Dipping Sauce. We shared these along with the Falentils and yes, they’re addictive.
Jennifer’s choice of Beef Chili was a good move. Full of chunky, chili goodness, this would be something I’d suggest for PIC when we stop by for lunch, especially now that the weather has turned cooler.
My Smoked Peach & Chipotle Chilled Soup decorated with Cilantro Crema ($2) had a unique taste. On the thicker side, but not what I’d call “hearty”, peach flavor came through with a definite kick. You’ll also get a distinct smokey favor – wait for it – on the end of each bite.
Also good for sharing was this Five Tomato Salad ($6). Pretty much however you like your tomatoes, they’re on this plate. My favorite was the Fried Green Tomato topped with house-made Mozzarella. Keeping it company were marinated heirloom tomatoes, fire roasted tomatoes, oven dried tomatoes and green tomato relish.
One of the evening’s stars: Red Neck Pot Pie, was terrific! Flaky house-made biscuit topping the most deliciously seasoned possum (just kidding) chicken mixture you could possibly squeeze into that crock.
Don’t believe me? Take a look:
Always the rebel, I had the Man Salad $7) even though I’m not one. Loved the creativity here. We’re talkin’ marinated grilled Flap Steak with pommes frites (french fries for non-French speakers), Bleu Cheese and hot sauce camouflaging greens. Manly, right?
Jennifer went with a Farmer’s Salad. This was a lovely mix of greens, tomatoes, apples and cheese topped with sunflower seeds and drizzles with balsamic. Very fresh and tasty.
This Appalachian Apple Stack Cake ($3.50!) was textured more like shortcake than cake. Layers were separated by what Miki told us was a house-made apple butter recipe from Greg’s grandmother. Ice cream at HomeGrown is from The Hop. Absolutely delicious! Please keep this on your menu, Miki!
Don’t think I could pick a favorite between the Stack Cake and this Apple Crisp. Both were fantastic! Just look at that picture. Makes me want to head back to HomeGrown as I write!
Epicurean Note: HomeGrown’s T-shirts are on my Christmas list.
371 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801