It’s hard to believe that a cinderblock building in West Asheville has the best duck in town, but there you go. The Admiral, long known by locals as the once-best restaurant in the city, may still be just that. However, the décor belies the uptown menu, especially the lampshade in the far corner with a salient rip in it. I could not stop staring at it.
You can sit in booths as well. Yes, booths. It’s a small place, the size of a waiting room with a handful of seats at the bar, but when the shrimp bisque arrives with a touch of chipotle crème fraiche amid ample chunks of shrimp, you know that your initial worries about the cinderblock exterior have been superficially judgmental.
The pork belly alone is worth the entire visit. In fact, you should order four of these. Imagine the best bacon but thickened into an outer crisp that chews into a soft middle. I dreamt of pocketing a few morsels to cook with my fried eggs the next morning.
We followed with the Joyce Farms duck, medium rare, an easy dish to flub just about anywhere. These cuts at The Admiral resembled duck sushi, perfectly cooked and served alongside farro verde.
To finish there was a marshmallowy s’mores entity atop a cookie. Memorable. Fun. Yay.
They make their own sodas that pair well with the duck and pork belly.
And the menu always changes.
Now, you won’t get out of there paying less than $150 to $200, if you are two people and you decide to go all-in. A small fiduciary matter because if you come to Asheville, you have to put this place on your list. If you can get a seat. Reserve ahead. Fills up fast.
Is The Admiral still the best restaurant in town? Probably.
But they don’t care. They don’t need to.