I wear a lot of different hats in my life; mother, business manager, artist, chocolatier, and food lover to name a few. I’m not a restaurant critic, but I love to explore Asheville’s unique and diverse culinary options and occasionally I’ll share my adventures with you. Recently I’ve had my eye on our newest neighbor, Isa’s Bistro. For many years their location at the corner of Battery Park and Haywood Street was held by The Flying Frog and since the Frog closed a few years ago the space has rotated from empty to unsuccessful restaurant. I was excited when this spring the owner’s of the Haywood Park Hotel, Tony and Isa Fraga, opened their own restaurant concept here, Isa’s Bistro.
They have done a beautiful job remodeling the old choppy space with an elegant and spacious dining room featuring art from Fraga’s personal collection. They have opened up a lot of the windows including a window through to the hotel lobby giving the whole place a much brighter more welcoming feel. Most importantly the newly opened dining room gives even more vantage points from which to people watch as this is one of the best places in Asheville for people watching. Isa Fraga explained to me that a unique feature of the dining room is that there is natural light coming from almost 360 degrees and that every table has a view to the street… like I said, excellent people watching. Isa also explained to me that they tried to preserve as much of the buildings original architecture as possible, they opted out of putting in a drop ceiling so that the original architecture is exposed.
I’ve only had the opportunity to visit for lunch a couple of times and the food is promising. A recent meal there produced a wonderfully delicious seared salmon and I enjoyed a rather yummy and memorable side of bean salad at another lunch. I really appreciate when a chef puts as much time and attention into creating a side as a main dish. I look forward to seeing the different menus the chef creates as they promise a seasonally changing menu. For obvious reasons, I haven’t tried dessert yet, but I do look forward to an opportunity to sample the dinner menu. Maybe I’ll remember to tone down my chocolate eating that day so I can try dessert; online reviews say that it is good.
One of the best services they have to offer, and a rare treat in downtown Asheville, is free valet parking. Just pull up to the Haywood Park Hotel entrance and a friendly member of the hotel bell staff with take care of your car. While your car is neatly tucked away in the garage I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you made a quick visit to the neighboring Chocolate Fetish to take home a late night indulgence (just don’t tell them I recommended that J).
For more information about Isa’s Bistro and to check out their menu http://www.isasbistro.com/