Bhramari Brewhouse is the newest concept in the South Slope, a venture pairing the cooking of talented chef Josh Dillard with the unique brewing style of brewmaster Gary Sernack. Get the scoop on what they’re offering in this review from Matthew DeRobertis excerpted rom Asheville Scene.
Dining review: Bhramari Brewhouse
I’ve heard lots of speculation about one of South Slope’s newest breweries, Bhramari. Some think it serves beer and Indian cuisine; others think the beer is brewed with honey. Neither is completely true. The restaurant’s logo, a bee on a hop bud, nods to the original name of the restaurant, Hive-Minded. But a name dispute resulted in the current moniker, Bhramari, the Hindu goddess of bees.
Located on the corner of South Lexington Avenue behind the Orange Peel, Bhramari heavily renovated the former Asheville Music School. Now the space features a large porch with plenty of outside dining, an area for cornhole or foosball and, last but not least, the uncommon but coveted South Slope commodity: a parking lot.
Inside, the space is easily recognizable as a brewery with the brew system in clear sight of the dining room and bar. Unique elements abound, including the bar’s long reclaimed wood slabs, tables of re-purposed pallets, beer bottle table lights and a large central lighting fixture made from spirals of bent plywood.
Bhramari claims no true theme, though more than a third of its seasonal house-brew menu are sours. There was plenty of variety, to be sure, with the menu including a root beer-spiced imperial Saison and only one house brew contained honey.
I couldn’t resist ordering the Carolina Common, influenced by a Kentucky Common style beer. Somewhat of a cream-style ale, it pours up amber and has sweet notes of caramel and corn from locally grown Indian corn. We also ordered Rusty Buffalo, a bourbon barrel aged oud bruin. It poured dark brown and had notes of bourbon and alcohol on the tongue, but the added yeast strains and aging process yielded a distinct sourness to the beer.
Bhramari’s food menu doesn’t read like your typical pub menu. You’ll find plenty of beer-drinking favorites like burgers and nachos, but the ingredients offer an original take. Case in point is the pickled egg we ordered to start. Served on a long rectangular white plate, it may have been one of the most creative presentations of a pickled egg I’ve seen.
Split to reveal its yolk, the egg was perched on a streak of house-made hot sauce, a streak of yolk and a streak of herb aioli, all leading to a spoonful of orange marmalade and house-made saltines. The egg, by itself or loaded with all of the sauces atop the saltine, offered a flavorful bite that left me wanting more. For $3, it was beautiful, tasty and affordable.
We next sampled the Bhramari Sundae, which topped a bowl full of crisp hand-cut French fries with pork “debris”, remoulade and a 64-degree egg. The dish seemed to take cues from New Orleans, where debris usually describes a dish that uses meat scraps . The combo was one I’d order again and again.
Our server was pleasant and proved helpful, but disappeared for long gaps. Nonetheless, he talked my wife into the Breakfast Chicken sandwich, which, without his hard sell, she probably wouldn’t have ordered.The crispy fried chicken breast was sandwiched between a pancake bun and drizzled with a vadouvan-spiced maple syrup, which was a little sweet, a little savory and a lot delicious. Added to the crisp slices of bacon and chicken, smoked whipped cream and pickled jalapenos, the flavor scale ranged from sweet to spicy and every note in-between.
While many breweries in the area now serve food beyond peanuts, Bhramari’s menu has a leg up on the competition. Aside from the burger temperature complaint and the sometimes spotty service, the food is better executed and offers a more cohesive and unique take on classic pub food than most.
IF YOU GO
The restaurant: Bhramari Brewhouse, 101 S. Lexington Ave., 828-214-7981, www.bhramribrewhouse.com.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-12 a.m.; Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-1 a.m,; Sunday noon -10 p.m.
Atmosphere: Distinctly recognizable as a brewery, but effort has been put into giving the space a unique appeal.
Dish to try: At $3, the pickled egg is the dish to try. Ordering the Bhramari sundae won’t hurt either. While other more interesting offerings are available, the burger combos, though few and ever changing, give an original take on the standard meat and cheese option.
Beverage notes: Beer (both house brewed and other local offerings), wine, kombucha and full bar.
Health Department score: 96
The bottom line: When surrounded with great restaurants and well-established breweries, new arrivals must stand out and have a distinct point of view. Bhramari has done both. The beer is good and the food is even better, offering more than just wings and plain burgers. If you’re still need of a selling point, Bhramari has its own parking lot and, in the world of South Slope, that means a lot.
Matthew DeRobertis is a chef, instructor and gastronomically obsessed writer who’d rather eat than sleep. Contact him at ChefDeRoWrites@gmail.com.