…I exclaimed to Chuck. What’s packed? Why, Pack’s is packed. And why is Pack’s packed? Here is where once again real-time and blog-time diverge. It was noon on the day that the U.S. played Germany in the World Cup, and it appears that all of downtown Asheville—like us—wanted to have lunch while watching the soccer match.
“The late Stewart Coleman, along with his sons-in-law, Ross Franklin and and Tom Israel, renovated the space in 2009 and returned it to its earlier turn of the century grandeur. The result is a spacious restaurant and bar with several levels, as well as outdoor dining on a patio adjacent to the park. There is also a magnificent upstairs ballroom which is available for private events” (citizen-times.com).
“The Hayes & Hopson Building, built as a supplier of lumber and then automotive parts, most recently housed county offices. Demolishing the offices exposed original brick walls, wood floors, bead board ceilings and heavy roof trusses.
“Restoration included much care to expose the brick, tongue and groove ceiling, wood trusses, and uncover the 100-year-old flooring” (localflavoravl.com).
“…hidden behind steel doors in the basement lies a Hayes Hopson secret. These heavy doors open to a dark chamber that leads under South Spruce Street and once continued to adjacent buildings. The Hayes Hopson building has supplied lumber, auto parts, BBQ to Asheville, but during the Prohibition years it supplied illegal liquor to local scofflaws (people who disobeyed the dry laws of the Volstead Act) via this underground passage” (packstavern.com). I think that our trolley driver mentioned that one of these passages led from the police station to the Hayes Hopson basement.
I wanted to eat light—sort of—and first reviewed the salad menu that included: Roasted Beet and Baby Greens Salad with your choice of chicken, shrimp, crab cake, or salmon; Fiesta Salad with black beans, roasted corn, tomato, and onion with grilled chicken breast and shredded Cheddar Jack cheese tossed in a bed of romaine lettuce; or Thai Chicken or Salmon Salad with romaine lettuce, red cabbage, diced red peppers, shredded carrot, green onion, and rice noodles tossed with Thai vinaigrette.
But, after determining that I could get the tuna seared to medium-rare, I finally decided on the Coriander Crusted Tuna and Avocado sandwich with wasabi mayo, marinated cucumbers, tomatoes, baby spinach, onions, and sprouts. Chuck, a man with a bigger appetite, ordered Bison Meatloaf with tomato glaze and served with mashed potatoes, mushroom sage gravy, and grilled Texas toast.
And then the wait began. As I looked around the dining room, it appeared that most of the diners were also waiting for their food—unless beer was their entrée of choice. I suspect that, like us, most had arrived at the stroke of twelve noon not wanting to miss the kickoff nor any of the subsequent action. I’ll bet that the kitchen was swamped.
When our food finally arrived, the tuna on my sandwich had been cooked well past medium-rare.
The roll had been nicely toasted and the crisp cucumbers gave texture to the sandwich. And if that wasn’t enough cucumbers, my side choice was the marinated tomatoes and cucumbers—cold and crisp and just perfect for a rather warm Asheville day.
But the high point of his plate was the wonderful mound of skin-on mashed potatoes (Yes, this is really me writing this.) that had just a hint of garlic and were covered with a light mushroom gravy.
Chuck was the winner that day. Unfortunately, neither the U.S. nor I were. Pack’s Tavern may be worth another day and another time when they are less busy. For now, they rate only 3.0 Addies.