May 7, 2011 § Leave a comment
My semester has finally drawn to a close. I finished my last final on Friday and made the three hour trip back home to Asheville. And now that I’m back home for a few days, today seemed like a perfect time to highlight another favorite burger place of mine right here in my hometown.
Roman’s is a relatively new restaurant in downtown Asheville, although I believe they were already open out in another part of town before they moved to their current location. They’re located on Haywood Street right next to the Civic Center in a small little storefront, with big windows and a few tables out on the sidewalk. It’s just a block past the main drag of Haywood Street, so many tourists have already turned around and headed back down the street before they see Roman’s. Most of the people I’ve seen there are either local businessmen or Asheville residents (and if you live in Asheville, then you know what I’m talking about: you can spot an Ashevillian a mile away).
I went to Roman’s a lot over this past summer, and tried almost every type of sandwich they have on their menu. They feature a daily special (their orange barbeque chicken sandwich was to die for), but I have special place in my heart for their Italian sandwich. But their burgers are truly outstanding, and some of the best I’ve ever had.
Roman’s gets its beef from Hickory Nut Gap, a local farm out in a part of town called Fairview, near where I used to go to high school. Hickory Nut Gap cows live a happy life, eating grass out on wide open pastures, and the farm promotes sustainable practices in every aspect of their business. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know how I feel about local and organic meats. “They taste so much better!” “Such a delicious grassy flavor!” and so on and so forth. So no need for me to brag about Hickory Nut Gap, because you can probably guess what I would have said.
So today my father and I went to Roman’s for lunch, and because he is also a Bun Voyage enthusiast (Hi, Dad!), he decided to get a burger as well. I went with my favorite choice, the Ranch burger, which is a 6 oz. burger on a whole wheat roll, served with vine-ripened tomatoes, red onion, Bibb lettuce, Colby Jack cheese, thick-cut bacon, and a delicious avocado-dill ranch sauce. My dad went with the BBQ Bacon burger, which is served with the same thick-cut bacon, baby Swiss cheese, grilled red onions, mayonnaise and a sweet, tangy BBQ sauce. Served with only a pickle spear on the side, the burger really is the star of the meal.
After only a few minutes, our burgers were brought out to us, and I’d be hard pressed to say that I had seen a prettier burger during this whole semester.
Isn’t that the most picturesque burger ever? The vibrant colors of the vegetables just pop, and give it this wonderfully appealing sense of freshness. And once it was sliced in half, it looked even better.
My dad’s burger didn’t look too shabby, either.
The first thing I tasted when biting into the burger was not the meat, actually, but the super flavorful whole wheat bun. I’m not typically a fan of extra wheat-y things, but for some reason, I loved this bun. It had the perfect wheat flavor mixed with just the right amount of sweetness. Slightly toasted on the underside, it served as the perfect platform for a bevy of other ingredients.
The next thing I tasted was, of course, the meat. Grassy, perfectly cooked and seasoned impeccably. No need for extra salt here; the flavor of the burger leaps out at you in every single bite. The avocado-dill ranch sauce blends perfectly with it, giving the meat the perfect cool, creamy accompaniment, with just a little bite from the dill. And along with the sauce was the Colby Jack, which had melted down perfectly, blending with the meat and the sauce. The bacon gave the burger a welcomed salty crunch.
To be fair to the burgers that I ate in January and February, it would have been difficult to find vegetables in season unless they came from somewhere under the equator. And this is why I love spring, because it is the perfect season for fresh ingredients. Tomatoes aren’t exactly in season yet, but we’re getting close. Even still, this tomato was one of the best I’ve had on a burger. And even the red onions, which I’m not normally a huge fan of, were sweet and delicious. The Bibb lettuce is a little less crisp than your traditional iceberg, but has a great flavor nonetheless.
In between bites of my burger, my dad let me try his. Even though his wasn’t topped with the fresh vegetables mine was, the flavors in his burger shone in a completely different light. The sweet grilled onions and the salty bacon blended together so well, and the baby Swiss had a mild flavor that helped bring all of the other toppings together.
Our burgers were gone in less than 10 minutes, with nothing to show for them save a few crumbs and the stem of a pickle spear.
But how did Roman’s measure up all across the board?
Quality of meat: 10
Hickory Nut Gap never fails to disappoint me, and they didn’t this time either.
Freshness of ingredients: 10
Fresh Bibb lettuce, juicy tomatoes and perfectly sweet and crisp red onion. Probably all from local farms, too.
This burger looked like the kind of burger that would belong right on the cover of any national magazine.
There wasn’t anything particularly creative about this burger, save for the homemade avocad0-dill ranch sauce. But extreme creativity isn’t really needed when you’ve got such awesome ingredients to begin with.
Overall rating: 9.75
If you live in Asheville, or if you live in Athens and you’re considering a trip up to Asheville one day, you’re not going to want to miss out on Roman’s for much longer. Find them with the information below:
Oh, and be sure to check in tomorrow for the VERY EXCITING news that I promised you last week!
75 Haywood St.
Asheville, NC 28801