#10 of 98 Asheville Restaurants


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Nightbell: Small Plate Specialties Featuring Local Appalachian Ingredients
Local Expert's Rating:
4.5 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Attention to detail sets Nightbell apart. The small plate restaurant serves delectable appetizers and entrees with fresh ingredients often harvested or foraged the day they're served.

- The SmokyMountains.com Local Expert Team

Featuring Victorian decor and a pleasant ambience, Nightbell is the place to go if you prioritize presentation and exquisite taste. With a regularly changing menu, no two trips to the small plate restaurant are the same.

The Nightbell menu includes four distinct categories: snacks to share, individual bites, small plates, and desserts. As the menu notes, Carmen Vaquera is the genius behind the restaurant’s sweet treats. The accommodating menu makes note of vegan, gluten-free, and lactose-free items. Selections with undercooked ingredients are also explicitly highlighted.

Although Nightbell’s menu features several seemingly standard entrees, each meal comes with a unique and unexpected twist. For example, if you order wings, you may be surprised to find them served with matchstick apples and celery to create a satisfying crunch. Order deviled eggs, and you might also encounter smoked trout gravlax and corn sabayon. These and other delicacies appeal most to culinary adventurers, so don’t visit if you demand standard bar fare. Arrive with an open mind, and you’ll be thrilled by the range of tastes you encounter.

Small plates may be the focus at Nightbell, but the cocktails are also worth ordering. The restaurant serves unique handcrafted drinks that you won’t find in any other Asheville bar. As with the food, you’ll quickly observe that no detail goes unnoticed. Favorites include The Devil’s Riding Crop (featuring Bermuda rum, pomegranate, and amaro ramazzotti) and A Big Fishnet of Words (featuring vodka, watermelon, lime, and honey). Be prepared to sample flavorful drinks just as original as their names.

Remember, the Nightbell menu changes seasonally. You can expect new additions (and deletions) on a regular basis. With that in mind, a few of our menu favorites include the following:

Geechie Boy Grit Hush Puppies
Unlike any hush puppies you’ve ever devoured, this appetizer comes with a dipping sauce featuring orange honey butter from Weatherville-based Wild Mountain Bees.

Hen of the Wood Mushrooms
These delicious grilled mushrooms feature fish sauce, sesame oil, garlic cream, and orange zest. Select substitutions are available for vegan visitors.

Grilled Steak
Cut daily from dry aged apple brandy beef, this delectable dish includes a memorable roasted red pepper sauce. Like many items on the Nightbell menu, it’s suitable for gluten-free diets.

Bittersweet Brownie
Adventurous chocolate lovers will adore this brownie, which goes beyond the typical chocolate dessert to deliver pleasingly intricate flavors. The brownie is complemented by dulce de leche ice cream, torched meringue, and a satisfying Mexican chocolate mousse.

Insider Tips:

  • Before you visit, remember: Nightbell serves small plate specials. Prepare for small, carefully prepared entrees. The goal is not to leave feeling stuffed, but rather, to captivate your full range of senses with a beautifully plated meal.
  • The cost of Nightbell’s small plates can add up quickly, so if you’re expecting a lot of food for the dollar, this might not be your dream restaurant. The upside, of course, is that you can sample a variety of dishes during a single visit. The result of all these unique tastes? An unforgettable culinary experience.