At their worst, new American restaurants can come off as muddled, existing only as opportunities for chefs to try whatever they want without having to keep their food within a specific cuisine. At their best, they can be creative outlets for chefs who are inventive yet focused, allowing them to try out new and exciting dishes depending upon the availability of ingredients. The Admiral is definitely an example of the latter, with an eclectic menu that changes routinely, showcasing some of the most delicious and creative food in the city.
You may not be sure what kind of experience you’re in for as you walk toward the inconspicuous cinder block building just north of the Biltmore, but its modest appearance outside belies the exciting cooking and spirited atmosphere housed within. The menu is varied enough that everyone in your group will be able to find something they love.
The Admiral is relaxed enough that you can go there for a casual dinner with friends, but it’s also chic enough to impress on a date. The space is cozy and intimate, and filled with decor elements that evoke a timeless quality. Smart casual attire is the norm for most guests at dinner. You don’t necessarily feel like you’re in a modern restaurant just by looking at it (although the food tells a different story), yet it doesn’t feel old-fashioned either.
And it’s definitely the food that’s the star here. The Admiral changes their menu frequently—sometimes even daily—to take advantage of the freshest produce available. They are well-known for their wide variety of appetizers and small plates that present some classic ingredients in new and interesting ways. They’re also perfect to pass around the table, so you might want to go with a group you don’t mind sharing with. Some of these dishes are mainstays on the menu, and may be modified slightly depending upon what’s in season.
You should definitely try the crispy pork belly if it’s on the menu. The marriage of the unctuous interior and crispy exterior are perfect with earthy vegetables and tangy pickles. The mushroom toast is also a winner, as it celebrates the simplicity of flavor found in fresh local mushrooms, with just a few adornments such as sheep’s milk cheese and a sunny side-up egg. Some of the other standouts that are often featured include:
Housemade Charcuterie Board
This beautiful selection of three cured meats is served with jams, fermented elements, and fresh grilled bread
Crispy on the outside, briny and tender on the inside, with a fermented chili aioli to provide a slight kick
Beef Tenderloin Tartare
A simple presentation that is definitely not lacking in flavor, the tartare is set off by a beautiful egg yolk and cornichons
There are also some large-format dishes as well. However, you may find that you don’t need them after trying all of the small plates that interest you. Reservations are highly recommended since the dining room is fairly small, and they are available through OpenTable or the restaurant’s website. It’s well worth the effort, because The Admiral is one of the most popular tables in town, and between the delightfully inventive cuisine and friendly service, it’s easy to see why.
- If you aren’t able to snag a reservation but still want to go, they do keep the bar seats open for walk-ins where the full dinner menu is served.
- Also, keep in mind that the Admiral can’t accommodate parties larger than four. If your group is larger than four people, you’ll have to make separate reservations and be split up.