Since its opening last year, Aux Bar has become a dining destination in downtown Asheville. Offering a creative interpretation of modern American cuisine, the menu features well-constructed dishes that push culinary boundaries. The fun, eclectic space creates a welcoming atmosphere where guests can share small and large plates like duck wings with sweet potato Buffalo sauce and braised pork cheeks with heirloom grits. Equally impressive are the expertly crafted cocktails and whimsical libations like Cheerwine sangria.
Driving the success of Aux Bar are the owners: two husband and wife teams who have extensive experience in the restaurant industry. Mike and Darlene Moore founded The Blind Pig Supper Club, and Steve and Samantha Goff launched Brinehaus Meat + Provisions. We spoke with Executive Chef and Co-Owner Steve Goff to learn more about Aux Bar and how it is enriching Asheville’s food scene.
How did Aux Bar get its name?
Aux Bar came from the fact that it’s the auxiliary kitchen for the Brinehaus food truck and The Blind Pig Supper Club. Originally, we wanted to name it Ox, but that name was taken by a restaurant in Portland, Oregon. We knew—in order to survive in the over-saturated Asheville restaurant scene—we would have to be strong like an ox. Also, the ox is the most blue-collar animal in the world. It made sense for us as my partners and I grew up in blue-collar families. Add to that the fact that working in a restaurant, especially a kitchen, is so much work. We’re a year in, and I’m still working 80-hour weeks.
What influenced your decision to establish Aux Bar in Asheville?
I have been part of the Asheville restaurant scene since 2003. I have put a lot of love and effort into this community. It means the world to me. It’s just home. I met and married my wife here; I went to school here; I had my daughter here. At this point, Asheville is more my home than any other city I have lived in, including my hometown. I travel frequently. After spending two years in Raleigh, it reminded me that I’m just really Asheville. I love the place, the people. It fits me, and I fit it.
How about the restaurant’s location on Lexington Avenue?
It’s one of Asheville’s most important community spots in recent history. The day I got off the train here, [the former Vincent’s Ear] was the first place I went. The alley—where our patio is—was a gathering place for locals, artists, punks and the weird (in a good way). The patrons of Vincent’s would hang out there all day. It was an epicenter for that time in Asheville’s history. I wanted to pay tribute to such an iconic place and bring the space back as a community center for locals to come. We also wanted to create a space for hospitality workers that they would enjoy. That is one reason we don’t close midday, and we have food until 2 a.m. We cater to the times when stray servers, cooks or whoever is looking for a meal, and hopefully, we can be there for them!
What differentiates your restaurant?
That’s a hard question in a city full of great restaurants! I think we do well riding the line between upscale and casual. When you walk into a restaurant, you should get a very specific feeling. The space should feel like the chef’s or owner’s personal touch. It should have depth and personality; it should be its own thing. I think we have accomplished that. The same thing should be said about food: a particular chef’s dish should feel like his or her own fingerprint. Our dishes are approachable and familiar with personal flourishes that match the feel of the restaurant itself.
Who creates the dishes? How often does your menu change?
I create the dishes. We change as frequently as we can, usually every couple weeks. We also have a core menu that never gets taken off (e.g. duck wings, burger, fried chicken, etc.)
What are your goals for 2019, and what’s next for Aux Bar?
I want to get involved with as many community-oriented projects as I can and build stronger relations within our community. Keep doing the best we can to be the best restaurant we can be! Get on Top Chef! Grow our catering business. We were selected as one of two restaurants to be part of Asheville Date Night Guide’s Date Night Ride, offering a customized menu to couples who wish to have an evening in a classic car, flowers, dinner and a drink!
68 N. Lexington Ave., Asheville, 828.295.1137, AuxBar.com
Aux Bar’s Pimento Cheese
- 3 pounds grated sharp cheddar
- 16 ounces softened cream cheese
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/4 cup Duke’s mayonnaise
- 1 cup charred and pureed red peppers (substitute with roasted red peppers in jar)
- 1/4 cup Lusty Monk’s grainy mustard
- 1/4 cup Texas Pete hot sauce
- King Cobra Premium Malt Liquor
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except malt liquor. Use an electric mixer on medium speed and beat until well blended. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. If the consistency is too thick, slowly add malt liquor into mixture until pimento cheese is spreadable.