The Art of Food
Photo By Chris Thelen
Nestled unobtrusively just off Washington Road is a restaurant that has fulfilled its calling as a neighborhood fine dining destination for the past 25 years. Although its almost hidden behind buildings and greenery, regular patrons of Cadwalladers Cafe have no trouble finding their way time and again to this intimate centrally located spot.
For here owners Colden and Mary Waller have created a unique offering of old world wines, coupled with an ever-changing electic menu, featuring some of the freshest quality products available, all designed to assure repeat visits. Given the number of loyal customers, the mixture works.
Waller also relies, in part, on the culinary acumen of his clientele to keep his tables full. His patrons, he says, are mostly independent, well-versed people, many of whom are business owners themselves, and know good food when they are fortunate enough to find it. That, along with a superb wine selection and an easily accessible, informally warm atmosphere, is only the beginning of things that attract diners to this small but elegant restaurant. The culinary style of English-born head chef Daren Gransbury provides the final dining ingredient.
The singular ambition of chef and owner is to encourage guests to “try something they wouldn’t have at home.” That something could be the ultra lean bison ribs or steaks, all hormone-free from an Asheville farm. Or it might be the tender, buttery homemade pastas, crusty pan-seared scallops or hot smoked mussels, all enhanced with choice mixed medleys of succulent vegetables.
Gransbury’s further mission is to create intrigue in the dishes, merging his inspired ideas for food with ingredients he gathers from his suppliers. A grand vision for the youthful chef who once upon a time prepared feasts for an English lord who lived in his own castle. Today he focuses that regal attention on the cuisine at Cadwalladers.
Of his culinary talent, Waller says Gransbury is a “true chef,” likening his work to art. “There’s a big difference between being a cook and being a chef. Just like some people can paint a picture, but they cannot produce an original work of art.” Gransbury, says Waller, creates masterful uncommon foods.
And while Gransbury feels free to change the menu as often as he likes, he always maintains the restaurant’s staple favorites, including flaky crabcakes served over a swirl of spicy orange remoulade. Because even a Brit knows there are some things any reputable Southern eatery can’t do without—a good crabcake being one of them.