By Natasha Anderson
The North Carolina Arboretum’s new Bent Creek Bistro, operated by The Colorful Palate, Inc., officially opened on Friday, March 30. The bistro, which is located in the Arboretum’s Education Center, offers indoor and courtyard dining from March through November, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays, as well as for the Arboretum’s annual Winter Lights event from mid- November to the end of December.
“We are very excited about working with The Colorful Palate,” says George Ivey, director of public engagement for the Arboretum. “The company has quite a following, and with good reason. Tara and Ragan make delicious food with a regional focus that will enhance any visit to the Arboretum and even encourage people to come and stay a little longer.”
Based in Asheville, The Colorful Palate is a renowned catering company co-owned by childhood friends Ragan Evans Lewis and Tara Letts. Since 2002, the company has earned a stellar reputation for preparing food that is “deliciously unpretentious” with a focus on high-quality, locally sourced, customized menus.
“We love to eat and we love to show off all of the amazing food from our region, whether by including locally sourced ingredients or a dash of southern fl air,” says Lewis. “We want the guests and members of the Arboretum to know that their visit can last all day and include a really good meal, complete with a cold local beer, nice glass of wine or a handmade sweet treat.”
The new bistro menu will feature standard items like hearty sandwiches, hand-chopped salads and local snack trays as well as seasonal specials and daily soup and quiche offerings. Menu items include an Appalachian Reuben, featuring house-pulled pork, creamy swiss, local apple butter & chow-chow dressing on locally baked bread and a southern Caesar salad featuring house-made local smoked trout-infused dressing and daily special croutons. Numerous protein add-ons, including barbecued local tempeh, are also available.
“We are curating a variety of regionally raised and made snack items and sweets as well,” says Letts, “so folks can take a little bit of the bistro with them out on the trail and in the gardens.”
The name Bent Creek Bistro gives a nod to the creek that is such an integral part of the Arboretum’s design and the area’s history. The new bistro replaces The Savory Thyme Café.
The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., April through October, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., November through March. Admission is free. A standard $14 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. For more information, visit ncarboretum.org