Dining Review: BimBeriBon
BimBeriBon opened in October in the former Barleycorn location on Haywood Road, to much chatter. FAQs include what does the name mean? And how do you order?
I still can't explain the name, but one thing is evident when you walk inside: BimBeriBon is just a likable place.
The white-washed interior is bright and appealing. Scattered green plants on walls and counters and pops of color from food in the cases and dry goods in cubbies keep the vibe warm, not sterile.
But what of the ordering system that sparks such confusion? Well, a semi-circular counter offers two ordering stations. Between the stations are cases of baked goods, prepared salads and other items, some also found elsewhere in a self-service drink case.
Choose a station, any station, and order deli-style. The food finds its way to your table after a short wait. You don't need a PhD to figure out how to order, but don’t feel bad if your first visit leaves you looking around like you lost your dog at the park. You'll get the hang of it by your second visit.
BimBeriBon opened in October on Haywood Road in West Asheville. The white-washed interior is bright and appealing. Scattered green plants on walls and counters and pops of color from food in the cases and dry goods in cubbies keep the vibe warm, not sterile.
Reza Setayesh and Mitch Orland are behind the venture, with their united focus to serve, according to the menu, “real feel good food.”
Setayesh’s is the founder of Rezaz, and his latest restaurant, Baba Nahm, has an emphasis on healthful eating. Orland studied at the Natural Gourmet Institute, so he's not a newbie to healthy grub, either.
How does all this translate to the menu? First off, BimBeriBon is a wheat-free and refined-sugar-free establishment. This trickles down all the way to the bar, where cider and wine is served, but no beer. Cocktails are made with liquor without added sugar.
It made me wonder why, if you want to eat healthy but aren’t gluten-intolerant, you can't have a beer? Honestly, you won’t miss it. The cider and bar offerings are well-curated and illustrate the extent to which the owners have carried out their creed.
If you’ve decided at this point the menu is going to be vegetarian and filled with chia bowls, you're off base. While vegetarian options abound, and chia seeds do make their way to the menu, they do not comprise the majority of the menu. Foods are influenced by diverse cuisines, including Middle Eastern and Mediterranean, and there are plenty of dishes starring meat.
One of the unique things about BimBeriBon is that it offers something for almost every time of day. Just want coffee? No problem. The three main meals are also covered, and baked goods and a small selection of grab-and-go foods cover those in-between snack times.
The lunch and dinner menu has several vegetarian or vegan starters, including house-made pickles or seasonal vegetables with romesco.
The smoked eggplant and beet faba dips, though somewhat basic-sounding, were anything but. Both dips were covered in za'tar and chopped fresh herbs, and the beet faba (faba meaning fava beans) was peppered with hunks of feta. It was soulful and earthy. There was a robustness to the dip that kept me scooping it up with the included pita and rather dense chickpea crackers.
The smoked eggplant dip wasn’t baba ghanoush, exactly. More of a close cousin, this dip was speckled with chopped tomato and relied less on smoke and more on Middle Eastern spices for flavor and color.
Soups and salads also made an appearance on the menu, but none were run-of-the-mill.
The arepa pocket with succulent shredded roast pork wasn’t in a pocket at all. In fact, it was a Venezuelan arepa with the split corn cake served sandwich style. The cake offered a nice corn flavor, but was difficult to cut, even with a knife.
Queso fresco, roasted corn, cilantro and chipotle crema combined to create an enjoyably fresh dish. The kale salad on the side, however, was hard to eat because of the large pieces of greens, though the dressing displayed nice citrus flavor.
The lamb burger was served with the same salad on the side, which we also somewhat ignored. The burger was topped with house pickles, feta cheese and a mildly spiced faba harissa aioli. Normally served on pita, ours came on thick slices of dense toast, since the restaurant had run out of pita. The tender seasoned lamb was the forerunner in this dish and best eaten without the bread.
Just as the breakfast menu offers bowls, so do the lunch and dinner menus. One such bowl, the Moroccan Tagine, was vibrant looking and packed full of ingredients like cashews, carrots and other vegetables, quinoa "couscous", raisins and greens. With preserved lemon and spices like cumin, the ingredients were pretty authentic for a tagine. Yet, there was a pervasive, somewhat floral flavor. The chicken, at least in our portion, was quite gristly. These factors didn’t kill the enjoyability of the dish, but it wasn’t as popular at our table as the arepa or lamb burger.
There are dessert options with baked goods, pies and whatever has been made fresh that day. Keep in mind that they may lack refined sugar, but your sweet tooth will still be mostly satisfied.
IF YOU GO
The restaurant: BimBeriBon, 697 Haywood Road, 828-505-0328, www.bimberibon.com.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Atmosphere: Casual deli-style ordering with ample indoor and limited outdoor seating. The remodeled interior has benefited from a light and airy revamp.
Dish to try: Smoked eggplant and beet faba dip is a must to start. The arepa pocket with pulled pork and chipotle crema is an easy follow-up.
Beverage notes: Cider, wine and cocktails.
Health Department score: 98
The bottom line: BimBeriBon is unique beyond the name. The restaurant is open daily from breakfast through dinner, except for Sunday, when the restaurant closes early. Don’t limit your visits to the three big meals. Try a coffee and pastry, or even a cocktail. BimBeriBon is sort of like the Ikea of restaurants. Flavors aren’t limited to one cuisine, but the menu still feels focused.
Article courtesy of Asheville Citizen Times