Waynesville, North Carolina is a small town. Head west on I-40 from Asheville, don’t go too fast because a couple of towns will fly by and next thing you know, you are in Tennessee. Head down Main Street in Waynesville and you will run into a small area of town known as Hazelwood. There is a church, a pharmacy, bungalow houses…and a hidden gem: Bourbon Barrel Beef & Ale. Head through the doors and prepare yourself for a culinary delight. Shrimp & Grits…Fried Pickles…Horseradish Crusted Salmon…and Lobster Cheesecake. That’s right, Lobster Cheesecake. The ambiance has a romantic, rustic feel to it. Lots of hardwood, brass accents, low lighting and candles. There is not too much in terms of art on the walls, the music, if there is any, is almost inaudible. The focus is on the food.
Start off with the Lobster Cheesecake. You will be glad you did. It is a mixture of goat cheese, red peppers, lobster, and herbs. It is about the consistency of a pate, and you spread it on rosemary flat-bread crackers. If you show up later in the evening, be prepared for them to be sold out of it.
I have had a lot of shrimp and grits in my life. I have some decent versions of it, some bad, some amazing. The Creole Shrimp & Grits ranks up there with some of my favorites. Maybe it is the size of the shrimp. Maybe it is the bacon. Maybe it is the creamy smoked gouda grits. I don’t know. But you combine all of those ingredients together…dang. I ordered the same dish again on my second visit. Still, dang.
I will be completely honest, I have not made it to dessert there. I have gone back, wound up ordering the same items, and still, no dessert. Not a bad rut to be stuck in.
Trip Advisor gives it an average of 4.5 out of 5. Yelp has it at a 4 out of 5, and Urban Spoon is so far the same score as Trip Advisor.
I have not needed reservations when I have been. I am sure now that the weather is warming up, and word of mouth about this place is picking up, you may need to call in advance. You and a date can be in and out of there under $75. Not the cheapest in Waynesville, but this place does not have beef and cheese tornadoes spinning next to the wiper fluid and maps. Oh, and they are not open on Sundays.
Located at: 454 Hazelwood Ave, Waynesville, NC 28786. If you hit Tennessee, turn around. If you pass the pharmacy on Hazelwood, do a u-turn.