Smoky Park Supper Club, (SPSC), the unique shipping container restaurant in the River Arts District by Matt Logan, owner of 5 Walnut downtown, along with operating partner and General Manager Kristie Quinn, will open its doors to the public on Friday, September 11th.
The restaurant, which is made from 19 shipping containers installed by SG Blocks in just three days, is Asheville's first shipping container restaurant and the biggest shipping container restaurant in the nation, to date. It's located along the French Broad river on 1.8 acres of land, and features a 2,400 square foot wrap-around deck for drinks and dining with a view, with picnic tables by Peter White.
Inside, Smoky Park Supper Club is light-filled and spacious, with gorgeous furnishings and artistic touches including dining room tables, booths, and a cherry wood bar by Peter White, barstools by Brian Boggs Chairmakers, and murals painted on the corrugated shipping container walls by Melissa Terrezza Pace.
All Fired Up
The menu, developed by partner and farm-to-table pioneer Mark Rosenstein with Executive Chef Michelle Bailey, will center around wood fired cooking in the restaurant's 9,000-pound Le Panyol oven--the only 100% organic wood fired oven on the market.
Wood fired or "live fired" cooking like the kind you can expect to find at Smoky Park Supper Club was named the 2015 technique of the year by Bon Appétit magazine, whose writers recently paid Smoky Park Supper Club a visit.
Mark Rosenstein isn't surprised about the recent attention around wood fired cooking. To him, it is "The cooking technique of the 21st century."
In fact, Rosenstein says it's the only kind of cooking that would get him back in the game after selling The Market Place, the acclaimed restaurant he opened in downtown Asheville in 1979 and ran for 30 years. Back then, his was one of the first restaurants in the area to use a true wood fired grill.
In 2006, Michelle Bailey joined Rosenstein at the Market Place as a culinary intern from AB Tech, and three years later, she worked her way up to Executive Chef.
Now working with Rosenstein at Smoky Park Supper Club some ten years later, the culinary team will explore the range of possibility of cooking with flame, this time with the Le Panyol wood burning oven, imparting rich, nuanced flavors--think charred, smoky, seared flavors--to seasonal dishes with fresh local and regional ingredients.
"There’s something really ritualistic about wood fired cooking that I appreciate. I feel that way about working in the kitchen in general, but when you have an element as basic as fire it becomes even more ritualistic, and I appreciate that about my day," says Bailey.
"It's much more intimate contact, and it requires a greater awareness of what you're doing," adds Rosenstein. "You can't just turn a dial. It's a living thing, this oven. It has a life of its own, and you have to keep your eyes on it."
The Smoky Park Supper Club menu, which is subject to change based on seasonal availability, will be divided into four parts:
Bar Snacks ($4-$7) like spicy crackerjack (popcorn, peanuts, bacon, caramel, chili flake), wood-roasted cashews, and regional cheeses
Sides ($4-9) such as chap-seared tomatoes with goat cheese and pickled mustard seed
Plates ($8-$18) like wood-grilled burgers, and cast iron grilled cheese
Supper Entrees ($13-$45) like salt baked snapper, roasted chicken, braised leg of lamb, and wood-grilled bone-in pork chop
A selection of desserts and ice cream will also be available in the $7-$9 range.
All About Community
According to owner Matt Logan and Kristie Quinn, the overarching concept for Smoky Park Supper Club is based on community. For the past two years, Greenworks has been their rent-free nonprofit tenant, and they will host local nonprofit community events in the Boathouse, the free-standing bar and event space on the grounds that's adjacent to the restaurant.
The importance of community is even reflected in the name. "Smoky Park" comes from the nearby bridge built in 1951, formerly known as the Smoky Park Bridge (now the Jeff Bowman Bridge), and "Supper Club" comes from the midwestern tradition from the 1950s of friends and family gathering to enjoy food, entertainment, and hospitality in a beautiful country setting.
For her part, Bailey says she thinks about the community connection when it comes to eating, gathering, and spending time together.
"I have a servant’s heart. It makes me happy to serve people. I enjoy it. If you find something that you love to do and it keeps your brain excited, it keeps you engaged with the community," she says.
As for the overall vibe of Smoky Park Supper Club, Matt Logan credits the team.
"Kristie and I are really excited about the team we have in place. We've focused on getting the right people in here--the right talent--and they're excited to be a part of Smoky Park Supper Club," he says.
"We've created something different that you can feel. Once you walk on this property you feel like someone cares, like someone is paying attention," says Quinn. "And we can't wait to invite people in."
About Smoky Park Supper Club
Smoky Park Supper Club is located at 350 Riverside Drive in Asheville, North Carolina. It is the nation’s biggest shipping container restaurant to date, on close to two acres of land, featuring a wrap-around deck and stunning views of the French Broad River. The menu created by Asheville’s original farm-to-table food pioneer, Mark Rosenstein, features wood-fired foods with an accent on classic American fare and seasonal offerings. Visit smokypark.com to learn more.