Vivian, Asheville, NC., 11/18/22

exterior – 348 Depot St., Ste 190, Asheville, NC., 28801

Vivian is the creation of Chef Josiah and Shannon McGaughey who started it as a kitchen pop-up in 2015.  Within a year they had their own food truck called Salt & Smoke but they still aspired to own an actual restaurant space.  They did just that, opening Vivian in the River Arts District in January 2018.  They serve a seasonal changing menu with French overtones.  It’s made up of 2 rooms, one with the long bar and counter seating and another room with just tables.  There was a patio that people came and went from but I didn’t go there to get a photo.  Lots of art is on the walls, sound panels are on the ceiling, the walls are of brick and wood, the lighting is lowered, the floor is concrete and the tables are bare wood.  The service was first rate with good advice and recommendations on ordering.  In addition to a nice wine list, they have a full bar from which we enjoyed a basic Negroni as we worked out a meal plan.  The food is outstanding and I would heartily recommend you try it.


drinks menu
wine list
wine list
wine front
wine back
Frankie and the table water and candle



Smoked Oysters were 4 lightly smoked oysters with local Stayman apple, shallot, black pepper, apple cider, and black vinegar.  The oysters were from New Brunswick and I swear there was also a bit of tarragon in the mignonette.  The oysters were truly lightly smoked – they had the texture of raw ones – and they were delicious.  Silky and a twist on the usual; they were great.

Smoked Oysters


Salade de Saison contained local greens and herbs, charred Hornbacher cheese, and smoked croutons with a vinaigrette piquant.  It was plenty for 2 and perfectly dressed.  The slab of cheese was on the top and it easily broke apart for serving.    The smoked croutons were the fun bit here, as they not only added crunch but a wonderful flavor.  Chopped shallots were mixed with chives on top of the cheese to add even more wonderful flavor.

Salade de Saison
from the side


Pork Tenderloin was on creamed caramelized cabbage, juniper, confit turnip, and topped with burgundy truffles.  The pork was cooked perfectly to leave it moist and tender and so were the caramelized cabbage and turnips.  All of it was on a creamy, flavorful sauce highlighted with exquisite truffles.  This was one yummy plate and we were glad it was served as a separate course.

Pork tenderloin
another angle
Frankie liked the postcard that came with the bill


Vivian’s Steak Dinner is always on the menu.  It was a 14 oz ribeye loin seared in a cast iron skillet topped with charred cipollini onions, beside mashed potatoes, and all on Vivian’s famous steak sauce.  The sauce was great and the mashed potatoes were nicely rich and smooth, topped with a few chive bits. However, the beef was overcooked and basically dry meat, obviously not a prime cut.  The onions tasted fine even though they looked overcooked and the sauce had tons of little peppercorns to add flavor.  The steak was just a bit of a letdown.

Vivian’s Steak Dinner


The meal took an upward turn when the desserts arrived.  The Chocolate Tart had a rye and cinnamon crust topped with malted milk chocolate cremeaux, then topped with ganache, fleur de sel, and chocolate sauce.  This was a chocolate lover’s dream with so many textures and fudgy sauce with rich chocolate flavors running throughout.  It was wonderful.

Chocolate Tart


Coconut Cake was a layered coconut sponge cake with coconut custard and toasted meringue.  It was even better than the chocolate.  The tremendously moist cake had been soaked with custard which made it incredible in taste and texture.  The meringue was just enough and complimented the frosting in between the layers.  This was one of the best coconut cakes I’ve ever had – a lick-the-plate experience.

Coconut Cake
Frankie couldn’t choose a dessert

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