Tingles Cafe is one of the restaurants that opened (re-opened?) in Asheville during my “Mommy Hiatus”.  I saw it advertised in The Laurel and also noticed it as I was driving through town in early March; both sightings occurred the week I decided I needed to get out more.  When baby girl and I had an opportunity to spend a chilly afternoon downtown yesterday, it was on the top of my list of new eateries to check out.

When: Saturday, March 26, 2011, about 3:45pm

Where: Tingles Cafe, 27 Broadway Street, Asheville, NC

Who: S & me

What: Four Side Plate – Mac & Cheese, Savory Bread Pudding with Mushrooms and Roasted Tomatoes, Roasted Vegetables (Veggie of the Day), and Marinated Avacado Slices

How: 4 out of 5 Sticky Fingers

Kid-friendly Assets: Crayons at the tables, child’s menu

The front dining room was full of light, even on a rainy day, with its tall ceilings and bright floor that echoed the floor of the original Tingle’s Cafe from the early 20th century.  We were welcomed immediately and taken to a small table close to the street.  The hostess brought a clean wooden high chair for the wee one.  The tables were covered with brown paper and there was a small glass full of thick crayons.  (We’re not quite ready for those yet, but I’ll keep Tingles in mind when we reach that age.)  Other details older children might enjoy are the large Holstein cow keeping her eye on the main dining room and the cute little cow salt/pepper shakers on the tables.

The menu covers most of the Southern food bases and the cafe has an extensive soda-fountain with gourmet styling.  For the grown-ups in the crowd, they also have a nice offering of local brews and several wines.  The menu could be more descriptive for the large vegetarian/vegan/local-foodie segment of Asheville (for example it would have been nice to know if the gravy that came with the bread pudding was vegetarian).

I decided on an assortment of sides so I could easily share with S; all four selections were at least tasted by my burgeoning foodie (a plus – kiddo is still only eating soft, squishy food).  The bread pudding was excellent and came with a brown mushroom gravy not mentioned on the menu.  The roasted vegetables had a nice flavor.  I ordered the avacado purely for S, but I also enjoyed it.  The mac and cheese, however, was very disappointing.  There was nothing exciting, interesting or in any way memorable about this comfort food standard; it was downright blah and boring.

The service was fast and friendly with the right amount of attention.  The ladies’ restroom in the front dining room was large and clean, but lacked a changing table, a necessity in our lives.

Tingles only received a 4 out of 5 for several reasons.  The quality of food vs. the price just didn’t match up, no changing table in the restroom is a big fail in my world right now and the menu was not informative enough.  This is a restaurant we’ll definitely be visiting again, though.  Their house-made baked goods and ice cream need to be sampled and I’m looking forward to tasting their Egg Creams and house-made sodas when the weather warms up!