The view from The Montford, Asheville's newest rooftop spot. Photo: Erin Fowler
The Montford, which opens today to the public, is Asheville's newest rooftop bar. Rooftop space is prime real estate in any town, and Asheville's sweeping vistas make it particularly coveted. Located atop the Hyatt Place Hotel (the newest addition to what seems to be an onslaught of tourist accommodations in the area), it offers a sleek, chic lounge space for catching the sunset and checking out views of the Grove Park Inn and the surrounding mountains.
The Grit gang recently attended a special preview night for media a few days ago, and while we arguably got the extra-plush treatment, there were some truly lovely things about the experience that I expect will carry over when the Montford is officially up and running that will keep this writer coming back for more. Bartender Christian Coen. Photo: Erin Fowler
To enter the bar, you take an elevator in the front foyer of the hotel. This elevator is technically located outside of the hotel proper, which means that you don't have to walk into the reception area. This was a relief for me. I'm not keen on the vibe of most hotels and I think that the designers made a smart choice here by separating the spaces. As a local, I tend to avoid bars that are only reachable by walking through hotels. Here, that's not an issue.
The space is bright and airy. Because of the elevator situation and the aesthetic of the bar, I never once felt like I was at a typical hotel bar. The space is not particularly large, which gives it a cozy feel despite its open-air environment. The bar area offers comfortable seating in a covered area that is open to the outside, and there's a deck space for more unencumbered views. It was a pretty hot day, so many people were eyeing shadier spots and hanging out in the covered lounge area until it cooled down a bit later. Since it was both hot and bright on the deck, I didn't linger long enough to check out the seating possibilities there, but they seemed pretty minimal. Most people who were out there were standing.
As we enjoyed the ambiance, we sampled some of the food and drinks that will be on the Montford's rotating menu. The food was all snack-sized, and we tried a BBQ chip with boiled peanut hummus, deviled eggs topped with salmon roe, barley-caramel popcorn, and chocolate cookies with sea salt from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge (YOU MUST EAT THESE).
Beverage manager Paul Peffer headed up the cocktail menu for the evening. Beverage choices included the Montford Mule (a spin on the Moscow Mule that came in an attractive locally-sourced earthenware mug rather than the typical copper one), the Witching Hour, which included the Italian liqueur Strega, and my favorite, the Norweigan Wood, a delicate martini-style sip made with aquavit, Manzanilla sherry, dry vermouth, and a twist. I enjoyed the variety and creativity of these cocktails, which were truly inventive and delicious. I'm excited to go back and try other ones, including the Black Mountain Mai Tai, which features blackberries. Cocktails will also incorporate handmade sodas, including a grapefruit flavor made with honey and lime. The beers on tap are all from local breweries as well. The Witching Hour includes grapefruit, tequila, Strega, Aperol, and honey
The Montford will feature seasonal, local items on its menus as much as possible. Desserts will be sourced from local bakeries and will also rotate on and off the menu.
Although the desserts are outsourced, the Montford has its sights on creating as much in house as possible. "We want to make as much here as possible," says Peffer. "This is what Asheville tastes like." And the Montford is hoping that the taste of Asheville will bring in the locals. "This is an escape from the craziness of downtown," says Peffer. "We want people from everywhere to come in and feel comfortable, and we're also gearing it to the people who live here."
During the first weekend the Montford is open, they're sweetening the deal by offering free valet parking to people who come in. There's self-parking available as well.
The Montford opens today atop the Hyatt Place Hotel at 199 Haywood St.