Matching Veg Reubens at Rosetta’s Kitchen

Awwww, so CUTE!

When my good friend Ohia (not to be confused with the state of a similar name) was recently back in Asheville for a rejuvenation get-away from Akron, Ohio (not to be confused with the person of a similar name), I was psyched that she made time to see me for dinner! We met at Jack of the Wood, where I found her and her friends being pestered by a well-meaning, but entirely shit-faced downtown regular, so it was with some trepidation that I asked if she wanted to eat there, and phew, she said something along the lines of “hell no!” She also reminded me that she is currently keeping to a vegetarian diet.

Any long-time resident of Asheville, will immediately suggest Laughing Seed or Rosetta’s Kitchen to our visiting veg friends, but the truth is, these days, there’s vegetarian food everywhere in Asheville. Even so, I figured Ohia, a former resident of Asheville, who hasn’t been here for over five years might actually enjoy going to one of our olde school vegetarian venues, rather than venturing into the unknown of our exploding food scene, Plus, I thought she might find it comforting that, in this cold, ever-changing world, Rosetta’s in particular, hasn’t changed one fucking bit since she left. I mean, now there’s The Buchi Bar part too, but even that has exactly the same feel as the restaurant. Bottom line: When I suggested Rosetta’s, Ohia was psyched and excited! Visiting a favorite old restaurant is much like seeing an old friend. The walk from JOTW to Rosetta’s is short and pleasant, made even more so by the good company.

When we got there, sure enough, it was as if we had stepped back in time, to an older, kinder, gentler, more hippy-driven Asheville. It felt great just to be there, and I was excited to try the  vegetarian Reuben, because their vegan cheeseburger got 4 out of 5 stars on my burger scale, so I figured the Reuben probably ain’t half bad. Knowing that I probably wouldn’t touch them, I ordered the carrot & celery sticks as my side. Ohia totally copy-catted me by getting the exact same sandwich, but then I guess she expressed her individuality with a side of slaw. We found a table (one that both of us has occupied many times over the many years that Rosetta’s has been around) and continued to catch-up as we awaited our hippy Reubens, which arrived in short order.

Photos ©2019 by Stu Helm. I’m sorry my pics are always blurry these days. I’ll get a new camera soon. And by “camera,” I mean phone. And by “phone,” I mean thing that people text me on. Do not fucking call me on my camera-texty-thing.

So, first of all, I just wanna go ahead and say this right out front: That ain’t a Reuben.

Like, not even close. It was however, deeeee-fucking-licious! I ate the shit out of this sandwich, and enjoyed every bite. For real. Just like the 4-star cheeseburger, which looked like a shit-show BTW, Rosetta’s “Reuben” was really frickin’ tasty and satisfying, even if it really, honestly, truly, prahhhbably shouldn’t even be called a “Reuben.” Maybe it should be called “Larry.” Or “Steve.” By whatever name, it was great, healthy, flavorful, and GONE! I ate mine faster than the family dog, while Ohia recounted her life among the mainstream hair and makeup crowd in Akron. Sounded like a nightmare. So glad I live in Asheville. She said she’s making an escape plan for Spain.

These Steves are fuckin’ good! 

From the outside in, bottom-up, this yummy veg sandwich consisted of rye focaccia, grilled marinated local Smiling Hara Hempeh, Rosetta’s house-cultured kraut, and a special herb-walnut sauce. Now, true confessions: I myself may have contributed to the non-Reubenesque qualities of this sandwich by requesting avocado, which they substituted for actual Swiss cheese, as per the menu instructions which I did not read carefully enough. I  thought they would add the avocado along with the Swiss, but also I really actually intended for them to use this special Daiya vegan cheese which I liked so much on the burger. I should have asked for that!

So, I fucked it up. It was all my fault. 

Next time I go into Rosetta’s, I will definitely order the veg Reuben again, only I will be sure to specifically ask for that vegan cheese, and then it will be much more like a Reuben, although, still kinda not even really close, at all. Aaanyhoo… as I said, I enjoyed this sandwich very much and Ohia enjoyed hers as well! Here we are enjoying ourselves.

I let Ohia help herself to my healthy side of carrot and celery sticks, and though she generously offered me some of her massive heap of slaw, I declined. I’m just not a “pile o’ raw vegetables” kind of person. I’m a child of the 1970’s, Man. Carrot sticks weren’t considered a viable snack, or side, back then. They were seen more as, I dunno, rabbit food, I guess.

Ohia is probably young enough that she got carrot sticks as a snack from her mom when she was a kid, and she was probably fine with that, because kids now days don’t know any different. I’m telling you what, though, if our parents gave us carrot sticks to snack on back in 1974?!? Yeah. No. We would cry, Seriously. Actual, literal crying would happen.

“Carrot sticks?!? Whyyyyyyy? What did we do wrong? Why do you hate us?  Wahhh wahhhhh!” 

Alrighty…  Enough outta me. I highly recommend Rosetta’s! It is what it always has been: A great place for old fashioned Ashevillians, like me and Ohia to step into a delicious time machine, as well as a great spot to bring your friends and fam visiting from out of town, to give them a taste (literally!) of the way things used to be in Asheville…

…and in certain cozy little corners, like Rosetta’s, they still are!

Rosetta’s Kitchen
“Cozy stop with a casual vibe for vegetarian & vegan comfort foods, with gluten-free options.

Address: 116 N Lexington Ave, Asheville, NC 28801
Sunday Closed
Monday 11AM–11PM
Tuesday 11AM–11PM
Wednesday 11AM–11PM
Thursday 11AM–11PM
Friday 11AM–11PM
Saturday 11AM–11PM
Phone: (828) 232-0738


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Asheville Food Tours


From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O'SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.


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