On your way to Asheville, North Carolina from Atlanta, you’ll come across the small town of Waynesville, North Carolina. Snuggled in the Smoky Mountains, Waynesville lies within a few miles of some of Western Carolinas favorite tourist spots like Maggie Valley and Cherokee. In response to the active tourist population, Waynesville has developed a wonderful Main Street shopping area where you can stroll up and down and visit many art galleries, specialty shops and of course, The Mast General Store. Mast General Store truly has something of interest for most everyone. It’s brimming with three full floors of clothing, shoes, small kitchen wares, housewares, regional foods (jams, jellies and syrups) and furniture. It really does have the feel of an “old time” general store with it’s “creaky” hardwood floors and wooden display cases and shelves. Founded in the late 1800’s the store has maintained it’s presence in Waynesville and expanded to other mountain areas like Knoxville, Tennessee. Once you’ve finished browsing, head down Main Street to Miller Street and make a left, where you’ll find “The Sweet Onion” restaurant. It’s a casual, but upscale restaurant tucked away on Miller Street, about a block off Main. I’ve had dinner there several times and each time, have been pleased with the food and service. The menu is varied and has lots of “comfort foods”, like macaroni & cheese, garlic mashed potatoes, but also has an ample variety of steaks, seafood, salads and sandwiches.
On a recent visit, we started off with the Black Bean Cakes, that are corn meal crusted cakes gently fried and topped off with a sweet corn and avocado salsa and dollops of ancho chili lime cream. For entrees, our vegetarian group opted for the Peanut Pad Thai which was a sauté of bok choy, green onions and peppers with rice noodles, tossed in a Thai peanut sauce. On the menu there were other pasta dishes like Ranch Fettuccine Alfredo or Pasta Sienna with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and basil that will satisfy the vegetarians in your group.
I ordered the Country Fried Steak, a hand-cut and pounded sirloin steak that’s breaded and fried to perfection. They top it off with a cracked black pepper gravy. It was delicious and you could really tell that this was an actual steak that had been pounded down and breaded, as opposed to the “mystery” meat that you often get when you order a country fried steak in a restaurant. All these entrees come with garlic cheddar biscuits and a choice of two side items, like garlic mashed potatoes, broccoli salad, Gouda scalloped potatoes, grits, mixed sautéed vegetables or macaroni & cheese. You can substitute a house salad for one of the sides, for an additional cost. Of the sides, I particularly liked the Gouda scalloped potatoes, they were nice and creamy, with just a hint of the Gouda cheese. The portions are ample and there always seems to be a need for a “to go box”.
To end the meal, we shared several of the desserts including: Southern Pecan Crème Brulee, Dutch Chocolate Cake, and Caramel Apple Crisp. All were good, but I think the favorite was the pecan crème brulee. The custard was smooth and creamy and contrasted well with the topping of candied pecans and caramelized sugar. It added just the right amount of crunch to the otherwise smooth custard base.
Overall, I would recommend that if you’re traveling near Waynesville, North Carolina, stop in and enjoy this charming little town and the great food at The Sweet Onion.
Entrees average – $12.00-14.00