In Latin, “postero” means “next day.” When Henderson County native Jason Reasoner — former executive chef at Kenmure Country Club in Flat Rock — and his wife Stephanie opened their downtown restaurant late last year, they meant to introduce a horizon of ever-changing cuisine.
Postero corners the upscale market south of Asheville. It’s a niche Chef Reasoner sought to fill when he debuted his ambitious, two-story dream space in a historic Main Street building that used to be a bank.
Postero isn’t so much “next day,” though, as it is “of the moment.” (Perhaps, as a restaurant title and concept, “Carpe Diem” was too played out.) On a recent Friday night, the eatery was humming with a brisk, happening vibe. Despite the rather grand, meandering scale of the place, the acoustics were surprisingly cozy. Soft touches in the neutral-but-polished interior meant none of the high-ceilinged clatter that mars the dining experience in similar high-end Asheville restaurants.
Service was exquisitely attentive: decorous but friendly, without a speck of hipster pretentiousness. Postero divides its menu into Starter & Snacks, Medium Plates, and Big Plates, although “medium” offers plenty in the way of a satisfying meal. Even the small plates — everything from gourmet potato chips to rabbit rillette with foie-gras and Dijon — aren’t insultingly small; the crab hushpuppies, for example, were a particularly flavorful start, and more than enough to satisfy a two-top.
The medium-plate “Pork Ramen” was slow-cooked heritage-pork shoulder, house-made kimchi, a miso poached egg, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and pickled radish — a fine mélange of flavors that wins extra points for presentation (prettily introducing an egg to such a mix takes a certain skill).
A litter of regional farms, revealed in the description of almost every menu item, proves the freshness of the Reasoners’ concept, including their zeal for local growers. These include Ashley Farms, Joyce Farms, Sweetgrass Dairy, Heritage Farms, Sequatchie Cove Creamery, and others.
In February and March, though, mountain-raised produce is decidedly scarce. Nevertheless, Postero does its best, casting local root veggies in a supporting role for its handsome, hearty, big-plate Vegetable Ragout (once again, an egg, this time fried, provides the protein; sweet-potato gnocchi is the keynote starch).
Steak lovers get wood-grilled beef tenderloin on a happily large scale. The entrée is paired with Yukon gold mashed potato with smoked butter and cauliflower, steak sauce demi-glace, crispy bone marrow, and griddled mushroom. The pork-tenderloin big plate on the specials list was likewise a tender success, with plenty left over to take home.
Postero gives its patrons a complex beer, wine, and cocktails list, plus servers who can break down the niceties of these beverages. It also offers — big bonus — some inventive non-alcoholic drinks, as well (hello, house-made vanilla-bean lemonade!). The restaurant manages to feel both celebratory and intimate: an obvious place for parties, enhanced with plenty of nooks for tête-à-têtes.
The dessert list is small, with the requisite Henderson County apples showing up in the cider-sorbet accompaniment to the “Ginger Spice Cake.” A “Peanut Butter Semifreddo” (i.e. a frozen mousse) and a “Dark Chocolate Terrine” (navel orange, ginger anglaise, and pistachio fill the layers) round out the trio of offerings.
An additional seasonal dessert, perhaps when warmer weather comes, would be welcome. Overall, the Reasoners are clearly cooking in the now. Prime example: instead of the de rigueur trout entrée, Postero furnishes cornmeal-dusted Carolina triggerfish. It’s a sweet, mild fish, but its name aptly embodies the restaurant’s raison d’être: assertive, chancy, and packing action behind its claims.