My husband and I spent the Memorial Day weekend in North Carolina, travelling through various cities. Our first stop was Asheville, NC to visit the Biltmore Estate. If you have never been, I highly recommend checking it out. It's the country's largest private residence, and it is just phenomenal. Your admission to the house also includes the Biltmore village shops, the house, gardens, winery and Antler Hill Village. I've been in both the fall and spring, and each time of year had it's benefits. We were able to see the gardens in full bloom this year, and in the past I was able to see the changing leaves in the fall. I really want to go back at Christmastime as I'm sure it's even more beautiful there!
Before our admission to the house tour, JJ and I had some time to kill and decided to get lunch. We both decided that we'd rather eat in the restaurant than in the cafe area where you purchase food and bring it to a picnic table. We chose the Stable Cafe for lunch, which was the old stable house, and was renovated into a restaurant, but still contains the original architecture. The cuisine is sort of Traditional Southern meets contemporary Bistro Cafe, a nice fusion of the two.
We were seated at a booth, which lined the walls and were originally for the horses. Each had a trough for hay and a water bucket (which now has a plant in it).
After browsing the menu, we decided to start with the Fried Green Tomatoes. They were very fresh, the breading had cornmeal in it and was crisp, the tomatoes were thick sliced, sweet, tart, and very warm. The tomatoes sat on a salad of sliced cucumbers, red onion, and dill-ranch-buttermilk type dressing that was exceptionally light and refreshing.
When it came time to order, we found out we had both been eyeing up the same two dishes, but had our reservations. I thought the Apricot Chicken Salad looked great, but worried it might have too much celery, the only vegetable I despise!
Luckily, JJ had been considering that, so he ordered it and told me we could share. The salad was enormous, made with fresh rotisserie chicken, chunks of plump, dried apricots, and minimal celery. It was served atop a bed of butter lettuce and two yeast rolls with fresh whipped butter. The rolls were warm and the butter was sweet. The chicken was tender and juicy, and the binder was really light, perfect for us may-haters.
For my lunch, I settled on the waitresses favorite, the Southern Salad. It was quite the eclectic mixture of traditional Southern favorites, and more of a platter of items on a bed of lettuce. It was amazing. Again, the base was a bed of butter lettuce (my personal favorite), then it was topped with a mound of fresh, pulled rotisserie chicken breast, shaved salty, sweet ham, a few nuggets of fried okra, 2 deviled eggs, a few tomato wedges, and a few strips of smoked Gouda. The salad was served with a light, buttermilk ranch dressing.
The okra was perfect, crisp and warm. The chicken and ham were tender and fresh, the tomato tasted hydroponically grown, but was still good. I'm not a fan of deviled eggs, so I only ate a bite of one, but it was good. I'm also not a fan of smoked Gouda, but a few bites mixed in with the chicken and ham were great.
Had it been dinnertime, we definitely would have sprung for dessert, the Southern Dessert Sampler looked amazing, but we had to get on our way to tour the house.
I highly recommend the Stable Cafe, the prices were reasonable, and the food and service were outstanding!