On our night at the Biltmore Estate Cheri and I decided to have dinner in the Dining Room, the restaurant on the lower level of the inn. It looked very nice, and the menu was pretty attractive as well. They suggest gentlemen wear jackets to dinner, so we expected a more formal approach to the meal,
which we got. We’d have to say the atmosphere was very good. If you get there early enough you might get one of the window tables with breathtaking views of the mountains. We did not, unfortunately, but made do with a nice table in front of the large fireplace.
Initial service was excellent. The wine was a bottle of the Biltmore’s own 2012
Dry Creek Valley Cabernet. I ordered the 2010 that was on the menu, but they arrived with the 2012. Worried about it being too young we asked that it be decanted, which was done quickly, and while the wine was somewhat closed down at first it quickly opened and was quite excellent. For our meals I ordered the 5 course tasting menu, and Cheri ordered lobster bisque, filet mignon and the famous Biltmore chocolate ice cream for dessert. A key here would be how they coordinated my five courses with her three. It went fairly well until the latter part of the meal, but more on that later.
There was an amuse bouche to start, a strawberry gazpacho that was spicy and herbaceous along with
the fruit and very good. There was also some champagne in the mixture. Cheri liked her lobster bisque, and it was very creamy and savory, as well as nicely presented. Later she had some issues and did not like it quite so much. My initial course was breaded, deep fried lobster ravioli with tomatillo green salad. This was very tasty, and the crunchy tomatillos were bright and really
sharpened the dish. Next I had a sampling of local goat cheese, with pickled rasberry, orange and cardamom sauce. This was just delicious, and all the flavors worked together harmoniously. So far I was impressed, as my first two dishes were very complex, but at the same time balanced and tasty. Someone knew what they were doing.
My third course consisted of trout with smoked mussels, fried leeks and some mixed vegetables. The smoky flavors were not too much, and both the fish and shellfish were tasty as well as well cooked. The sauce lit up the overall
dish. At the end of it I had 7 or 8 ingredients together on my fork and it worked.
Unfortunately Cheri had been watching me eat for some time now, as well as having a sample or two. This changed as they arrived with some strawberry and orange sorbet, and they brought some for her as well, which was a nice touch. She also got to actually eat the next course, as her filet arrived with my venison. I need to stop and say here that a very, very long time went by between the third course and the sorbet, and then an even longer time went by until the filet and venison showed up. At this point we were 2+ hours into the meal, many people
had left and it was not crowded in the least. Service just ground to a snail’s pace. Also, the original waiter (who was excellent) was not bringing the dishes, and the server who was obviously knew nothing about the food. When asked what was on the plate I got nothing but blank stares. Our waiter would then later come by and explain the dish. These were problems, especially the slow pace at this point.
My venison was very good, with a blackberry sauce and some wilted greens. It was not hot however. Not cold, just not hot. Cheri’s filet suffered the same fate. Her’s also suffered from an extremely heavy smokiness that permeated
the dish and drowned everything else out. Neither of us enjoyed it, as it was one of the worst filet mignon preparations we had ever experienced. It also seemed a little dried out, as it had been sitting under heat lamps for quite a while.
Finally we arrived at dessert. Mine was sour cherry sorbet over Maraschino cherries. This was too much cherry, especially for someone who is not really crazy about cherry flavor to begin with. Alongside that was a fine cannoli, but just a cannoli. I left my dessert on the plate. Cheri received a gigantic bowl of the very excellent and decadent chocolate ice cream, and she graciously shared. This was some seriously good ice cream.
We left hours and hours after we arrived, with mixed feelings. Much of the meal had been quite excellent. Some was below par, and the horribly slow pace between the last few courses sort of ruined the evening. We would probably try this again if we were staying for two nights, but I would not order the tasting menu again due to time considerations. If we were staying for one night we would go to The Bistro in Antler Village, next to the winery.
Not great overall, but not bad. Not cheap overall, but not super expensive. You should probably try it yourself, but I’d give it 3 out of 5 for a rating. My wallet’s not out, but I might consider trying it a second time.
A votre sante!