In my pursuit of all things to eat and drink local, I have had the good fortune to be invited to travel a bit across the Carolinas ( and Tennessee) and I must say I have enjoyed it all every bite of the way. A recent invitation to Hendersonville, NC and the surrounding areas to check out many of the restaurants participating in the first ever Hendersonville Restaurant Week was such a trip. I was joined by a group of eight other food bloggers from across the Carolinas and we simply ate it up ( pun intended). If you’ve never imagined Hendersonville as a North Carolina dining destination, well then, I say, imagine again.
The very first Hendersonville Restaurant Week is nearly over now -just four more days in the offing as I write this on Tuesday March 20, 2018. If you can get up to Henderson County – Just 20 miles or so outside of Asheville in the next several days, the time spent will most definitely be worth your while as you will enjoy special prix fixe menus for lunch or brunch at $10 or $15 per person, and special prix fixe coursed dinners at $20, $30, or $35. Just go in – you might want to make reservations to be assured of seating – say you want to order from the restaurant week menus and enjoy. No special coupons, tickets, etc. are needed.
If you can’t get up the mountain before the 24th, then keep this post as a guide and plan your trip soon. Impossible to list all of the participating restaurants and sponsors, so, I’ve hit on the highlights here, but you’ll find more on the Hendersonville Restaurant Week site.
It had been a long time since I was in Hendersonville and things, they are a changin’ with lots of chef driven options serving up local food and drink to die for and more of the same on the way… Case in point: the much anticipated restaurant behind this door at 202 Main Street, is coming soon. Its not like me to write about a place that hasn’t opened yet, but we were invited to tour this three level as yet unnamed chef-driven restaurant and I’m here to tell you its going to be spectacular. Stay tuned….can’t wait to tell this story!
More about my delicious and most recent Hendersonville, NC food and drink adventure in a moment, but first, if you will indulge me, my dear readers, I’d like to share a bit of history.
Circa, longer ago than I would like to mention: The first time I was ever in Henderson County, North Carolina it was to visit apple growing country with my Mom and Dad and my brother Jaimie. We drove up from our home in Jacksonville, Florida, It was late August and I must have been 8-9 years old. The most exciting part of this family vacation for me, was that we were staying in a cabin and I remember it was like staying in a “for real” play house. It was my brother’s birthday and I was most excited because I got to bake his cake in the tiny cabin kitchen. I realized that I could follow – for the first time ever – the high altitude directions on the side of the box. I was 8, and at the time, to me, the side panel of the cake box equated to a huge culinary adventure – it’s the little things, don’t you know !
My second trip was years later and was to Hendersonville proper in 2003. It was my first weekend away with Tom Billotto, the man who would soon come to be my husband .
Honestly given the romance of the weekend, and at the risk of an oversharing of information here, I really don’t remember much about the food; but I do remember that we stayed at a B&B called The Inn on Church Street, now (under new ownership) it is The Henderson, but it is still centrally located and within perfect walking distance of any breakfast, lunch or dinner spot on or in the Main Street area.
That second trip was followed by a third trip for my birthday in April of 2006, and for sentimental reasons (more than I knew at the time we made the reservations) Tom and I stayed at the Inn on Church Street once again. To my surprise our big night out on the town started with champagne on the porch of the Inn, a ring and a proposal of marriage to which I said, “Yes!” with lots of happy tears. Once again, my mind was on things other than food, and so while we did eat dinner, I don’t have any photos of food and honestly, I can’t really tell you much about what we ate or even where, but I can tell you that there weren’t very many dining options on Main Street and now that has all changed.
Hendersonville Restaurant Week – Hendersonville, NC
Fast forward to present day. My late February 2018 trip to Henderson County was all about the food and in three short days I, along with my blogging buddies, ate our way from one end of the county to the other, in and out of the Hendersonville city limits.
On the menu: A group of restaurants all excited to take the leap of faith in this new Hendersonville Restaurant Week venture expertly orchestrated by my friend and fellow North Carolina blogger Laura Huff, also author of the blog Carolina Epicurean.
In addition to all of the participating restaurants, Laura also coordinated a group of restaurant week lodging partners, which will interest all of you from Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, SC and beyond who will want to turn your mountain dining adventure into a two to three day getaway, Among the list of lodging partners, is the beautifully appointed Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill, where I was fortunate to find myself lodging for my February two night/ three day stay.
Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill in Mills River, NC
Tiffany Hill is charming and that is putting it mildly. This seven suite inn was decorated right out of the pages of Southern Living magazine with a big dose of Southern hospitality inspired by the sophistication of the Southern cities for which each suite is named.
Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill is the only B&B listed in Southern Living’s Hotel Collection and is mentioned in the 2017 Southern Living South’s Best! If you follow my social media you may have seen several of my posts regarding this get-away-from-it-all lodging option you are going to love as much as I did!
I stayed in the Natchez suite, especially selected for me by Inn owner Selena Einwechter, the room is beautifully appointed in hues of pink and so of course, I felt right at home. That’s the thing about a wonderfully run B&B like Tiffany Hill, you feel at home. I can’t wait to go back and share it all with Tom!
Since my stay, there have been additional accolades and I am excited to share that Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill was named the Number 1 Inn in this year’s issue of Southern Living’s annual South’s Best. Congratulations Selena!
Your stay at Bed & Breakfast on Tiffany Hill will be relaxing, refreshing and a time to renew and let someone else take care of you for a change. Coffee, tea and sweet and salty snacks of all sorts were always at hand at a sideboard just outside my room; the towels were fat and fluffy and bathtub big enough for soaking. As this was a working stay, I also enjoyed the fact that there was a wonderful desk in the room with plenty of room and enough plugs for my laptop, phone and all the accoutrements a traveling food writer brings to the table. The chair at the desk invited me to “Make Yourself At Home” and so I did; and I loved every moment of writing and working in my 2-day home away from home.
Tiffany Hill is in Mills River, NC – just 15-20 min drive from Main Street in Hendersonville, but also close to Brevard, not far from Asheville and centrally located enough to make visits to a brewery, a cidery, and a botanical garden all doable in the same day if you’d like. If you’re looking for exercise, plan to hike for the day in a national forest or a state park or if you really just want to relax, stay put and enjoy the Inn, its common areas, sitting rooms and outdoor garden seating vignettes are all lovely spots to catch up on reading, writing or just be.
Breakfast at Tiffany Hill – or should I say “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was a three-course meal each morning that started with fruit, followed by a savory plate and ended with dessert – one day a peach cobbler with ice cream and the next day a lemon creme brulee! What a great way to start the day! Considerations are taken for the dietary needs of each guest, right down the specifics such as if you would rather drink coffee or tea, and it was fun to sit with other Inn guests to hear of their plans and adventures for the day. During my stay, guests came to explore in Dupont State Park ( where many scenes from The Hunger Games were filmed), Hike in the Pisgah National Forest and just relax – I was the only one here on a mission to eat, but it was fun to report my findings from the day before at breakfast and I think that may have served as an inspiration to other guests to follow suit!
Let the Hendersonville Restaurant Week culinary adventures begin…
While we are in Mills River, NC, the Bed & Breakfast at Tiffany Hill is quite literally just around the corner from Bold Rock Hard Cider’s Mills River location, so lets start our eating and drinking here!
This is the second home base for this hard cider operation which started, and still operates in Virginia but then decided to open doors in North Carolina apple country as well. Bold Rock is now the largest single consumer of Henderson County apples; and all of the Bold Rock Cider you’ll find sold in the state of North Carolina comes from the Mills River site. I loved Bold Rock so much that I recently asked to include them as a part of my early Spring Eat Local Drink Local round up, featuring local food and drink from across the Carolinas.
The set up at Bold Rock is huge and tons of fun with lots of space to grow – you can watch the entire bottling operations behind glass windows from a upper level seating area or you can enjoy a nice spot at the bar inside. Outside you’ll find a new and improved onsite food truck where barbecue is the name of the game. Once Hendersonville Restaurant Week has come and gone, you’ll enjoy Bold Rock this summer as they bring entertainment into the weekend mix of happenings and don’t miss a Monday night visit when the food truck features its regular steak night with steaks hot off the grill to go with that pint or two of delicious hard cider. In addition to drinking on site, you can also buy all of the varieties of Bold Rock here, available in cans or bottles or poured on tap into growlers to take home to enjoy. Look for their seasonal spring cider – a crisp pink rose you are going to love as much as I do! Once really hot weather hits, I plan to freeze the rose cider to make a fun spiked granitee to serve as a palate cleanser between courses at many a summer meal – or serve the frozen pink pour in a cocktail glass with a cute paper straw and call it “frozé”
Bold Rock hard Cider is at 72 School House Rd., Mills River, NC. Phone: 828.595. 9941
Back in Hendersonville, our first stop of the group’s trip was for award winning BBQ. Its all about the smoke at Flat Rock Wood Room, where these jumbo Frankenmuth ( named for the man with the award winning recipe) wings are rubbed, smoked and tossed in a deglaze mixture, then finished by flash frying and a final coat of Competition BBQ sauce are on the HRW menu as one of the items for lunch and as an appetizer for dinner.
If you love it ( and you will) you can try to replicate it at home. Jamie Guay won’t share all of his techniques or his sauce recipes, but he will sell you his Championship rub and sauce by the bottle so you can give it a go!
Visit Flat Rock Wood Room at 1501 Greenville Hwy
Hendersonville, NC; 828.435.1391
Next up, Old Orchard Tavern, the restaurant that is a part of the Cascades Mountain Resort, another HRW lodging partner. The Old Orchard Tavern is aptly named as it is located in the heart of Hendersonville’s historic apple county. The menu is chef driven sourcing from several area farms. We enjoyed a mix of pastas, braised and roasted meats, soups and salads. The Sunburst trout Pasta was delicious, but the braised lamb shank was the dish that won everyone’s heart. You’ll find Old Orchard Tavern at 201 Sugarloaf Road, Hendersonville, NC; Phone: 828.595.8157 Like many of the restaurants participating in restaurant week, they are offering HRW menus at several price points.
We capped off our first night in town at a great little neighborhood tavern, Brooks Tavern, just across Church street from The Henderson. Its a fun little bar with great drinks and good eats – Just had to order Brook’s signature cocktail, “Giggle Water”, it’s pink and potent! If you’ve a taste for something sweet ‘n salty, do try the pint glass of candied bacon or if dessert is what you crave, the fried cheesecake is worthy of your consideration!
Brooks Tavern is located at 142 Third Avenue West; Hendersonville, NC; Phone: 850.748. 6535
First stop on morning two of our Hendersonville Restaurant Week dining preview was the much touted, and rightfully so, Postero restaurant located on Main Street in digs that once were Hendersonville’s First Bank and Trust Co. The big vaults are still there – too big to move when the building was redesigned, so they now are the home to the restaurants the wine cellar and the private dining room! Postero is light, open and airy – a simply elegant restaurant with a reputation that had put this spot on my bucket list for some time. Now that I have had a taste, I can’t wait to go back! I am delighted to say, the food and service are both superb!
Husband and wife team Chef Jason and proprietress Stephanie Reasoner and staff are taking New American Cuisine to the next level here, sourcing local product, produce and proteins; beautifully paying homage to the sustainable sources of everything they put on the plate and in the glass. Jason heads up the action in the open kitchen, while Stephanie works the front of the house. Postero is serving a two course restaurant week lunch for $15 and a three course dinner for $35 and it is much touted with good reason. This chef-owned, chef-driven restaurant is another great reason to plan a mountain getaway sooner than later.
On the Hendersonville Restaurant Menu and seasonally on the regular menu at Postero: Don’t miss the cauliflower soup, the carrot hummus or the polenta fries on the menu for lunch and dinner; on the dinner menu try the Potato chips with “funion salt’, Carolina catfish and grits and the lamb merguez with house made lamb sausage. Postero is located at 401 N Main St., Hendersonville, NC; Phone: 828.595.9676
While we are talking bucket lists, prior to this trip there was another Hendersonville based restaurant I’ve wanted to check out for several years now and as luck would have it, it’s a part of the Hendersonville Restaurant Week line up and you’ll find in right on Main Street just blocks away from Postero. The restaurant is Never Blue and the woman who brings it all to the table is chef Jesse Roque.
I first met Jesse when she entered the first ever NCRLA Chef Showdown, held in Raleigh in 2016. Jesse wowed the crowd and the judges with an all local dish and a fun “eye dropper” of dressing for the salad and consequently became the first ever NCRLA Chef of the Year! Ever since I’ve wanted to go see and taste what Never Blue was all about.
You’ll smile as soon as you walk through the door. The location was originally home to an auto repair garage and so the space is large and cavernous, but Jesse has made it all a party with bright fun colors, bold artwork ( a lot of it done by her mom!) and comfy seating at multiple levels of dining areas. Jesse’s creative and playful spin from the kitchen blew us all away with her take on everything from the melt-in-your-mouth potato gnocchi to her take on Korean BBQ, from mac and cheese to house cured sorghum bacon wrapped devils on horseback to the cream brulee for dessert served with a side of mermaid or unicorn fudge. You are going to love it, no matter what you order – not a wrong choice in the bunch!
Jesse and her team offer cuisine from around the world at Never Blue making it all fresh and all the more fabulous by featuring locally sourced ingredients in each and every dish. The cocktail list is equally creative, so come to Never Blue planning to relish the evening, Think of this dining experience as more than a meal. Kick back, its a festival of fun and flavor so raise your glass and enjoy! You’ll find your way to Never Blue at 119 South Main Street, Hendersonville, NC. Phone: 828.693.4646
Highland Lake Inn and Resort is in Flat Rock, NC, just a stones throw from Hendersonville and a part of the restaurant week line up as well. The property offers the combination of accommodations with an onsite restaurant, Season’s at Highland Lake. This large resort, situated on 40 acres of mountain property, offers many amenities from canoes, kayaks and paddleboards to trail bikes and in room massage, Highland Lake caters to weddings, group meetings and large family gatherings offering cabin and historic lodge accommodations as well as spacious suites and poolside cottages. In the dining room, there is a focus on many of the farm grown ingredients picked daily from the resort’s onsite organic garden. The restaurant week menu offers a choice of some Season’s best dishes: the Lamb Pappardelle, Carolina Trout and a Rich Forest Mushroom Ravioli. For lunch the house smoked pork served on a Johnny Cake, shown here is a fun play on an open faced sandwich. Season’s at Highland Lake Resort is just outside of Hendersonville at 86 Lily Pad Lane, Flat Rock, NC. Phone: 800.758.8130
One of the restaurants participating in Hendersonville Restaurant Week was not yet confirmed when our bloggers group met, so I wasn’t able to eat there this trip, but I’ll be back soon. Its a place I have eaten at once before with Tom when we went on a 3-day weekend to Lake Lure several years ago and certainly bears a mention here. The Esmeralda Inn & Restaurant in Chimney Rock, NC is another beautiful place to stay to enjoy all this wonderful part of North Carolina has to offer and dinner at the inn’s restaurant on site must certainly be on your list. The inn has been named as one of the area’s most romantic getaways, and I although we have only eaten here but never had the opportunity to stay, I would concur.
Originally opened in 1892 and then rebuild in all its glory after a devastating fire in 1997, he Inn, a giant log cabin is amazing and offers 14 rooms off the impressive lobby area. There are also three cabins available if you would like more of a getaway. You’ll find the Esmerelda Inn & Restaurant at 910 Main Street, Chimney Rock, NC. Phone: 828.625.2999
The biggest surprise, particularly for many locals, in the Hendersonville Restaurant Week line up is a little sports bar called The Dugout Taproom and Grill. The big news here is that there is a new chef at the helm – Brooke Crider – and she is putting out big flavors and changing things up a bit, actually a lot. The Dugout is still a sports bar with all sorts of beer on tap, but look for a higher level of food to go with your next brew at the bar. The team at the Dugout is using this restaurant week menu as sort of a kick off to show what Brooke brings to the table. Brooke is also a pastry chef and so my advice is that while you’ll enjoy the appetizer and main course fare, you’ll most certainly want to save room for dessert! I am still dreaming about the chocolate peanut butter pie, oh my.
Now that you’ve got the goods on lots of great places to eat, I leave you to discover more about the food and drink in this great little corner of The Old North State on your own. As you explore downtown Hendersonville, allow time to spill in and out of all the shops from used book stores and antiques to toy stores, kitchen shops and mens and ladies boutiques.
For fun, with the family or while you are out and about “adulting” without the kiddos, take some time to enjoy a game or two or three of old fashioned pinball at the Appalachian Pinball Museum on Main street. Its a blast from the past for kids of all ages and your $10 admission buys you a day of play, so if you keep the wristband on, you can come and go as you would like.
This summer, music comes to Main street in Hendersonville – The Music on Main Street series is held every Friday evening from mid June through mid August, just another of the many reasons you should plan a visit to take in it all.
For more info on all you will find in and around Hendersonville, NC year round and more of what the area offers hop on over to VisitHendersonvilleNC.org Be sure to #TellThemHeidiSentYou