Friday, September 2, 2011

Dinner at the Inn on Biltmore Estate & a Tour of the Antler Hill Farm

Inn on Biltmore Estate

After we toured the mansion and gardens of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC last week, we returned to the Inn on the grounds where we spent the night and dined in the Estate Dining Room. I can tell you without a doubt that everything about it was beyond our expectations. We enjoyed the same gracious hospitality and pampering as if we were old, personal friends of  George & Edith Vanderbilt themselves.

The Inn is in an idyllic setting overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and the Pisgah National Forest. The Pisgah forest land was originally a part of Biltmore Estate until Edith sold nearly 87,000 acres to the federal government in 1915 after George Vanderbilt’s death, creating what now is the Pisgah National Park. Mt. Pisgah in the distance is an elevation of 5,721 feet. Can you imagine once owing a national forest? It is mindboggling and impressive to me. A virtual tour of the Inn, including the beautifully appointed suites, the lovely guest rooms, the spacious lobby and library with a fireplace, and of course the dining room, is available on-line. The architecture is reminiscent of country inns of the late 19th century.

View from the Inn & Dining Room
The dining room at the Inn is luxurious and the service impeccable. It's also a coat-and-tie and little black dress kind of restaurant.  Everywhere you go in the Inn they use your name and always seem to be at your beck and call for anything and everything your heart desires.

Meakin started his meal with an appetizer of South Carolina Quail with grilled peach jam atop a black pepper waffle and mache. The waffle was crispy as expected and the surprise bite of black pepper in the waffle batter paired beautifully with the sweet peach jam, the baby lambs lettuce, and southern quail.

South Carolina Quail with Peach Jam on Black Pepper Waffle
As a main course, he ordered Rabbit Pappardelle, which is braised rabbit with tomatoes, prosciutto, olives and charred green onions served over large, broad fettuccine. As you know, if lapin is on a menu, one of us is bound to order it. The lapin was succulent and fork tender and the tomato prosciutto olive sauce brought just the right amount of moistness to the pasta.

Rabbit Pappardelle
Meakin’s choice of wine was from the Reserve List – a Biltmore Pinot Noir. It was a complex, yet elegant Pinot Noir with delicate fruit flavors and reminiscent of a French Pinot Noir. It was so delicious that we brought a few bottles home with us that we picked up at the winery the next day.

He chose a Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay for me because I’m fond of buttery, full-bodied Chardonnays. My entrée was an old classic French dish, Lobster Thermador, made for special occasions that you don’t often see on menus today and needless to say, I was delighted. The stuffed lobster was garnished with a bright green whipped pea puree, and served with a mixed vegetable succotash, and drizzled with a rich, creamy lobster popcorn butter. As you can see, it’s eye-candy on a plate. The tail was stuffed with a generous amount of Maine lobster, lightly seasoned with brandy, French cheese (probably Gruyere), and bread crumbs. It made an outstanding entrée with the buttery Biltmore Reserve Chardonnay wine.

Lobster Thermador
For dessert we shared a beautifully presented goat cheese cheesecake with a blackberry Merlot sorbet, a walnut nougetine, and blackberry jam. It was my birthday and Meakin had requested that they not make a big deal about it, so “Happy Birthday” was scrolled in chocolate above the cheesecake.

Goat Cheese Cheesecake 
After dinner we lingered over espressos and brandy and mentioned to our waiter how much we enjoyed the goat cheese cheesecake and that we were hoping to make our own goat cheese at home sometime. All excited, he said he would like to introduce us to Chef Ryba, the Chef de Cuisine, because he makes his own cheeses. We had a delightful conversation with the Chef at our table and he took the time to tell us about how to make cheese and afterwards, he brought a sample of some flavorful, sharp blue cheese that he had made. As we strolled out of the dining room, we remarked to each other that this must be how the Vanderbilt’s guests felt when they retired to their room in the evening in the mansion so many years ago.

The “Field to Table” Program at the Biltmore allows the chefs to prepare the best of what the season has to offer, featuring seasonal produce, wine from their winery, and locally grown ingredients. Much of the produce is grown on the Farm at Antler Hill Village on the grounds of the Biltmore. Antler Hill Farm is a step back in time for a hands-on legacy that was the center of Biltmore’s farming community more than a century ago. The Kitchen Garden produces lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, beans, root vegetables, berries, and squashes. Here’s a look around Antler Hill Farm.

The horse barn and farm exhibit offer a closer look at what life was like for families who lived on the Biltmore Estate in the early 1900’s.

The barn was the social and work center for these families.

It is here that they worked and visited while their children played.

Some were blacksmiths.

Blacksmith Shop
Others worked in the wood shop.

Wood Shop
While others raised livestock, tended crops, or worked in the dairy.

We’ll wander around and see the exhibits of turn-of the-century farm equipment and state-of-the art tractors of the time.

On the farm, meet some chickens, sheep, a donkey, and Belgian draft horses.

A chicken enjoys some sunflower seeds

There is so much to see at the Biltmore Estate and through the years they have added many new attractions and opened more rooms in the mansion to the public.  If you have never been or haven’t been in a while, you owe it to yourself to visit if you are in the Asheville, NC area. Christmas at Biltmore Estate is a very special time and also in the spring when 50,000 tulips and over 1,000 azaleas burst into bloom in the garden are a spectacular site to see. Allow a full day or more to tour the mansion, gardens, farm, and winery and be sure to read the tour tips. Our visit ended as we purchased wines and vowed to return soon for a complete tour of the winery – the most visited winery in America.


  1. What an impressive post Sam! You can be sure if I lived closer we would go for an overnight.
    You described everything in details; I could easily visualize the charm of this mansion and smell that food.
    I hope you send them your post; they will be thrilled with your review.

  2. What a treat to enjoy and share...Thanks.

  3. Simply beautiful and breathtaking. I love the pictures of the food. The lobster thermadore looks TO DIE FOR! YUMMMMM!

  4. What a wonderful meal! That quail appetizer looks and sounds divine. And thanks for posting all the photos, loved the tour and this is just wonderful that it's open to the public.

  5. This is one of the places that I want to visit. Your post has me drooling.

  6. A lovely place and wonderful meal! The view is stunning, the gardens are beautiful and the animals are really cute.



  7. I feel as if I opened my mailbox and found the latest issue of Gourmet magazine. Your prose and photos took me right to Asheville. That misty mountain photo made me a little homesick. I think we would have probably made the same menu choices. I'm actually going to "bookmark" this post so I can find it easily when we decide to go--maybe in the spring.


  8. I don’t know where to begin – I usually spend a couple of minutes on a post but I was here at least 45 as I checked out the links, the virtual tour, the menus, etc. Any time I’ve had lobster thermador, it came in a dish and I really like their in-the-shell presentation. A meal of quail and rabbit sounds perfect for the setting you were in – I’ve bought quail from Manchester Farms ( in SC and wonder if these came from there. And after a great meal to top it off with a visit from the chef – how cool is that. The Inn looks super nice and what a great view. It’s easy to see why ole George built his little get-away there. Thanks for the tour, the photos, etc. What a terrific way to spend your birthday and you’re right, we need to go back – Meakin sure knows how to take care of his woman.

  9. It's all so wonderful! Love the waffle, sounds interesting and the goat cheese cheesecake sounds amazing! Beautiful picts! My daughter loved looking at the animals too :)

  10. Sam is wonderful, thanks by sharing I enjoyed all the pictures!! gloria

  11. Those beautiful photos say it all - grand clicks, Sam. Loving the food (surprise, surprise) and that rabbit is both rustic and elegant.

  12. Oh, Sam, I just love these photos. I really enjoying visiting the Biltmore Estate. These lovely photos just took me on a wonderful trip. Thanks so much for sharing them and the food.

  13. I love those clicks! Rustic and so beautiful!
    I wish you a happy weekend!

  14. Belated birthday wishes. Looks like a great time and fantastic food. have a good weekend Diane

  15. Thank you for this very interesting post...I really would like to visit those places....have a nice weekend, hugs, Flavia

  16. Oh, my! What a meal! And it's been so long since I've been to the Biltmore Estate -- I didn't know about the farm tour. Thanks, Sam, for this gorgeous post!

  17. Thank you for this lovely tour! Happy Birthday too! I love the way they decorated your dessert plate!

  18. Wonderful dishes here, the North Carolina quail with peach jam and waffles sounds especially interesting as well as the goat cheesecake with Merlot sorbet. And how fun to tour the farm too!

  19. Sounds like you had a great time. It really is a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing so many wonderful photos with us.

  20. Growing up in NC from age 10, the Biltmore has been on my list to visit for a long time. I live in South Florida now, but with family still in NC and my FIL in Asheville...hoping we get to visit the Biltmore soon.

    I loved reading your posts and experiences there.

  21. Thank you for sharing this wonderful visit with us Sam!
    Meakin's Quail with peach jam sounds absolutely superbe! it would have been my choice - everything looks oh! so delectable!

  22. Ah, where to start? That Lobster Thermador looks absolutely worthy of your celebration! It looks like it was an incredibly lovely occasion. I so appreciated the glimpse into the kitchen garden, and the extraordinary chickens as well. Glad to see that the agricultural traditions of Biltmore continue and are seen at the table.

  23. Oh, how I enjoyed all the photos! those chickens were too cute! You certainly had the best choice from the menu~thanks so much for sharing this wonderful adventure!

  24. What a nice meal. I have to say that I haven't seen a Lobster Thermador on menus for a long time. I like your pictures of the garden.

  25. So close that we simply HAVE to go there the next time my folks get back to Franklin.

  26. Really enjoyed this post. We were supposed to stay at the inn last year but had to pass it by because we were trying to outrun a snow storm. It is still on my must do list. Thank you for sharing the photos.

  27. What a lovely post, Sam. Your photos, too, are wonderful. You have away with words, my friend :-). I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  28. Happy birthday (late)! I know that your enjoyed your meal and the special attention from the chef and staff. This place is a treasure and although I have dined there I have never stayed at the Inn.


  29. I don't even know what to say other than... WOW! So much info and so many beautiful photos packed into this post. It was wonderful, Sam. Thank you :D

  30. This is a very interesting post, Sam. I have never stayed at the inn but it looks very impressive. I toured the estate years ago and this is a reminder of how much I enjoyed it. The food you were served looks more than delicious. Glad you had such a fabulous trip. Shannon

  31. What a fun post, Sam. I feel as though I was right there with you. The photos are wonderful and the food looks fabulous. I'd love to visit.

  32. Oh my, I"m in awe of any blogger that can post this many gorgeous photos at one time! I"ve wanted to be in NC most of this hot Alabama summer. You have the best of both worlds I think.

    PS I want that cheesecake!

  33. What a fun way to spend your birthday!! The scenery and food both look spectacular. I think I need to plan a trip to NC :)

  34. Wow, looks amazing! We had some surprisingly good meals in Ashville. Loved touring the Biltmore as well. So many posts coming out of NC lately - it's making me insanely jealous as I would LOVE to relocate there. Liz

  35. What a lovely meal! I'm a big fan of full-bodied, buttery Chardonnay's too :) What a wonderful, historic place to visit. I loved the tour of the gardens, barns and work areas.

  36. Sam, so nice...I enjoyed every picture...and the food look delicious.
    Hope you are having a great week :-)

  37. We have annual passes to the Biltmore this year, and your post has got me eager for my next visit. I agree with the commenter who said you should send them this post!

  38. Thank you so much for sharing your birthday dinner with us and taking us on a tour of the estate. What a gorgeous place! If I ever get to North Carolina this is at the top of my list of places I must visit.

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  40. Sam, This was the most beautiful post of the Biltmore Estate that I have ever seen. I am so happy that you were able to go there for your birthday. Happy Birthday! If we had known that you were in the area we would have had you stop by, but we did have lots of family visiting. Even though we live close, we have never experienced all that Biltmore has to offer. You have inspired me to spend some time there.

  41. Beautiful post, Sam, and such wonderful photos! I have the Biltmore high on my list of places I want to visit someday. Perhaps we'll splurge and also stay in their Inn. Your dinner looked superb! I would also have chosen the Lobster Thermador and my husband would have had the Rabbit Papparadelle. Happy belated birthday!


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