A few weeks ago, a friend and I traveled four hours from Atlanta up to the mountains on a mission to see The Biltmore, but we found so much more in this small beautiful city.
I was gobsmacked by the striking patina on this roof as soon as we parked in the Renaissance parking lot. Asheville has it all, from the English tudor style architecture of Biltmore Village to art deco downtown, from charming Arts and Crafts bungalows and Victorian homes to the more industrial thriving River Arts District down by the railroad tracks.
Night one, we hit Table. Hmmm, one-word name, some bragging about just how farm to table they are, the menu changing EVERY NIGHT(!) … I gotta admit, I was ready to be a hater. Until I tasted the buttermilk bread served before dinner. There are no words to describe just how good the entree was. They have earned their bragging rights. The food at Table is to die for, and the service was excellent.
Photo by Alchemy Studio
Bellies full and headed back to the hotel, we staggered upstairs to The Twisted Laurel, where we enjoyed grooving to Jim Arrendell and the Cheap Suits with a horde of their local fans.
The next day we got it together and headed out to The Biltmore. Both of us bad planners, the online tickets were sold out. After waiting in a long line and paying over $60 each for the house tour, we had quite a few hours to kill until our appointed tour time. This was a blessing, because it meant we had precious hours to leave the property and hit the River Arts District, where creativity thrives in Asheville.
A few favorites were Mark Bettis, who mostly works with cold wax and oil paint, and Element Clay Studio. I picked up a piece from each of them.
The funkadoo vibe in the River Arts District was a really fun contrast to the display of Gilded Age wealth we were about to encounter at The Biltmore. Case in point: A wall and view in The River Arts District …
…vs. a wall at The Biltmore:
Which do you like better? While the breathtaking mountain and foothill views at The Biltmore were better, the found object fence in The River Arts District was my favorite.
Here’s a unique mash up of a granite chunk and mid-century modern shell chair. The result is totally Asheville street furniture.
Finally, it was on to The Biltmore. I have to admit, this place is kind of scary! I mean, look at those gargoyles guarding it from above! But the setting and the Frederick Law Omsted-designed grounds were spectacular.
Oh, and it was tulip season. This brings the crowds but it was worth fighting them.
Oddly, my favorite room in the house by far was this old school gym in the basement. It looked like something out of a Wes Anderson film. Also, it reminded me of when Izzy Mandelbaum was Jerry Seinfeld’s personal trainer and he said “Now pick up that medicine ball” andJerry responded with “Is this a gym or a museum of fitness?”
Photo via http://gudgerandferguson.blogspot.com/
Exhausted from our tooling about, we found a place straight out of that Portlandia skit where Andy Samburg plays the mixologist to relax with some drinks. It was The Upstairs Monk, accessible through a speakeasy-like system. One in your party must be a member, but they let you join on the spot for $1. Drinks are expertly mixed from homemade ingredients, and with each drink, you receive a key to an antique apartment mailbox filled with snacks. The Nutella Waffles are a great one.
Thank you Asheville, I can’t wait to return for another weekend.