"Destination-eating" : Restaurant Review: Artisanal

My dear hubby (Krish) and I are big foodies ūüôā

We are known to “travel” to great distances to eat good food.. Right from our days in college, where we made about $6-10/hr, we took trips to Blowing rock, NC, a small mountain town to eat at our favorite BBQ join “Woodlands” and listen to some good ole’ live country music. Then it was Charleston, what I call “My second home”, since we go there atleast twice or thrice a year….. We would just drive after work, eat dinner and come back.. (That’s 6+ hrs total driving BTW)..

Since we had our son, we kinda slowed down for obvious reasons. On our recent trip to Charleston (no surprises there), My hubby asked me what I wanted for my birthday.. I didn’t skip a beat and said ” I want to eat!”… He smiled and said , …”Ok?!!”… I continued to explain what I meant by that..

So a pact was made!! We shall “travel to great distances and eat the finest” ūüôā TA-DA!!!!

So this blog is¬†dedicated¬†to our first “destination-eating” experiences.

My husband was introduced to the Artisanal through an ex-colleague and friend¬†of his, whose girlfriend (fiancee’ now) used to intern there. Krish suggested starting with this as it was close enough to make a day trip out of and well had good reviews courtesy of his friend. So.. a plan was made to “Do this”….

We drove to Banner Elk, a small mountain town via Blowing Rock for our great “Dinner Escapade”.. Thanks to my sister and family for babysitting our son and humoring us on this little adventure of ours.. Since it was about 3+ hrs drive, we chose to wear casual clothes and carry our “fine-silks” in the car.. The restaurant prefers a jacket for the guys and well, I always look for a reason to wear my fine-silks ūüėČ

On our way there, we managed to get caught up in a hail storm (even though we were experiencing temperatures in the 103-106 degree range).. Awesome start to our trip, I must say ūüôā
We took shelter couple of times through our drive to avoid hail , heavy thunder and rain. We finally made it to Blowing Rock and changed into respectable dinner attire at the local outlet mall’s restrooms.. I know classy ūüėČ

We then proceeded to go to our restaurant.. We drove through meadows and valleys (ok so not that cinematic but after Charlotte, it felt like I had reached the setting of Sound of music) , till we got to the “place”.. First impression.. Wow.. Very different and very beautiful.. Set in an old barn, it really felt like a little rustic oasis. I smiled at my husband and said “Good choice”.. ¬†ūüôā He beamed with pride..

Right from the start the service was impeccable. I really enjoyed the decor and the attention to detail when it came to the¬†ambiance¬†and our “food-weapons” aka the cutlery.

So after starting with some bottled water, I had their house Prosecco and Krish had a table red wine.
We started with a couple of small plates to share.

We shared a bowl of tomato soup (chilled) with lobster meat and a Sardinian olive oil. (Look below).
First bite and the freshness of the tomato just hit the palate. Light, refreshing and just perfect for a summer evening. Lobster was sweet and fleshy. The oil added a nice touch of luxury to the tongue which was a perfect compliment to the lightness of the soup itself.

Here are the crab cakes we ordered next. They were served with a lightly fried squash blossom and a medley of heirloom tomatoes and grapefruits in a lime remoulade. 

Verdict: Light and not full of fillers. Such a shame when crab cakes are more “cake” than crab ūüėČ These came three to a plate. Perfect to share.. The fried squash blossom was good but would have been better if it was drained for a minute longer on a paper towel. A little greasy to touch. The salad/medley was VERY nice.Again, light and mildly seasoned. Couldn’t taste the peppercorns that were in the description but good none the less . I would use that as a topping to some grilled chicken or even some broiled fish.¬†
Liked the chopped dill on top..Great looking plate.
¬†Here’s a closeup for you all to enjoy ūüôā

We also ordered the beet salad (no pic sorry!) .. That came with some goat cheese on a plate of greens.. They served yellow and red beets.. The beets were sweet and firm.. the cheese was fresh and creamy.. The sweetness of the beets played well with the creaminess and the tanginess of the cheese.. Overall a “sweet” plate.. I would have liked a kick of spice to cut the sweetness of the plate. Maybe add some watercress or arugula to the salad or also serve with a coarse mustard vinaigrette.¬†
Krish ordered a grilled swordfish entree which was nothing much to write about. Should have taken a pic but I think we were not very motivated to do so at this point. 
Below is what I ordered for my entree. I requested the chef to make a veggie entree for me as I was on my “veggie week”… Will explain later to you all ¬†ūüôā
This is what I got. 
This picture does not do justice to the dish. but visually, this is the best display of veggies I have ever seen at a restaurant. Starting from the left, they served a medley of heirloom tomatoes roasted with baby carrots and micro greens.. In the middle, is a dish of roasted baby squashes and zucchinis. On the right, we have some pearl onions, roasted mushrooms and a sweet potato mash. 
All I tasted on my plate was salt and the vegetables. I LOVED IT! They kept the integrity of the individual vegetable. Loved the presentation.. micro greens and edible flowers adorned my plate.. Perfect for a brunch or a summer soiree.. Serve with a glass of chilled Pinot and I am there !!

Last but not the least we ordered dessert.. After going through the menu and finding the usual cobblers, chocolate cakes and mousses, we decided on the doughnuts below. They came a whopping 6 to a plate!! Served with a lemon curd and a blueberry sauce.

Light and fluffy.. Didn’t care much for the lemon curd as I found it a tad but heavy.. Enjoyed the blueberry sauce.. not too sweet and just right for the doughnut to dip in.. Went well with the cup of coffee we ordered which BTW was not starbucks!! It was locally grown in Asheville I believe.. so that was quite a treat.¬†
So overall, we enjoyed the whole experience.. Loved the drive to and fro, loved the ambiance and were delighted with the service of the restaurant.
Our server was kind enough to let the owner of the restaurant know of our little adventure and she made a¬†visit¬†at our table.A very enterprising woman and definitely passionate about what she is doing.. No¬†surprises,¬†¬†the chef is her husband ūüôā Together, they are running a beautiful place. A perfect place for a date night (like we did) or even to host a company luncheon. They also have a private cellar in the basement for parties if you would like.¬†
I promise to take more details and pictures on our next “dinner-escapades”..¬†
Till then I leave you with this thought:

Always remember. Food is a great leveler; Respect It, Cherish it, Share it

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