Asheville’s Omni Grove Park Inn is a historic stay with breathtaking views and now there’s an in-season extra that makes a trip here over the top. The VIP Foodie Experience invites a small party (2-6 guests) to The Asheville City Market on Saturday morning to pick out the ingredients for a multi course dinner with one of their chefs. I don’t think I know of an activity quite like this one planned by a hotelier, creating an intimate experience for the food obsessed (like me).
Asheville’s culinary landscape is legit. I’d put their eateries, not just their breweries, on par with those of Charleston or Atlanta. There’s a fresh focus on ingredients that really shines on the plate in this North Carolina town, so shopping at the farmer’s market with a Grove Park Chef felt bucket-list worthy.
We set off in the property’s Escalade, coffee in hand, and arrived at the market around 9am. It’s a dreamy scene with white tents shading a bounty of Appalachian produce. Chef Philip Bollhoefer introduced us to farmers and purveyors he knew by name, each pulling some treasure from under a table or the back of the truck for him; edible flowers and trout caviar, lamb bones, kohlrabi, bread and cheese, young green ginger, peas, three pepper linguine and new potatoes.
Chef queried us about food preferences and invited us to pick anything that caught our eye. I took the opportunity to ask for tips about cooking Swiss chard* and tasted and sampled fantastic cave-aged Gouda, gluten free biscuits, spiced nuts, sauteed rhubarb and a ridiculous asparagus croissant.
That night we convened at Edison for dinner to see the results of our excursion. Edison Craft Ales & Kitchen is the newest restaurant at Grove Park, which I guess could be called a gastro pub (but with a top 10 terrace). Edison is my favorite spot to dine at the resort and a must visit if you’re new to Asheville.
Our menu was spectacular and included a crudo of Amberjack with kohlrabi and pea shoots, trout from Sunburst Farm, a strawberry and radish salad with Goat Lady Dairy chevre at the base of the bowl, a carbonara (that I still dream about) topped with egg yolk foam, a potato dauphinoise alongside a Wagyu strip and a dark chocolate tart that I was (nearly) too stuffed to eat.
It was a tasting meal that felt like theater with a chef pointing out the elements from the market, the terrace overlooking the range of the Blue Ridge Mountains as our stage. Each dish was exactingly prepared, farm fresh and strikingly presented. It was memorable in all the right ways, giving a foodie fits about where a meal that good could come from next.
The VIP Foodie Experience launched this month and will run through the growing season (likely mid-October in Asheville) for one party each Saturday by reservation only for $150 per person. Dinner can planned with Chef Philip Bolhoefer or Executive Chef Jake Schmidt at Edison or Vue 1913 upon availability.
*The stems of Swiss Chard need to be cut away from the leaves, chopped and sauteed first in hot oil. The leaves can be added after to the same pan and tossed until cooked through.