Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cedric’s Tavern, what a compliment to Biltmore !

Over the 11 + years and 350 + restaurant reviews I have done I can’t count on two hands the times I had the pleasure to dine at a spot that TRULY gets it and does it well in ALL aspects of the dining experience. I had the pleasure this last weekend to eat at Cedric’s Tavern an Irish/English themed pub in Antler Hill Village on the historic grounds of the majestic estate and the pleasure was all mine. For years I had heard that Biltmore itself was amazing but the food was…well kinda like Disney used to be…great and amazing scenery but seriously lacking culinarily. Oh, how the times have changed. In a joint collaboration of Executive Chef Damien Cavicchi, the Executive Chef of Biltmore and Executive Chef Mark DeMarco, Cedric’s Tavern has become a true destination location. From the moment Chef DeMarco met us and gave us the tour of the kitchen and facilities it was clear, that the organization, cleanliness, efficiency and courteousness of the staff that we we’re about to embark on a a wonderful culinary adventure and we did. The adventure began with our superb server, Russell. While Chef DeMarco was giving us his recommendations Russell was setting silverware presenting menus and taking our drink order in such a manner as to not break in on our conversation with the Chef a real art form. Servers should be seen and only heard just as much as WE the diners require and he NAILED it and made the dining experience that much better. His customer “instincts” were impeccable no order pad, no mistakes Russell is a true pro server and we were appreciative. To start we were presented with an incredible jar of homemade sweet sour pickles (the pickles are so good they have the recipe on the table for you to take…and I did) that were incredible and quickly devoured. The pickles were quarter spears, crisp, tangy , sweet and oh so delicious a GREAT way to start (they sell them at the reception area) pickles instead of bread….nice! We then had three apps, pretzel rolls round squash ball sized pretzel looking but soft and dense warm center with a local ground mustard and butter whip and you wipe it on and poof…there gone. All the breads are made in house and the breads are excellent. Next, cheddar curds fried in a crisp, light but fluffy batter that were tasty and a spicy mayonnaise based dip that just enhanced the flavor but did not take anything away from the subtle but delicious taste of the wonderful local cheese curds. Finally we finished with Chefs take on a “ham and cheese”. A wonderful tangy white melted cheese with green onions chopped and mixed in the cheese which covers very thinly sliced ham that you dig out and place on thin slices of slightly grilled/toasted homemade sourdough bread…it could not be any better. An incident occurred at a table near us that could have been quite an issue but the great communication of the staff and the quick and polite handling by the front of the house manager made the issue disappear with little notice. Well done and an example of great communication the key to success in any business. Now, on to the entrees. Since we were there for lunch we wanted to try the Brasstown Beef hamburger on Cedric’s in house buns the fully topped burger came with a cone of house fries that were in house cut…and are you ready for this…CRISPY and golden with a soft dry center served hot. The fries were as good as you could ever want and the burger, juicy, delicious (no wonder Biltmore chefs demand Brasstown Beef) and cooked just right with a nice slice of local cheddar that was perfect for the burger. The attention to detail, two ramekins of ketchup one for the burger one for the fries…how refreshing. To finish we had small squares of homemade ice cream atop small squares of thin brownies and coated in chocolate…the perfect end to an outstanding dining experience. Cedric’s Tavern is a true destination location and a lot of people already know so you better make reservations (http://www.biltmore.com/visit/dining/cedrics-tavern.asp) so that YOU may enjoy the salute to Irish/English cuisine. The prices are very good, the portions are very good and there is a HUGE emphasis on local everything. Executive Chef Mark DeMarco really gets “it” (“it” is something I can’t really describe, but once you experience “it”…you know what I’m speaking about) and his menu reflects his thoughts. The menu is just the right size with the proper number of selections in all genres on two sides of one sheet. The menu is also well written and laid out with excellent descriptions of each item that will make you drool just reading them. An excellent Chef, staff, front of the house management, a superb menu in all ways attention to every detail, great in house breads and pickles surrounded by the beautiful scenery of Biltmore. It can’t get much better. Thank you Steve Whitmire of Brasstown Beef for introducing me to this wonderful young and energetic Chef.

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