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Cashiers-Highlands, North Carolina dining

Gifted Gourmet

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A little ways away from Cashiers in Asheville go to a restaurant called The Marketplace Restaurant on Wall street. Out side of that closer to Highlands and Cashiers is a bar called Bearls Place that is famous for it's owner nick-named rooster, and it's rollin bowlin machine. I'll ask a friend who lives there for more advice. :rolleyes:

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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A little ways away from Cashiers in Asheville go to a restaurant called The Marketplace Restaurant on Wall street.  Out side of that closer to Highlands and Cashiers is a bar called Bearls Place that is famous for it's owner nick-named rooster, and it's rollin bowlin machine.  I'll ask a friend who lives there for more advice. :rolleyes:

Thanks for this info, chefdg! I will check out whatever I can locate on The Marketplace Restaurant and I thank you for doing the "research" for me on this beautiful area of NC!

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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There's a decent BBQ shack on US64 in the middle of Cashiers that is pretty good on the pork, great on the atmospherics called Cashiers BBQ.

I think there is alot of fun to be had in Highlands as well, though it is a bit touristy. One of the benefits of all these tourists is that the food is better there than virtually anywhere else West of Asheville/Hendersonville in NC. The Kelsey Restaurant is always packed in the Highlands Inn, the one time I ate there (and I was even more of a child then, than I am now) was memorable for its fried chicken. I do not remember the name of it, but the coffee shop next to or near Cyrano's Bookshop is a good respite from the hordes of Georgia tourists that come up in the summer to escape the heat. I think one can chart the proximity to NC mountain towns to Metro Atlanta by the number of coffee shops that serve panninis in the town.

As an aside, Cyrano's would be a good stop to pick up a copy of the Architectural Guide to Western North Carolina, part of a series published by UNC Press that is an outstanding driving companion through small NC towns. Not necessarily food related, though many of the older restaurants/inns in the area are described in the book.

William McKinney aka "wcmckinney"
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<<<< I think one can chart the proximity to NC mountain towns to Metro Atlanta by the number of coffee shops that serve panninis in the town.>>>

Is that why some Atlantans refer to Highlands as "North Buckhead" ?

Personally, we're heading up to Waynesville/Maggie Valley in a few weeks. 8-10yrs ago it was like the place the time forgot. Now the quick stop sells premium cigars and there is a goumet cooking/wine store in downtown Waynesville.



Edited by rl1856 (log)
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  • 1 year later...

Will the Frog & Owl Be Reborn? Oak Street Grill, Highlands, NC

About thirty years a young chef - along with her husband - opened a restaurant on the back road between Highlands and Franklin, North Carolina. The restaurant, the Frog and Owl Café, owed a lot to Alice Waters and her revolutionary tradition. The young chef, Jerri Broyles, was clearly learning from Ms. Waters. The F&O was Chez Panisse without the heavy weight of Alice's ideological baggage. And I preferred the Frog and Owl to its Berkeley progenitor. Jerri cooked simply and elegantly, a minimalist cuisine. Each dish had a few herbs or spices to show the master's hand, but it was a pure as a western Carolina spring. My in-laws own a home in the region, and my wife and I made the pilgrimage to the F&O each year. The dozen or so meals that I ate persuaded me that the Frog and Owl Café was among the ten best restaurants in the United States. I have never eaten a better meal in the former Confederacy. (Macon County had designs on seceding from the Confederacy. These mountain communities had little sympathy for the plantation economy of the rest of the south). Her lamb rack and her trout in a court bouillon were definitive. The fact that the restaurant was located in a former grist mill along a serene stream certainly contributed, but I would have appreciated her cuisine if it had been located in an old paint factory along Greenpoint's Newtown Creek.

I imagined that a meal with Chef Broyles would be a part of my life for eternity. However, in the early 1990s, the Frog and Owl was shuttered, and I shattered. Whether because of a busted septic tank or the challenges of raising a family, Chef Broyles opened a lunch place - the Frog and Owl Bistro in Franklin, the local county seat, about dozen miles from nirvana. The food, lunches only most years, reflected a cuisine than most chefs could prepare. Salads and simple preparations. It was as if Heifetz decided to play bar mitzvahs. Yes, the Bistro was the best restaurant in Franklin, but that is rather like saying that Applebee's is the finest restaurant on the way to the airport. Every time I ate there, I cried.

However, Jerri is back, at least part way. As of last year, she is no longer involved in the Bistro, and is now cooking at the Oak Street Café in Highlands (although she is not the proprietor). The OSC is a nice, casual restaurant with touches of inspiration. One can see Chef Broyles' hand, even if the restaurant is not yet sufficiently serious as to deserve a long detour. Some friends and I ate brunch there. I was particularly impressed by a friend's trout in court bouillon served over curls of carrots. It was perfectly cooked and the carrots spoke of a sense of balance. My low-country shrimp, served over creamy cheese grits, was an excellent dish - moist and buttery, and prettily presented with a richly flavored seafood sauce. I have been eating at the OSC grill for some years, and the step up is welcome. The restaurant is too casual for fine dining and the prices too modest (and I imagine the kitchen staff too small).

When I returned for dinner, I was less impressed. The appetizer was first rate, Fried Green Tomatoes with Goat Cheese slices, Shoestring Beets and a lively horseradish tomato sauce. It was a nice and attractive twist on a southern classic, a plate most often found in Fannie Flagg's roadside cafes.

The main courses were less successful, and both deviated from the purity of the preparations at the Frog and Owl. A rack of lamb in a minted demi-glaze ($29) sounded fine, until the dish appeared. The lamb, somewhat overcooked, was sitting in an overly sweet minty gravy-soup, served with some colorful but uninspiring broccoli florets and overcooked squash. The garlic mashed potatoes were fresh and pungent.

The main course special was pan-seared scallops with a prima vera angel hair pasta, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and squash ($22). Too much, too much. The dish consisted of some sweet (but still rather gritty) scallops atop what can only be described as a mash of pasta and vegetables. As at many middle-brow outposts, quantity overwhelmed quality.

If brunch is an indication, Oak Street Café will be a nice local addition; if dinner is the model, Chef Broyles has not yet regained her touch. However, the Frog and Owl Café was so splendid that one can only hope that next year will increase the care and vision revealed in the evening entrees.

Currently the high-end restaurant in Highlands, a resort community in the southern Appalachians, is a hotel restaurant named Madison's (part of the renovated Old Edwards Inn), a restaurant with New York pretensions and New York prices. This is a restaurant that serves, as appetizer, "Peanut Dusted Breast of Quail with Seared Foie Gras, Vanilla Braised Cabbage, and Blueberry Scented Duck Essence ($19.00, mains run to twice that). Had I not eaten there (last year), I might have assumed that this was a parody. But it is real, and as misguided as might be imagined. You can't construct a menu by placing gourmet magazine in a blender.

Oak Street Café

322 Main Street

Highlands, North Carolina



Old Edwards Inn

445 Main Street

Highlands, North Carolina


My Webpage: Vealcheeks

Edited by gaf (log)
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  • 2 years later...

Madison's (Old Edwards Inn) - Highlands, North Carolina

About five years ago, the Old Edwards Inn in Highlands was renovated, transformed into a four-star (or five-star or however many stars mean really, really fancy and) inn, resort and spa. In the course of this transformation from an old-timey inn on Main Street, they opened a fine dining restaurant, Madison's. In its first iteration it attempted (somewhat bizarrely, and without much grace) to borrow from molecular cuisine and also incorporate a set of rather bizarre flavor combinations. Different is not always better. Back then the restaurant was rather too taken with itself, and my first meal was not a success - quite the contrary with a check that suggested that the owners felt that the food was more sparkling that it was.

However, over the past two years, I have had several improved meals at Madison's, culminating with an excellent dinner last night. The chef de cuisine (at the restaurant for two years now and now in charge of the menu) is Chris Huerta, who worked with Guenter Seeger in Atlanta (at Seeger's, which, until it closed in 2006, was Atlanta's premier restaurant - Seeger is attempting to open a New York restaurant) and who was a stage at Per Se. Huerta is a serious young cook with a serious blog ("Chipped China"). My friends and I were very pleased with the style and assuredness our meal. In strictly culinary terms Madison's is - by some distance - the most accomplished restaurant in the area (go to On the Verandah for the view and good food). Madison's has a quite pretty space and in contrast to some area restaurants is light and airy and is relatively quiet. They also have an ideology of "Farm to Table Dining," which they are expanding - mostly vegetables and pork at this point.

I began with Huerta's Apple and Bacon Hushpuppies (ah! bacon!), which were the best hushpuppies I have ever eaten. Granted claiming that one found the world's best hushpuppies may be akin to picking low-hanging fruit, but they were delicious. A friend had a very creamy (and nicely composed) vidalia onion soup and another companion had a salad of Chilled Local Carolina Shrimp Salad, Florida Citrus, Winter Greens, and Vanilla Citrus Double Cream. Let us ignore the "local" shrimp as we are several hundred miles from the sea in the western Carolina mountains, but the Vanilla Citrus Double Cream was a very becoming complement to the fresh shrimp.

For entree I chose the compelling (although not visually remarkable - unless one likes a symphony of gray and brown) Braised Duck Leg, Celery Root Ravioli, and Stewed Hand Harvested Mushrooms with Natural Jus. It was a luscious combination with perfectly moist duck leg and properly cooked ravioli with its intriguing celery root stuffing. If not quite worth a photo, it was the most polished entree I have had in these mountains since the grand Frog and Owl closed fifteen years ago.

Dessert was an assured smooth vanilla-bean panna cotta with butterscotch sauce and crumbled espresso biscotti and a cornet of vanilla bean (I think) ice cream. Another appealing and modern presentation with a mix of flavors that were delightful, if not quite startling.

Madison's also has an extensive wine list and well-selected wines by the glass.

But for one who spends a month in the mountains each summer, Madison's poses a problem. Should every dinner out be a dinner at Madison's. Is everything else just slumming?


Old Edwards Inn

Fourth and Main Street

Highland, North Carolina

866-526-8008 or 828-526-8008



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Since I am writing about Highlands, I should note that Chef Broyles (of the Frog and Owl Cafe) is no longer at the Oak Street Inn (and long gone from the so-so Frog and Owl Bistro). She was there for a year, and I am told that as of last year was working for a sandwich shop in Franklin. If true, what a waste of talent!

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