Background: age 32 from NYC. Experienced diner, wine list important. I tend to take a fairly critical approach to distinguish the vast number of competing of NYC restaurants. I went to Artisanal one time, so I cannot speak for its consistency, but provide a review based upon my single experience.
I have never posted a review before and frankly, never thought I would. However, I was seeking a fine dining experience while in the Banner Elk/Blowing Rock area for a weekend (July 2011). A review like this would have been ideal for someone me to see, so I hope it helps those in the same situation travelling to the area.
In Zagat terms: Food 9, Service 8, Decor 10.
The folks in the Highlands are very fortunate that Mr. Huizenga spared no expense in this gorgeous, rustic restaurant. His partnership can be seen in the equestrian decor and stunning, must-see wine room. The chef (local, and has also been in established kitchens such as Le Cirque) and Somm each have blended the upscale with the accessible. First and foremost, the New American menu was fresh and seasonal. I would label it as somewhat creative, but certainly not "fancy". The wine list was well chosen, primarily containing recent vintages with multiple highlights of sought-after US wineries. Simply put, both the menu and wine list were of great quality.
For those concerned with cost, as a reference, our party of 2 spent $200 on food (4 courses). Though it may sound odd for a restaurant with a higher-end cost, I believe Artisanal offers value due to the quality of the food, decor, and service. Attire: Jacket advised for men. Dresses for women.
Artisanal is a must for those seeking a quality dining experience in an impressive, comfortable environment. Tremendous job by the owners and Mr. Huizenga.
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