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“Perfect "new American" cuisine in high style setting”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Herons

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Ranked #4 of 456 Restaurants in Cary
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $41 - $80
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Business meetings, Large groups, Local cuisine, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Lunch, Dinner, Brunch, Breakfast, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Valet Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Fine Dining
Cross street: Harrison Avenue
Description: Herons delivers a dining experience that is both refined and relaxed. The expertly trained staff warms the room, providing seamless service that helps guests enjoy the pleasures of an elegant meal. The main dining room offers a full view of the kitchen, while floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of natural light and overlook the terrace, lawn and wooded lake beyond. In addition to the 98-seat main dining room, a semi-private dining room seats up to eight, while the private dining room accommodates 12 and showcases pottery by North Carolina artist Ben Owen. Outdoor seating invites al fresco dining in the spring, summer and fall. The neutral palette of the décor in Herons provides a sophisticated, yet understated backdrop to the bright and inspired flavor combinations artfully presented. The dinner menu changes seasonally and draws heavily on produce harvested from The Umstead’s own sustainable farm. The exceptional quality of Herons’ wine list been recognized with a prestigious “Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator.
Level Contributor
242 reviews
191 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Perfect "new American" cuisine in high style setting”
Reviewed June 29, 2013 via mobile

This sleek eatery is spacious and glamorous. And most importantly, the creative menu serves excellent "new American" cuisine that is creative without being outré. There is no molecular gastronomy here; instead a tried and true expert chef sure of his skills. The delightful surprise is some of the flavors, like a savory/sweet dessert with a rye-based baba (as in "au rum") with "picked strawberries." Utterly delicious!! The menu allows most diners to create an ad hoc prix fixe menu accompanied by skillful wine pairings. Service is phenomenally professional while still gracious and warm.

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank Dougananda
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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366 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Italian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Charlotte, North Carolina
Level Contributor
86 reviews
61 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Great Restaurant at Umstead Hotel”
Reviewed June 28, 2013

We had lunch and dinner here during our stay. Excellent food and service. Not inexpensive but worth the splurge if you're into food and wine.

Visited June 2013
Thank scbwino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Carolina, USA
Level Contributor
31 reviews
16 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“In Heaven, Layin' Down!!!”
Reviewed June 12, 2013

Oh Lord, HELP ME!!! What an evening! Whatta meal!!! Great CAESAR'S GHOST (as say refined ladies in the South), that was BEYOND divine. I don't even know where to start. Somewhere online I had read to ask for "Scott" as our waiter, so I did. However, we also wanted a window view, and we could 't have both. We chose the window. Our waiter was Devon, and he was perfection in hospitality and grace. I know nothing of Scott. Ask for Devon!!!

We went with the intention of ordering the Chef's Tasting Menu, and we did. As such, we knew it would take all night, and as we were celebrating a fine event, that was all well and good with us. CAVEAT: Don't order ANY Chef's Tasting Menu ANYWHERE unless you plan to make a night of it. They all take forever, and a good chef will NOT be rushed when he/she is presenting their highest art. Last summer at a winery restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, we went in quite early (I'm thinking 4:45, but maybe a little later), ordered the seven-course Tasting Menu, and told the waiter we had an 8:00 o'clock curtain at a theatre about a mile or so away. He told US we could only order the five-course tasting menu, and even that would be pushing it!! We said, "Bring it on!!!" We then SERIOUSLY considered going back the next night to do it all again!!!

Yes, it IS expensive, and for about 57 of my 67 years, I would not have been able or inclined to spend so much money on a meal. So, do NOT order this if the price is going to make you unable to enjoy it. Just don't. But if, once in your life, you want to eat the creative, beautiful food that you've seen in magazines and on TV, save up $125 or so, per person, and treat yourselves royally. If you are a person who appreciates and enjoys good wines (I'm not...), save up an extra $50 for the "wine pairings" for each course. Yep. That's $140 each for food and drink, plus tax and do NOT forget or get chintzy on the tip. Your waiter has a family to feed and house and clothe. IF you're going to do this, do it with sincere appreciation, with money well in hand!! Give yourself permission to be walking with the gods of taste and nutrition!! Then call Herons, go in, sit down, relax, and prepare to be overwhelmed with flavor and texture and who'd-a-thought of THAT!!!???!!!

Oh, YUMMMMMM!!! Where to even START about the food?? Blue crab morsels. Eggplant morsels. Small trout filet. Beef cheeks. (BEEF CHEEKS??????) Yes, the actual cheeks, fork-tender, dazzlingly delicious. Corn panacotta was just one of the things served between courses to give you strength to carry on!!! Each of the courses listed the other ingredients in making these fantastic "offerings." Then dessert. My companion had the strawberry consommé, with a frozen bit, some FOAM of some kind, and rhubarb so thin it was called rhubarb GLASS. It was shiny, too. Since I'm allergic to strawberries, they served me an apricot layout -- frozen almond milk sorbet, herbed goat cheese, slices of apricot, honey, and an oblong pastry made with layers of the thinnest possible sheets. Try as I might, I couldn't decide what to save for the "last bite." I think it was the pastry, in the end, with honey on the bottom. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..........
each exquisite bite was to hum about and remember forever!!

I think there is something below this frame that I have written but cannot get back to. For some reason, it won't scroll. Sorry. Herons is to luxuriate in, taking the smallest possible bites, to linger on each combination of flavors as long as possible.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to all the chefs, to each person who so carefully executed and presented each dish, and to Devon and Scott-2 (not the waiter Scott!), who monitored our progress and needs. The orchid on the table was perfect. And you? You, dear reader -- Thanks for taking in my thoughts and instructions, raves and redundancies. We had a GRAND time!! I hope you will, too, if you find yourself in Cary, North Carolina, with an evening and money to spare!!! Enjoy!!! Carol in Carolina
It's not a place to save money. It IS a place to take pictures of each dish!

  • Visited June 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank ArkansasTraveler68
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
14 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Very Good”
Reviewed June 10, 2013

I've only dined at Herons one time and it was in 2011, however, my experience was a memorable one. I wish they would bring back the toffee dessert.

Visited May 2013
Thank HotelStayMatters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Providence, RI
Level Contributor
234 reviews
196 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 134 helpful votes
“A 5-star restaurant based in a 5-star hotel”
Reviewed June 3, 2013

The impeccable service and attention to detail is the first you notice when you are escorted to your table at Herons. The menu is not extensive, but what they offer is locally sourced, including vegetables from their own nearby farm. I rarely order chicken at restaurants, since I can cook a mean chicken myself...but the dish that I had, which featured a deconstructed bird with morel mushrooms, mashed potatoes and an incredibly rich demi glace sauce was spectacular. If you're going to have only one meal, make the extra effort to reserve a table at Herons vs going to the bar/lounge area for dining. Not that you want fancy food at every meal, but the difference in quality is quite noticeable. Many disappointments on the bar menu.

  • Visited May 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Elvis355
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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