We drove up the Blue Ridge Parkway from Brevard Road and the NC Arboretum near Asheville for dinner at the Pisgah Inn (which reopened after being closed for five days due to the ridiculous government shut-down) and to see a bit of fall color.
Leaves aren't spectacular this year, probably due to all the rain, but it's still a nice drive. I'd say in most areas above 3,500 feet or so the leaves are about 50% turned.
As we arrived at Mt. Pisgah, the clouds were starting to roll in, so the views from the Pisgah Inn restaurant were limited at best.
Still, it was a very pleasant dinner. We arrived a little before 5, put our names on the list (there are no reservations except for large parties) and had a glass of wine on the small deck. It's wine and beer only at Pisgah Inn, and they would probably sell a lot more if the bar set-up were a little easier to figure out -- for a pre-dinner glass of wine you have to place your order in the gift shop area, pay for it there, then bring ticket to the hostess stand.
It was pleasantly cool, in the low 50s. At 5 the restaurant filled up almost completely, but there was no waiting.
Service was very friendly and efficient. My spouse had the walnut-encrusted trout with blueberry butter. The blueberry butter doesn't add much and certainly gives the mountain trout filet (around $18) a luridly colorful look. I sprang for the 8 oz. filet mignon with baked potato (around $27), which as expected wasn't Ruth's Chris quality, but I enjoyed it. We both started with the French onion soup (a $1.95 upcharge as a side, a deal), which was good, though the onions weren't quite carmelized enough and the beef broth was probably canned.
With one appetizer (the fried green tomatoes, $6), a total of three glasses of wine ($7 to $9 each), two entrees and four sides, the total with tax and our usual generous tips came to close to $100. But there are sandwiches, burgers and such even on the dinner menu, so you could eat for half that or less.
About 40 of the Pisgah Inn staff stay in quarters near the Inn, while the rest of the 120 or so staffers are locals who drive in from Asheville, Waynesville, Brevard or other surrounding towns.
Given the setting at nearly a mile high, the atmosphere, the service and the certainly more-than- adequate food for a park concessionaire, we enjoyed it and hope to return again as we usually do once or twice a year for lunch or dinner.
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