Grove Park Inn- Asheville Seafood Buffet
Views are nice but I think you're going to find the food grossly overpriced and not satisfactory especially for Californians who may be accustomed to very fresh seafood. That said, I've not been to GPI's seafood buffet so I can't really be for sure. That said, I've never been to any seafood buffet that I enjoyed. The one time I went to the big Sunday brunch buffet at GPI I felt like I was at a bad wedding.
Go for a drink and the view and head elsewhere for dinner - I've actually heard excellent things about Lobster Trap from multiple sources lately if you're in the mood for seafood. I've never been because I also heard it was pricey and so-so, but I'm curious as to if they have upped their game.
re: miss piggy
I completely agree with Miss Piggy here about the GPI. It's a fantastic property with great views and ambience, but unfortunately the food doesn't match the grandeur of the place. It's not bad by any means, but I agree it's overpriced and there are much better options in Asheville, like Admiral, Table, Curate, etc. I've been to Lobster Trap several times and always had good experiences, but it's been several years so I can't say if it's still the same. But I would advise not focusing so much on seafood (after all, Asheville is 4 hours from the sea), and take your friend to one of the standout dining destinations like one of those above.
And for sure, do go to the Grove Park for drinks as the view is spectacular. If the weather is nice, you can get drinks in the lobby bar and enjoy them outside on the terraces below. And if it's a really hot day you can go to the Magnolia Lounge in the Sammons Wing--just turn left as you enter the front lobby and follow the hallway all the way around to the left rear of the hotel. Views are great from there.
we drove up to GPI last saturday to get a drink and enjoy the view. discovered a new $7 to park policy. lovely. Although there were available tables on the lower terrace where one could get a drink, they were in full sun and we had been outside all day and were hoping not to roast. The hostess was less than friendly while refusing to let us have drinks at one of the 2 dozen empty tables on the main covered terrace. You have to buy their crappy food if you want to enjoy the view comfortably.
We did just as arby said...walked around to the Magnolia lounge and enjoyed the view from inside in comfy leather chairs. GPS is so fabulous to look at, but they have always done their best to make you feel unwelcomed. This is not just as a non-guest. I've stayed there a number of times and they treat paying (through the nose) guests the same.
They are STILL charging a parking fee???? They claimed that was only for the Gingerbread "season".
Ya, you do roast out on the tables on the steps in the afternoon. Been there, done that. Another option is the covered patio on the right as you head down the hallway to Magnolia. It usually has several rocking chairs out there. And if you're lucky, no smokers.
GPI was recently bought out (again) so here's hoping the new owners have a clue and welcome the locals back again. I'm not holding my breath...