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Apr 12, 2014 09:08 AM


Some years back I was lucky enough to celebrate a birthday with a night at Fearrington. We had a great room, the grounds were beautiful and we walked in to dinner with high expectations. What followed was one of the more disappointing meals of my life. It soured me for some time and I had no desire to go back. Since then, there is a new regime in the kitchen, a new beverage crew and Joris (one of the world's great maitre d's) returned. I've had two very good experiences there since and decided to redo the birthday night.

We had magical weather and thoroughly enjoyed the property all afternoon. Had a great Fullsteam custom brew while sitting outside listening to acoustical music, then got dressed and headed to the House. What followed was one of the best meals of my life.

We were immediately greeted with Champagne by the incredibly knowledgeable and gracious sommelier Max. We decided to let him pair wines and the kitchen cook for us, as we didn't want to make any decisions. Canapes hit the table, and we realized at some point we want a whole meal of these little bites. Latkes with carrot caviar (spherification done very well), chicken mousse with fresh chevre and crisp prosciutto (their take on chicken cordon bleu) started things off. Then came a raw course of Yellowtail (fresh horseradish, black quinoa) and scallops (vanilla tapioca pearls, fresh orange). Seared wreckfish with carolina rice and shrimp butter was cooked perfectly. Caramelized parsnip with barley could never sound as great as this tasted. This was also my favorite wine pairing, as Max served us an almontillado sherry that interplayed with the parsnip so well you couldn't figure out if you were tasting the wine or the food. We also were able to taste 90 BV Latour with wooly pig and squab thanks to the coravin system. Lightly smoked pork belly with apple was just phenomenal. There were multiple elements to all these dishes and the plating was ornate.

Dessert started with a caramel foam with yogurt powder and candied orange zest. Then coconut, with multiple coconut textures and dark chocolate. And finally and amazingly light chocolate souffle (somehow gluten free).

I know I'm forgetting some details and dishes, but the gist of it is this kitchen is completely kicking ass right now. Service was superb in every aspect, and we walked out on cloud nine. Hands down the best meal I've had in NC, better than my one meal at Per Se, and in the top ten in my life.

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  1. How was the atmosphere? I know they did a makeover a couple of years back, before which it was pretty classically "upscale plantation-style opulent Southern" with Queen Ann-style furniture, plush carpeting, ornate window draperies and the like.

    1 Reply
    1. re: mikeh

      "upscale plantation-style opulent Southern" pretty much nails it. I found it to be elegant without being stuffy. We did have a great table right in the window.

    2. Sounds terrific. Having trouble deciding between Fearrington, One, and Straw Valley for upcoming anniversary dinner.

      1. Was this a packaged deal or separate bookings for food and lodging?

        4 Replies
        1. re: burgeoningfoodie

          Sort of an add-on question to bf's: I see that they don't open for dinner until 6:00. Is there a bar open before that? If we got there at, say, 5:30 could we get a drink?

          1. re: LulusMom

            I'm not exactly sure what I booked. I called to reserve a room, and the person I spoke to set our dinner reservation. Breakfast was included with the room. We had a discounted rate on the room of $150, so I don't know how much the normal rate is. They have packages available, but I did't look at them because of our promo. Dinner was $125 per for the chef's tasting menu. We decided to let them pair wines, but if you're not into that the wine list is great.

            They have a lovely outdoor beer garden (wines too), and an indoor space called the Goat. I don't think there's a bar that serves liquor until one of the two restaurants opens, but I could be wrong. Maybe at the Granary? The included breakfast is great.

            1. re: veganhater

              Full disclosure - I work at Fearrington, albeit in the Real Estate department. But, the bar and the House opens at 5 for full cocktail service Wednesday - Sunday (when the House serves dinner), and the Granary also has a full bar, which is open in the afternoons.

              1. re: ksbee

                Great info, thanks so much.

                I have to say, the OP caught my interest. Last time I was at Fearrington was at least 8 years ago, and it was stodgy and uninteresting (and smelled odd). I've never had the slightest inclination to go back until now.