Monday, November 30, 2015

Deep in the Southern Appalachian Mountains, a
pioneering restaurant marries upscale cuisine with downhome comfort.
Small towns in the Southern Appalachian Mountains are
known for a few things: sugary sweet tea, rocking chairs on front porches,
maybe a quilt sale or two.
One thing they're not known for? Destination
Canyon Kitchen in Sapphire, North Carolina, is changing that.
Founded in 2010, the upscale Southern restaurant was chef John Fleer's
first venture after leaving his fourteen-year post as executive chef of
Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee.
It was a tough year to open a
restaurant—especially one in a new residential community called Lonesome
Valley that was hemorrhaging from the recession.
Only a handful of homes had
been built on its 800 acres, and no one knew when the market for vacation
residences would come back.
Opening Canyon Kitchen—which is open May through
November—was a huge gamble, perhaps too risky.
To this day, people still
scratch their heads about it.
But they also pull out their billfolds:
Reservations book up months in advance.
Recently, chef Adam Hayes—winner of Food Network's Cutthroat
Kitchen—took over the restaurant's reigns.
(Fleer left to focus on
Rhubarb, his latest dining hotspot in Asheville.) Hayes' four-course, $53
menu incorporates produce grown in the sprawling on-site garden and trout
raised in nearby Waynesville by the same family who owns Lonesome Valley.
juicy, fried green tomatoes are served with a summer pepper relish and pickled
okra, and the trout is snuggly wrapped in prosciutto and served atop creamed
corn grits and pole beans with salsa verde.
Desserts by pastry chef Jordan
Cruley include a decadent buttermilk pie crowned with caramelized white
chocolate mousse.
After polishing off your meal, you might understand why
big-name chefs like Art Smith veer hours off the beaten culinary path to try
this place.
The setting at Canyon Kitchen is every bit as important as the food.
in a post-and-beam barn, it has massive retractable doors that let guests look
onto the wide meadows and thousand-foot granite cliffs surrounding the
Indoor and outdoor stacked-stone fireplaces offer cozy spots to enjoy
an after-dinner cocktail or glass of wine (the wine list only includes bottles
made with sustainably raised grapes).
Canyon Kitchen's popularity has led to the rise in requests for somewhere
to stay after the meal.
The result? Lonesome Valley now has two guest
cottages, which rent for $325 a night.
They also opened Canyon Spa just steps
from the restaurant—because what better pre-dinner activity is there than a
massage? Deep in the southern Appalachian Mountains of North
Carolina, Canyon Kitchen marries upscale cuisine with downhome comfort.
Tweet: Why Canyon Kitchen at @LonesomeValley in downhome North Carolina
is worth traveling for.

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