Friday, January 09, 2009

Review - Tea at the Biltmore Inn

Living an hour from Asheville means we live an hour from the Biltmore, "America's largest home!" My husband and I have been several times to see the house and grounds, and discovered that you can have afternoon tea at the inn. They serve you in the library, which overlooks the grounds, including a view of the Biltmore House. Our favorite time of year to go is autumn because the leaves are spectacular, but the holiday season is another great time to go. The tours of the house include live music, and the entire property is decorated for the holidays. The trees inside the house are all themed and memorable, although this year we didn't brave the crowds to see them.

From December Holidays 2008

During the holidays, we had family here, and we all trekked up to the Biltmore Inn for tea. Something to know is that the best seats are given to couples, since the smallest tables are by the windows in the library, but larger groups will still have excellent service and a great atmosphere. Because of the holidays, there was a pianist entertaining us most of the time, which was nice.

From December Holidays 2008

Once you decide if you want tea with your tea, or if you want something a little stronger (there are options for Kir Royale or champagne), you can choose a tea from the box with little samples on each table. They offer teas from Mighty Leaf which is one of my favorite companies, and I tend to go with one of the more strongly flavored black teas, but they have a nice variety of herbal, black, and green. (That's my husband Nathaniel, pondering his tea selection. I'm sure he'll be thrilled I included that picture).

From December Holidays 2008

The afternoon tea comes with savory and sweet treats. Did I already recommend skipping both lunch and dinner the day you come for tea? It is a lot of food. The selections have been different every time I have gone, but this particular day the savory plate (vegetarian options only) included cucumber sandwich, butternut squash crostini, artichoke hummus, quince paste with brie, mushroom on baguette, and cranberry chutney. Everything was excellent and the flavors and textures were a nice contrast.

From December Holidays 2008

The sweet options included muffins, scones, chocolates, cookies, and mini tarts. Also on the table were clotted cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd to spread on various things. This particular day the scones were raisin and the muffins were something like banana. The chocolates were delicious, but the tarts and cookies were somewhat mediocre.

One thing I want to make sure you understand - to get to tea at the Biltmore Inn, you need to either be staying as a guest at the inn or have a ticket to get in to see the house that day. I would recommend making plans for tea in the midst of spending the day there. We are season passholders this year, and hope to be able to get up there more often than we did before. If it seems too steep "just" for tea, Biltmore Village (a tiny town right outside the property) also has Chelsea's Tea Room which is excellent.


Joan said...

Hi Jenny! My husband daughter and I got to go to Biltmore a couple of months ago after wanting to go for many years. One thing I regret not doing is "tea". It looks wonderful. That state is just beautiful. Great Post!!

Unknown said...

The next time I'm that way I want to have tea. We had a wine tasting there. (When I was underage and they made me wait in the lobby!)
I had no clue tea was an option until you mentioned it.

Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

I used to live an hour away from Biltmore as family is still up there. It's such a beautiful place. I've always wanted to go at Christmas but haven't yet made it.

Carol said...

wondering how expensive it is for two.