Sunday, October 19, 2008

Balsam Mountain Inn

Thursday afternoon our tires arrived and we drove into Waynesville to have them put on the truck and then made our way to Blue Ridge Books & News, which you can read about here.

Cindy's mom and dad had made 5pm reservations for the four of us and Cindy's uncle and aunt to have dinner at the Seven Springs Restaurant inside the historic Balsam Mountain Inn, about 2 miles from Moonshine Creek Campground. However, we had been granted permission to arrive at 4pm and tour the hotel's three floors of rooms which weren't currently occupied that remain, for the most part, as they were when the hotel opened in 1905. It reminded all of us of the Grand Hotel in the movie "Somewhere in Time" starring the late Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour.

The occasion for the dinner treat by my in-laws was to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary. That anniversary was back in March, but since I had not been home any length of time since then to observe it, they were kind enough to make this meal in these very elegant surroundings an anniversary gift to Cindy and I. "Thanks, mom and dad."

The tour was a lot of fun and I have many photos that will be posted on Flickr. Each room has its own style of decor and every room is unique in its furnishings. A couple of rooms were very feminine and a couple were very masculine and the rest were gender neutral, but all were interesting in that they maintained the feel of the early 1900's. There is no air-conditioning (a sign, kept from the original opening of the hotel in a lobby display case, reads, "Air-Conditioned By Nature"), and no TV's, radios, DVD players or other electronic items, though each room does have electricity. Most bath accommodations are in-room, but bathtubs are the norm (except in the masculine rooms which had shower stalls) and all are in the old "Claw leg" style while sinks are the pedestal type and usually mounted in corners. It truly is as if you have stepped back in time.

No self-respecting inn would be without its ghosts and Balsam Mountain Inn is no exception. One room, 205, is supposedly haunted, but it was occupied by a guest so we did not get to go in it and see if we felt a "presence."

I did see a shelf of blinking wireless routers, so I assume they offer Wi-Fi, but I forgot to ask. They also have a wonderful reading room off the side of the expansive lobby that was stocked with a wide variety of reading materials and furnished with an equally wide variety of furnishings for sitting and relaxing. Front and back covered porches allowed for sitting quietly in rocking chairs while taking in the beauty of the grounds or enjoying conversation with companions.

After the tour we made our way to the waiting area of the Seven Springs Restaurant to chat prior to our 5pm dinner reservation. Before we knew it, the hostess was escorting us to the hallowed alcove dining table, reserved for special parties. Our server, Lindsay, was a jewel; making recommendations and answering our questions. The food was absolutely exquisite. We all shared appetizers of Fried Green Tomatoes and Fried Brie (except for Cindy's dad who ordered a cup of Peanut Chicken Soup), before moving on to our excellent entrees. Cindy had the Coffee-Rubbed Ribeye with Garlic Mashed Potatoes; I had the Angus Filet with Mushrooms; Cindy's mom had the Coconut Crusted Salmon with Asparagus; her dad had Venison (Bambi's mom, we kept telling Cindy, to her great distress), as did her uncle and her aunt had the Pecan Crusted Catfish. For dessert I had the Bourbon Pecan Pie; Cindy had the Creme Brulee; her mom had the Chocolate Torte and her dad, aunt and uncle all had the Pumpkin Cheesecake. All of this wonderful food was washed down with glasses of wine.

It was, for Cindy and I, a wonderful anniversary gift of great food and drink, coupled with the enjoyment of excellent company. If you are ever in the area, I highly, highly recommend the Seven Springs Restaurant inside the historic Balsam Mountain Inn. Especially if your wonderful in-laws are treating, lol.

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