by k.c. friese
My wife, the lovely Princess Gwen, and I recently dined at one of the area’s newest restaurants, THE HIGHLANDS KITCHEN AND BAR. This is the attractive redo of the former POINT OF VIEW, and the dining room does, in fact, provide a delightful overlook of Lake Lure. Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, the lake was at dam repair (damn repair?) half-mast and was about as appealing as Jabba The Hutt’s remaining tub water. Nonetheless, as you read this the lake should be back to, as they charmingly say, “full pool”.
I would warn that parking at THE HIGHLANDS requires decision making, and I would suggest seeking a spot on the lake side of the establishment. Of course, as any fool can see, parking on the other (the east side?) might prevent another diner’s car from ever exiting. Just worth mentioning.
Once inside, the Princess and I were delighted to find abundant darkness. Dark walls, dark ceiling, dark air. This worked wonderfully for us, as it lends THE HIGHLANDS a decided fine dining ambience, and what lighting there is served to lend the Princess’s tiara additional dazzle.
We were escorted to our table by the lovely Megan (who, along with her hubby chef John owns the establishment) and, of course, we immediately ordered martinis. Neither Princess Gwen nor I are particular about martini’s, requiring only that they contain prodigious amounts of gin, and those that our engaging server Kylie provided more than met that demand. Of course, cocktails at finer dining establishments can be somewhat costly, and I might have considered ordering one martini and two straws, had I not known asking the Princess to share her gin is at best a fool’s errand.
Once martinis were secured, we perused the hors d’oeuvres menu which included, among other delights, frog legs. I should confess that one of our life’s simpler pleasures is listening to the mellifluous croaking of our lakeside bullfrogs on a warm summer evening. Thus, we’re not likely to give one of our amphibian friends a role in any dining event. We have not, however, ever been lulled by the gentle mewling of a squid, and opted without remorse for the fried calamari – the basket of which proved to be the ideal crunchy, chewy, finger-food with which one would like to commence a meal.
Some years ago there was a prominent restaurant reviewer named Elmer Dills. Those in North Carolina may not have heard of Elmer because he was LA based, and as far as I can recall did not shout his reviews. Nonetheless, Elmer claimed that an important part of any dining experience was the salad, the quality of which tended to augur accurately with regard to the rest of the evening’s meal. It was with Elmer’s wisdom in mind, that I was enormously pleased with the Caesar salad the Princess and I ordered. (we opted to split a salad, as I was still somewhat reeling from the martini splurge.) Other salads on the menu included the ginger and honey and a pancetta w/blue cheese; both of which we’ll try in the future.
I’m not a big meat-eater, an attitude I may have to examine if I have any hope of being invited to write another restaurant review, but I enjoyed a pork chop in a very nice peach sauce, while Gwen feasted on blackened cod over rice w/zucchini and beets. The menu also included a filet, rack of lamb, and something termed flanken short ribs. There are also smaller bites such as burgers and what is rumored to be a delicious snapper taco. I should mention that I did occasionally lose track of my fork, as the cutlery is black, as are the plates and table cloth – I mentioned the lighting? But keeping an eye on one’s cutlery is a small task to be assigned given the wonderful food.
We both skipped dessert as I suspected that, by our meal’s end I probably had some unfortunate’s car sequestered in the eastside parking lot. But the dessert menu did include a white chocolate and berry cheese cake, which the Princess has been known to gobble somewhat embarrassingly.
Suffice to say, Gwen and I thoroughly enjoyed our repast at THE HIGHLANDS KITCHEN AND BAR, and would rate it a definite FIVE BIBS out of FIVE. The restaurant is located at 454 Imperial Highway, Lake Lure, and is open Mon thru Sat from 3 to 9. They also serve Sunday brunch 10 to 3.
So, for now, I wish you fine dining. Or, as the Princess whispered to me on our first date, “Bon appetit, mon petit choux” which I believe meant, “Please take your hand off my knee.”
When not eating, k.c. friese wrote for a number of television shows, and authored the novel STATE OF DISARRAY, which is available via Amazon.com. Got a suggestion for a restaurant to review? Email firstname.lastname@example.org today!
by k.c. friese