by k.c.. Friese

As my wife, the lovely Princess Gwen, and I enjoyed martinis on the deck of the charming ESMERALDA RESTAURANT, and listened to the French Broad River twist its way down the mountainside, I pondered the notion that Nature abhors a straight line, and realized that, were it not for that principle, trees and snakes would be very boring. Ahh, martinis.

We were dining at the fine eatery as a result of a conversation which I find myself increasingly having of late, sometimes with total strangers. The exchange generally goes something like this:

TOTAL STRANGER: “So. You the clown who writes the restaurant column?”

ME: “That would be me. Always nice to meet a fan.”

TOTAL STRANGER: “So. How come you don’t write about THE ESMERALDA? It’s terrific.”

And there you have it. Thus, martinis and vague ponderings on snakes.

Actually, this wasn’t our first visit to the dining spot, because it is, in fact, quite nice. But I would warn that first one has to find the place. They seem to keep moving it on me. On our first visit, the restaurant was a stone’s throw outside Chimney Rock. The next time it was about three hundred yards further west. And this time, right after I’d insisted to The Princess that we’d missed it, and that she possesses abysmal navigational abilities – Boom there it was. And its name is actually the ESMERALDA INN, RESTAURANT and SPA. The beautiful three-story structure and also the welcoming wood-paneled lobby remind us of some of the nicer vacation stays we’ve had. I would suggest that when one of your relatives is visiting – if it’s the one you like – you might suggest they give the Inn a try.

Okay, this is supposed to be a restaurant review. I’ll talk food. But first, I do have one bone to pick. Hah! A bone to pick? At a restaurant? Man, I am killing it today! But here’s the thing. I missed a couple of the joys provided on earlier visits.  A). The piano player who accompanied dinner and commiserated with me over my dismal failure to master the instrument, and 2). The Salmon Wellington. I don’t know if the pianist also prepared the salmon, but the pair did disappear around the same time, which is suspect. But let’s be positive. The menu is excellent, and includes many of your better dining establishments’ usual suspects, like oysters Rockefeller, short ribs (a Princess favorite), oso buco (one of mine), a lovely salmon (sans piano and sans Sir Wellington, but delicious just the same) and a variety of specials. Plus, there’s an excellent wine list for which I’m sure home loans are available.

Over a delicious chocolaty dessert, we began conversing with a pleasant couple at the next table who were celebrating their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Can you imagine? I mean, The Princess and I have a solid 40 years… no, wait 42… wait… 41? Anyway, for some reason, The Princess settled for me back then rather than falling for a number of suitors who probably wouldn’t have eventually peddled the notion that bass fishing would provide a fulfilling retirement. But back to my point – which is that sixty-five years is an impressive run, and I think THE ESMERALDA is an appropriate spot to make note of the accomplishment.

The restaurant is, it turns out, permanently located at 910 Main St, Chimney Rock. It’s open for dinner Tuesday thru Saturday from 5 to 9, and may be open for lunch, depending on the season. Gwen and I would suggest making reservations at (828) 625-2999.

Our meal ended when I noticed, as fascinating as my conversing was, the older pair were staring into each other’s eyes more than mine. At which point, I realized it wasn’t too late to get in a little fishing. The Princess gave me a knowing smile and led me to the door. It’s been a great 41 years… no, wait…

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 editor@mountainbreeze.online.

Leave a Reply