Restaurants & Bars 3

Thornhill's Fine Dining (Arden)

Scirocco | Jan 19, 200809:27 AM

Just wondering if anyone else has tried Thornhill's yet (or heard of it)? It's relatively new - opened I think in either late November or early December.

We heard of it by chance while eating in Asheville several weeks ago. It's on Avery Creek Road in Arden in a renovated schoolhouse. www.thornhillsfinedining.com It's small (only about 10 tables) and very nicely renovated. We liked the menu and beer/wine list and thought the prices were pretty reasonable (entrees $14 - $22, with two items at $29). The entrees come with a nice mixed greens salad and we were given plenty of delicious bread and a free tasting of carrot soup which was very good.

In a nutshell, we thought the food was excellent, but the service, well, strange. The server (who had only been there about a week - according to him - and had the entire dining room) didn't seem to be allowed to seat us (we had to wait for the host which took 10 minutes) and the server wasn't allowed to get us drinks (the executive chef came over to take our order....!!! and later, when I wanted another glass of wine, the host had to get it for me). And no, the server wasn't under age by any stretch. And everything seemed to take awhile. They were only about half full, so not mobbed, maybe five or six tables.

Other strange things included the chef coming out literally every five minutes and standing in the corner looking over the dining room. I understand they want to know how it's going, but that seemed excessive (he also was bussing a table later - perhaps he is a part owner??). There were also several discussions going on among various combinations of staff and a few crashes from the kitchen. It got to be entertaining! We think what they were trying for was a sort of really individualized service that just didn't seem to quite work properly. The host made the rounds getting to know each table and I am assuming part of the reason the chef came to get my wine order was that they thought we were ordering a bottle and might like guidance on a good pairing with our food. I just wanted a glass of red though so while I appreciated the attention from the chef, the server could've handled it. And I had to ask to place our drink order. The server never asked us and I waited probably 10 minutes before I finally said something!

Once the food was ordered (it took a long time to take our order) and started coming out, everything moved along at a nice pace (not rushed at all, but not sitting there empty handed for long). We were there for two hours, which was fine, as eating out for us is the whole experience, not to just get a meal. As I said, the food was great - we had Coquilles St. Jacques as an appetizer ($12 - a bit pricey), and the sea bass ($22) and the pork wienerschnitzel ($18) as entrees - both excellent. Then, we split a bananas foster for dessert ($8) which was also excellent.

So, anyway, a mixed experience. Great food, nice atmosphere, and some strange service. We would go back and try again. I'm hoping they are just getting their rhythm worked out and it will be a bit more organized next time.

Would love to know if anyone else has been and how their experience compared to ours. :-)

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