We're back from our trip (original thread below), staying at Fearrington House 3 nights. We arrived later than expected on Sunday, so we cancelled our Palio reservation and got a last minute dinner reservation, eating at Fearrington two nights. The food is good, not great; pretty much what David A. said in his post, "the food lacks the sublety and complexity I expect when I pay $75 a head". We also had expected "Southern" cusine, and were surprised to see a pretty generic menu. Good flavors, nice presentation; especially liked the carrot-ginger soup on Sunday. The service and the atmosphere were great, with a wonderful sommelier. And after Sunday's July 4 dinner, as we sat on the rockers on the porch (thoughfully sprayed by the helpful maitre d' before we sat down) drinking a brandy, we could see fireworks from Chapel Hill. Would return for a special occasion, not particularly for the food.
We did have lunch at Palio on Monday, and were disappointed; average pasta, heavy, oversauced. The mood was not improved by the two loud groups immediately adjoining us.
Tuesday night was a different story - a new destination restaurant for us, the Magnolia Grill. We each had a nice heirloom tomato salad to start, then my wife was in heaven with her pork chop over Brunswick stew. I joined her there with my "pork osso buco", braised pork over red beans with sweet corn. This is the food we were looking for on the trip, great flavors, great seasonal ingrediants. Where was the corn and tomato at Fearrington?
We continued our trip through Charlotte with a couple of nice dinners at Coco Osteria and Ristorante Toscana (same owner), and had a great meal on the way back at Il Violino in Winchester, Virginia.