* Click here for rating key
Herons at The Umstead Hotel & Spa Restaurant Review: Chef Scott Crawford’s cooking complements the elegant dining room of The Umstead Hotel & Spa. Characteristic of the chef’s sophisticated but simple style, the menu relies on pure flavors and artistic presentations. Beyond the open kitchen window, Crawford, who also serves as food-and-beverage director, may be seen constructing plates of his seasonal fare. Breakfast features that same locavore sense of dining that governs the restaurant’s other menus, so pancakes may be studded with Georgia pecans and the grits are sure to be from a local supplier, such as Anson Mills in South Carolina. But you’ll also want to watch for crab cakes Benedict and short rib hash among the heartier choices. The lunch menu features such tempting items as smoked trout salad on frisée with apple-bacon relish, and seared salmon with bok choy in a lemon-miso broth. Dinner choices may be poached lobster with trumpet mushrooms on saffron rice, or pork cheeks with rosemary grits topped with toasted pecan gremolata. There are three menus to choose from: à la carte; vegetarian and wellness; and a five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu. For dessert, expect the unusual with flavor combinations such as coconut cake with grapefruit sorbet or a roasted pear with salted almonds and stout ice cream. Choose a bottle from the extensive list of international wines, or allow the wine steward to recommend a pairing with each course.