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Old Orchard Tavern a new discovery on Sugarloaf

Crab cakes are one of the entrees at the Old Orchard Tavern at the Mountain Cascades hotel on Sugarloaf Road. Crab cakes are one of the entrees at the Old Orchard Tavern at the Mountain Cascades hotel on Sugarloaf Road.

To local residents, the reopening of the Quality Inn as the Cascades Mountain Resort may have gone by unnoticed. But in this case, ignorance is not bliss. The Old Orchard Tavern is a welcome discovery in the updated hotel in the bend of Sugarloaf Road.

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The intimately sized restaurant overlooks an open-air pool area complete with large hot tubs and a waterslide. The comfy feel of the venue is further enhanced with the mountain lodge ambiance of a stone fireplace and the work of an attentive and friendly wait staff. The restaurant features the beauty of Western North Carolina with scenic photos of the mountains and a rustic décor.
The newly minted Old Orchard Tavern serves what manager Matthew Barrs calls “high end Americana” and puts a southern twist on classic dishes, like the addition of a mac n’ cheese side-dish to the crab cake entree or the fried green tomato Caprese on the appetizer list.
Barrs, general manager of the restaurant, says that the menu was kept simple on purpose. A larger menu, he says, makes perfecting the available dishes a difficult task. With only five appetizers, five entrees, five seafood and four steak options, the chef aims for quality and not dozens of dishes. When compiling the menu the restaurant wanted to create choices that are as “simple, fresh and as good as possible.”
Many hotel restaurants have a stigma of mediocre, under-seasoned food cooked with little skill. The Old Orchard Tavern successfully breaks from the cliché to deliver higher-end dining that happens to be served in a hotel space. The type of food most prominently featured on the menu is steak and seafood, giving “people in Hendersonville something that was not available to them,” according to Barrs.
The future for Old Orchard Tavern is bright as at only six weeks since opening the seasonings of its dishes seem to be well mastered, including the tavern’s brand of bread service — homemade hushpuppies and honey butter.
The tavern offers an apple bacon cheddar or classic black and blue burger for $14 (with fries or house-made chips). Appetizers include fried green tomato Caprese for $9, chicken wings for $10 and smoked rainbow trout dip for $10. Salads include fresh apple and grilled chicken and classic chicken Caesar for $12 each. Entrees include Outer Banks crab cakes for $23, shrimp and grits for $20, grass-fed ribeye for $30, filet mignon for $30 and a marinated flat iron steak for $24.
The relatively short craft beer list offers a good representation of local flavors, including Bojum coffee porter, Pisgah Brewery’s pale ale, Wicked Weed and New Belgium’s Citradelic Tangerine IPA on tap and Greenman IPA, Catawba’s White Zombie and Oskar Blues’s Yella Pils and Dale’s pale ale in cans. Prices range from $4.50 to $6. The wine list ranges from $6 to $9 a glass ($21 to $106 a bottle) with selections from California to South America to old Europe.

The Old Orchard Tavern is open 5-10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Sunday brunch. The restaurant accepts reservations but with its off-the-beaten path location seating for now is usually available.