By Jesse Wood
Oct. 8, 2014. With a new chef, revamped menu and lower price points, the Green Park Inn is primed to retain its status as a premiere establishment in the High Country for weddings, corporate meetings, family reunions, dinner for two or a drink among friends after a long day.
The Green Park Inn, located in Blowing Rock, opened in 1891 and throughout the past years, the Green Park Inn has hosted a who’s who of national figures: Annie Oakley, J.D. Rockefeller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover and Margaret Mitchell, who penned a portion of her “Gone With the Wind” novel while staying at the hotel.
Chef Robert Back came on board towards the end of September with a “breadth of experience,” as Green Park Inn General Manager Lorry Mulhern put it.
“We are really happy to have him join our team. He has a breadth of experience that should fit in really well with our property,” Mulhern said. “He’s designed a fall menu with really approachable food at a really approachable price.”
For the past three decades, Back’s background in the food industry includes graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.; multiple awards, among them “Best Chef” from the American Culinary Foundation; manager of the Johnson County Farmers’ Market; starting and owning multiple privately-owned restaurants; operating a colonial-themed restaurant in the oldest-running inn in the State of Tennessee; and now chef of the historic Green Park Inn.
“I am very excited,” Back said. “I love the old-style inns.”
Back described the revamped menu and some of the new dishes as “upscale southern style with a twist,” which will include ingredients and meats native to Western North Carolina and Appalachia.
With the old era of the Green Park Inn in mind, Back has incorporated an old-fashioned Chicken Pot Pie; a hunter-style chicken with braised peppers and onions; and a North Carolina trout with a pumpkinseed crust – just to name a few – into the menu at The Chestnut Grille.
In addition to the mountain-style dishes of a bygone era, Back is incorporating some lovely Italian dishes because of his heritage. His grandparents were born in Italy and eventually migrated to Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Keeping in line with making everything from scratch, Back and the staff at Green Park Inn are making all of the fettuccini, Stromboli, pizza dough, rolls and desserts in house. That effort includes hand-cutting all of the steaks as well.
Food and beverage services at the Green Park Inn consist of The Chestnut Grille, The Divide Tavern and catering. Breakfast and dinner is served to guests and the members of the public.
Upcoming Special Event Dinners
Don’t Worry! Through the end of October, Back will continue serving up the ever-popular live Maine lobster feast on Tuesdays.
The Green Park Inn is hosting a Halloween Phantom Mascaraed Dinner Party at the Chestnut Grille, which consists of a three courses with a buffet dinner that includes Seafood Fettuccini, Beef Stroganoff and Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast with Pineapple Mango Salsa.
In addition, the historic inn will host a High Country Thanksgiving Feast that includes a salad station, two carving stations [Herb Roasted Turkey, New England Oyster Dressing, Southern Cornbread Dressing, Maple Glazed Smoked Ham, Sweet Potato Pecan Soufflé and Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes], a buffet line and a dessert table.
Breakfast hours are Monday-Thursday 8 to 9:30 a.m. and on Friday through Sunday 8 to 10 a.m.
Dinner at the Grille is Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday 6 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 6 to 9:30 p.m.
The Divide Tavern is open Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 to 10 p.m. Live music takes place on Sunday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m.
For more information, contact the Green Park Inn at 828-414-9230 or click to www.greenparkinn.com. The Green Park Inn is located at 9239 Valley Boulevard in Blowing Rock.