Shortly after we’re seated at a table draped in crisp, freshly pressed white linen at Herons, a jacketed waiter wheels a cart up to our table. A glass-and-metal contraption is perched atop a Bunsen burner; it looks like it was taken straight from a chemistry lab.
Our server explains that this is a German vacuum tea brewer, and she proceeds to brew an herb tea that, as it rises from the bottom chamber to the top, turns an intense violet color.
This is just the beginning of an exquisite night at the posh Umstead Hotel, where we’re feasting on an eight-course tasting menu called “The Art Tour.”
Executive chef Steven Devereaux Greene, a two-time James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef in the Southeast, introduced the special menu last month as a tribute to the Umstead’s motto, “where nature and art collide.”
Over multiple courses, we’re treated to an epicurean flight of fancy, where each course is inspired by a work of art in the hotel and draws heavily on produce harvested from the Umstead’s own dedicated farm.
Naturally, a meal this lavish doesn’t come cheap. “The Art Tour” will set you back $150 a head, but as all great journeys are, this one is worth it.
100 Woodland Pond Drive, in the Umstead Hotel and Spa, Cary
Rating: 5 stars
Atmosphere: elegant, contemporary
Noise level: low to moderate
Recommended: everything, especially “The Art Tour”
Open: Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily
Reservations: strongly recommended
Other: full bar (outstanding wine list); get a sitter; limited vegetarian selection; patio; parking in lot (valet parking available)