The Orchard, Cashiers’ sumptuous dining destination, is housed in a marvelously rustic cabin sheltered at the edge of, naturally, an apple orchard.
This rambling 100-year-old farmhouse is jammed with antiques, road signs, vintage newspaper clippings and an attic’s worth of ephemera that give the place a cheerful, homespun feel. You can tell that this is the kind of restaurant that attracts both boisterous conversations between friends and families and whispered intimacies between couples.
In fact, with just a little imagination, you get a sense of Cashiers’ early days when the Valley attracted guests from across the Southeast looking for a getaway from the stresses of life. The Orchard is the kind of place that invites you to unlace your shoes and sip a cool drink.
“We wanted a restaurant that would give our clientele a chance to relax while at the same time, enjoy some really fine dining,” explains Chad Boswell, who with his brother Travis owns The Orchard and keeps it rolling along. “We wanted to give people an experience that they wouldn’t forget for a while.”
That’s a pretty tall order and like mostly lofty goals, the proof is in the pudding – or in the case of The Orchard, the Panthertown Pork Tenderloin. This herb-rubbed cut is pan-roasted and enrobed in a black cherry demi-glace. It’s then plated with sweet fried onion rings and topped with garlic-chive goat cheese crumbles.
“We’re proud of our Orchard Chicken, too,” explains Chad. “It’s a fresh, all-natural chicken breast that’s stuffed with an apple, walnut, sage and provolone cheese stuffing. We bread it and lightly fry it and drizzle it with an apricot glaze. It’s probably our signature dish.”
Travis and Chad’s menu boasts meat and poultry raised locally and produce grown by local farms. This commitment ensures rich, flavorful dishes.
And somehow, despite the distance from the shore, The Orchard has incredibly fresh seafood, spotlighted in a nightly fish special.
In fact, The Orchard has a tradition of combining the best of seafood with the finest home cooking. A perennial menu favorite is the unforgettable Shelley’s Shrimp and Grits – large shrimp, andouille sausage, applewood smoked bacon, Vidalia onions, red peppers, squash and wild mushrooms all seasoned, stir-fried and served on a bed of locally ground “Anson Mill” cheese grits.
That deep variety of seafood doesn’t mean that The Orchard ignores the local fish. My sweetie opted for the Glenville Fried Trout — a gorgeous rainbow caught a few miles away, pecan breaded and served with a black-eyed pea relish and a honey dijon tartar sauce. She was reluctant to share with me.
I had the Grimshawe’s Ribeye. It was tenderly marbled and dipped in a subtle and provocative Worcestershire marinade.
(Here’s a riddle: Everyone knows about Grimshawe’s, the tiny Post Office nestled in Whiteside Cove. Tiny? Supposedly the smallest in the United States. So why does The Orchard call its monumental 12-ounce ribeye “Grimshawe’s?” Wouldn’t a majestic local feature like Whiteside be more appropriate?)
There are desserts freshly made every day and this is definitely not the place to demonstrate restraint. I ended up with a slice of Key Lime Pie that was light and tart and redolent of the Tropics. My sweetie wisely refrained from finishing her platter-sized trout and was able to find room for a sinfully-rich Crème Brulee.
Just as essential to The Orchard’s down-home ambience as that farm-fresh menu is the warm attention lavished by the staff. You’re made to feel at home. If you’re local, they probably know you. If you’re a visitor, well, it’s a marvelous welcome to the community.
Dinner reservations are highly recommended.
The Orchard is located just one mile south of the Crossroads on Highway 107 (across from Cashiers United Methodist Church). For more information and reservations, call (828) 743-7614.
By Luke Osteen | Photos by Marjorie Fielding