Jake Schmidt

Working at The Signature Room restaurant, perched 95 stories above Chicago, Chef Jake Schmidt thought he knew what constituted a great view. But then he moved to Asheville.

"There's nothing like nature's beauty," says Schmidt as he observes Mount Pisgah from the covered deck of the Grove Park Inn's Edison sports bar, one of several eateries he oversees. "I love to watch the weather rolling over the mountains."

The vast mountain vista provides a stately setting for a slower pace of dining; sometimes guests linger for an entire evening on the inn's grand stone terrace. "We'll have people who get here for dinner at 5:30 and stay until 10 p.m.," Schmidt explains.

In the center of the inn, flanked by historic stone architecture, Sunset Terrace offers an open-air dining experience with lunches of lobster Cobb salads and grass-fed burgers and dinners featuring high-end steaks and seafood.

At dinnertime, Vue 1913, serves "French-based food with an American twist," as Schmidt puts it. For a true European dining experience try the seven-course chef's tasting menu of creative cuisine with wine pairings.

The inn offers an abundance of fresh, seasonal fare, Schmidt explains, and as an added bonus, downtown Asheville, just two miles away, provides even more exciting flavors. "It doesn't feel big around here, but there's a lot to see and taste," Schmidt says.

Jake Schmidt | Omni Grove Park Inn

Jake Schmidt | Omni Grove Park Inn