At Downton Abbey, every night is a dinner party. Fine china, black ties, the finest linens and silvers attended to by butlers and servants. Tinkling crystal and the most elegantly prepared meals, each need and desire anticipated and met before a word can be uttered. It is an experience that has no equal in our modern, rushed society.
Lex 18 has begun their own immersive dinner theatre experience, and they invited us to sample the menu. When we arrived, the atmosphere was set: candlelit lighting in their already-beautifully furnished dining room, fine table settings, a butler carefully polishing the silver, and Downton Abbey projected on the back wall. It looked delightfully intimate and at the same time, worldly and immensely luxurious.
The dishes I sampled were uniformly exquisite. I did not taste a single aperitif – moonshine from their bar – entree or dessert that did not please the palate completely. Although they were from their standard dinner menu, you can probably expect similar quality from their Downton Abbey menu.
We first sampled the Carolina trout, set on a bed of mushroom fennel quinoa, local greens and roasted tomato vinaigrette. The fish was perfectly prepared, moist and tender. The quinoa’s bitter edge was tamed with earthy mushroom, and the local greens were not overdone or sulfurous.
Next, the scallops, which were grilled and well caramelized, with risotto and red beet puree. Not a fan of beets, I was surprised that for the second time, Lex 18 has prepared it deliciously.
The last entree was the prime rib, prepared to the standard medium rare and served over celery root puree. Tender, mouthwatering, the beef was both grounded and uplifted by the celery root.
I also sampled moonshine . The Apple Pie Moonshine tasted exactly as an apple pie, neither too sharp in moonshine flavor nor too cloying in its fruit. Next, I sampled the Egg Nog, which tasted much like an Irish cream, and the blackberry moonshine, which was a nice dark fruity offset to the egg nog.
For dessert, cheesecake, but so silky and succulent one might never realize they were eating cheesecake. I was delighted to discover their new chef was thinking out of the box, as the texture was closer to a creme brulee than a cheesecake, but with a light cheese taste.
Each dinner event has a different menu, so if you’re eager to immerse yourself in the luxury, be sure and buy tickets for your event early, which continues each Sunday from January 4.
Overall I give this 4.5 stars, reserving judgment on the service and atmosphere of the actual events, since we were there for a tasting only.
The Persnickety Particulars
18 Lexington Ave, Asheville
I’d like to take a moment and acknowledge the recent passing of a colleague, Steven Doherty, a freelance food blogger who penned his pieces under his pseudonym Drexler McStyles. His style and mine differed tremendously, and while he poked fun at me and I poked fun at the differences in our styles, we shared a love of delicious food and expressing that in our own ways. He had a large following of snark-loving foodies and a tender family that will grieve his passing, and they have my sympathy in this very difficult time.