A few short minutes down a lazy winding road is Atlanta’s popular countryside vacation; locals, too, are clamoring to reacquaint themselves with an old favorite getaway. Barnsley Resort is better than ever, having just been named the top resort in Georgia and number four in the South in Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards. The newly renovated Woodlands Grill, historic treasure Rice House, and the cheerful Beer Garden comprise the unique culinary program that is launching Barnsley Resort into the headlines.
Executive Chef Nicolas Lebas‘ passion is the central focus of the culinary programs at the beautiful Barnsley Resort. In masterfully designing and executing three unique and inspiring menus for the highly acclaimed resort and its three restaurants, Woodlands Grill, Rice House, and Beer Garden, along with extensive catering menus, Chef Lebas allows his nearly 20 years of experience to shine. Chef Lebas was born in Marseilles in the south of France.
His roots are deeply seeded in traditional French cooking, blended with the Mediterranean’s rich, fresh flavors. Childhood memories of being in the kitchen with his grandmother – the aroma of her baking loaves of bread and sweets – are just the beginning of a lifetime journey in the culinary arts. “My work and experiences around the world have culminated to bring me here.
I began my culinary career in France, which then took me to Mexico, Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Georgia; all of these experiences have led me to where I am,” Lebas explains. Having made a name for himself in the Kimpton Hotel Group’s chef-driven experiences and the luxury Five Diamond Waldorf Astoria, Lebas prides himself on not only being a passionate and hands-on executive chef but also a leader and mentor who is results-driven.
When asked about his creative style, Lebas states, “I mix what I have learned from all the countries and regions in which I’ve worked and from the people I’ve worked with. Then I research the cooking styles and history of where I am. I combine my knowledge with these findings and my French techniques to create dishes that are not only appealing to the eye but exceptional to the palate.” Before moving to Georgia, he was largely unfamiliar with Southern cuisine. Research, incredibly fresh local ingredients, and unequaled execution have led to a culinary program that elevates and reinvents what Southern food can be.
Comfort awaits at the newly renovated Woodlands Grill. The signature restaurant has a very appealing open feel, with stunning views of the Fazio-designed golf course that grace both the indoor and outdoor seating. Guests catch glimpses of the rising morning mist on the green at breakfast and get front row seats to watch golfers playing through during lunch and dinner service.
The tasteful English manor décor speaks a casual ease and day-to-day comfort that reflects the menu’s creative Southern delights created by Executive Chef Lebas and the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine John Paul Burns. Pimiento cheese beignets and the in-house cut steaks are a favorite amongst the regulars.
This is the perfect gathering place for friends and family between activities at the resort. The wine library offers an elegant private space for intimate parties up to twelve guests.
Dining at the Rice House is a treasured experience that breaks the boundary between the old and the new. The Rice House, itself a marker of history, was once a 19th-century farmhouse in Rome, Georgia. The house was disassembled and moved to where it stands today, bestowing an elegant setting in which traditional Southern classic dishes are reinvented and delivered with a modern interpretation. The menu highlights the culinary program’s dedication to freshness, as all produce is grown on-site or delivered from local sources, reflecting the garden-to-table commitment and the culinary prowess of Executive Chef Lebas.
Chef Lebas shares his passion for the restaurant, saying, “The Rice House is my baby. It is here that I am able to take advantage of the amazing produce and resources of this area and let them shine. Here, we follow a true garden-to-table philosophy for our menu. We manage a kitchen garden on site with fresh vegetation-sited herbs that are featured in our dishes, and we cut our meat and fish here to ensure the best quality.
Additionally, we have developed relationships with local growers to supply the freshest and healthiest ingredients to our guests. Tucker Farms in Rome, Georgia, and Bella Vita in Adairsville, Georgia, are just a couple of the dedicated farms that supply us with the seasonal varieties,” Lebas says. It is often these seasonal ingredients that inspire him the most. “I will see what is growing and use that as the first spark of inspiration for our menu conception. We are constantly perfecting what we create in the kitchen, making it better with each service. This is why the menu will change every few weeks, keeping it fresh and exciting.” If there is one thing that Lebas wishes to convey in his work, it’s that Barnsley is the best resort experience in the world. This is what he is here to do.
It was not long ago the Rice House closed its doors with the rest of the resort at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. “We were devastated, really,” Lebas says. “It was March and the restaurant had great momentum and a strong team. Then everything stopped and all we could do is wait. Slowly the resort opened up. When we got word that the Rice House would reopen in October, there were a lot of emotions. Happiness for the reopening, of course, and excitement.
I was also anxious to see if I would be able to get my talented team members back.” A majority of the culinary team did return, as did the international student program, allowing Chef Lebas once again to use his passionate and hands-on approach to teach, mentor, and lead the best culinary team in North Georgia.
For years, Barnsley Resort has been a family favorite for the holidays. This year, the resort will continue with its tradition of offering a Thanksgiving Feast exclusively for resort guests and members. Seating is available at both the Rice House and Woodlands Grill. The menus are expertly crafted to include three- and four-course meal options, which feature delicious entrees such as crispy rabbit loin, pink peppercorn coffee-dusted veal, and sweet tea sous-vide turkey breast, among other possibilities. Space is limited and early reservations are encouraged.
Centrally located in the village green is the casual outdoor Beer Garden. It is the perfect spot to taste regional craft beer and celebrate the barbeque tradition. Smoked wings and pulled pork sandwiches will delight any Southern food purist.
The Beer Garden is open for breakfast biscuits on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as lunch and dinner on Fridays and Saturdays. Guests can enjoy eating at the outdoor tables and play a game of bocce in the beautiful weather or choose to get their meal to-go on their way to their next activity on the resort.
“Our aim at Barnsley Resort is to offer guests a variety of unique comforts and experiences, sending everyone home with special memories of their time spent here, building traditions that have people wanting to come back again and again,” says Director of Marketing Shelby Taylor Kolb, CHDM. The special events calendar aims to do just that. Special cooking demonstrations, beer and wine tastings, and social events all promise to bring a unique glimpse of this southern gem.
The culinary program at Barnsley Resort is unrivaled in its originality and authenticity. Southern flavors combine with Chef Lebas’ elegant execution to bring North Georgia a truly world-class experience. While some events may be limited to resort guests and members while the resort continues to manage through COVID-19, many of the ticketed culinary events have space to accommodate local visitors. Please check the calendar for details.
Due to reduced resort capacities, off-property dining may be limited on some dates, especially weekends and holidays. With an all reservations model required for Woodlands Grill and the Rice House at the present time, it is always recommended to call in advance to inquire about availability on the date you wish to dine.
For reservations to Barnsley Resort, contact 770-773-7480 or visit www.barnsleyresort.com