We all love good food and there is a culinary explosion in Virginia’s River Realm. It’s not just about the food. We have some of the best chefs around, cooking up everything from long-standing, traditional coastal Virginia fare, to Irish, Australian, Thai, Caribbean, Mexican and even a taste of Southern Florida.
Take for example Irvington, a sleepy little village of around 450 people is quickly becoming one of the centers of the local food scene and boasts some of the best new restaurant hubs in the area. Irvington’s restaurant buildings are as interesting as the cuisines they serve. From an old school house to a historic store building, a dental office to a vineyard… a little something for everyone, you might say.
Hope and Glory Inn
65 Tavern Road, Irvington, VA 22480, 804-438-6053
Love brought Chef Meseret Crockett to Irvington when she fell in love with a local man and then became the Executive Chef and Manager at the Hope and Glory Inn and Vineyard, as well as an American Citizen! Chef Meseret was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and, educated in French schools. She is a graduate of the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. She is known to the producers of the Food Network and has hosted them for dinner at the Hope and Glory Inn. Earlier this year, she was invited to New York to attend a Food Network Cooking School event for her fellow Ethiopian Chef Marcus Samuelson. Samuelson last year was the honoree at the James Beard Foundation’s Chefs & Champagne event.
When asked to define a Hope and Glory customer, Meseret replied, “Anyone interested in an upscale fine dining experience. Many think our dinners are only for our overnight guests. Not true – we find our best guests are those who live right here.” She added, “They (Locals) have a sophisticated palate. They expect the best; and I strive every evening to exceed their expectations. The people who live here are genuine; and, I am grateful every day to all those who put their trust in me and accept me, as their Chef, though I came from a foreign continent.”
Expect the unexpected in the Hope and Glory dining hall where this January-March you are offered a pre-fixe dinner that includes the best of the local catch, their signature GLORYfied Oysters and Rappahannock Rockfish. The Chef’s favorite part of her multi-course meals is her desserts. She notes, “Every evening we take our dinner guests on a culinary journey and “my desserts” are my finale.” A culinary journey worth the travel!
And who wouldn’t want to go to Detention in this historic school house Inn? Detention is a cozy full bar, a fun place to repent your misdeeds for the day along with a refreshing Vodka and Tonic!
Ethiopian food in Irvington this winter! Keep in mind, on the third Thursday of each month; Chef Meseret will be creating an Ethiopian meal experience for her guests to taste the flavors of her homeland.
Winter Menu is served at the Hope and Glory Thursday-Saturday, reservations required. $55 PER PERSON–plus tax, gratuity. Bottles of wine of your choice will be offered at half price. Sounds like a deal to us!
The Hope and Glory Inn also owns the Dog and Oyster Vineyard. The Vineyard is open for wine tastings during the winter months, but when spring arrives, so does SLURP. SLURP is the outdoor restaurant an outdoor café that matches locally grown oysters with locally grown wines, both capturing their distinct flavors from the terrain (grapes) and sea (oysters) in which they grow.
Chef Stuart Tyson spent his childhood summers in Deltaville sailing, fishing and crabbing on Fishing Bay. After a successful career in Miami in the healthcare industry, he returned to his roots to pursue his passion for good food and good spirits. He has developed and managed popular restaurants as well as planned and catered special events including intimate dinner parties, sassy soirees and grand wedding receptions. His dishes have graced tables in the most distinctive homes of Virginia. You can enjoy his hospitality and his boat-to-table seafood creations at his whimsical outdoor Rappahannock River oyster stand “SLURP,” located at The Dog and Oyster Vineyard in Irvington.
Savor fresh off the boat oysters and softshell crabs, overstuffed Po’ Boys and his much-loved Virginia Slider; which features both Virginia golden fried oysters and Smithfield country ham. Stuart will also tempt you with his decadent sweet treat that is shipped in from his beloved Key West: frozen key lime pie dipped in dark chocolate and served on an ice cream stick. Decadent at its best!
Stuart encourages friends and soon to be friends, locals and come-here’s alike to enjoy the perfect pairing made on the River Realm. Stay tuned for more when SLURP opens this spring.
Sip. Slurp. Savor.
Vine-Wine, Beer and Provisions
77 King Carter Drive Irvington, VA 22480
The next stop in Irvington is Vine, a spirit lovers delight. Vine, opened less than a year, offering patrons a quiet, reflective patio and indoor dining in a neighborhood NYC bistro setting. The restaurant/wine store has a great local vibe, where friends and neighbors meet to enjoy a glass of chardonnay or a new IPA. If you are from out of town, you too will fit right in with the locals at this amazingly cozy wine venue, relaxed but elegant in its own right. Sit at the bar and watch the chef as he creates his signature petite plates and cheese boards that are as beautiful to look at as they are to taste. The small plates are selected to compliment the wine and beer menu. “We will always be serving traditional small plates such as cheese boards and charcuterie but also love to switch things up and serve adventurous plates like Vietnamese pork cheek Bahn Mi sandwiches,” says the new Chef Josh Killian.
Josh also found his way to Virginia’s River Realm through LOVE. He met a young lady who happened to grow up in White Stone. Josh said, “She always wanted to return here and make this area her permanent home, after spending time here I quickly agreed it is an amazing place to call home.” Good for her and good for us that Josh caught the River Realm fever and moved to Irvington with his new wife, Emily! He adds, “You can design your own life here, it is easy to achieve a quiet country life, but there is enough in the area to have an eventful social life.”
Chef Killian, from Richmond, started his culinary career at age 16, working his way up the restaurant career path, training under some of the most talented chefs in Richmond. He believes that the most flavorful cuisine is made simply with the highest quality ingredients. Being the Chef at Vine allows him to practice his viewpoint about food. Josh has a menu favorite, “Currently my favorite thing on our menu are the mussels in a tomato and white wine broth. I enjoy how it’s a dish that takes only a few simple ingredients that create such an amazing meal.” He notes, “We constantly change our menu with the season and availability of seasonal products throughout the local area. In the future, we are planning on having cooking classes and other interactive events.”
There is something special at Vine almost every day of the week. Monday’s are half-priced wine bottles for dining customers. Mark your calendars for not to be missed Wednesdays, because on Wednesdays you, your friends and neighbors can enjoy a wine tasting at the Vine (5-7 pm). Thursday night is French Bread pizza and beer night. Vine is open for lunch and dinner every day except Tuesday.
While you are there, you may want to pick up a bottle of your favorite wine to take home for later.
The Office Café
4346 Irvington Rd., Irvington, VA 22480 804 438-8032
The Office Café is a new American restaurant that recently opened in Irvington. Housed in a former dentist office, the casual restaurant can be recognized by its dental artwork throughout, matching the giant toothbrushes on the outside of the building. But wait, at least half of the restaurant seating is even more casual on the heated porch, where you can pretend it is Spring all year long! The restaurant name was chosen as the favorite between many tongue in cheek options such as Floss’s and Colgate’s.
Chef Mike Knapik began his career at the exclusive Key Largo Anglers Club completing a culinary apprenticeship under Executive Chef Michael Duncan. Soon after, he began his career in the industry learning the business from the bottom up working at various resorts under numerous accomplished Chefs. With more than 15 years of experience, he was appointed Executive Chef at a trend-setting new start-up restaurant in Fort Lauderdale which served over1,000 patrons a day. Wanting to expand his knowledge and creativity, Chef Mike joined the ultra-exclusive yachting industry spending four years as head chef aboard private yachts. After visiting the Northern Neck several times, he fell in love with the area and especially Irvington. As Chef Mike quotes, “I love the small-town charm, the change of the seasons, and watching the wildlife run through my front yard every evening”. On a personal note, the country cobb salad is recommended by one of the waitstaff and it did not disappoint. The Pow Pow appetizers features flash fried shrimp or oysters tossed in a spicy Thai chili sriracha sauce. Chef Knapik notes, “Everything is prepared from-scratch including marinades, seasonings, sauces and salad dressings to keep emphasis on quality and freshness.”
The menu will vary based on the season, but features artisan salads, flatbreads, and sandwiches along with new and exciting specials such as a modest dinner entrée offering and a Thursday Night Social where beer flights, and wine specials will be offered along with Napoli Style Artisan Pizzettes baked right in their fire-oven. A Sunday brunch menu features some of the daily favorites plus a breakfast-inspired array of bowls, flatbreads, sandwiches, and shrimp and grits. Online ordering at theofficeirvington.com is also available for quick and easy ordering featuring all eco-friendly to-go packaging.
If you want to impress someone special on their birthday, order the famous birthday shake. No need to buy an expensive birthday cake, this shake makes quite an impression with fancy sprinkles and birthday cake included. The birthday girl or boy will not easily forget this celebration in a mug!
The Office Café is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner Thursday – Saturday.
In addition to offering incredible food, the Office Café is now offering an apprenticeship program where motivated students can become fully trained chefs. The program will include studies in food safety regulations and culinary skills that cover the gambit of becoming a Super Chef!
4357 Irvington Rd, Irvington, VA 804 438-6363
We are patiently waiting for the grand opening of the newest restaurant in town called Dredge, located in the former Trick Dog Café building. Bryan Byrd, the owner and executive chef, is one of our local culinary heroes with strong roots to the seafood business in the area. Ironically, Bryan at age 16 worked at the former Trick Dog Café when the restaurant initially opened and bartended there after he finished high school. He began his restaurant business ownership as the first chef of the outdoor grill at the Dog and Oyster. From there he moved on to his famous food truck where you could find him at events and street side selling his seasonal specialties like his oyster stew, crab quesadillas and famous oyster tacos.
Chef Byrd brings a taste of Key West/Cuba to the palate from his years in the restaurant business, many miles south of Irvington. It is all about fresh out of the water to your table with Bryan—just like his grandma taught him. Gordon Slatford, a well-missed Irvington legend has this to say about Bryan, “Bryan Byrd has rapidly become an icon in the Irvington area. He has worked tirelessly to be seen at every show and event for a number of years with his show stopping food and eye-popping flavors.” Spot on, we all agree!
There are actually people that follow Bryan’s truck from venue to venue to sample his culinary creations! We have seen Brian’s work from his food truck, can you dare try and imagine what he can do with a full kitchen at his disposal? We can hardly contain our excitement!
According to Chef Byrd, Dredge will serve the freshest seafood, much of it provided by Miss Mary Seafood in White Stone, a business owned and operated by people that actually catch seafood for a living. Lisa Rose from Miss Mary seafood has been working with Bryan for a few years commented, “Bryan’s got grit, love, dedication, passion and most importantly integrity. He is well respected in our seafood industry. His palate is beyond our small- town living, that’s for sure!” she added, “Bryans diners will walk out of Dredge instantly craving their next meal there!” assures Lisa.
Here is a peek at what is in store for us at Dredge:
In addition to the food we have grown to love from Bryan, he has a number of new ideas for Dredge. Kellum’s wild oysters will be a regular feature at Dredge, but he will add oysters from other regions showcased on a rotating basis. Favorite farm-raised oysters will include local Windmill Point oysters and Shooting Point Salts from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Byrd says, “We will offer seafood from all over the East Coast and other regions with a Caribbean influence” he adds “We will not forget what made our business thrive with our “fresh from boat to table” local oysters.
Overall restaurant décor will be nautical with a catering room available for events and special parties. Chef Byrd is currently working with a Sommelier consultant to develop his wine and beer menu to provide a complete pairing experience with the food he serves at Dredge.
Specials will be available nightly with $1 oysters available on Thursday nights, Pizza nights on Wednesday and Tacos and Tequila specials on Tuesday nights.
We have been watching Bryan grow and prosper with his food truck and now we are anticipating a grand entrance into the restaurant scene with his new restaurant that will no doubt impress us more than ever. Dredge is expected to open its doors to the public mid-February. As we said, we can hardly wait!
480 King Carter Dr. Irvington, VA 804 438-5000
The Tides Inn offers a variety of dining options to overnight guests, boaters and just plain hungry people. Since 1947, the Tides has been providing the perfect getaway and dining option for folks that want a relaxing retreat from the rest of the busy world. The Inn offers four unique dining experiences including fine dining in the Chesapeake Room, small plates on the Chesapeake Terrace, incredible. Sunsets and scenic water views from the Overlook dining room and relaxed, casual poolside dining at the Commodore Restaurant. Your choice for an amazing meal.
The resort also offers culinary adventures along with their fine cuisine including the Chesapeake Gold Oyster Excursion, where visitors can learn about oyster history, harvest and wine pairings as well as taste the freshest oysters caught straight from the River.
Signature drinks include the Lancaster Lemonade and private label bourbon that can only be found at the Tides. The signature bourbon was a collaborative effort between the Tides culinary staff and A. Smith Bowman Distillery, located in Spotsylvania County near Fredericksburg.
Don’t forget the Taste of Spring hosted by the Tides. The signature event will offer guests an opportunity to enjoy local seafood, brews and wines as well as outstanding entertainment.
The Tides is currently interviewing candidates for the position of Head Chef for the resort. Each Chef brings their flavors from their careers in other regional kitchens. We look forward to tasting the culinary treasures of the new chef at the Tides. More to come!
The Grill at the Golden Eagle
364 Clubhouse Road, Irvington, Virginia 22480, (804) 438-6740
Don’t forget the southern charm of the Grill at the Golden Eagle. The casual restaurant has a real New Orleans feel to the interior and a local feel to the menu. Owned by the Tides Resort, this café is not just for golfers, even though it is mighty convenient for those playing the award-winning 18-hole golf course surrounding the restaurant. The Grill and the golf course are operated with the same husband and wife team that have been running the place for the last eight years.
The Oyster Caesar Salad is always a crowd pleaser. Kellum’s oysters are served on a bed of romaine lettuce, shaved Parmesan cheese and just the right amount of dressing. A lump meat crab cake sandwich is also a recommended menu choice, as well as the oyster Po’boy, both served on a toasted Kaiser roll. The Grill menu may change once the new chef is hired at the Tides Inn.
The outdoor porches are a dining option when the weather is cooperating and even if the Golden Eagle Golf Course is closed for rain you will find the Grill open every day but Tuesday from 11:00-3:00, rain or shine.
4337 Irvington Rd, Irvington, Virginia 22480, (804) 438-9356
Speaking of breakfast and lunch choices, you won’t regret a stop at The Local for some amazing specialty coffee and healthy salads, wraps, sandwiches and even ice cream. The shop seems to radiate a fresh feeling when you walk in the door. Go and see for yourself. New energy is there, and it’s not just the caffeine…you can feel it.
A young family, Anthony and Joanna Marchetti and their close friend Jack Geier have recently purchased the Local and have made a few changes to make the place a little cozier and a bit more “local.” Anthony and Joanna Marchetti have lived and worked in the Northern Neck for more than ten years. During that time, they’ve enjoyed becoming deeply involved in many aspects of the community. They’re raising their two (and a half!) children in Irvington and couldn’t pass up this unique opportunity to create a place of community and gathering in their neighborhood.
A Lancaster native, Jack Geier, as well as his family, have been and continue to be an integral part of the local business community. His roots in- and love for- the area run deep, and he’s passionate about contributing to the economic growth of the Northern Neck.
“In a small town such as ours, it’s really exciting to know that you can be the one to bring something special to the area for others to enjoy. It’s our opportunity to enhance one’s experience of the Northern Neck, whether you’re a local or a visitor. Our fantastic staff work hard to make the shop look good and feel great for every person who walks through the door,” comments Joanna.
When asked who creates the menu items, Joanna responds, “The menu is very much a collaborative effort involving requests and suggestions from friends/the community, staff, and ultimately- me.” Joanna’s the food lover and says she could happily spend all day in the kitchen. She adds, “We aim to respect the tradition of The Local, while trying to incorporate some new healthy and unique offerings. A large part of our interest in owning and operating the business is the ability to introduce things that may otherwise be missing from our neck of the woods, so creating healthy and convenient (and fun!) options is a priority.”
The Local is about great coffee and they serve specialty coffee, crafted by Ironclad Coffee Roasters based in Richmond, the Captain’s Blend is the most popular brew, created especially and exclusively for The Local. Favorite and best-selling menu items include a longtime fan favorite, now called “The OG” (formerly The Taylor), is a chicken-pesto-bacon panini, while new favorites include Avocado Toast and The B-Triple-C.
Joanna mentions, “As food lovers, we are ALWAYS dreaming up new culinary offerings we can bring to the shop, with a focus on transitioning to as many healthy, fresh and local ingredients as we can. We have a lot of things currently in the works!”
Joanna’s personal favorite choices are Crab muffins! A delicious local crabmeat mixture warmed on a toasty English Muffin- it doesn’t get more local than that! Another Joanna recommendation, the Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwich, is hand crafted in Richmond, VA, and may even require a knife and fork to eat! “These gourmet frozen treats are out of this world. We change up the flavors from time to time, but so far, my vote goes to the Chocolate Espresso-chocolate espresso ice cream sandwiched between chocolate brownie cookies with the perfect amount of crunch!”
Because they CARE, the new owners of The Local have completed many eco-friendly initiatives, with many more to go! They have an aggressive goal to reduce our waste drastically and have already accomplished several goals to date. These include switching to paper straws, eliminating Styrofoam products (switching to microfiber to go packaging), eliminating plastic ramekins and coffee stirrers and incorporating more reusable items such as utensils and cups, and encouraging the use of mason jars and mugs for in-house beverages.
Uncle Jay’s Soul and Sweets Food Truck
Corner of Weems Rd and Irvington Rd.
When a waterman tells you that he has found the best crab cake around, number one you believe him, and number two you immediately travel to that restaurant to see for yourself. Uncle Jay’s crab cake sandwich or crab cake dinner is one of the best crab cakes around. Chef Jason Hendricks serves homemade entrees and desserts from his white truck a couple of days a week parked at the old Zooms parking lot. Other days you may find him in the town of Kilmarnock serving his authentic homecooked recipes. The menu varies from day to day, so you never know what he’s got cooking, but you know it will have lots and lots of soul flavor!
Jason’s fond childhood memories of his trips to Kilmarnock to visit his grandmother brought him back to Virginia’s River Realm from Ohio. No doubt his grandmother had a strong influence on his county coastal style of soul food cooking. He has now come back to his family home to create even more memories for his children, but this time centered around some tasty food creations.
Standard menu items include breakfast, lunch and dinner and almost always come with hand cut French Fries. Entrees for the day could be mouthwatering barbeque or a J burger with a bacon and egg topping, fish and chips, crab cakes or chicken tenders. Pick up a dinner on your way home from work and it is enough food for two!
And if you are just looking to treat yourself to something special, we hear is desserts are equally as incredible as the rest of his flavorful dishes.
Virginia’s River Realm is a partnership between Lancaster and Middlesex County Governments, promoting tourism venues throughout the two counties.
Written by Virginia’s River Realm.
Featured image provided by River Realm