Three Blacksmiths–Just As Good

Three Blacksmiths
20 Main St.
Sperryville, VA 22740
(540) 987-5105
https://www.threeblacksmiths.com/

American | $$$$

20211229_193257When word came that Three Blacksmiths founders Chef John and Dianne MacPherson decided to sell many wondered will it be as good? Will it be worth the months long wait to get a table? (Right now they are booked through July 2022) After last night’s dinner the answer is a resounding YES.

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Even with some staff changes the new owners Chefs Jake and Sara Addeo didn’t miss a beat in delivering the dinning experience regular customers relish. The couple has a long history in the hospitality industry working at fine restaurants in New York, Washington, DC, and Hong Kong. For Three Blacksmiths regulars who know the effort John and Dianne put into creating and running the restaurant, they weren’t about to just sell to anyone with money. I suspected they would find someone who would be a perfect fit back in August when the email came announcing the sale.

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The details are comforting.

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The evening starting with a wonderful Elderberry Sparkling Water drink and this Blue Cheese Risotto Ball with a quail egg. It doesn’t take much for blue cheese to be over powering but with the risotto it was just the right combination.

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Next came Crab with Pickled Beets and a Tangerine Olive Oil Aioli. The pickled beets provided a nice sweet and sour crunch with the crab.

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Just about every table offers a view of the kitchen.

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The staff is super friendly, can almost read your mind, and know every course if you have questions.

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The first course was a Monkfish Ossobuco with Bone Marrow, Smoked Hakurei Purée, Winter Greens, and a Bacon and Seaweed Broth.  The monkfish was cooked perfectly and the bacon and seaweed broth was awesome. We asked for spoons to make sure we got it all. The noise level is low to moderate and comes in swells. In between courses it’s at it’s loudest. As the dishes make it to the tables it quiets considerably. At one point so many people were scraping to get every bit of broth it sounded like cicadas had returned.

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A tradition started by Chef John, the bread came out in the box with heated rocks along with the excellent compounded butters. A Sea Salt Whipped butter and my favorite, a Lemon and Chive butter.

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For the second course we had a Chanterelle Custard with Roasted Parsnips, Lemon Gems, and Truffled Hazelnut Sabayon. The sabayon is a super smooth dessert like custard that was delightful.

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The pasta course was a Spaghetti Carbonara topped with Bluefin Toro Bacon, Tellicherry Black Pepper, Cured Duck Egg, and Pecorino Romano Cheese. The Bluefin Toro Bacon is made from the fatty part of the tuna, brined , and cured like bacon. It had a light smoke flavor that tastes nothing like tuna. We opted for the Shaved White Alba Truffles, which come at an additional cost, but are well worth it. The duck egg carbonara was delicious. The dish was a little on the salty side for us but we use no salt other than in cooking so we are more sensitive that most.

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The entrée was Hearth Fired La Belle Duck with Charred Butternut Squash, Beluga Lentils, Yuzu Agrodolce, and Kalamata Olives. This is the way duck should always be made. Tender and juicy with a nice bark. The squash purée with the yuzu agrodolce is a great paring. The agrodolce was just the right consistency to drive the complexity of the dish. Cooked to long and you get lentils in a gooey mess.  Yuzu is a Japanese fruit which adds to the agrodolce’s sweetness, and everything benefited from the sweetness. Trying to get a little of everything on your fork was a challenge but the only way to eat the dish.

20211229_212243Baba au Rhum – I believe translates to Dessert is Why We Eat. A yeast risen cake with a crispy Huckleberry Sauce, Puffed Amaranth, and Espresso Gelato. An intense warm/cold,  sweet/sour dessert is a lovely way to end the dinner.

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Relaxing with a French press of rich coffee was pleasant.

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With a nice-looking Ginger Cookie to take home and personal goodbyes from Chefs Jake and Sara we were on our way home to make another reservation.

If you had some concerns about new ownership you can put them aside. Nothing in our dinning experience was missed. My wife summed it up saying “I like the Inn at Little Washington a lot, but I think I like this place better. It’s cozy and friendly, and the food is just as good.”

Chef Patrick O’Connell Opens Patty O’s Café

Patty O’s Café & Bakery
389 Main St.
Washington, VA 22747
(540) 675-3801
https://www.pattyoscafe.com/

American | $$

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20211021_175656Nearly 30 years after purchasing the property Chef Patrick O’Connell converted the old Post Office building into his latest show piece, Patty O’s Café and Bakery.

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The transformation into an elegant corner café is remarkable. From the fanciest outdoor heater I have ever seen to ridiculously comfortable custom made wooden chairs, no expense was spared.

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From the dinning room looking into the bar area we caught a glimpse of Chef Patrick, in his signature Dalmatian print chef pants, watching over even the smallest detail. There is a wonderful fire place in the dinning room and the lighting is spectacular. Too many restaurants feel a “fumble around in the dark” light setting is key to ambience then complain when all the pictures on Yelp are dark and look like crap.

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For my first course I had a wonderful Crock of Pimento Cheese with paper thin Carraway Flatbread. Some of the finest Pimento Cheese in Virginia can be found at White’s Wayside Restaurant in Churchville, this is on par with that. The super thin flatbread was perfect, anything thicker would be too much.

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For my entrée I chose the Half Pound Angus Burger with Tomato Jam, Crispy Onions, and Comte Cheese. The beef is from the renowned Ovoka Farm in Paris, VA. Ovoka is one of the few Virginia farms raising Angus and Wagyu beef.

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For dessert I had the Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse. It was super smooth and not overly chocolate.

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If you haven’t been to Washington, VA at night it’s a magical sight year round. The Inn and sounding area, which now includes the Café, is lit up. The Café is open for lunch and dinner Friday through Tuesday. The Bakery is located on the side of the building and opens early in the morning offering specialty coffee drinks and pastry.

The wait staff was professional and attentive. The noise level was low. The menu prices are reasonable considering the quality of the food.  If you want an “Inn at Little Washington” type experience at a fifth the price be sure to visit soon.

Lot 12 Public House Crushed It

Lot 12 Public House
117 Warren St.
Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
(304) 258-6264
https://lot12.com/

American | $$$

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During a recent getaway trip to Berkeley Springs, West Virginia we were excited to try Lot 12 Public House. I had read good things about the restaurant and Chef Damian Heath. Our good fortune had us there the weekend  Chef Damian and his wife Betsy reopened after closing for some months due to COVID.

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The dinning room is cozy and has the feel of eating at a friend’s house.

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It starts with wonderful homemade bread.

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Our appetizer was this amazing Toasted Gnocchi with roasted garlic, sautéed mushrooms, and parmigiano-reggiano cheese. The gnocchi was perfect and paired nicely with the mushrooms and cheese.

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A nice Intermezzo came in the form of this Guava Ginger Sorbet.

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For my entrée I chose a  Grilled NY Strip Steak with bacon scallion mashed potatoes, a shitake demi-glace, ramp butter, and chimichurri. The steak had a great sear and was cooked perfectly. The smooth potatoes and demi-glace were a great accompaniment for the steak.

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For my side I continued my quest to order Mac & Cheese when ever it appears on a menu. This Smoked Gouda and Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese was  delectable. Don’t hesitate to order this.

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My wife ordered a special of Baked Halibut with grilled shrimp and grits in a cream sauce. She said the fish was divine and cooked flawlessly. I enjoyed a bit of the shrimp and grits and found them like the wonderful dishes served in our Southern food Meccas like Charleston or Savannah.

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For my dessert I had to try the Lavender Crème Brûlée.  There was just a hint of the lavender giving it a delightful flavor.

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My wife’s dessert was a simple House made Sorbet with fresh berries.

Chef Damian, a James Beard Foundation Awards 2012 semifinalist, and his wife Betsy opened Lot 12 Public House in 1999. It remains an upscale dinning destination in the northwest corner of West Virginia drawing local guests and diners from Maryland and Virginia. Berkeley Springs is a quaint town with plenty of history and worth an overnight stay if you can get reservations for dinner at Lot 12 Public House.

Crews Contain Market Street Fire in Leesburg

Firefighters from Leesburg, Purcellville and Ashburn worked this morning to battle a fire that began in the Yummy Pig restaurant on West Market Street. The fire was reported around 11:30 a.m.

Sorry to see this happen to any business. We wish Chef Jim and his crew the best. We will be there for the grand re-opening for sure.

Source: Crews Contain Market Street Fire in Leesburg

Recipes from the Visiting Chef Program

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I am excited to announce the launch of our Kickstarter campaign to fund publishing Servings: for Wounded Warriors from the Visiting Chef Program. This is an awesome collection of recipes of the very dishes Chefs have made for Wounded Warriors and their families at the Warrior Retreat at Bull Run. This 200 plus page hardbound full color cookbook will make a nice addition to your collection or gift for someone you know who loves to cook.

I created the Visiting Chef Program as a way for chefs to give back and to make the stay special for these deserving families. We have 87 volunteer military, catering, and restaurant chefs from the Washington, DC area who have agreed to participate in the program by coming to the retreat and preparing an exceptional meal for the family on Sunday night in the main house. On Saturday evening military chefs from Presidential Food Service at the White House prepare a meal in the PenFed House. You can see the retreat and meals created by our Visiting Chefs on our Flickr page.

Our volunteer chefs bring a culinary experience to the family they almost always describe as the best meal they have had. The families learn valuable cooking tips from the Chefs, and everyone has a wonderful time. The benefits to the Warrior and their family are tremendous. We realize all our combat wounded Warrior guests suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress and their spouses report it has often been years since they have been out to a restaurant. We bring that 5-star culinary experience to them to enjoy in the relaxed comfort of the retreat.

When you purchase this book through Kickstarter you are helping us raise the money needed to publish the book and fund the Visiting Chef Program for years to come.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lwz/servings-for-wounded-warriors

Two Years After Mike Isabella’s French Restaurant Closed, Workers Say He Still Owes Them Wages

Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former employees at Requin file a lawsuit and allege celebrity chef Mike Isabella and his partners issued irregular and fraudulent checks during the waterfront restaurant’s final months in late 2018.

Source: Two Years After Mike Isabella’s French Restaurant Closed, Workers Say He Still Owes Them Wages

Three Blacksmiths 5-Star Dinner

Three Blacksmiths
20 Main St.
Sperryville, VA 22740
(540) 987-5105
https://www.threeblacksmiths.com/

American | $$$$

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The simple elegant décor is comfortably inviting. It is like having dinner in Chef John MacPherson’s dinning room at home.

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Co-Owner and Chef’s wife Diane MacPherson oversees the dinning room where no detail, large or small, escapes her.

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After being welcomed by Diane and Chef at the front door it’s wine or a non-alcoholic drink for starters.

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Shortly after being seated this wonderful bread arrived, kept warm on a bed of hot rocks.

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For the bread you had a choice of whipped butter or whipped onion butter made with smoked and charred onions. Always choose the onion butter.

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For starters…

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Work begins on the first course.

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A Seared New Bedford Scallop with Coconut Saffron, Edamane, Peaches, and Crispy Pork Belly. The scallop was cooked perfectly and nicely paired with the crispy pork belly.

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Next up, Sunnyside Farm Kabocha Squash Soup with Carolina Shrimp Sausage and Tomato-Hyssop Preserve. Kabocha Squash is a Japanese winter squash with a nice slightly sweet taste. The soup was a very good accompaniment for the amazing shrimp sausage. It took me a couple of minutes to wrap my head around shrimp sausage. A first for me, it was fantastic with a nice shrimp taste paired with a hint of fennel.

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My favorite dish of the night, Sweet Corn & Summer Truffle Tortelloni with Pickled Aji-Dolce Pepper and Sungold Tomato Dashi. The home-made pasta was cooked perfectly with a super creamy sweet corn filling that was fabulous.

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For the entrée Chef served a Sorghum Glazed Cavendish Quail with Toasted Wheat Berries, Romano Beans, Castelvetrano Relish, and Blackberry Agrodolce. The sweetness of the sorghum in the skin mitigated the gameyness of the flawlessly cooked quail. I especially like the Castelvetrano Relish.

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Intermezzo

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Dessert was a Sunnyside Asian Pear Galette with Crème Fraiche Gelato, Shattered Almond Glass, Mascarpone, and Pear Caramel. Every element here worked, from the gelato on a crumble to the pear caramel. Just the right amount of sweetness to finish the meal.

We are fortunate to have many wonderful restaurants in Virginia, from the Inn at Little Washington, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, and the Shack to The Ashby Inn, Restaurant Eve, and FOODE, all offering fantastic food. Three Blacksmiths has an edge because they offer a world class dining experience. The food is phenomenal for sure, but it is the attention to detail and service that make the experience. The warm welcome, interaction with the chef, and attentive but not intrusive service. The plating is first class and the timing and flow of the courses is flawless. Something few people notice unless it is not working.

Open Wednesday through Saturday, reservations and pre-payment for dinner are required and right now there are no openings until late March 2021. This is not likely to get better since they have an ever-growing loyal clientele and a reduction in seating to comply with statewide COVID-19 restrictions. Find a reason to celebrate something and make a reservation now, it will be the best meal you have had.

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Some mini scones as a parting gift from Chef John.

We joined my Executive Event Chef Ken and Dee at dinner to celebrate her birthday. The staff all signed a nice card for her.  A small but meaningful gesture.

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Leesburg’s Best BBQ

Yummy Pig New American BBQ
BBQ | $

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Open less than 4 months at it’s downtown Leesburg location, Yummy Pig is crushing the BBQ scene.

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They are located less than a block off King Street in space formally occupied by the Italian restaurant Casa Nostra.

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The décor is simple and warm,

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All employees  wore masks.

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To start we chose the unique and tasty Brisket Empanadas. It’s a traditional empanada filled with Smoked Brisket, Ground Beef, Cheddar, Olives, and Dried Cranberries served with a Chipotle Ranch Dip. We have never had anything like it. The Smoked Brisket was perfect and the Chipotle Ranch Dip was a nice cool mildly spicy complement, an ideal combination.

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For my wife’s entrée she chose the Smoked Meat Quesadilla filled with  Smoked Pork, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers & Onions,  and a Tonkatsu Sauce drizzle with Sour Cream, Guacamole & Pico de Gallo on the side. The Tonkatsu Sauce is a nice touch. It is a Japanese sauce typically made with ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, and garlic. My wife loved them and said she would not hesitate to order it again.

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My entrée was typical for me, a moist Brisket Sandwich with a side a Mac & Cheese. Ordering the same thing in most BBQ joints allows me to easily compare dishes. As my readers know, my gold standard for BBQ  in Virginia is Hammerdown BBQ in Aldie. Yummy Pig gives them a real run for their money.  I would give Hammerdown an ever so slight edge on flavor, but that is it. And that is saying something since most BBQ restaurants don’t come close to what Hammerdown offers.

The brisket was super melt-in-your-mouth moist and flavorful on a nice fresh bun. The Mac & Cheese is the best I have had in any restaurant. Chef/Owner Jim Thompson has done a masterful job of creating fantastic BBQ then putting it on the menu in unique ways. His Smoked Meat Chili, Burritos, Quesadillas, Taco Platter, and Peppered Bacon Grilled Cheese all sound wonderful.

We ate early on a Saturday night so with few people in the restaurant I did not bother with a noise level reading. I could easily see noise building while guests waited for their food but once it came and they got a taste you could probably hear a pin drop. The wait staff and management were all friendly and attentive. If you are anywhere near Leesburg you don’t want to pass up lunch or dinner at Yummy Pig.