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.

Dining in America is Changing

Thousands of restaurants have not survived various Coronavirus shutdowns and fewer people are eating out. Many chefs are offering private chef experiences during this confusing time. Just because your favorite restaurant may be closed does not mean you still cannot enjoy that culinary experience. Having a chef come to your home to prepare a special dinner with family or friends often costs little more than taking the group to a better restaurant.

One of the best chefs in Virginia is David Dunlap. A Richmond based chef with an impressive resume. He has held positions as Executive Sous Chef at the Inn at Little Washington, Executive Chef at the Ashby Inn, and Executive Chef at Quirk Hotels in Richmond and Charlottesville. Two years ago we stopped in and saw David at Maple & Pine the restaurant at the Richmond Quirk Hotel. His dishes are amazing and unique. You can see them in this blog post I did.

If you are looking for a way to make an evening and dinner special, consider contacting Chef David, you won’t be disappointed.

Chef David Dunlap
https://www.chefdaviddunlap.com/

Momofuku Permanently Closes D.C. Location as Part of Company Overhaul

David Chang working opening day at Momofuku CCDC in 2015

‘I’m still at war with this decision,’ David Chang says on his podcast Momofuku, the celebrated international restaurant group has permanently closed its D.C. restaurant, the brand announced today.

Source: Momofuku Permanently Closes D.C. Location as Part of Company Overhaul

José Andrés says ‘people have to eat,’ so his shuttered restaurants are now community kitchens

Every once in a while we get a glimpse of very special people among us, and sometimes they are chefs.

The chef and humanitarian says small independent restaurants could help feed America if the coronavirus gets worse.

Source: José Andrés says ‘people have to eat,’ so his shuttered restaurants are now community kitchens

Farm Station Cafe

Farm Station Café
7150 Farm Station Rd.
Warrenton, VA 20187
540-680-3276
https://www.farmstationcafe.com/

American |  $

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Farm Station Café is the retail face of the well know local caterer À la Carte.  Owner Karen Baker set out to enlarge her catering operations with a new kitchen at the old Vint Hill Army base, she wisely included a Café. Chef Matt Mize has created an excellent menu which their web page describes as  “80% of our ingredients are local, pasture-raised, organic, free of GMOs, antibiotics, hormones, pesticides and chemicals. We’ve designed our menu to satisfy our broad base of customers to include vegetarians, vegans, gluten free and paleo options.”

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Most of the meals are created in a smaller Café kitchen in front of the catering kitchen to to keep everyone out of each others way.

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A wide variety of beverages are sold in bottles and cans along with self serve coffee and tea.

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On my last visit I tried the awesome Phili Cheese Steak with house-made potato chips. It’s as good as any cheese steak sandwich you can get outside of Philadelphia.

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I’m a sucker for cloth napkins. Somehow it makes the sandwich taste better.

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They have a nice selection of desserts from which to choose.  This is the best lunch spot I have found in the area since AKT Nourish closed their doors last year.  They are open 7 days a week with brunch only on Sunday. The noise level is minimal and there is plenty of outdoor seating when the weather is nice.

2019 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Awards

JBF Award Medallion

Congratulations to all the winners and especially our favorite chef, Patrick O’Connell. Every time we have dinned at The Inn at Little Washington he has been gracious and the food amazing.

2019 James Beard Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award

Patrick O’Connell
Five-time James Beard Award winner, 3-star Michelin chef, author, and owner of The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, VA

Best New Restaurant
Frenchette
NYC

Outstanding Baker
Greg Wade
Publican Quality Bread
Chicago

Outstanding Bar Program
Bar Agricole
San Francisco

Outstanding Chef (Presented by All-Clad Metalcrafters)
Ashley Christensen
Poole’s Diner
Raleigh, NC

Outstanding Pastry Chef (Presented by Lavazza)
Kelly Fields
Willa Jean
New Orleans

Outstanding Restaurant (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)
Zahav
Philadelphia

Outstanding Restaurateur (Presented by Magellan Corporation)
Kevin Boehm and Rob Katz
Boka Restaurant Group (Boka, Girl & the Goat, Momotaro, and others)
Chicago

Outstanding Service
Frasca Food and Wine
Boulder, CO

Outstanding Wine Program (Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery)
Benu
San Francisco

Outstanding Wine, Spirits, or Beer Producer
Rob Tod
Allagash Brewing Company
Portland, ME

Rising Star Chef of the Year (Presented by S.Pellegrino® Sparkling Natural Mineral Water)
Kwame Onwuachi
Kith and Kin
Washington, D.C.

Best Chefs in America (Presented by Capital One®)

Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark
Parachute
Chicago

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Tom Cunanan
Bad Saint
Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
Ann Kim
Young Joni
Minneapolis

Best Chef: New York City (Five Boroughs)
Jody Williams and Rita Sodi
Via Carota

Best Chef: Northeast (CT, MA, ME, NH, NY State, RI, VT)
Tony Messina
Uni
Boston

Best Chef: Northwest (AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)
Brady Williams
Canlis
Seattle

Best Chef: South (AL, AR, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, FL, LA, MS)
Vishwesh Bhatt
Snackbar
Oxford, MS

Best Chef: Southeast (GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)
Mashama Bailey
The Grey
Savannah, GA

Best Chef: Southwest (AZ, CO, NM, OK, TX, UT)
Charleen Badman
FnB
Scottsdale, AZ

Best Chef: West (CA, HI, NV)
Michael Cimarusti
Providence
Los Angeles

2019 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics Honorees (Presented by American Airlines)

Pho 79
Garden Grove, CA
Owners: Thọ Trần and Liễu Trần  

Jim’s Steak & Spaghetti House
Huntington, WV
Owners: Jimmie Tweel Carder, Larry Tweel, and Ron Tweel

A&A Bake & Double Roti Shop
Brooklyn, NY
Owner: Noel and Geeta Brown  

Sehnert’s Bakery & Bieroc Café
McCook, NE
Owners: Matt and Shelly Sehnert

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse
Washington, D.C.
Owner: Paul Katinas

2019 James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year

The Giving Kitchen
Non-profit that provides emergency assistance to food service workers through financial support and a network of community resources.