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.

Mokomandy, Northern Virginia’s Celebrated Korean-Cajun Restaurant, Closes for Good

Dumplings from Mokomandy | Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.

The strip mall spot reportedly did not want to attempt a return as long as COVID-19 limited service Mokomandy , the Korean-Cajun restaurant in Sterling that holds the No. 1 spot on the latest edition of Northern Virginia Magazine ’s 50 Best Restaurants list, is permanently closed.

Source: Mokomandy, Northern Virginia’s Celebrated Korean-Cajun Restaurant, Closes for Good

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

Gainesville Diner for Breakfast

14674 Lee Hwy
Gainesville, VA 20155
571-248-2179
https://www.gainesvilledinerva.com

American | $

Plenty of seating and a great staff.


My wife had a great Greek omelet. She said it was the best she could remember having.



I had the full blown breakfast special with hashbrowns. I like my hashbrowns crispy and this is one of the few places I have found that does them right.

We tend to eat during off hours so the noise level is low. The wait staff is very attentive and friendly. A great alternative to the always busy IHOP.

Amy’s Riverside Café

103 W Cambridge St.
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
(540) 373-3663
https://www.facebook.com/amyscafefalmouthva/

American | $

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While technically a Fredericksburg address they are in Falmouth, VA  just before you cross the river into Fredericksburg on Rt. 1. Check their Facebook page for their hours. During the winter they close on Monday.

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They offer daily specials for each meal.

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Plenty of seating inside and out front in the summer.

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There is a large bar popular with locals.

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Fresh flowers for each table.

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My wife raved about her meatloaf with creamy mashed potatoes. The meatloaf was smothered in a deeply rich sauce that would pair easily with any high-end beef cut.

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I ordered a burger with bacon and American cheese, mayo, and red onions on both of our visits. This is the best burger I have had. I can’t quite put my finger on it, which is troubling, but It just tastes amazing. The flavor is that organic free range beefy taste that seemed super fresh. I thought about it many times since our last visit, I think it is just one of those times where I was just the right amount of hungry and it was just the right amount of flavor. Even with my expectations high for our second lunch it was just as good. It’s one of those times where you encounter food that is so good you’re sad it’s over after your last bite.

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For dessert my wife enjoyed a nice apple pie.

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For my dessert I was all over this Chocolate Mouse pie.

Our waitress Clarissa was just wonderful. The noise level was low on both our visits and the prices are very reasonable for the quality food you get. If you are anywhere near Fredericksburg, VA it’s worth stopping in for a meal, you really won’t be disappointed.

Great Food When You Least Expect It

Taqueria Yazmin2
9540 Liberia Ave
Manassas, VA 20111
703-792-4918
https://taqueriayazmin2.business.site/
Located inside Fresh World grocery store.

Mexican | $

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Walking through one of my favorite local international grocery stores recently I noticed a small Mexican sandwich shop in the back of the store. Since it was lunch time I thought I would take a chance and try something.

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They have an extensive menu of authentic Mexican dishes.

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I ordered the steak, cheese, onion, and cilantro Quesadilla. Not sure why they spell it with a z on their large menu board but it was definitely one of the best  quesadillas I have had. Simple, but packed with flavor and only $6.50. The fries were cooked in vegetable oil and a dead ringer for McDonalds fries with less salt.

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They have a limited drink selection but it was fun having a Coke that brought back childhood memories.

Like the old adage don’t judge a book by it’s cover, don’t judge a restaurant  by it’s location. People tell me all the time about hole in the wall places that have amazing food. Most of the time I find these small out of the way places when I am not hungry. I’ve started to take a picture, do a little online research, and make a point to return later. Sure you’ll be served prison food in a few places but if you find a gem like Taqueria Yazmin2 it will be worth it.

Authentic Indian at Urban Tandoor

Urban Tandoor
7519 Linton Hall Rd
Gainesville, VA 20155
571-284-6105
https://utandoorgainesville.com/

Indian | $

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Urban Tandoor is fairly new Indian restaurant in Virginia Gateway. This is their second location with the original, with a 4-star Yelp rating, has been  in Arlington for a couple of years.  They have a well rounded menu with all the traditional appetizers and dishes.

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We started with chutney. It was wonderful.

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The Steamed Chicken Momos were fantastic. They were light and the  flavor was great.

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I ordered the Butter Chicken. It was as good as I have had. A wonderful creamy flavorful sauce and moist chicken.

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My wife order the Lamb Korma and loved it.

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The dishes come with perfect long grain Basmati Rice.

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We always order the garlic naan bread. It arrived warm and not overly garlicky.

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For dessert we tried the Mango Kulfi a mango flavored ice cream made there daily.It has a mellow mango flavor and not as sweet as you would think.  I nice way to wind up our meal. 

Parking is never a problem and the noise level is low. The waiters we friendly and seem to anticipate our needs. We are lucky to have a number of excellent Indian restaurants in the area. Urban Tandoor will make an splendid addition.

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.

White’s Wayside a Virginia Institution

White’s Wayside
2175 Hanky Mountain Hwy (Rt. 250)
Churchville, VA 24421
(540) 337-8004
www.whiteswayside.com 

American |  $

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Just inside the George Washington National Forrest on Rt. 250 West of Staunton, VA is a wonderful little restaurant known as White’s Wayside. Open since the late 1920s this quaint little gem probably seats no more that 25. We arrived around 2pm on a Saturday afternoon and had to wait a bit.

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The sweet tea was perfect. Not overly sweet, just how you would imagine it was served when they first opened in 1929.

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For starters we went with the pimento cheese on thin sliced toasted bread. My wife and I both agree, hands down the best pimento cheese we have had.  The combination of cheese, Dukes Mayo, and pimentos was perfect. Don’t skip this dish.

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I had hoped for a Roast Beef Sandwich but a power problem earlier in the week kept them from offering it the day we visited. I went with a Bacon Cheeseburger that comes with their signature WhiteWay Bread and some pinto beans cooked with bacon they call Brown Beans. The beans were great and the cheeseburger sourced from 2 local farms in the county was good.

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My wife chose the House-made Chicken Salad Sandwich and loved it. She can crave tomatoes and the ones here were perfect. The fries are hand cut and seasoned nicely.

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For dessert we both had a slice of their awesome peanut butter pie. It looks deceptively like a banana pudding pie because of it’s light color, but you quickly find the great peanut butter crunch between the creamy top and thin crust.

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The décor was unique. The wait staff was super friendly and attentive. The noise level was next to nothing and the food arrived without delay. Visiting Whites Wayside makes you think about what travel must have been like before the interstates and chain restaurants. A time when everyone traveling ate in small family owned restaurants turning out wholesome fresh food like you were at a table in their dinning room.

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One of the things you notice while waiting is the owner’s commitment to the environment and sustainable agriculture. The back of the menu lists local farms and businesses supplying the bulk of their ingredients. There is an impressive array of solar panels next to the restaurant, and they have there own bee colony visible from a display in the checkout area. A trip to White’s Wayside reminds you that farm-to-table didn’t start with a bunch of celebrity chefs in New York or LA, White’s Wayside and their neighbor farms have been practicing it for decades.

I know most of my readers who may be heading to Staunton have their cars pointed at The Shack or Zynodoa. Have that dinner both places are amazing, but treat yourself and stay over night at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel then head out in the morning for breakfast or lunch at White’s Wayside. You won’t be disappointed.

A note for travelers from the north, don’t trust your GPS. Google Maps, in an effort to find us the quickest route, took us down a single lane dirt road for 2 miles. Your best bet is to take 81 to Staunton and pick up Rt. 250 West from there.