Old Dominion Doggery

Old Dominion Doggery & Burger Shoppe
133 E King St.
Strasburg, VA 22657

American | $

20210403_161052Many people know Strasburg, VA, about 80 miles west of Washington, DC, for it’s antique malls.  On our last trip we discovered Old Dominion Doggery right on the main street in town. We have probably driven passed it 10 or 15 times over the years. Something caught my eye and my brain screamed “HOT DOGS”.

A simple but fun décor.

They offer an extensive menu of unique hot dog and hamburger combinations. The wall board shows some of their more popular selections.

My wife had the Philly Burger with Grilled Peppers, Onions, Sautéed Mushrooms, and Cheese Whiz.  They use 100% grass fed beef and the burger was quite tasty.  The hand cut fries was great.

I had to go for the Chopper Dog, wrapped in Bacon, deep fried, then topped with BBQ Sauce, Onions, and Relish. It was off-the-charts good. A great combination of sweet, tangy, and a salty crunch from the deep fried bacon.

If you are rolling through the area and hungry for something different consider stopping in. The food is simple high quality fare at a reasonable price.  The staff is friendly and the noise level was low late in the afternoon.

Lot 12 Public House Crushed It

Lot 12 Public House
117 Warren St.
Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
(304) 258-6264

American | $$$


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.


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

It starts with wonderful homemade bread.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Culpeper Glory Days Grill – Fail

15295 Montanus Dr.
Culpeper, VA 22701
(540) 829-7133

American | $


On a recent Sunday drive we found our way to Culpeper, VA and decided to stop by Glory Days Gill for a late lunch.


I have had the Tortilla Soup at the Manassas location and loved it. The one here not so much. It was ok but not the same as the batch in Manassas.


I went with the crab cakes and was disappointed. They looked great but were mostly filler.


The golden rule of food photography is never take pictures of half eaten food, it’s not a good look. Crab cakes need filler to hold them together. Here there was little crab and mostly filler. The flavor came from the crispy panko, not crab.

If you find yourself at Glory Days you may want to pass on the crab cakes, they weren’t worth the money.

Rocktown Kitchen is a Hit

Rocktown Kitchen
217 S. Liberty Street #101
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801

American | $

In the heart of Harrisonburg, VA, Rocktown Kitchen serves up quality scratch dishes that are delicious. Seating at the bar was closed and tables were spaced over 6 feet apart. Before being seated I could see a staff member giving our booth a serious cleaning. Staff and guests were all masked. We eat early to dine with minimal patrons. If we find a restaurant nearly half full, we will pass and try another day. We arrived around 4:30pm and only a couple of tables were occupied.

The wood and brick interior is simple and relaxing.

We usually have water or iced tea with dinner, I mention the tea here because it tasted like tea and not brown water made with one tea bag. Ordering iced tea shouldn’t be a crap shoot, but about 25% of the time I wish I had just asked for water.

My wife ordered the Meatloaf with Southern Style Green Beans, Mac & Cheese, and Tobacco Onion Rings. The green beans we cooked perfectly with just a slight crunch to them. The onion rings were great, thin, and breaded nicely. Not sure what the tobacco thing was all about but I would not hesitate to order them as a side. The meatloaf was perfect. It has a nice light mustard taste to it. The glaze was a tasty crisp caramelization that pared well with the mustard flavor.

For my entrée I chose the Grilled Pork Chop with Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, Apple and Onion Chutney with a Red Wine BBQ sauce. My pork chop was bone in for extra flavor and moist. The chutney was scrumptious with just a few too many raisins for my taste. The sauce was delightful and a perfect complement to the chutney.

The Mac & Cheese side was simple but well done.

We split a Warm Sticky Toffee Cake that was moist and wonderful.

Our waitress was great and a number of staff members including the owner stopped by to check on us and clear the table. Since we ate early noise level was not a concern. This is our 3rd dinner in Harrisonburg a great college town. See my blog posts on Bella Luna Pizza and Joshua Wilton House.

If you are looking for a nice relaxing dinner consider Rocktown Kitchen, they have a great menu.

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

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

Bella Luna Harrisonburg’s Best Pizza

Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza
80 W. Water Street
Harrisonburg VA  22801

Pizza | $


They run the pizza over at about 700 degrees.

They use Central Milling Company Organic Type 00 Wheat Flour to make the pizza dough in-house.


They source much of their ingredients locally.

My wife ordered her pizza with a tomato puree sauce, garlic, meatballs, mozzarella, and mushrooms.


For my pizza I selected a pie with the tomato puree sauce, sausage, mozzarella, and prosciutto. The pizza was really good. The dough was baked perfectly and the sauce had a great light tomato taste.  The sausage and prosciutto were wonderful and not to salty.

The restaurant follows state COVID-19 guidelines with tables spaced generously and the staff all worn masks. We ate early so there was little noise. The service was excellent and everyone was friendly. We can’t wait to go back.

Three Blacksmiths 5-Star Dinner

Three Blacksmiths
20 Main St.
Sperryville, VA 22740
(540) 987-5105

American | $$$$



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


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


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




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


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.


For starters…


Work begins on the first course.


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.



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.



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.



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.




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.


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.


Leesburg’s Best BBQ

Yummy Pig New American BBQ
BBQ | $


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



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


The décor is simple and warm,


All employees  wore masks.



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.


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.


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