First, thanks to Chowhounds estufarian, shallots and beantowntitletown for assuring me that a solo diner would be comfortable at the Town House! The restaurant is really in the middle of nowhere: not near a big city, not near an airport, not near anyplace I would be except for that I had to drive by myself from Georgia to the middle of PA. So . . . my advice to anyone who would be anywhere near southwestern VA is "go to the Town House!"
The chefs at the Town House are followers of the El Bulli, foam, molecular gastronomy school. They do it in such a way, however, that anyone who likes food should like it. I'm not a food writer, so I'll try my best. I did the four course tasting, but with the freebies, it was more like seven. The food was exquisite in both visual appeal and taste. The amuse bouche was a delicate black olive-parmesan sandwich cookie. I could have eaten a box of them. My second freebie was a chilled vegetable minestrone. I was served a bowl with tiny, colorful rolled up vegetables, both pickled and fresh (carrots, beets, radishes and leeks, I think) and the chef poured cold broth over it. Then the first course I ordered was white asparagus with pulled honey. Amazing. The pulled honey was similar to spun sugar, and the sauce tasted like salted caramel. But it wasn't weird in any way. Just delicious. The second course was thinly sliced marinated oyster with peas and bacon ice cream! Again, just delicious. And I could go on, but you'll get better descriptions on the chefs' blog at http://townhouseblog.blogspot.com/.
The sommelier, Charlie, was wonderful. I didn't want to do a full wine pairing because I had a few miles to drive on the truck nightmare known as I-81, so he suggested that he pick a white and a red that would go well with the food. And they were perfect. Both Charlie and Chef John had lots of interesting information to share about the restaurant and the food.
So . . . if you're the type of person who would make a weekend trip just to go to a great restaurant, try SW Virginia and the Town House. If you're not, but for some reason you're driving from the northeast to somewhere like Knoxville or Asheville or Atlanta, make a special stop. It's well worth it -- creative and tasty and not expensive for what it is. The restaurant deserves the support of hounds everywhere!
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