I used Chowhound to plan a recent week in the Shenandoah Valley. In repayment for the advice, I am providing this summary, from North to South in the Valley, of my experiences:
Ashby Inn in Paris: A beautiful little inn. My wife and I had high hopes for the food, but it was pedestrian...mediocre...disappointing. Nothing really bad, but nothing outstanding in any way. Vastly overpriced for what was served. We even left without having dessert--incredible for us foodies!
Southern Kitchen in New Market: A simple, large, diner-like place. But we were seated with others to our right and left, and struck up friendly conversation instantly. The fried chicken was really good...better than Chowhound posts had suggested. But everything else was so sweet. Real Southern food, I guess. But we had never had green beans in sugar before, and won't again!
The Blue Stone Inn in Harrisonburg: This place looks awful from the outside, and we almost didn't enter. Glad we did. Something like a downscale hunting lodge within. I had trout, my wife had crabcakes. Fresh, tasty, large portions, though a little bland. I had boullaibaise to start, rather adventurous for the chef (and for me) in such a milieu. Bland. For dessert, I tried the ever-so-sweet Hummingbird Cake, a spice cake made with banana and pineapple with a creamcheese icing and lots of cinnamon. Too much to finish, but a wonderful treat the next day.
Bar-B-Que Ranch in Harrisonburg: Disappointing ribs,tasted braised rather than smoked/rubbed/barbequed. Fried pickles, a house specialty, were surprisingly tasty...hot and crisp on the outside, cool and salty and vinegary inside. Much more interesting than the ribs.
Evers Family Restaurant in Mt. Crawford: We stuffed ourselves at this all-you-can-eat huge simple establishment. Excellent fried oysters, fried chicken better than at Southern Kitchen, barbequed beef. Delicious spoon bread. No end to the homemade pies in at least 15 varieties. Couldn't decide which to eat, so I had 4 and my skinny little wife had 3. (We do love our food, and our BMI's are actually below overweight.)
Duners in Ivy: perhaps not literally in the Valley, it is 5 miles west of Charlottesville. But worth a trip from almost anywhere! I have written this posting from North to South to be able to end on this high note. We had an incredible, wonderful dinner here. Everthing delicious: carrot/apple/ginger soup, panfried monkfish medallions, lamb loin with sundried tomatoes, peach frangipane tart, coffee hazelnut cheesecake. Go there! Eat til you drop! And pay less than you might imagine.