Weekend in Virginia

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buffetbuster
Porterhouse
2011/02/28 11:31:50
My girlfriend and I spent this past weekend driving around Virginia.  Some snow was moving in to western Pennsylvania in mid-afternoon on Friday, so I left work early to beat the weather.  After picking her up in Washington, PA, we made it to our first stop, Ruby & Ketchy's in Morgantown right around 1:00PM.
 
Located right off exit 10 of I-68, Ruby & Ketchy's

is a comfortable family diner type of joint, that I imagine very few non-locals ever visit.  The street address says Morgantown, but it is far out of town.  You can sit at a regular table, at the counter

or in one of the old wooden booths.

As usual, we chose the booth.  The menu

has all the typical diner classics and some surprising seafood dishes, which I have yet to try.  Deep fried oysters just doesn't seem to be the thing to eat in West Virginia.  Our favorite single dish is the stuffed cabbage, which is a Friday special, but unfortunately, that isn't available until 5:00pm.
 
Mariton went for the pork chops,

which according to the menu, is grilled to order.  When I first saw these put in front of her, my initial reaction was that those don't look very good.  But, they were surprisingly juicy for not being very thick and those are real mashed potatoes covered in a good brown gravy on the side.  She was a happy girl!  Being the unselfish person she is, when it comes to ordering sides, she picks something that she thinks I will like.  Which is why we ended up with these green beans,

which were supremely porky and the best thing I ate all day!
 
Having had the fine hot roast beef sandwich before, I was hoping the hot turkey sandwich would be as good.  Of course, that always depends on whether they use real roast turkey or cheap turkey loaf.

It was indeed real turkey and along with the fries, covered in a delicious chicken gravy. 
 
They make their own pies here, so we made sure to leave room for dessert.  Mariton went for their signature pie, the blackberry,

with a scoop of vanilla on top.  Excellent pie with an impressive flaky crust!  My choice was the chocolate pie,

which was dense and fudgy, topped by the tall, delicate meringue.  Also very, very good!
 
I have been to Ruby & Ketchy's at least a half dozen times now and with each visit, it goes up in my estimation.  It isn't the type of place where you walk out thinking that was the best meal ever.  But, they don't take any shortcuts and they give every single dish an honest effort.  I have yet to try anything here I didn't like.  Maybe it is time to try one of those seafood dishes. 
 
Ruby & Ketchy's
2232 Cheat Road
Morgantown, WV
304-594-2004

We got back on I-68 and continued east.
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/02/28 11:35:59
DirtDude
Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 11:51:41
Good to see something around Morgantown, too bad I don't pass through there anymore. Could have used that stop about 2 years ago though.
joerogo
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 12:02:52
buffetbuster  I left work early to beat the weather 
 
 
You Work?
 
Kidding, I am very interested in what Virginia has to offer.  I may be spending some time down there this summer.
i95
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 12:17:33
buffetbuster

My girlfriend and I spent this past weekend driving around Virginia...we made it to our first stop, Ruby & Ketchy's in Morgantown...

 
RICHMOND, VA, FEB. 28, 2011 (AP) -- BREAKING NEWS: Upon further research, authorities have
officially concluded that Morgantown is in West Virginia and not in Virginia. Details at eleven.
post edited by i95 - 2011/02/28 12:20:27
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 12:26:20
i95-
Somehow I knew that was going to come back to bite me! 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/01 06:34:59
The Travelin Man
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 12:46:02
That blackberry pie looks really good.  I am a fan, you know.
 
You do need to explain something to me, though.  These pictures that you post?  You take them OFF of your camera, yes?  Huh.  I just seem to accumulate them ON my camera.  
ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 13:00:49
What fantastic looking comfort food. Love places like that!
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 13:04:29
BB, do you ever stop traveling.  As near as I can figure, you went to San Diego after Raleigh and now into WV?  Way to go man.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
i95
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 13:06:43
buffetbuster

i95-
Somehow I knew that was going to come back to bite me! 

 
No problem. The Travelin Man said that you often get distracted when listening to Barry Manilow's "Weekend in New Mexico."

ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 13:34:42
The pies look incredible!  I would have loved either...how many choices were there?
 
I was eyeing the Ham Dinner - have you ever tried it? with a side of Split Tail Jumbo Shrimp.
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 13:38:21
ChiTownDiner

The pies look incredible!  I would have loved either...how many choices were there?

I was eyeing the Ham Dinner - have you ever tried it? with a side of Split Tail Jumbo Shrimp.

What about the fried chicken honey dipped.  Sounded pretty good to me.  Pie looked excellent.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
 










Michael Hoffman
Double-chop Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 13:50:13
I'll have the country fried steak with mashed potatoes, plenty of gravy, and a side of those green beans, please.
 
And I'm glad to see that you've been informed that West Virginia no longer is part of Virginia. Granted, it's only been that way for about 148 years, so it's new to lots of folks.
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 14:05:36
Our original plan was to eat light at Ruby & Ketchy's, since we still had two more food stops to go.  As you can see, that didn't work out too well. 
 
After Roadfood and Hollyeats, my favorite website for finding local restaurants is choppedonion.  This site is especially strong in Virginia and North Carolina and is where I read about Snow White Grill in Winchester, VA.  Apparently, this used to be a small chain in the area, starting in Frederick, MD and eventually including Hagerstown, MD, Martinsville, WV and Winchester.  This one, opened in 1949, is actually the only one left.
 
We had to keep an eye on the time, since they close at 5:00pm on weeknights, but we made it with plenty of time to spare.  Snow White Grill is located on a pedestrian mall in the downtown area.  The restaurant

is neatly wedged between taller buildings.  They do have a take-out window and some tables and chairs outside, but since it had been raining and was fairly cold out, there was hardly anyone else in the area.
 
The specialty of the house

is the mini-hamburger, a.k.a. the slider, which cost only $1.45 each.  The woman who took our order was a little cranky, since we had interrupted her smoke break when we walked in.  She seemed annoyed we only ordered five, but we did bump it up to six once she told us just how small they were.  She put the patties on the small grill and then topped them with onions.

After a short amount of time, she covered them with wax paper,

which I assume was done to keep the moisture in.  That lasted only a few minutes until the wax paper was replaced by the top half of the buns.

Soon, we had a basket full of sliders in front of us.  Even for sliders, these are really small, as this photo of holding one demonstrates.

We are talking three bites max here.  The buns seemed to be pleasantly steamed and what is not to like about fried meat and onions?  I do wish the cheese had been a little more melted.  These sliders were fine, but not in the same class as places like Crabill's, Powers Hamburgers or Cozy Inn.
 
A real disappointment was the cole slaw. 

Both of us took one bite and pushed it away.  But, they more than made up for it with the thin, but very flavorful black raspberry shake.

That silver beaker held 2 1/2 glasses worth of dairy goodness!
 
The inside of Snow White Grill is worth the stop alone.  There are only 11 seats, all at the counter. 

There used to be 12, but a guy who came out the back to chat with us, told us they removed one to make room for the register.  They have a board in the back

where they keep track of the one-sitting records.  Considering how old this place is, I was shocked to see such small totals.  But, I was told that they were always being asked what the record was, although they had never kept track.  So, they just started to in the last month or so.  Another thing I liked about this place was this interesting sign.

 
Finally, the best thing about Snow White Grill is the connection to Patsy Cline, who grew up in Winchester.

In fact, they have a photo of Patsy, sitting at the counter

(seated, 2nd from the right), enjoying her sliders.  I was even told the story that after she won a local talent contest, the owner of Snow White Grill paid for her bus ticket to Nashville, which is very cool if it is true.
 
Oh, and more cool thing about this place.  If you can't get here during the day, they reopen on Friday and Saturday nights at 10:00PM and then close again at 2:30AM.  The man we talked to here said that they do great business that late.  Something tells me that the day time crowd and night time crowd are quite different!
 
Snow White Grill
159 N. Loudoun Street
Winchester, VA
540-662-5955
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/08 14:57:50
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 14:38:43
ChiTownDiner

The pies look incredible!  I would have loved either...how many choices were there?

I was eyeing the Ham Dinner - have you ever tried it? with a side of Split Tail Jumbo Shrimp.

This should answer your question.

I have not tried their ham steak.  Considering how much ham I knew I would be eating on this trip, it wasn't even a consideration.  But, I bet it is good!
 
Paul-
I wish I could say there was a visit to San Diego in between Raleigh and this trip, but there wasn't.  We have not tried the honey dipped fried chicken, because they warn you it can take a while.  But, my girlfriend's daughter once ordered the wings and they were outstanding! 

annpeeples-
You described it perfectly!  It really is comfort food at its best.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/02/28 14:42:02
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/02/28 20:51:35
It's interesting what some people will pick when encountering a menu for the first time.  At the Snow White Grill, I would have gone with the deep fried hot dog and the "Peach Berry" (if I read that right) pie.  I've not seen those things on a menu before.)

 
And at Ruby and Ketchy's I would have tried the crab cakes.
 
In 2002, while in Winchester, I found crab cake-flavored potato chips--something I'd also never seen before.  As I made my way to Baltimore (for a speech I had to give there) I encountered (and ate) a lot of crab cakes.  Crab is a big favorite in those parts, I discovered.  (So is creamed chipped beef on toast, which is ubiquitous there, much like pecan and chess pie is in my part of the country.)


ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 07:34:43
Raspberry shakes...ummm!  One of my favs! 
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 07:45:34
It was a good shake, but definitely not in the same league as Paradise Pup!
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 12:54:46
That may have had something to do with the company also...
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 13:22:01
Even though neither one of us were exactly famished, I really wanted Mariton to see the Wayside Inn in Middletown, VA, so that became our next stop.  This place goes all the way back to 1797 and according to their sign,

they are America's oldest continuous inn.  The outside of the building does look very old

and it is easy to spot where they have added on over the years.  We were sat in the atmospheric main dining room,

where I had to duck down so my head wouldn't hit an overhead beam.  It was approaching 6:00pm on a Friday night and we were the only customers, which seemed rather strange.
 
Even before she took our drink order, our waitress, with the unusual name of Rusty, asked if we were thinking of getting the spoon bread as an appetizer.  Mariton asked what spoon bread was, which Rusty described as a cross between a souffle, corn bread and corn pudding.  Because it is made to order and takes a good 20 minutes, they recommend ordering it immediately, which we did.  The spoon bread

came out very hot.  Rusty told us to eat while it was hot and put just a dab of butter on it, which she said would make the taste explode in our mouth.  There were no explosions, but we did enjoy this light dish, that had just a slight sweet taste.
 
After the two previous stops, Mariton was in no mood for another big meal.  She started with a garden salad and then had the lamb chops

appetizer for her meal.  She thought it was just okay.
 
My meal began with the peanut soup,

which according to the menu is the "original 1797 recipe".  The last time I was here, this soup was so dry, there wasn't enough water in the ocean to quench my thirst.  Not so this time.  The soup was creamy, smooth and thicker than I remember.  For my entree, it was the country ham,

which came swimming in a thin red-eye gravy.  I ate as much of the salty, full flavored ham as I could and dragged the potatoes and green beans through the excess gravy.  This was a really good meal!
 
While we were dining, two other parties were brought to the dining room.  There was a couple from New Brunswick and another couple, who had to be in their 70's and by their conversation, were on a first date!  After we got done eating, Rusty gave Mariton a tour throughout the inn, even showing her some upstairs guestrooms.
 
Wayside Inn
7783 Main Street
Middletown, VA
540-869-1797 
 
Our hotel for the night was the Quality Inn in New Market.  The plans were for breakfast at the Southern Kitchen the next morning.  Wanting to see the place with their great neon light lit up at night, we drove by and took a few photos.

This is one of the great Roadfood signs!
 
Much more to come.....
 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/07 08:55:46
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 13:38:36
I am glad you had the spoon bread.  Mamaw Smith makes a killer spoon bread.  The country ham looks fantastic.  I really enjoy red eye gravy with grits and biscuits and jelly.  The salty taste with the jelly works for me.  Great post.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 13:43:43
Paul, how blessed you are to be able to enjoy Mamaw Smith's cooking all of these years!  And country ham is SO much better when accompanied by red-eye gravy. 
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 19:57:37
I love peanut soup!  And now you have found another place for me to go the next time I'm in the area.  Thank You!
 
The Southern Kitchen (and a place in Leesburg, VA, the name of which I have forgotten) are the only places in the area that I know that serve peanut soup.  Interesting in that this great dish has not been franchised into fast food (yet).


ann peeples
Sirloin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 20:05:40
Paul, I now make country ham( courtesy of my Carolina cousin) served on biscuits with jam, dipped in country gravy.One of our favorite breakfasts.And BB, the one you were served looks perfect.
EdSails
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 20:44:14
Looks like an awesome trip, BB!
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/01 20:54:26
Was there any indication why the restaurant was so empty...price, quality, cleanliness, ???
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 08:35:55
Louis-
Glad to see another fan of peanut soup here.  If you remember the name of the place in Leesburg that makes it, please let us know.  We may be headed to that area in the next few weeks.
 
CTD-
I'm not really sure why they weren't busy.  The economy has to have something to do with it.  And with the type of menu they have, they don't particularly appeal to a younger demographic.  During warm weather, they have live music on weekend nights and I'm sure they do better.
i95
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 09:12:59
buffetbuster

If you remember the name of the place in Leesburg that makes it, please let us know.  

 
 

 
While I fear that such might be referencing any one of the tourist-magnet yet perpetually empty restaurants unfortunately lining South King Street in Leesburg and all owned by the same entity, I can hope that you might also be referring to the independently-owned Leesburg Restaurant (located at 9 South King Street) which serves a fine peanut soup (although I believe the place is only open for breakfast and lunch these days).
 
The more upscale Lightfoot Restaurant (at 11 North King Street [look for the Swedish flag]) has also served-up the southern delicacy at times, FYI.
 
jmckee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 09:59:50
Louis

I love peanut soup!  And now you have found another place for me to go the next time I'm in the area.  Thank You!

The Southern Kitchen (and a place in Leesburg, VA, the name of which I have forgotten) are the only places in the area that I know that serve peanut soup.  Interesting in that this great dish has not been franchised into fast food (yet).




The Virginia Diner, in Wakefield, serves peanut soup. And a bunch of other good stuff.
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 10:49:42
I was having building-related deja vu reading this.  The Snow White looks like a blue-and-white version of the Cozy Inn (too bad about the sliders not being as good--they look insanely good), and the Wayside Inn reminded me of the Blue Willow. 
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 11:34:00
As sad as it was when my grandmother passed away last year, it was nice to be able to reconnect with some family members I hadn't seen in years.  One of them was my cousin Pam, who told me she now lives near New Market, VA.  We agreed to get together the next time I was driving through, which was this morning.
 
I have been to the Southern Kitchen at least a half dozen times and always sat in the front room,

usually in one of the small booths.  But Pam, her son Ben and daughter Megan were already set up in the back dining room when we arrived.  Here is a group photo

we took before leaving.  From left to right: Ben, Megan, Mariton, me and Pam.
 
I did let them know as soon as we sat down that I would be taking photos of my (and their) food, so they wouldn't think I was some kind of a kook, but Pam had already warned them!  Mariton and I started our breakfast with the peanut soup. 

This soup is thinner than the one we had the night before, but I liked the extra oniony sweetness of what is served here.  Still, I would give the Wayside Inn version the edge and Mariton agreed.  Yet, the last time I visited both places, the one at Southern Kitchen was clearly better.  My advice?  Try them both and make up your own mind!
 
Here is what everyone had:  Megan had the french toast,

which looked terrific!  But after just a few bites, she pushed it away.  Apparently, she is one of those people who can't eat too soon after waking up and it was still too early for her.  Ben got the country fried steak,

which looked good and since there were no complaints from him and he finished it minutes, I am assuming he would give it a thumbs up.  Pam went simple, with eggs and bacon.

Fully aware of what was ahead of her on this day, Mariton got just eggs and sausage. 

The sausage was vividly spiced and the best thing I ate during the meal.  The Southern Kitchen is known for their country ham, so that was the obvious choice for me. 

The ham had some parts of it that were a weird grey color, but the portion size was big and what I ate (which was most of it) was delicious.
 
Ben loved the idea of joining me for a slice of pie for breakfast, so we asked the waitress what was available.  We were told lemon, chocolate, peanut butter or coconut.  I ordered lemon, Ben chocolate.  A few minutes later, she came back and told us the lemon and coconut had just come out of the oven
and it was too soon to cut them.  Under normal circumstances, I would have then taken the peanut butter.  But, Pam had already mentioned that even though she doesn't have an allergy, she is a peanut phobe.  Which means she is definitely living in the wrong state!  Not wanting to subject her to peanut soup and peanut butter pie, I switched to chocolate instead.

The meringue wasn't as light and the filling not as fudgy, but this was still a fine way to finish the meal.
 
Mariton and I had a very busy schedule and thought we would only be here for about an hour.  Instead, we had such a great time visiting with family, we ended up being here for over two hours.  It was great to see Pam again and to get to know her kids, who I had only met a couple of times before.
 
Southern Kitchen
9576 S. Congress Street
New Market, VA
540-740-3514

Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/07 08:59:52
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 15:00:17
Our next destination, Luray Caverns, was only a short drive away.  I have enjoyed visits in the past to Mammoth Caves and Carlsbad Caverns, so it sounded like something we would enjoy.  This was the first time here for both of us.
 
From the visitor center/gift shop, you go down a flight of stairs and you are right into the caverns.  The path is paved and reasonably well lit.  Our tour group had to be at least 25 people, which our guide said was a very large group.  We were given headphones to listen to, but our guide said that she would just describe what we would see at each stop instead, so I'm not sure why we had the headphones.
 
Taking photographs down there was difficult, but I think I did get a few decent shots of all the interesting rock formations.








Our favorite thing in Luray Caverns was early in the tour, where a shallow pool of water perfectly reflected the small formations hanging just a short distance above.

It looked like mirror images coming from above and below and was really something to see.  They also have what they call the Great Stalacpipe Organ,

where you get to "hear rocks sing".  It wasn't as impressive as it sounds.
 
Unfortunately, our guide was not very experienced and she had a difficult time keeping things moving.  So much so, that there were two groups backed up right behind us.  The part of the tour where they turn off all the lights so you can see what total darkness is like had to be skipped, which was something I was looking forward to.  What is supposed to be an hour to 1 1/4 hour tour took almost two hours.  At least with the 1 1/4 mile walk we just took, we walked some of breakfast off.  They also have an interesting looking garden maze on the property,

which would have been fun to do, but we ran out of time.
 
Luray Caverns
970 U.S. Highway 211W
Luray, VA
540-743-6551

Since we haven't had nearly enough country ham on this trip, we drove to Culpeper, VA to visit Calhoun's Country Hams.

Immediately after taking the above photo from the street, I tripped over the curb.  I managed to avoid falling, but undoubtedly looked like Jerry Lewis while doing it. 
 
Calhoun's is first and foremost a ham house.


Maybe it is because we were just in a cave, but don't those hams hanging on the wall look like bats?  But, they are also part deli and can make you some sandwiches to go.  I ordered a country ham biscuit, a country ham sandwich and a bowl of their ham and bean soup.  We took it back to the car and I programmed the address for our next stop.  It said we would arrive at 3:49pm at a place I knew closed at 4:00pm.  There were a couple of other stops in Culpeper we were hoping to check out, but those would have to wait for another day.  I started driving south and took the photos of the sandwich at a red light and then started eating it as I drove.  This method is definitely not AAA approved, but we did not have much choice.  The country ham sandwich,

which I added lettuce and mayo to, was outstanding!  Though it wasn't as salty as the other ham I had already eaten, it was even more powerfully flavored.  At this point, I was regretting not picking up a whole ham to take home.  The ham biscuit and the soup remained uneaten until we got to the hotel later that night.
 
Calhoun's Country Ham
219 S. East Street
Culpeper, VA
540-825-8319
 
Calhoun's has a second location in Alexandria, VA.
 
Much more to come..... 
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/07 09:01:10
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 16:18:22
So are the bat-hams the same thing as in the picture above, but later on?  Or are they a different cut altogether?  It's nice you got to get back in touch with some family!
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 20:53:29
Next time the pies are to warm to cut, order the entire pie and eat it right from the pie pan....there may even be some left to take to next stop! 
sisterbeer
Junior Burger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 23:25:01
The second hanging pork photo is of slab bacon, if that's what you're referring to. Looks creepier than the hams to me.
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/02 23:32:39
Something that I discovered about the Southern Kitchen two years ago: they have a better pork chop than the one at Snappy Lunch in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.  I ate at both back-to-back over twenty-four hours, and my traveling companion and I both thought the Southern Kitchen's version was the best by far.  (And that was even after having two bowls of peanut soup!)  I'll have to try the country ham next time.
 
I'll post that Leesburg restaurant that had the peanut soup in a post below when queries I put out about come back.  It may have been either the ones I-95 and jmckee mentioned; I'll learn soon enough.
 
And thanks for taking me on a tour of Luray Caverns.  The closest I've ever been was when I went through that garden-style human maze that's in the parking lot (seen in the background of one of the pictures).  I remember I walked through it for the first time in under five minutes.  (But if you know the secret, anyone can do this in a human maze, no matter how complicated it may seem.)


post edited by Louis - 2011/03/02 23:41:46
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 07:22:20
I'm really enjoying your report....makes me want to head south and see the sites...and get some country ham!!!!
Sundancer7
Fire Safety Admin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 07:33:32
BB:  I have visited Luray Caverns twice.  Once when I was about 8 years old and then a couple of years ago, Roz and I did it again.  A fascinating cave.  Great ham around that area.
 
Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 14:14:51
i95-
Thanks for the name of Leesburg Restaurant.  It sounds like the place to go for peanut soup in the area.  Are you familiar with a pie shop in Leesburg called Mom's Apple Pies?
 
jmckee-
I have been to Virginia Diner, but for breakfast and didn't have the peanut soup.  But we enjoyed almost everything else we had.
 
Nancypalooza-
The Snow White Grill was definitely bigger than Cozy Inn, but they had very similar feels.  And it looks like sisterbeer answered your question about the slab bacon.  I know I didn't know what they were.
 
sisterbeer-
Thanks for the info!
 
ChiTownDiner-
You truly have a creative solution to every food issue that comes.  Of course, all of your solutions involve eating more food!
 
Louis-
That is high parise saying that the Southern Kitchen pork chop is better than what they serve at Snappy Lunch.  Mariton was thinking about getting the pork chop for breakfast, but when I mentioned that the Roadfood review raved about the sausage, she decided to get that instead.
 
And I would be interested in knowing what the method to tackling those mazes are.  Next time we see each other, I would love to hear it.
 
rebeltruce
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 14:54:01
I wish I had known you were going to be in Culpeper.....I would have been honored to meet you for a Ham Bisquit.....
You most likely drove past my place on 522 coming from Luray...I'm about eight miles outside of Culpeper on 522 heading towards Sperryville.....
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 14:57:56
rebeltruce-
Oh that's too bad!  We would have really enjoyed meeting you.  Unfortunately, our time in Culpeper ended up being limited.  The other places in town we wanted to check out were Baby Jim's Snack Bar and Frost Cafe.  Are they worth a return visit?
Louis
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 20:01:25
Cliff, I have the answer now.  The restaurant that I dined in that had the peanut soup is now closed; it was called Johnson's Charcoal Beef House in Leesburg.  It was good, but the Southern Kitchen had the edge.  Thanks to you, I have some new places to indulge in my passion.
 
Next time you and your cousin come to Henderson, I'll reveal the secret of how to navigate those mazes.  When you learn how it's done, it'll be like learning how a magic trick is done.  The experience is just not the same, and afterward you'll wish you hadn't asked.



Greymo
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/03 20:25:14
The  Hotel Roanoke  in Roanoke, Virginaia has the  second best peanut   soup that I have ever enjoyed.  My best was at King's Arms Tavern in historic  Williamsburg , Va.  The  peanut soup serve at Middlebury Inn is also great.
rebeltruce
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 07:11:28
buffetbuster

rebeltruce-
Oh that's too bad!  We would have really enjoyed meeting you.  Unfortunately, our time in Culpeper ended up being limited.  The other places in town we wanted to check out were Baby Jim's Snack Bar and Frost Cafe.  Are they worth a return visit?

Baby Jim's is worth a stop just because it's been a mainstay in the commmunity for so long......the food is good for what it is, but honestly nothing to write home about.
 
Frost, not worth a stop in my opinion, there is an excellent diner in Luray, much better than Frost. I've forgotten the name, but it's decor is old train station kinda thing.
 
Next time you're in the Culpeper area be sure and stop by Knakal's Bakery, it's on E Davis next to It's About Thyme.....
ayersian
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 09:07:53
BB, thanks for the reminder about the Snow White.  Amy & I have been a couple of times -- now it's time to get cracking on a review!    Chris
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 10:21:26
Chris-
Excellent!  So glad you are going to review Snow White Grill.
 
rebeltruce-
I am a little surprised to read that about Frost Cafe.  From the photos, it sure looks like a worthwhile stop.  Thanks for the info.  What is the "must order" item at Knakal's Bakery?
 
Louis-
Sorry to hear the peanut soup place closed down, but thanks to Greymo and others, it looks like I have many more places to try it.  As for the maze, maybe I would be better off not knowing the secret!
jmckee
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 10:59:49
buffetbuster

i95-
Thanks for the name of Leesburg Restaurant.  It sounds like the place to go for peanut soup in the area.  Are you familiar with a pie shop in Leesburg called Mom's Apple Pies?

jmckee-
I have been to Virginia Diner, but for breakfast and didn't have the peanut soup.  But we enjoyed almost everything else we had.

Nancypalooza-
The Snow White Grill was definitely bigger than Cozy Inn, but they had very similar feels.  And it looks like sisterbeer answered your question about the slab bacon.  I know I didn't know what they were.

sisterbeer-
Thanks for the info!

ChiTownDiner-
You truly have a creative solution to every food issue that comes.  Of course, all of your solutions involve eating more food!

Louis-
That is high parise saying that the Southern Kitchen pork chop is better than what they serve at Snappy Lunch.  Mariton was thinking about getting the pork chop for breakfast, but when I mentioned that the Roadfood review raved about the sausage, she decided to get that instead.

And I would be interested in knowing what the method to tackling those mazes are.  Next time we see each other, I would love to hear it.


I worked with a guy from that region for a few years; the year we went to the Diner, he had asked about where we went on vacation, and when I mentioned we'd had breakfast there, he beamed, and said in his best Virginia accent, "Peanuts from the Diner. Nothing could be finer."
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 11:46:56
Despite the fact that one of the things we wanted to do over the weekend was visit Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Charlottesville, we drove right through the town without stopping on our drive from Culpeper, almost all the way to Lynchburg.  That is because the restaurant I most wanted to visit on this trip, Woodruff's Cafe & Pie Shop, in Monroe, VA, closed at 4:00pm.
 
I had called earlier in the day to confirm what time they close and to inquire what pies they had available.  The list was coconut, pecan, buttermilk, apple and berry crumb.  We had no difficulty finding the place, even though it is well out into the country and we pulled into the small parking lot at 3:40pm.  Painted white, with an attractive red and white awning out front,

the building was easy to spot.  I immediately made a bee line inside to check out the pie case, to see what was left.

Seeing only pecan and coconut, my heart sunk.  I am not a fan of either pie, since I don't like nuts or coconut.  The disappointment quickly faded once I took a closer look and saw just how good this coconut looked.  And on a lower shelf, was a lone, very large, fried pie. 
 
There are only three tables on the inside (somehow, I failed to take an inside photo!), both of which were occupied, so we sat at a table for two by the front door.  I would have selected this table anyway, since it had the best light for taking photos.  A friendly woman, who we later found out was owner Angela Scott, took our order.  Since she was also taking care of the three customers in the middle table, it was a few minutes before we got our pie.  Sitting at a back table, reading the bible was an older woman, who we would later find out was Angela's mother, Mary Fannie Woodruff.  She got a kick out of me taking photos and to her credit, Mariton sat down with her and had a nice conversation.
 
Once the pies were delivered to our table, Mariton rejoined me.  Like I said, I am no fan of coconut.  But my two most common traveling and dining companions, Mariton and cousin Johnny both love it, so I have often had a bite or two of theirs.  And this was the best coconut pie

I have tasted and my girlfriend agreed.  The filling was delicious, but the meringue was just about perfect. 
 
At this point, we decided to stop and try some of their non-dessert food.  There was a two sided white piece of paper on our table with sandwiches, hot dogs and sides listed along with a board displaying the daily specials.

Knowing how many stops were still in front of us, we went with the potato soup and cornbread.

The soup could have been a little hotter, but was very creamy, with plenty of potato and carrots and was unmistakably homemade.  The cornbread, which was very crumbly, with no sweetness to it at all, reminded me of my grandmother's version.
 
After eating that, we turned our sights back to the pies.  The pecan

was still warm and very sweet and I could see why people would like this pie.  Angela told us it was her biggest seller.  Mariton did eat much more of this one than I did.  Next was the fried apple pie. 

After taking my photos, I just tore it in half with my hands. 

We both took our first bite at the same time and then gave each other the "Can you believe how good this is?" look.  The outside was soft, with the fruit being sweet and fresh.  It also had a nice cinnamon taste to it.  This was Mariton's first experience with a fried pie, but it won't be her last.  I think it was even better than the ones I have eaten at my beloved Family Pie Shop in Arkansas.  To drink, I had a bottled water, while Mariton helped herself to the coffee, set out on a table in the corner.

 
The other customers had left, so owner Angela was at our table asking where we were from and if that was me who had called earlier.  She proceded to tell us the history of the place, how it had been a grocery store, run by her mother and father for years.  After the big chain grocery stores moved in, the place closed and Angela took it over as a restaurant and pie shop, which has been in business since 1998.  Her mother Mary, makes the fried pies and providing what she calls, the "entertainment".  Angela started showing us the family photos on the wall and I especially liked this one

of Mary in 1951 at the grocery store.  That was the year that Angela was born.  I asked if I could take a photo of mother and daughter and Mary slyly replied that she would be happy to pose if I bought her book.  Up to this point, I didn't even know that she had a book, but how could I turn down an offer like that!  Here is mother and daughter.

I would have never guessed that Mary is 95 because she is as sharp as a tack!   By the way, Angela's husband Larry Scott was also there, but I never spoke to him as he was discussing fishing with a friend who had come in.
 
It was now well after 4:00, so we said our goodbyes.  Mariton got hugs from both women on the way out the door.  Once we got into our car, we sat there for a few minutes talking about how much we enjoyed this place and what nice people we just met.  Well, that is what Mariton was saying.  I was still raving about how excellent the pies were!
 
Once we got home from the trip, I read the book, which is only 44 pages long.  The cover shot

is Mary and her husband James on their wedding day.  And Mary even autographed it for me before we left!

The book is mostly family history and she does spend time talking about friends and the store.  It won't make the New York Times best seller list anytime soon, but it is very touching and it has quickly become one of my favorite Roadfood momentos.
 
Woodruff's Cafe & Pie Shop
3297 Elon Road
Monroe, VA
434-384-1650
 
Unfortunately, our euphoria over our visit to the pie shop wouldn't last long as we continued south into Lynchburg.
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/07 08:34:21
susanll
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 11:53:45
Another "cliff" hanger
 

buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 13:10:41
susan-
Good one!!!
Nancypalooza
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 13:49:12
Awww--I especially like how you positioned the mother/daughter picture right under the older picture of Mary.  Mother and daughter look a lot alike.  Great photos and great story, Cliff. :)
Ahi Mpls.
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/04 21:32:31
 That is quite possibly my very favorite of all the billions and billions of your trip reports....I really and truly cried a teeny little bit.    slyly selling a book and giving hugs! So sweet. 
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/05 04:52:14
Thank you Nancy and AHI for the kind words.  As you can surely tell, this was one of my favorite Roadfood experiences. 
ChiTownDiner
Filet Mignon
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/05 08:01:18
buffetbuster - that's a heck of a stop...the family story is really fascinating!  And you forcing down non-favorite pies all in the line of duty! 
DirtDude
Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/05 15:15:49
This reminds me of why I loved living in that region of Virginia.  Well, at least driving through it, I was a bit further south.
rebeltruce
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/07 07:45:09
BB,
Frost's "looks" like it may be a great small town diner, but the food in my opinion just isn't all that great. They have a great wait staff, the atmosphere is great....but the food just isn't up to par.
 
Knakal's anything doughnut wise is fantastic...I especially like the Apple Fritters.
leethebard
Sirloin
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/07 08:52:40
Oh I loved the story of Grandma Fannie......a real roadfood moment...stories like that...that's why we travel! Thanks.
i95
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/07 10:12:04
buffetbuster

i95-
Thanks for the name of Leesburg Restaurant.  It sounds like the place to go for peanut soup in the area.  Are you familiar with a pie shop in Leesburg called Mom's Apple Pies?


Indeed I am. It's housed on the same "triangle" which used to be home to Leesburg's (former) Mightly Midget Kitchen. They also have a location in Occoquan, Virginia and, I believe, used to be originally based in Herndon, Virginia. Very good pies (and cookies, etc.).  
 
Route 11
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/07 12:29:32
I don't know if they make them on site but the eclairs at Knackels are great! I also agree about the Frost Cafe. Nothing to write home about. We usually either eat at Elmwood at Sparks in nearby Orange or Raven's Nest Coffee house downtown.
 
Thanks for the heads up on Calhoun's!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/07 13:05:10
During our drive on Friday afternoon, my Garmin GPS quit working.  Although it was frustrating, I still had the dashboard GPS which came with my 2004 Jeep.  Since I have had the other GPS, and rarely ever use the dashboard one, I saw no need to update the 2003 maps on it.  I think you can see where this is headed." />
 
The drive from Monroe, VA down to Lynchburg and our next destination should have been a short one.  But, while the GPS would accept the street name, it would not accept the numbers.  So, we figured we would do what we had done a couple of other times this weekend, which was get close and then ask for directions.
 
The place we were looking for was Moore's Country Store.  You never know just where or when you will get a good tip.  A few years ago, I was on a Southwest flight, sitting in the very first row, reading one of the Jane & Michael Stern books.  I think it was Two For the Road.  The flight attendant, sitting in the jump seat, asked what I was reading.  I told her and then explained the idea behind Roadfood.  She got very excited and told me I absolutely had to visit a place in her hometown of Lynchburg, VA.  The fact that she mentioned it had a tree growing out through the roof made it stand out.  I filed it away in the back of my memory and here we were now in Lynchburg looking for it.
 
First, we tried to find it on our own.  Once I saw a sign that said we were leaving Lynchburg and entering the next county, we turned around and headed back to a Shell station I saw.  We stopped and asked a guy pumping gas and he told us it was just a half mile down the road and we couldn't miss it.  Well, I had already driven approximately 1 1/2 miles down that road, maybe we did drive by it, so we headed out again.  Once we reached two miles and there was nothing around at all, we turned around and went back to the gas station.  Mariton brought up that she thought he said to get on the freeway, which has an entrance right past the gas station.  So, we got on the freeway and drove at least five miles and there was no businesses around at all.  Once again, we headed back to the gas station.  At this point, I am fuming and Mariton is trying her best to calm me down. 
 
This time, I decided to head inside the convenience store to ask.  There were two clerks waiting on about a half dozen people.  I asked out loud to no one in particular how to get to Moore's Country Store.  The first guy who answered said it was at least 7-8 miles down the road.  Everyone else said, "No, No" and a woman then said it was no more than a half mile.  Once again, everyone chimes in, "No, no".  This was certainly not helping with my frustration level.  I said, once again to no one in particular, "How hard can it be to find a store with a tree growing out the roof?", which everyone laughed at.  Finally, one woman, who was just about to walk out the door, said it was about three miles away and since she was headed in that direction, I could follow her.  Yeah!!!!
 
In just a few minutes, driving just a short distance further than we had gone before, she put on her right blinker and there was Moore's Country Store.  

And yup, that is a tree growing through the roof!

Although, once you get to the front door, you see that it is actually growing through the roof of the entranceway.

 
This place is still a convenience store, but on the right side they have a small lunch counter area and then some small tables and one big picnic table.

The inside just screamed Roadfood!  The menu board

(this is only half of it) is right behind the register, so when I went up to look at it, the woman working here was asking for my order.  Not sure what to get, I asked her what she would recommend to someone coming here for the first time and wanting to eat like a local.  At first, she gave me the "I have been on my feet for eight hours and you are asking me what now?" look.  But she quickly softened and very helpfully explained that they were best known for the chili dogs, which had several different levels of heat.  I ordered their hottest for Mariton and two more with lesser levels of heat for me.  She also told me about a highly regarded burger they had, but there would be no appetite for that on this day. 
 
Within five minutes, we had our three chili dogs

and we sat at the community picnic table to eat.  On Mariton's first bite, she threw the hot dog down and said she was done.  Wow!  She felt like the wiener itself was not cooked and it really grossed her out.  For the rest of the night, she said she couldn't get the taste of it out of her mouth and felt like the hot dog was still caught in her throat.  I have never seen her have this bad a reaction to a food before.  Luckily for me, my hot dogs were much better.  I really liked the way the chili, which definitely had some zip to it, contrasted with the creamy slaw.  Throw on some finely cut onions and a small amount of mustard and I give them a thumbs up.

 
Between us getting lost and Mariton getting sick, Moore's Country Store hasn't been a good experience for us.  And it was about to get worse.....
 
There was an older couple a few feet away from us at the picnic table.  They asked if it was our first time and we had a nice conversation from there, despite the fact that they both spoke very softly and had some of the thickest Southern accents I have ever heard.  They told us the story that when their son had cancer, the only thing he wanted to eat was Moore's Country Store chili dogs.  We chatted a little about how familiar things like food can be comforting at a time like that.  Just to be friendly, I asked how their son was doing now and replied, "Oh good, I'm glad to hear that" when they said he had recovered.  Mariton gave me a look like, "What is the matter with you?" and told the couple how sorry she was to hear that.  She then looked at me and whispered that their son passed away.  I swear I thought they said he had gotten better.  I quickly told them how sorry I was.  They were still very pleasant with me and it occurred to me that they most likely didn't hear the stupid thing I just said, since they probably had just as much trouble understanding my Yankee accent.  Anyway, I still felt like the world's biggest jerk.
 
Moore's Country Store
6963 Richmond Highway
Lynchburg, VA
434-847-7328
 
We were thrilled to get back in the car, headed west towards Roanoke.
 
More to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/03/07 13:09:48
i95
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Weekend in Virginia 2011/03/07 13:50:43
Moore's is a classic! I last visited there almost a year-and-a-half ago (and posted about such here). Ironically, I actually passed the place about 3:30 pm yesterday. And don't worry about getting lost while trying to find the place. Such is undoubtedly due the intersection of Routes 29 & 460 being changed recently. If you're traveling south on Rt. 29 from, say, Charlottesville, you have to actually take another exit for Route 29 to continue southward. If you don't, you'll automatically find yourself on Rt. 460 east and, only by default, en route to Moore's. Such is not a bad thing but I think such may have also mirrored the road diversion strategy of steering traffic to the Bates Motel.
 
Great report, bb!
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