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Patowmack Farm, Chef Tarver King Comes From The Ashby Inn, With Sous Chef Nathan Shapiro and Farmer-Co-Owner Beverly Morton Billand

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DanielS   

I have been here to eat and also take a cooking class with my daughter. It is a wonderful place, the surroundings are as nice as you can get. The "dining room" is basically like eating outdoors with beautiful views, make sure to get there before sundown for a great sunset. The food is very good, most everything comes directly from their garden. This is as true "farm to table" as you are gonna get. It is pricey, and the service is somewhat relaxed, as you are basically eating in someones backyard. Make sure to spend some time talking to the owner Beverly, she has a great story on the growth of her farm/restaurant.

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KMango   

Yay, finally, a thread about this place! I have also taken cooking classes with Chef Edwards, who is member burapateeter on this site, by the way. I echo DanielS's sentiments. I have not yet been able to book a table there this season, but that's my fault. I keep calling with very little notice seeking a reservation during prime time.

I welcome hearing tales of your dining experience once you go. And I'll post again once I ever leave Procrastination Station and make it out there this summer.

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Joe H   

Yay, finally, a thread about this place! I have also taken cooking classes with Chef Edwards, who is member burapateeter on this site, by the way. I echo DanielS's sentiments. I have not yet been able to book a table there this season, but that's my fault. I keep calling with very little notice seeking a reservation during prime time.

I welcome hearing tales of your dining experience once you go. And I'll post again once I ever leave Procrastination Station and make it out there this summer.

I wrote this eight years ago when an open air tent was erected to house the" dining room." http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/165704?tag=search_results;results_list Several years ago a building took its place whose structure created a somewhat different ambience; still it is unique and special.

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Ok, I had a very nice birthday meal at Patowmack Farm with my family on Saturday night.

The setting is beautiful; that is inarguable. The service was very good. There was some trouble with the air conditioning unit, which was blowing really cold air on us. Finally that got fixed but it took longer than it should have.

On to the food. I would say the various dishes ranged from pretty good to great. The highlights were the dungeness crab appetizer, the risotto, and the caramelized cheesecake. I thought the "tortellini leo" could have used more salt (and I am very sensitive to salt so that's really saying something). There were some mixed opinions on the "Catalan suquet with lobster and cuttlefish over Carolina grits with veal meatballs." My sister in law thought the seafood was indistinguishable. The veal meatballs were widely praised. Twinsmommy thought that her "blueberry galette" dessert was no better than a toaster strudel. I think my brothers enjoyed the duck breast (they both got the five-course tasting menu).

The mixed drinks were excellent, as was a bottle of Loudoun County viognier from a winery near Purcellville (can't recall the name).

Due to the steep cost, we won't be rushing back, but it was a worthwhile experience and everyone should try it once.

For the detailed five-course tasting menu ($85) and a great picture looking from the farm towards the Point of Rocks bridge, see my brother's blog, www.eatwellslivewells.com

PS I forgot to mention when I first posted one of the best parts of the meal -- the blueberry bread we got as the "first bread" with our meal. This was outstanding and we got seconds of it without asking. It was so good that I almost asked if we could buy a loaf to bring home. The second bread -- Parker rolls -- was very good too. And as some of you might have seen me say from time to time, "A good restaurant may have bad bread, but a bad restaurant will never have good bread."

Edited by Twinsdaddy

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Pete   

Any recent updates? We will be going on Saturday night as a last "date night" out before child #2 arrives.

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Any recent updates? We will be going on Saturday night as a last "date night" out before child #2 arrives.

+1. We're booked for a brunch in a few weeks. Has anyone been and can comment?

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lion   

Here's our experience from a help needed thread:

We ended up at Patowmack Farm for dinner and stayed at a B&B nearby. "Thursdays at the Farm" was small plates which as the website says were pretty reasonably priced. We pretty much had every plate on the menu that night except for 2-3 meat ones and all were very tasty except for the Peach Gazpacho with baby corn and corn silk. Somehow that one just didn't execute well together. The glass of red wine I had was from Fabbioli Cellars was one that I didn't finish. My GF had lavender lemon infused cocktail that she enjoyed.

Highlights were the little tomatoes from the Early Bird Tomoato Salad. The Broiled Peach with merry goat round cheese and fried bread. Very tasty. Also liked the Fried Squash Blossoms with basil pesto and preserved lemon. The Chocolate Layer Cake for dessert was a big hit! Especially with the oatmeal stout milkshake. Selection of Chef's local cheese was also excellent.

All in all, with the scenery and view which was perfect that night, I would recommend the Farm on Thursday.

The next day we stopped at Hillsborough Vineyard and had their sample flight of 8 wines. Joe H was right the 2006 Bloodstone is a very good wine and arguably my favorite VA wine so far. While, it's still young wine compared to my favorite Italians, it has a weight that communicates a complexity that is surprising. As for the $28 price point, feel it would be better at $22, however I'm not conversant in the price points of local vines enough. Visiting the vineyard is a must, my GF didn't want to leave as we sat on the patio eating the local old German Wiesse Kase goat cheese and drinking their Serafina Rose wine.

I think that area of VA really is an enjoyable day trip from the DC metro area and the wines and vineyards will be great in an another decade probably able to compete at the world level.

Good reference point: Virginiawine.org

Thanks to everyone's replies, it helped a lot during a busy week for visiting places that I'm not familiar with!

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We enjoyed dinner there this weekend - the food certainly matches the unique setting and a nice way to pre-start a meal is to have a relaxing drive out to it.

Highlights (for me) of the 5 course meal were the lightly breaded and crisped mustard greens atop the lamb and grits main course...the catfish fritter with crab and the dessert of candied orange peel with camembert cheese. I think the intense sweetness of the peel really "jumped" given the unusually light hand on the sugar/salt through the rest of the meail (with two kids, we're sometimes at Applebees and such places, where I imagine the salt/sugar may be added with a sand shovel.)

The fixed price 5 course meal was $85 (we both got) and then $45 for the wine pairings (she got). Service was good and where it may have not reached 100% perfection, it more than made up for it in cordiality. Professionals do that and they were pros.

Just a wonderful evening, my wife and I ranked it in our top 5 favorite dinner "date nights." .

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Not sure I can add anything to what's already been written, but still I want to let people know this place is something special. The food is excellent, the setting lovely, the service attentive without being intrusive, and overall the whole experience is just charming.

I had the tasing menu:

Amuse Bouche (summer squash salad, taggiasche oilves,nepitella, biancoforte white wine vinegar)

Anson Mills White Flint Corn Grits (sweet peas in black truffle butter, house cured lardo, fried onions)

Chesapeake Bay Jumbo Lump Crab Imperial (stuffed zucchini, vegetable pistou, fried bread)

black tea and rhubarb sorbet

Hedgeapple Farm Beef Short Ribs (red wine marmalade, seared foie gras, red radish and bitter lettuce)

Blueberry Soufflé (crème fraiche, blueberry financier, pie spiced blueberry ice cream)

Mr P had:

Crab Beignet (smoked paprika remoulade)

Pawtomack Farm Blueberries (spicy and bitter lettuce, crème fraiche, rossoforte red wine vinegar, chocolate mint)

Pawtomack Farm Pork Duo (grilled shoulder and braised spare ribs, cabbage slaw, sweet mustard bbq sauce, potato chips)

Blueberry Soufflé

...and they brought him the amouse bouche and "intermezzo" from the tasting menu, even though he was ordering a la carte. A nice thoughtful touch that nicely characterizes the place: it's the kind of restaurant where they think of things like that.

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DonRocks   

Anyone been / have any opinions?

(Their website is here.)

Tarver King is coming.

And I just found out that Chris Edwards will be going to the new Salamander resort in Middleburg, so ... assuming Ashby finds a top-notch replacement (and with Neal Wavra there, it's a safe assumption), the western Virginia suburbs have just staked a claim to being one of the finest dining areas in the United States.

This is going to be a winning situation all the way around.

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lion   

We were just at Patowmack Farm a few weekends ago after a couple of years break.  Very good night, but felt some changes would be interesting.

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Joe H   

He made the James Beard Mid Atlantic Semi Final list for Patowmack Farm.  Has anyone been since he took over?  We had several outstanding dinenrs when he was at the Ashby Inn.

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lion   

Equally interested in hearing any recent visits from board members. Last summer, our last trip to Patowmack Farm was a few weeks before the change.

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Very much enjoyed eating brunch here for my birthday in November.

I had Anchovy Beignet with comte cheese, cardoon vinaigrette, and pine nuts

Parmesan pancakes with maitake mushrooms, pork rinds, and naisturtium vinaigrette

Naturtium ice cream, rose geranium, sorrel sabayon, and pine nut

My wife had Pear soup with smoked almonds, hickory syrup, and frothed milk

Roasted rockfish with savory cream of wheat, chestnut, and caramelized honey

Chocolate and Rye Namelaka with muscat de provence ganache, hay caramel, and caraway candy

(from the "diploma" they gave us for that day)

Fancy stuff! Looking forward to returning in the spring.

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Quick comments, since I'm not in "full write-up" mode today: spendy, but worth the trip.  The emphasis is clearly on seasonal and local, and farmed-on-site where possible, making every menu an adventure.  Lunch/brunch is basically an a la carte variant on their normal prix fixe menu, but the prices are basically the same, making this a destination meal in itself.  I hadn't been to Patowmack Farm before, so the initial turn into their steep, barely-improved farm road of a driveway is a bit of a surprise.  The dining room appears to be a converted greenhouse, giving it a large formal dining room character rather than the intimacy of an inn.  It was also relatively empty this afternoon, an unexpected luxury when one is dining at a Beard-nominated restaurant.  There's an element of futility in trying to call out specific dishes when the entire menu is so dynamic and local, but here are my take-aways:

Cocktails: all winners.  There's a tendency towards sweetness, but the amaretto-driven "Sitting by the Campfire" is one of the best uses for blended Scotch that I've seen.  It's an absurdly simple cocktail, but I won't describe why it works so well...you'll just have to go and try one for yourself.  Pace yourself, though, as beverages can easily blow out your total cost.

Apps: all winners.  If you can only have one, and it's still available, let me suggest the oyster parfait.  Memorable.

Mains: I wish I could rave about these without reservations, but my reactions were a little more varied, with the dishes ranging from good to excellent.  Execution was outstanding, but some of the conceptualization didn't work for me.  I also felt like there was some sticker shock here (low-to-mid $30s) especially compared to the Ashby.  The smoked pork loin was entirely worth it.  The chicken and waffles, not as much.

The desserts, by sous-chef Nathan Shapiro, were knockouts that would have made many a specialized pastry chef proud.  Given an opportunity, I would stuff myself entirely with multiple orders of the pine needle genoise or the warm butter cake.

Overall, one of the most pleasurable meals I've had in the past 12 months, and a reminder that living way out in the MoCo 'burbs occasionally has its benefits when it takes me about the same time to drive to Patowmack Farm as it does to Bethesda or McLean.  And even though their normal dinner menu is prix fixe, during lunch one can build an all-star meal out of their a la carte selections without breaking the bank.  We'll definitely be going back.

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I will do a full write-up later, but I went here recently and it is one of the 10 best restaurants in the area, in my opinion.  Food, service and atmosphere were all amazing.

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astrid   

Was there recently for a special occasion meal and loved it.  I think the move to a working farm has improved Tarver King's range.  The ingredients and preps are more rustic and interesting.  A bit of refinement might have lost along the way, but the execution is still precise and exciting.  Really love the snacks and appetizers currently offered. 

The service was casual but quite good.  If you've been thinking of coming here, go now as the unseasonably cool temperatures right now are perfect for al fresco dinners here.  

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Joe H   

This is from Tom's chat in Wednesday's Washington Post. It is near the end of the Chat:

When is a reservation not a reservation? apparently not at your recently reviewed Restaurant at Patowmack Farm. Planning ahead to get together a group of people from diverse areas we made a reservation for Saturday brunch on Oct 11th through Open Table. I received a call from the restaurant saying that my reservation was cancelled because they were now hosting a wedding. Ended up negotiating a similar time for 2 weeks down the road but unfortunately some of my party can't make that date. So what is your take on a restaurant that ditches you for a bigger better deal.
 
I made a reservation five weeks in advance for four people on a Friday night in mid June through Open Table.  I got a call two weeks ahead that they had a private party and could not honor our reservation.  There was no offer of another date; rather this was just an employee doing their job and letting us know that the reservation that they already had for three weeks could not be honored.  Again, a Friday night in mid June.
 
Interesting to read that something similar happened to someone else.
 
I suspect that all reservations these days are only "tentative" until something better comes along at Patowmack Farm.

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Bart   

I'm surprised there's not more (any) outrage over this.  I know Tarver King* is darling among some on this board, but this seems beyond crazy**.  If a favorite wipping boy like Mike Isabella pulled this, I can only image the scorn that would come raining down.  I'd really like to try this place, but it's going to the bottom of my list beacuse of this.  It's just too far away and too pricey to roll the dice on getting bumped for a bigger fish.

* I've loved his cooking at the Ashby Inn so count me as a fan.

** It's possible that the chef had nothing to do with this and the decision was made for him, but still, it leaves a bad taste.

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DonRocks   

It's just too far away and too pricey to roll the dice on getting bumped for a bigger fish.

I'm not saying "I agree with it," but I definitely understand - it's because they're so far away that they can't risk having five covers on a Saturday afternoon in October when they could make thousands of dollars selling the place out for a wedding. This is far enough in advance where people can have their choice of any other restaurant in the area. I guarantee Patowmack Farm gets burned every weekend by people calling at 4 PM and saying, "We've decided not to make the drive." It's because of weddings like this that the restaurant remains open for the rest of us. This type of action happens routinely at restaurants all over - buyouts, where hapless managers are tasked with calling to cancel reservations. If the diners really rescheduled, the restaurant would do well to comp them a bottle of sparkling wine, or something similar.

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Bart   

Thanks for that perspective Don.  I can't believe people would pull that kind of stuff, but obviously they do all the time...........which is another in the long list of reasons of why I hate people.  :)

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Joe H   

I'm not saying "I agree with it," but I definitely understand - it's because they're so far away that they can't risk having five covers on a Saturday afternoon in October when they could make thousands of dollars selling the place out for a wedding. This is far enough in advance where people can have their choice of any other restaurant in the area. I guarantee Patowmack Farm gets burned every weekend by people calling at 4 PM and saying, "We've decided not to make the drive." It's because of weddings like this that the restaurant remains open for the rest of us. This type of action happens routinely at restaurants all over - buyouts, where hapless managers are tasked with calling to cancel reservations. If the diners really rescheduled, the restaurant would do well to comp them a bottle of sparkling wine, or something similar.

This is an interesting way to do business.  Cancelling reservations because something better comes along?  I didn't write about this when it happened but when I saw the note on Tom's Chat it told me that it IS their way of doing business.

I want to talk about how expensive this place now is:  $88.00 prix fixe.  $138.00 with the wine pairing.  That's $276 + Va Tax + 20% tip for a dinner that costs $350 for two.  But they cancelled us.  A restaurant which hosts a lot of special occasion dinners cancelling reservations because something better comes along.  Simply, I'm not going to gamble $350 on a dinner that they may or may not decide to serve us.  Especially if I am celebrating a birthday or anniversary.

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