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Rail Stop - Chef-Owner Tom Kee's Train-Themed Restaurant on Main Street in The Plains


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Sunday evening found us at the Rail Stop Restaurant in The Plains, following a tasting at Chrysalis Vineyards and a stroll through Middleburg. Lacking a reservation, we were seated in the less formal, but cozy, front room. I was a little concerned about how dinner would go, as our dining companions were my SO’s parents who were visiting and previous attempts to impress/please had been less than successful (how could they not like Ray’s?!),

Well, it turned out to be a very good meal, even if the service was on the slow side and a bit scattered. We started with a few shared appetizers:

A special of seared tuna on a soba noodle salad – the piece of tuna was smallish, but flavorful. The noodles were a bit too cold – room temp would have been better – but fresh and tender. Also, Duck spring rolls with a raspberry sauce – the wrapper was more egg roll than spring roll but the shredded duck filling was tender and full of flavor.

The mains were a hit (except for one but that was due to a lack of attention paid to the description) and 3 of the 4 were fish. I had the halibut served with a mushroom risotto and asparagus. This had to have been some of the most perfectly cooked fish I’ve had in a long time. It came out piping hot, moist, and delicious. The same could be said for the grilled salmon, served on a bed of vegetables, and the mackerel fillet special, served over a cioppino that included trout and a few other seafood treats. Somebody in that kitchen really knows how to cook fish!

The only dish that left someone disappointed was another special – smoked chicken and fettucine (both the chicken smoked, and pasta made, in-house) with vegetables and garlic oil. The recipient had failed to note the garlic oil in the description and was expecting a more traditional sauce. The bite I had was very good – the chicken had a great flavor and wasn’t the least bit dry and the pasta was fantastic.

We wrapped things up with the homemade mixed berry tart and, MM-MM-MM, they were good! Hot and topped with a crispy crumble, the blueberries were huge and sweet and the strawberries weren’t bad either.

The only quibble was that there was a very long pause between being seated and ordering drinks and again between the apps and the entrees. I didn’t mind but the men in the party were beginning to get restless :P

My only other visit was for lunch a couple years ago, but I do remember the chili was very good and I had the added excitement of a Robert Duvall sighting. He sat at the table in front of mine and I had a hard time trying not to stare too much! :lol:

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My beloved wants to take a drive out to Middleburg this Saturday, and stop for lunch in the town. I've been to the Red Fox Inn, but about 2 years ago for dinner. And 15 years ago I had lunch at the Coach Stop. OK, so I don't get out that way much. Has anyone been there recently, and what did you like or dislike out there?

Hunters Head is an option....But after your drive head on over to The Plains Virginia. It is a short but beautiful drive from Middleburg. Make reservations at The Rail Stop. The food is more than good, the wine list sometimes surprises. The Plains is a great little destination in and of itself. They have little shops also, and great characters! You might even run into Duvall himself! (It is his favorite resto.)

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We hit up The Rail Stop on Friday night when we were down at a B&B in The Plains for a winter wine weekend. Service was good, if somewhat indifferent, and the food was decent, but not spectacular.

We started out by splitting the Warm Spinach Salad (sautéed mushrooms, smoked bacon, goat cheese & balsamic vinaigrette) which was tasty, but nothing out of the ordinary.

I had the Pan Seared Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops (with a Crispy Potato Cake, Micro Greens, & Tomato Basil Butter) which was certainly a great idea for a dish, but the scallops were a little overcooked and ended up sort of tough. I could hardly taste the prosciutto at all despite seeing large pieces wrapped around each scallop, The crispy potato cake was probably the best part of the dish, well-seasoned and crunchy.

My boyfriend had what we considered the best dish of the weekend (after a disappointing meal at Girasole on Saturday night). He had Slow Roasted Pork (with Jasmine Rice, Cuban Black Beans, Fried Plaintains and a Salsa Verde) that was an enormous portion but was all delicious. Sometimes rice and black beans can be sort of blah, but these had great flavor and were especially punched up with the seasoned pork and salsa verde. Very good dish all around.

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New Foodie: Can you expound on your disappointment at Girasole? We were thinking about trying it for V-Day.

It wasn't bad, per se, but I think we were just expecting more, especially for the price point. The restaurant itself is nice, if quite dimly lit inside, but that certainly lends to the romantic side. Looks like they have some nice outdoor dining areas too, but of course it was too cold for that in January.

The calamari we had to start was actually the best part of the meal. They were lightly breaded and crispy without being greasy and were well-seasoned. Probably the best iteration of this dish I have had in a while and a good portion to split between two people.

My boyfriend had the Cotoletta di Vitello Valdostana (breaded veal with ham and fontina cheese) that was a fairly large serving of veal. However, the ham didn't lend much flavor to the dish, nor did the breading on the veal. The spinach served underneath was quite good though and maybe the best part of the dish. I had one of the specials which was an ox tail ravioli served in broth. This was also a generous serving, but somewhat bland.

In one of the odder moments, my glass of Prosecco was served with small pieces of something that seemed like a soft cheese floating on top.

As I reflect on it, again, it wasn't that the food was bad, just that we had for some reason been expecting more after hearing good things about the restaurant. Maybe we ordered wrong?

ETA: In retrospect we thought it might have been a sign that at the 7 wineries we went to over the weekend where we mentioned that we had eaten at the Rail Stop on Friday and were planning on Girasole on Saturday, everyone knew about the Rail Stop, but maybe 2 people had even heard of Girasole.

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Wow, it's been quite a while since anyone has posted about The Rail Stop!

I was in last weekend, and The Rail Stop remains a solid, if unspectacular place to dine in Hunt Country. I'd recommend dining in the "bar room", which is to say the front room when you walk in (with a view into the kitchen) - it's far more lively and some spots have a nice view of the open kitchen.

Started with the warm calamari salad, which was lightly dressed with olive oil. It was fine - could have used some more salt. The rest of our table split the duck rolls, which were very good - not greasy and with a judicious use of the hoisin sauce.

Three of us had lamb loin with soft polenta and green beans for dinner, and our fourth had a short rib ravioli. Each order of lamb was correctly cooked to temperature (Medium Rare, Rare and Medium). The lamb was seasoned correctly and plated with a demi-glace and the polenta and green beans were nice. As mentioned earlier, solid, but certainly not breaking any new culinary ground.

The ravioli, however, was fantastic. House made and packed with short-rib and fontina cheese, served with a light tomato sauce and additional short rib shredded on top. Not the most visually appealing plate of food (lots of brown/ red), but excellent and compared favorably with the best of Girasole's house made pasta down the street.

There are certainly more exciting places to dine, even in Hunt Country. But for those of us living out here, there is some comfort in the fact that you can run out and get a solid meal in a room filled with neighbors and people you know.

Wine list is abysmal, BTW. Drink beer here.

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