Nancy Stewart, from The Livery Tavern, says the idea was: What would you have here 100 years ago? Oysters from Virginia — fried, baked or raw. Boar sausage, ground on site and served with other local meats aboard their Huntsman Platter. Pork belly with hash. Quail, sweetbreads, homemade cheese. Bone-in ribeye, local trout, or even meatloaf with foie gras.
The community, she says, is educated and artistic, and cares from where their food comes. Locals bring in baskets of beautiful Morel mushrooms. Ramps in season. Fiddlehead ferns.
“Farm-to-Table means richer, real and varied colors,” Nancy says. “You might see a twenty-first century huntsman come in, carrying a basket of leeks to sell.”
At the Livery, amid hand-worked black walnut and local stonework, you’ll enjoy local vegetables or bread, duck eggs when they can get them, locally raised goat or lamb and other treats. Then sit beneath their handmade wine racks and enjoy a goat cheese ice cream you won’t soon forget.
Maybe, in the area to catch a concert at the Greenbrier Valley Theatre, you stop into Stardust, because you’ve read reviews like, “After the first experience we booked and ate there 5 nights in a row,” or, “We chose this restaurant because of the great reviews in Trip Advisor. If anything, it exceeded the ratings.”
Choices include locally raised burgers, Italian ices, fair trade coffees, salads like the popular “Trust Me,” “Not Pasta” (made with fresh zucchini and then topped with marinara and ricotta or Italian sausage). Of course, there are local steaks, grilled chicken, pork shank, and “The Veggie Dream” (basmati, feta, artichokes and tomatoes in a creamy curry sauce).
Down the road at the Smooth Ambler, it’s “Grain-to-Glass,” since all their corn and wheat come from a local farmer, hand-selected, brought in whole, and ground just before it’s put into the mash tank. After the first run on the still, the leavings, rich in protein, are picked up by another farmer, and used to feed his livestock.
Grain-to-Glass means more control over consistency and quality, as with the botanicals they bring in whole — the juniper, the cardamom, black pepper — then grind fresh.
Visiting their sampling room, you might walk out with a bottle of their Old Stout Bourbon, Smooth Ambler Barrel Aged Gin, or a box of Chocolate Caramel Bourbon Balls, made by West Virginia confectioner Holls Chocolate (with Smooth Ambler spirits).