Localvore and special occasion dining: Virginia’s Patowmack Farm[classic article]

Ever since I was little, I enjoyed celebrating special occasions at a gourmet restaurant. For my wedding anniversary this year, I requested to go to a place that had been on my mind for several years: Patowmack Farm. This fine dining establishment on the Potomac River in Loudon County, Virginia, is more relaxed in setting and ingredients than another Virginia gourmet restaurant, The Inn at Little Washington. You’ll definitely want to come a little earlier than your reservation time, to check out the barely groomed herb, vegetable and flower garden out back that supplies many of the restaurant’s needs, the sitting porch and the stunning views of the river and the adjoining state of Maryland. In clement weather, there are a few tables outdoors . . . be sure and reserve one, if that works out for you!

You pick from different prix-fixe menus, including a “grown” (mostly, but not entirely vegetarian) and “raised” (more meat centric). I picked the raised menu.

Dinner started with a yogurt chip with tomato hummus. It was sweet and savory at the same time, with a hint of spice. Alongside in a cute cast-iron skillet were pork cracklings with a strong umami flavor!

A snack of locally grown Cherokee popcorn and gougeres followed. The gougeres were very smoky, sweet, rich and salty all at once.

A fall salad was served . . . it’s what was in season! I’m more of a summer salad person, with the bright, lighter flavors. This was hearty: broccoli, barley and a few leafy greens, presented with a lardo vinaigrette made from duck fat and egg yolk. It had rich, substantial flavors.

Their bread service is fantastic! It seems like that should be a trivial matter, because that’s how most restaurants treat it. They make their own garlic butter and serve it alongside green tea salt. The butter was very rich.

Next came a pear soup, which might have been my favorite course. It was poured tableside. It was sweet, hot and rich, but a thinner texture. It has meaty lardon pieces and a salty sheep cheese.

An excellent beef filet was served with blue cheese sauce, kale and raw spinach.

Dessert came in a number of courses: first, came an individually presented tea chocolate. You pop the whole thing in your mouth at once — it’s lemon verbena and mint tea in a white chocolate sphere! I could go through a bunch of these. Then — very Virginia-ish — was “ham honey”, a sweet and salty cheese, peanuts and fig emulsion. This was followed by a mini candy course, fudgy. Finally, there was a lemon verbena macaron, caramel pate de fruit and a crisp cookie.

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