Haute Dining in Rural Virginia
A Blue Ridge hamlet with only one stoplight and a two-block downtown is now home to a rising culinary star.
Plucky Virginia restaurateurs Tom and Kyra Bishop and two gifted Chicago cooks are luring foodies to the tiny town of Chilhowie, in southwestern Virginia, with Town House. There, the Alinea-trained chef John B. Shields (who opted for the scenic highlands over a position at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant in Las Vegas) turns out haute-country cuisine that emphasizes unexpected flavor combinations and delicate architectural presentation, such as locally raised lamb cooked in ash, accompanied by a black-garlic marmalade. Pastry chef Karen Urie Shields matches the drama with sweet-savory creations like “purple mountains”—pointy dollops of frozen Greek yogurt “peaks” with anise seeds and sesame oil. The team’s nearby hotel, Riverstead, offers two guest rooms for overnight stays. The 1903 farmhouse has been decorated with period furnishings, and the expansive master baths have claw-foot soaking tubs. Though Chilhowie is remote—the closest city is Roanoke, 90 minutes away—this is destination dining at its rural best. Dinner for two $100; Riverstead doubles from $395, including dinner.