9245 Rogues Road
Casanova, VA 22728
PRICE $$$$ (Over $31)
HOURS Open for lunch, Saturday, dinner, Thursday through Saturday; Sunday brunch.
NVM AWARDS None
NEARBY METRO None
By Warren Rojas
Just about everyone would love to be king for a day. Tragically, there seems to be an acute shortage of available castles here in the Commonwealth. Unless you count the palatial Manor House restaurant at the Poplar Springs Inn, a curious, boutique-style retreat located just south of Warrenton.
The striking fieldstone exterior of the Manor House gives the entire place the air of a crumbling European stronghold, a grandiose illusion embellished by a scenic drive up a winding, tree-lined path, a brief jaunt across a cobblestone bridge and the final arrival into a gaping courtyard. The two-story main dining room features towering stone walls, twin balconies which look out onto the roughly dozen tables, pretty stained glass windows inlaid with historic-looking crests and coats of arms, a massive stone fireplace and an ornate tapestry that looks like a remnant from the Canterbury Tales.
The wonderfully diverse menu, however, is much more modern.
Patrons can choose from a three-($65) or four-course ($72) program which often combines old favorites with some truly adventurous additions. A snappy Smithfield ham puff (ham wrapped in phyllo and twisted into a bite-sized pretzel) and a huge, blue Hawaiian shrimp swimming in a bubbly foam get things rolling in the right direction one night. Likewise, a Virginia Kobe beef tartar— very interesting, although the texture takes a little getting used to—gets paired with oyster mushrooms stacked atop sliced onions and diced chanterelles, all soaked in a pungent vinaigrette. A mixed bag of bitter greens, brown sugar-dusted goat cheese and spiced pecans balances itself out nicely. An order of lobster and potato bisque is warming and bears huge hunks of rich lobster meat. The braised veal cheek proves stunning, depositing the fleshy meat on a bed of spice-infused noodles. A portion of grilled venison almost gets lost in a forest of delicacies including crisp brussel sprouts (a solid accompaniment), a pistachio-encrusted gratin (the mixture of pressed potatoes, chopped nuts and melted cheese was laborious at first, but quite pleasing in the end) and a bittersweet Venezuelan chocolate sauce. The more familiar rack of Colorado lamb is less ambitious, but still completely satisfying; the expertly grilled meat remains juicy and flavorful and comes dressed with mounds of whipped sweet potatoes. Later on, the seemingly ubiquitous Venezuelan chocolate resurfaces as a lip-smacking “hint of mint” creation featuring a thin layer of sponge cake encircling a plume of creamy mousse that is as refreshing as it is sinfully decadent.
The affable restaurant manager spends most evenings tending to the tables himself. And although the royal treatment is much appreciated, the system breaks down from time to time (paying the check can prove difficult if your departure coincides with the arrival of multiple tables or a large party).