36205 Snake Hill Road
Middleburg, VA 20117
CUISINE International, Southern, Modern American
PRICE $$$$ (Over $31)
HOURS Open for dinner Wednesday through Monday, brunch Sunday.
NVM AWARDS Best Restaurant 2010
Best Restaurant 2011
Best Restaurant 2012
NEARBY METRO None
SPECIAL FEATURESAccepts Credit Cards
By Warren Rojas
Food: 8.2 Ambiance: 8.3 Service: 8.1
The space looks largely the same—dozen or so tables overlooking a sylvan scene from their lodge-like perch—as it did during previous visits.
But once I crack the menu, it’s clear the Goodstone kitchen now serves a new master.
Though he abides by the same farm-to-table doctrine embraced by many of his Best Restaurants peers, executive chef William Walden remains wedded to the classic French cuisine that’s defined his culinary career.
So while produce and proteins may come from the Goodstone grounds, they’ll only reach your table after Walden has transported them to Provence, Alsace or Burgundy.
An engaging tart gurgles molten Gruyere and caramelized onion from every puff pastry-wrapped seam.
Chive butter and caper-studded mustard work their magic on crab-stuffed salmon.
Succulent vegetables and fruit (extra-tart pineapple) soak up a massaman-style curry sweetened by coconut milk but inflamed by spice.(August 2009)
By Warren Rojas
“I couldn’t even remember what you said was in that, but it was delicious,” a deliriously satisfied diner admitted to her server after polishing off another of the painstakingly crafted flavor puzzles put forward by Goodstone’s corps of sensory goosing toques.
Executive chef Tarver King (last seen at South Carolina’s much-lauded Woodlands Inn) leads a culinary brain trust that includes fellow gastronauts: Nathan Shapiro (Inn at Little Washington), Steve Forte (Woodlands Inn), Sheree McDowell (Woodlands Inn) and Leslie Cooksey (Blackberry Farm).
Add in the encyclopedic wine knowledge of food and beverage manager Neal Wavra—a soft-spoken grape hound who doesn’t bore you with dusty viticultural lore so much as spin yarns about the unsung producers behind each glass of handcrafted bliss he pours—and you’ve got a culinary super group that lives to rock patrons’ worlds.
The kitchen applies far-out thinking to locally raised foodstuffs, a progressive cooking program that often yields eyebrow-raising reinterpretations as beautiful as they are delicious.
A deep-fried risotto ball puts the taste buds on high alert, courtesy of a bracing vinegar wash (arreverdici, regular arancini).
Toasty yeast rolls are escorted by smoked sea salt and artisan spreads (wakame-laced butter displayed an anchovy-like bite; whipped lardo was a frothy delight).
“Glad we could awaken the palate for you,” one server interjected as the dining room buzzed up with gasps and squeals.
Whole radishes—their ruddy roots creeping across the plate—trade the garden for the company of a disarmingly refreshing white vinegar sorbet, grated egg yolk, candied miso (a crunchy-gummy delight) and pistachio dust.
Salsify gets smoked and brown sugar-cured before spending time with pleasing smears of liquefied Medjool dates and a taut vinegar-miso reduction.
The locavore movement meets the prehistoric equivalent of slow cooking in a custom steak creation composed of hand-carved slabs of Goodstone beef—the 265-acre estate is currently home to cattle, lamb, swine and Rhode Island red chickens. King says they’re working on adding ducks and rabbits to the fold—flash-seared atop oven-baked creek rocks.
According to staff, the hot stone-as-meal-finisher concept was sparked by a conversation with local winemaker Chris Pearmund about the cooking habits of New Zealand’s indigenous Maori. A tip of the hat to all those involved in bringing the sizzling spectacle to fruition, as few meals are its equal in terms of execution (the velvety meat arrives wrapped in malted steak sauce and escorted by pickled carrots, whipped potatoes and mustard greens fried till just shy of crackling) and entertainment (the ardent hiss as each steak is introduced to the radiating stones quickly fades into a shallow sigh as meat and heat come to terms).
Desserts often reside much lower on the mercury scale but want not for creativity, as evidenced by an Amarula Cream-infused stunner topped with passion fruit caviar (sunburst orange beads of reconditioned roe are tangy-sweet and wonderfully tantalizing) and air-puffed chocolate crisps (divine).