From all-American hot dogs in Berryville and childhood favorites in Washington to an 18th-century farm repurposed as a cutting-edge winery, and a wood-fire focused eatery in the mountains, four recently opened businesses in Hunt Country prove that old is new again. At Homespun, Old Farm Winery at Hartland, Patty O’s Café, and Sumac, respectively, local ingredients, historic lands, old-school hospitality, and a return to the oldest form of cooking take center stage resulting in unique experiences that shouldn’t be missed.
Written by Kaitlin Hill
Patty O’s Café
Celebrated chef Patrick O’Connell, the mastermind of three-star Michelin restaurant The Inn at Little Washington, offers a new, more casual experience at Patty O’s Café just across the street. The former gas station turned cozy bar, bakery, and dining room maintains all the excellence of The Inn at Little Washington in O’Connell’s childhood favorites including soups made from scratch, classic sandwiches, and bakery treats prepared by Chef Devin Bozkaya and Head Baker Christian Capo.
For lunch, the curried chicken salad on a house-made croissant is studded with currants and Virginia pecans and the liquid autumn soup is sweet, savory, perfectly seasoned, and elegantly served tableside.
Dinner offers an upscale O’Connell take on favorites like momma’s mammoth meatball with creamy garlic polenta or a decadent pan-roasted citrus lobster with grapefruit butter sauce and baby bok choy.
Saving room for dessert is a must with temptations like the famous butter pecan ice cream or a chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Or, stop by the bakery for expertly brewed coffee and a slice of carrot cake as a mid-day snack. “Chef Capo is so talented, and his carrot cake has been an absolute hit. On opening day, we could barely keep it on the Bakery’s shelf,” Chef Bozkaya says. The delicate chocolate and orange cookies are a tasty option too, for something on the lighter side.
Whether its lunch, dinner, or a coffee break, the quality of hospitality O’Connell is known for remains the same. The staff members are friendly and attentive as they weave through the living room-like dining room or light the heat lamps on the patio, making Patty O’s Café well worth the trip. “Guests can expect the same transformative experience that they get at The Inn, but in a very casual atmosphere. Patty O’s is meant to feel like a gathering place, or part of your weekly routine. The Inn at Little Washington is known as a place where theater and hospitality intersect, and Patty O’s certainly carries that tradition forward,” Bozkaya shares.
Patty O’s Cafe & Bakery
389 Main St., Washington, VA 22747
(540) 675 – 3801
All-natural and hyper-local is the name of the game at Homespun, a recently opened café on Berryville’s Main Street. The eatery is a new project from Forrest Pritchard of Smith Meadows Farm, just five miles down the road, showcasing his products in signature hot dogs, soups made from scratch, tempting paninis, and decadent sundaes. While the menu may appear limited, manager Manuel De La Rosa elevates the short list of offerings with creative combinations and homegrown ingredients. “The mission here is not to do anything too complicated. It’s just meant to be delicious. When starting with good ingredients, you don’t have to do much to it,” De La Rosa says.
The Old Smokey hot dog, a fan favorite, features Smith Meadows chili, bacon crumbles, and creamy coleslaw absolutely blanketing a grass-fed hot dog in an expertly toasted bun. And, Homespun gives a classic grilled ham and cheese sandwich a facelift with free-range smoked ham and locally made cheddar melted to perfection.
For dessert, try the Sweet Elephant cookie sundae with South Mountain Creamery vanilla soft serve from Middletown, Maryland, and Sweet Elephant sea salt chocolate chip cookies from just across the street. There’s hot fudge sauce swirled in there too, all served in a compostable and biodegradable bowl.
Guests of Homespun can also kick back with craft beers on tap and in bottles, or do a little shopping at the farm store which has seasonal kombuchas, Smith Meadows 100% grass-fed meats, local cheeses, and farm fresh eggs.
However, what takes Homespun to the next level are the better business practices that De La Rosa describes as “a lifestyle.” “We’re all about sustainability. We’re about community. We’re about keeping the money in the community. Everything we do here is either produced by us or we’re in collaboration with other vendors and other farms from around the area,” he says.
20 W Main St, Berryville, VA, 22611
(540) 955 – 7800
Old Farm Winery at Hartland
Jon Hickox, owner of the much-loved Winery at Bull Run, brings his unique blend of serious winemaking and love of local history to Old Farm Winery at Hartland in Aldie. Opened November 6, the new winery sits on a 35-acre property nestled between a stretch of Broad Run Creek and the Willowsford Conservancy. The outdoor bar offers views of the sprawling farmland, streaked with rows of newly planted vines and steeped in Loudon County and foxhunting history.
During the winery’s guided walking tours, guests can enjoy a glass of “Tally-Ho” white, a 2020 rosé, or a 2020 Meritage red, while exploring the grounds that date back to the 1700s and learning about the winemaking process along the way.
The original farmhouse, built in the 1800s, is still standing too. More than a stop on the tour, Hickox plans to preserve and renovate the farmhouse by next summer, making it the perfect place for special events. “When it’s done, it’ll be back to its original splendor, and I am excited to see how much joy that will bring to weddings, parties, and special events,” he says. “It’s really going to be a fantastic spot.” Members of the Founding Foxes Wine Club will enjoy access to the farmhouse’s members-only patio, in addition to waived reservation fees, exclusive wines, and events.
With nine wines already in the opening lineup, hard ciders, tours, and a space for private events on the horizon Old Farm Winery at Hartland has, as Hickox says, “A little bit of everything for everyone.”
Old Farm Winery at Hartland
23583 Fleetwood Rd, Aldie, VA 20105
(571) 899 – 4380
In Sperryville, Blue Ridge Mountain views and wood-fire cooking are drawing crowds to Sumac, a currently stationary mobile kitchen just behind Pen Druid Brewery. The concept is the brainchild of Abbey and Dan Gleason, with inspiration drawn from the Carney brothers of Pen Druid. “[The Carney brothers] asked if we had any ideas for a food concept. So, we built this tiny kitchen trailer on their land that is inspired by their land and their process,” Dan shared. Pen Druid describes the fermentation process as “wood-fired” and “spontaneous” – two perfect descriptors for the weekly rotating menu that the Gleasons serve out back.
While the wood-fired aspect is as obvious as the coils of smoke rising from the trailer, the spontaneous nature of the menu is down to, well, nature. “We go out with our staff on nature walks weekly and talk about what is inspiring us. What is inspiring the farmers?” Dan says. “[Our menu] is really based on the farmers…what they have growing or what they are excited about at the moment.”
Dan also draws ideas from teammates Stephen Wynne and Zach Allman. “They are also part of menu creation. It is all very collaborative,” says Dan. “Our research and development is constantly evolving.”
Past offerings like yaupon iced tea, a black tea-like beverage made from the native and wild yaupon holly, or poached rockfish with black walnuts, another native of Virginia, are the result of Sumac’s dedication to local ingredients and collaborative efforts. And the community has taken notice.
“We have been so delightfully surprised. People have been coming out, and the word has been spreading quickly,” Abbey says. “There are so many people supporting our food because it is locally sourced and it’s a from-scratch kitchen…It’s a new menu every week, so there is a little bit of excitement there.” And, with plans to roll out a tasting menu series to be enjoyed around a bonfire this winter, there is certainly more excitement to come from Sumac. ML
This article first appeared in the December 2021 Issue.