The Greater Williamsburg region in southern Virginia is the birthplace of America and where the American food movement — first gardens, vineyards, free range, Chesapeake-to-table and even first brewed beer — all started. That food movement continues today as the symbiotic partnerships between the area’s chefs, watermen, vintners and farmers incorporate only the freshest, local ingredients into menus resulting in innovative cuisine that likes to challenge traditional fare. Tourists flock here to get a mouthwatering taste of what’s making one of America’s oldest gastronomic destinations also one of the newest. In effect, Williamsburg is a portal to the American heritage and offers much more than a taste of place. Dining here is to know and appreciate food and drink from land cultivated for generations on family farms, in restored 18th-century gardens and from vibrant local waters.
Chowning’s Tavern, designed as an 18th-century ale house that serves colonial-inspired pub fare. Guests can choose from delectable Shepherd’s Pye and satisfying dishes served on hearth-baked bread trenchers, complemented by a local craft beer in a traditional salted mug. A classic Ploughman’s Platter features Virginia ham, a staple of the area’s food scene, along with country sausage, sharp white cheddar cheese, boiled egg, pickled onion, gherkins, roasted golden beets and bread. We capped off the meal with a generous portion of creamy southern chocolate pecan pie featuring American Heritage Chocolate.
Dog lovers and other hungry tourists will want to experience the festive atmosphere at the Hound’s Tale Restaurant where zany photos of man’s best friend adorn the walls. Offering tasty bites that range from comfort foods with a twist to dishes that evoke memories of travels abroad, The Hound’s Tale is the brainchild of Don and Geri Pratt, who also own Aromas coffeehouse and bakery in three locations throughout the region. Executive chef Steven Sowell, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Arts Institute, honed his culinary skills at restaurants in New York City before returning home to Williamsburg to helm the kitchen at the Hound’s Tale. His personal interpretations of such underappreciated foods as Brussels sprouts are drawing rave reviews from boththe local clientele and the tourist population. These are not your run-of-the-mill Brussels sprouts. Sowell’s sprouts are fried in soy bean oil and tossed with kosher salt and cracked blackpepper. He makes a tomato sauce with plum tomatoes stewed with pepper flakes, oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaves, garlic and onions. They are then simply milled though a food mill and cooked. An aioli on top is made with egg yolks, oil, anchovies, lemon juice, parsley, chives, Tabasco, grated pecorino and garlic. He adds additional grated pecorino to the top. The result is a culinary delight that bursts with a wonderfully complex flavor combination of pleasing acidity and savory spices.
Tourists can choose from an array of accommodations ranging from quaint B&Bs to opulent hotels or luxurious resorts. The Kingsmill Resort stands high on the list. Kingsmill is a sprawling condominium resort that straddles the historic James River. Located off I-64 between Richmond and Norfolk, Kingsmill lies on 2,099 protected acres and features 400 guest rooms and condos that offer a casual elegance. Renowned as Virginia’s largest golf resort and home to the Kingsmill Championship LPGA tournament, Kingsmill boasts three 18-hole championship golf courses, 15 tennis courts, three pools and a lazy river.
Drawing inspiration from locally sourced cuisine, Executive Chef Justin Dallinger oversees five restaurants, each with a distinctive flavor and flare. Offering panoramic views of stunning sunsets, the James Landing Grille presents a selection of regional and sustainable seafood and fresh farm vegetables when in season. The resort’s signature restaurant Elements 1010 boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that offer resplendent vistas of the river with its sailing vessels and fishing boats. Begin your dinner with tuna tartare or shrimp tempura with Thai chili sauce, followed by New Zealand rack of lamb chops or pan seared Chesapeake sea bass.
Greater Williamsburg beckons travelers who desire a time travel experience that is beholden to the past but with an eye on the future. The same can be said of its many culinary options.