The delights of fresh local foods and small town charm
By Ginger Warder
What could be more relaxing on the weekend than a leisurely and scenic drive through the country and a sumptuous brunch in one of Virginia’s most charming small towns? Nestled in the Piedmont River Valley, Culpeper’s historic downtown district is eminently walkable and is filled with eclectic boutiques, antique shops, gourmet food purveyors and a bounty of local restaurants where you can enjoy a decadent brunch in a Roaring 20’s-inspired restaurant, a literal farm-to-fork breakfast or classic Southern favorites.
Start your day with some local coffee at Raven’s Nest Coffee House or 18 Grams Coffee Lab. Raven’s Nest calls itself the community living room and features an array of brews from Cappuccinos, Lattes and Espresso to beers, ciders and kombucha on tap, as well as specialty drinks like Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and Bellini’s that pair perfectly with brunch items like quiche, avocado toast and ham, egg and cheese croissants. 18 Grams Coffee Lab—so named for their scientific belief that 18 grams of coffee makes the perfect espresso—offers an array of seasonal epicurean toasts from traditional avocado toast to berry ricotta and almond butter banana berry. Try the tenderloin on their signature sourdough, a curry chicken croissant or one of their homemade baked goods.
On Sundays, take a step back in time to the 1920’s at Flavor on Main for Prohibition-era cocktails like a Bees Knees or Gin Rickey in an Art Deco-inspired space with hand-painted tin ceilings, button-tufted banquettes and framed photos of Jazz-era greats. Classic American favorites from chicken and waffles and biscuits and gravy sit side-by-side on the menu with Continental specialties including Croque Madame, crepes and Eggs Benedict. Likewise, the creative cocktails range from Peach Bellini’s and Bloody Mary’s to the house special Blood and Sand—a Bloody Mary with a fried chicken strip, shrimp and bacon in addition to the standard celery and olive garnish.
A local favorite for its convivial atmosphere and award-winning burgers, Grill 309 offers brunch on both Saturdays and Sundays with some intriguing options including steak & egg tacos and breakfast poutine—home fries topped with cheddar cheese curds, sausage gravy and eggs. With an array of omelets, along with French Toast, Eggs Benedict and the classic Southern chicken & waffles, there’s sure to be something to please every palate.
For a true farm-to-fork experience—and to take home some of the finest local ingredients in the area—stop by the Moving Meadows Farm & Bakery and watch the flour being ground in the Austrian stone grist mill in the front window for the freshest bread you’ll ever taste! Almost every ingredient in the store is from the family farm, just five miles from downtown. From humanely pasture-raised meats to seasonal soups, chicken salad sandwiches on homemade bread, cinnamon buns and granola, you’ll know exactly where your food has come from, with the added bonus of being able to take home farm-fresh chicken, beef, eggs, bread or whole grain pancake mix. Virginia Wine & Country Life offers a collection of delicious local ingredient recipes by Virginia chefs paired with local drinks sure to inspire you in your home kitchen too.
Ginger Warder is a writer based in Richmond, Virginia and a member of the Society of American Travel Writers. She contributes regularly to Ivy Life & Style Media, publishers of the elegant Virginia Wine & Country Life, as well as their specialty titles on luxury weddings in Virginia Wine Country and the finest Virginia wineries.