Awhile back, my friend Jeanne Wesley, sent me an article from the Virginian Pilot entitled “30 places to eat in Virginia before you die” (http://hamptonroads.com/food/711606/2014/03/03-30-places-eat-virginia-you-die). I confessed that I had not tried all of them, only about eight but I vowed to try to sample more being the foodie that I am. So with fork in hand, I am now focused and dedicated to rectifying this omission in my life. Please note, the authors noted that they did not focus upon that dining mecca, Northern Virginia, which left out obviously The Inn at Little Washington and Chez Francois.
So, with my objective in mind, it was decided that when traveling to Birmingham for Thanksgiving a stop would be necessary in Abington, Virginia, which conveniently is located almost exactly between our home and my brother’s farm in Alabama. The destination was The Martha Washington Inn and Spa (TheMartha.com), a lovely place in Southwest Virginia. The Martha (as they prefer to be called) is home to Sisters At the Martha, one of the 30 restaurants I, of course, needed to explore. Sisters, it must be said, would not wow you with glitz and glamour. It is, an American Grill, in a hotel after all. But the food and service more than make up for its lack of atmosphere. I ordered the salmon on risotto that was done perfectly. Brenda ordered the smoked salmon on flatbread which exceeded expectations. Plus our waitress, Chrissy, was attentive and helpful. In short, very good experience after 5 hours on the road. Here are some pics to prove my point:
I would be remiss if I did not say a few words about The Martha. The Martha was built in 1832 (for $15,000 if you can believe it) and it served as a retirement home for General Robert Preston. It took its name from the time it served as Martha Washington College, whence the name The Martha. Here is an excerpt from the the website about The Martha’s history.
“For a period of time the facility was used to house actors and actresses appearing at the Barter Theatre across the street. Patricia Neal, Ernest Borgnine, and Ned Beatty are but a few of the prominent actors who began their career here… all of whom have later returned to visit The Martha. The Barter Theatre is today known as the longest-running professional resident theatre in America.
In 1935, The Martha Washington opened as a hotel and throughout the years has hosted many illustrious guests. Eleanor Roosevelt, President Harry Truman, Lady Bird Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and Elizabeth Taylor are counted among the many famous guests who have frequented the hotel. Fortunately, much of the inn’s historic charm, antiques and architectural detail were preserved, even though its future was at times uncertain.”
So, would I return, or make a special trip. Maybe, for Abington is home to The Barter Theater which offers wonderful plays throughout the year (www.bartertheater.com) and the Virginia Creeper Trail (vacreepertrail.com) Barter began during the depression (1933) and put on plays only asking for patrons to pay with a donation of vegetables, or 40 cents. The Virginia Creeper Trail is a reclaimed railroad path traversing from Abington to the North Carolina border for 35 miles. It is open to hikers, bikers, and horses. So, on second thought, I do plan to return, perhaps meet my brother and his wife Joy for a weekend as it is conveniently located betwixed and between our homes.