We just got back from a road trip to South Eastern Tennessee for my brother's wedding. Why drive 6 hours you ask? Because the nearest major airport to our destination was 2.5 hours away. And then you end up with layovers that equal the same amount of time driving (but with a multi hundred dollar flight). So anyway, we spent a lot of time driving from Northern Virginia south, and the only way to really make that better is with food.
I packed snacks but as soon as we heard where my brother's wedding was going to be, I started keeping notes about anything well rated between here and South East Tennessee that wouldn't take us on too much of a detour. Problem number one was that the further we headed south the fewer places that were open on Sunday. But above anywhere we considered or stopped, one place has been on our really important must eat list for years: The Shack.
The Shack is in Staunton, Virginia and run by chef Ian Boden. The Shack has 26 chairs and is tiny and, let's not mince words here, slightly shitty on the inside. Except for the fact that it was named "one of the South's best restaurants 2014" or "one of the best new restaurants 2014" or the fact that the chef is a James Beard nominee. Looks can be deceiving. You would 100% drive by it if you weren't looking.
Maybe one of the best things about the Shack is the chef makes a new menu everyday. You get what you get from the menu and I like that level of trust. You go to a restaurant for their expertise, right? So trust them. The ingredients are also really well curated and blended. It's not a strictly Southern restaurant. Sure, you see biscuits and ham and grits in these images but if you look closer you're seeing duck tostada and black garlic mayo and yogurt (okay it's sumac yogurt but still). While this meal was definitely heavy I'm glad we ordered the variety we did. And thank God for that muscadine grape dish (a favorite and also: vegetables). Here's what we got:
- Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
- Spicy carrots and muscadines-brussels sprouts-broccoli-sumac yogurt
- Beef Burger-cheddar-pickled tomato-black garlic mayo
- Duck Tostada- tomato gravy-charred tomatillo-jalapeño sour cream-fried egg-cilantro
- Smoked Chipped Ham on Toast with Pimento Cheese Grits
- We over-ordered to try multiple things.
Price point wise we got out spending under $100 including tip and it was worth it. Everything was great for a brunch menu. Everything was delicious. While we did have definite favorites (again, that muscadine grape dish), it makes me just curious to come back and do dinner in the hopes of more veggie less egg centric dishes.
If you happen to find yourself smack in the middle of Virginia, I highly, highly recommend the Shack and you can now make reservations on their website! Just remember the interstate 81 traffic.
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.