The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm: Smoked Beef Ribeye

Smoked Beef Ribeye

If you’re in need of an escape from all things urban – where sirens are replaced with the hum of bugs rubbing their wings together – we’ve got the prescription: The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, Va. It’s been on our bucket list for good reason: The setting is farm chic; the view is breathtaking; and when the plates hit the table, you’ll think about food in a new way. The man in the kitchen, Chef Tarver King, came to Patowmack Farm from The Ashby Inn. In his new setting, he’s laser-focused on squeezing every ounce of awesome from the ingredients that either come from the 40-acre farm, or from within 100 miles.

Only 11 acres, however, are sewn with crops in an organized fashion. The other 29 are wild, allowing King to forage for fun ingredients that don’t always make it onto most restaurants’ menus. These treasures keynote one of the restaurant’s three tasting menus – “Found.” There is also a “Grown” menu showcasing produce (but not vegetarian) and “Raised” featuring two and four-legged friends. We explored “Found,” and “Raised,” and can’t wait to go back for “Grown.”

Raised is responsible for The Best Thing on the Menu: Smoked Beef Ribeye with celeriac, stilton, beer & oat cracker and mulberry vinegar. Tender beef that barely shook hands with the pan is super smoky and marbled with just the right amount of fat. The meat hails from Martin’s Angus Beef in The Plains, Va., where the cattle dine only on grass and grain grown on the farm.

Oyster dish

A stunner from the “Found” menu was a bowl containing barnstable oysters, stinging nettles, buttered rice dashi, oyster mushrooms and chèvre. Stinging what? For years (okay, until today) we thought stinging nettles were in the squid family. Rather, it’s Europe’s poison ivy and we’re brazen enough to eat it. If prepared properly (we understand it involves careful blanching and shocking), the plant can have some medicinal benefits and the texture is quite fun. The dish as a whole tastes like briny oysters suspended in the best butter you’ve ever encountered. 

If you visit, try to get a few minutes with the owner, Beverly Morton. She bought the farm back in the 1980s with the humble goal of growing wholesome food for her kids. Over the years, she’s collected some fantastic stories, like when her live turkeys snuck down to a Thanksgiving feast to peer through the windows at their not so lucky friends.  “Hey Earl, is that you? You made the cut this year?” She jokes.

Click here for more pictures from the meal.

The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm is located at 42461 Lovettsville Rd, Lovettsville, VA.

You might also like Gypsy Soul, Blue Duck Tavern or Restaurant Nora.

Restaurant Nora: Beef Tenderloin Tartare

Restaurant Nora's Steak Tartare

When a maître d’ asks how I’d like my steak cooked, I always answer tartare. This usually warrants a laugh or a snarl, because no one likes an off-menu order, especially when it involves making a rare meat mush and folding in delicate herbs. So when I do find a nice tartare on the menu, I rarely (pun intended) pass it up.

After tartaring my way around the District, I have found the best version this city has to offer. It’s The Best Thing on the Menu at Restaurant Nora: Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin Tartare with preserved lemon salad, harissa and lavash crackers. Unlike other local takes on the dish, Restaurant Nora’s tartare is smooth in texture, making it easier to spread on crackers and stack on bites of salad. When steak tartare is as chunky as tuna tartare it can be off-putting. The other factor that makes this appetizer a stunner is the touch of Middle Eastern spices found in a delectable mahogany colored paste.

It’s not surprising that the grass fed cows participating in this dish lived  happy lives, given that Restaurant Nora holds the honor of being America’s first organic restaurant in the country (this went down in 1999).  The cattle (Scottish Highland or Ancient White Park) hail from Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, VA, where they avoid nasty habits like antibiotics and sitting in pens.

Nora's Hot Pot

Not a meat monster? Restaurant Nora has one of the more inspired vegetarian options I’ve seen in a while: A Japanese style nabe hot pot filled with shichimi crusted tofu, soba noodles, bok choy, shiitakes and crispy yams. This is precisely what I was eating when Ralph Nader walked by, so hopefully it made a good impression. …

Great news for Nora fans: This month, the restaurant is celebrating their 35th anniversary. Not too many places can say THAT these days! Head in on any Wednesday in March to enjoy a special  “retro” 3-course menu for $35. Give them a call for more information. 

Beef Tenderloin Tartare not your BTM? Share your favorites in the comments section.