Flint Hill Public House – Food. Spirit. Wine. Lodging.
Public houses date back to Roman times, but we needn’t travel through time to reach one of the finest. Just jump on 66 W. to Marshall on route 17, take the meandering Virginia Scenic Byway of 647, also known as Crest Hill Road, to 522, take a right, and you’re there.
Flint Hill Public House Restaurant & Country Inn is situated in a historic schoolhouse on a 5-acre estate in rolling Rappahannock County. A charming miniature gatehouse at the entrance, set among a garden of hydrangeas, Russian sage, roses, and daisies, will graciously welcome you home.
The Texas Longhorn sculpture out front is a nod to the many neighboring fields of Black Angus grazing in fields and cooling off in ponds beneath the Blue Ridge. Guests enjoy a “changing landscape of works of art” through the proprietors’ connection to one of Washington DC’s top 10 art galleries, Long View Gallery.
Four high-ceilinged luxury suites, newly renovated by innovative Washington, DC architect Ernesto Santalla, display eye-catching museum-illuminated art. Sink deep into the luxury king bed and gaze upon the tall trees which rise to your window. Muted shades of taupe evoke a sense of calm. Reed diffusers and a rainforest showerhead add tranquil touches to the bath.
Sip a cocktail in the contemporary, stylized pub adorned with original classic movie posters. Chef Nate Myers sources from neighboring farms and Flint Hill’s own kitchen garden for a garden-to-plate dinner in one of the chic dining rooms. In fine weather, opt to dine al fresco under the tent to the music of the Backyard Live Music Series.
Start off the morning to cheerful birdsong in the red-planked, open hexagonal apple-tree nook with Flint Hill’s hearty breakfast, including flavorful applewood-smoked bacon, eggs, fried potatoes, and toast. Loll away quiet moments in the shade in the hammock as your eyes turn toward the mountains. Suddenly you’re energized to take to the road. Roll down the windows, open the sunroof, and you’re off!
Flint Hill Public House
675 Zachary Taylor Hwy
Flint Hill, VA 22627
The spectacularly scenic Shenandoah National Park with the serpentine Skyline Drive along its crest, (conveniently accessible via the 211 Thornton Gap entrance,) encompasses the Blue Ridge Mountains along the entire western border of Rappahannock County. Many time-tested trails, including the main route to legendary Old Rag Mountain, start in Rappahannock.
Wineries abound in Rappahannock. Picnic at Little Washington Winery with its picture-perfect mountain views, ponder life by the pond at Quièvremont, or play bocce on the regulation courts at Gadino Cellars, which recently celebrated their twelfth anniversary in grand style with a groovy British revival band.
Just beyond the bend, Sperryville Historic District is a quiet village with its artists’ galleries, the quirky Wild Roots Apothecary, industrial Pen Druid Brewery and rustically charming Copper Fox Distillery, aptly situated on River Lane which backs to the briskly flowing Thornton River.
But just outside Sperryville, don’t miss Roy’s Orchard & Fruit Market, a wonderful, eclectic, one-of-a-kind country store. Just go six-tenths of a mile up the hill and head toward nostalgia. Roy and Janet’s remarkably responsible eleven-year-old grandson, Jacob Geer, will give you the full tour of the place – which includes a fridge-full of Grandma’s home-made pies and cobblers! For the freshest nectarines, peaches, and berries in the summer and apples, cider, and pumpkins in the fall, this is definitely the place to be. You can even pick your own! Stock up on jams, jellies, and local honey galore. Just remember–bring cash! Roy and Janet must be proud and delighted that their capable young grandson can be trusted to follow in their footsteps–to bring the best of yesterday into tomorrow for us all.
Roy’s Orchard & Fruit Market | 64 Old Hollow Rd
Christine Bangert, who loves to escape to her bucolic farm, describes Rappahannock as “a lot like Napa Valley 20 years ago, just much greener, organic, and more beautiful.”
Griffin Tavern & Restaurant
Just two doors down is the butter-yellow painted, green-shuttered Griffin Tavern. Step onto the wraparound porch, where you can dine comfortably, even in the rain. Convivial owner Debbie Donehey has been welcoming and replenishing wandering wayfarers for the last 14 years. She aims to create community with events like the enjoyable and challenging trivia night on Thursdays. Sit back with a crisp Susquehanna Hefeweizen and try to topple the cerebrally commanding Poe Folks or Bricks in the Wall.
www.griffintavern.com | 540.675.3227
Keep an eye peeled for when Hypnotic Willie, is playing in the pub with its unique mix of roots, Americana, soul, blues, funk, and classic rock. They play with a “gritty, honest, and intimate style that invites folks to join the party.” Indeed, they rocked allipallooza 2016 as well, with Jeremy Shanahan of W.T. Woodson High School rockin’ the cajon. They say Willie’s hypnotic potion will cure whatever is ailing you.
Head Chef Rachel Rowland was formerly sous-chef at the renowned Four & Twenty Blackbirds. She enthusiastically states, “I love my job, I love my boss, and I love this team that we have built. I’m over the rainbow.” As it should be.
The cuisine is described as “pub fare with flair” – and it hits the mark. The menu reminds us, “Good food takes time and love.” In keeping with the theme, the wifi password is goodfood. And good food it is.
Consistently “a tavern favorite” according to trusty bartender Eric, the smoked salmon potato skins of love consist of fried russet potato skins with cold-smoked, Ducktrap salmon, bacon, green goddess (tarragon, dill, parsley, garlic, mayo, lemon juice, and anchovies,) shaved red onion, capers, and love! DC visitor Tiffany Delisio noted, “Most people go for the rote, but these people went for the subtle one-off,” referring to the light touch of tarragon.
British and American flags adorn the entrance to this rustically elegant 1843 country home. Hence, British offerings include shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, fish ’n’ chips, and a Ploughman’s platter, featuring a cleverly varied spread of Heritage Hollow Farm garlic bratwurst, Virginia Chutney Company’s spicy plum chutney, and Welsh Red Dragon cheese, accompanied by a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and grilled bread.
One very popular selection is the grilled 16 oz. black angus ribeye. Rachel also brings in fresh fish from her favorite locals, including purveyor Captain Xan, “who is up in Alaska salmon-fishing right now.”
A winner for dinner is the savory stuffed and grilled 12 oz. pork chop decadently topped with Rappahannock arboreal honey and mustard butter, served over lusciously flavorful mashed potatoes. It’s okay to clean your plate–in fact, perhaps impossible not to.
After dessert of Mary Frances’s apple crisp or Kahlua bread pudding, peruse the art gallery of nature photography throughout. The back hall is graced with intricate colored glass mosaics of the very cats currently waiting for their forever family. “You adopt a cat, you get a plaque.” What a cool and replicable concept – artistic synergy at its best.
The embroidered Griffin Tavern’s motto inspired by the words of an Irish taxi driver, which graces the wall of the Griffin Tavern Pub, says it all. “We’re not here for a long time, so we might as well be here for a good time.” And at Griffin Tavern, a good time is sure to be had by all.