Bid farewell to Charlottesville and continue west to Staunton. Check into the Stonewall Jackson Hotel. Unpack. Amble through the tiny, but quaint downtown checking out possible early dinner spots along Beverly Street (the main thoroughfare). Select Emilio’s, a large multi-room Italian spot. Order a 2007 Borgo Thaulero Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, ricotta gnocchi with Bolognese sauce and Chicken Franchese with a side of pasta (all decent, but not extraordinary). Finish dinner and head over to the American Shakespeare Center and the Blackfriars Theatre to view The Comedy of Errors. Laugh your ass off (get thee to see this play! The troupe is fantastic!!). Retire to the hotel king-size bed and retire for the evening.
Wake up! Walk to The Beverly for breakfast. Order coffee and chocolate milk, corned beef hash, chipped beef on toast (homemade bread!), and home fried potatoes. Walk around town. Check out the dazzling sunlit buildings of Mary Baldwin College. Stroll around the myriad churches in the area. Be sure to notice the copper-roofed Episcopal Church. Adventure to the fringe of town and eat a bacon cheeseburger at Wright’s Dairy Rite. Don’t forget to order a soft serve milkshake or float or sundae. Return to town, roam around the old railroad station and enter Sunspots, a wonderful hand-blown glass establishment. Check out the glass blowing demonstration in the back. In the afternoon wander in and out of the shops on Beverly – an eclectic blend of old, hip, funky, cute, and handmade. Stop by the Irish Alley for a Guinness or a whiskey sour. Go back to the king-size bed and take a nap.
Get up and dress for dinner. Stroll over to The Staunton Grocery Store on Beverly and check in early with the hostess. Tell her that you want a drink at the blond wooded bar first to give her time to clear the prime dining room table for your dinner. At the bar have an engaging conversation with the bartender who came to this place from Atlanta on vacation and never left. Order specialty drinks, Dr. Gonzo (Wild Turkey, house-made cherry syrup, fresh-squeezed lime juice) and Pimm’s Cup (Pimm’s #1, ginger syrup, soda water). Examine the chalk board at the bar listing all of the locally sourced producers. Finish the most excellent drinks. Be seated at the table that looks directly into the stainless steel-laced kitchen (separated by a huge glass picture window). Strategize over the extensive wine list. Make a bold move and order two half bottles – 2001 Cafaro Merlot Napa (blackberry and dark fruit) and 2005 Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon Napa (black cherry with a full mouth feel). Drool over the deceptively simple, ever-changing menu. Delight in the amuse bouche – duck confit wrapped in rhubarb accompanied by pea shoots. Select first courses – fettuccini + sapring garlic + arugula + Meyer lemon + chive oil + chili thread and Spiedini meatball trio – pork + lamb + beef + fresh herbs. Order main courses – NY Strip(the leanest I have ever had) + black trumpet mushrooms + wild ramps + creamed leeks + parmesan and Roasted Haddock + truffled risotto + Swiss chard + roasted turnips + sorrel + orange sauce. Finish with a trio of pastries, coffee, and Sambucca. While the professional and wonderful staff relieves you of your money, enjoy the sweet farewells – pine nut button cookies and triangles of bittersweet chocolate tart. Continue to sing dinner praises while strolling back to the hotel. Sweet dreams.
Awaken once again, grab lattes and mochas at Mug Shots on New Street and head back to Richmond having properly welcomed in Spring.