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Rivah Visitor's Guide

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The Inn at Montross: Good taste is back


by Audrey Thomasson

The Inn at Montross is a hidden jewel of Westmoreland County. For selfish reasons, I hesitate to let out the secret about the restaurant within this historically charming 1800s inn tucked away on Polk Street behind the old courthouse.

While Montross is a long drive from my nest at the opposite end of the Northern Neck, my dining companions and I are already making plans to return; the restaurant is that great.

I found a lot to adore about this place, including phenomenal food beautifully presented. Beyond fresh, local ingredients that awaken every taste bud in your mouth, there is something to be said about the role an excellent staff contributes to the experience. Owner/chef Cindy Brigman Syndergaard has gathered a team whose members are vested in this place not merely as a job.

“These people like each other and love their job,” said my dining companion, Liz.

Our server, Helle Feller, was not only well versed in each dish, she makes some of the offerings including the breakfast Danish for Sunday brunch.

Chef Gene Davis oversees the buffet table

Dinner Fare
Like many good establishments, the Inn at Montross is like two restaurants in one. A large and varied menu will satisfy everyone from meat lovers to vegetarians and includes beef cuts from a local cattle farmer, mixed grilled kebobs, pastas and seafood.

The light fare menu includes Angus burgers, jumbo chicken wings, chicken tenders, a mac n’ cheese crock, pizza, crab cake and crispy duck salad.

According to Helle, a favorite of some guests comes from the light fare menu, a field green salad ($5.50) and/or shrimp and stone ground grit cakes ($10). 

Another favorite is the Maple Farm seared duck breast which is seared and roasted to medium rare and served atop a creamy cranberry-pear risotto with a mint gastric sauce and garnished with almonds ($23).

“People say ‘Leave me alone. I’m having a taste sensation,’” Helle said of the duck.

The inn and restaurant add up to a fantastic romantic getaway that is sure to impress that special someone (see “Romantic Getaways”). Helle suggests including a day trip to area wineries such as Ingleside, Hague and General’s Ridge.

The inn’s extensive wine list shows an enthusiasm for local vineyards, but still offers a selection of imported and California labels. Each listing offers a flavorful description.

If You Go
21 Polk Street Montross, VA 22520

Thursday-Saturday 5-9 p.m.
Sunday brunch 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Reservations encouraged
Catering for 12 or more

On the Menu
Appetizers and light fare. Soups and salads.
Entrées. House-made desserts. Tavern and extensive wine list

Did you know:
Chef Cindy owned the circa 1800 inn from 1997 until 2004, when she moved home to Atlanta. She and husband Ken returned in 2011 and bought back and renovated the inn with silent partners Beth and Rod Parker (Parker Farms) and Nancy and Rhys Weakley (Northern Neck Building Supply).

Bistro Night
Helle’s own spiced lamb pot pie ($10.50) was the featured dish for Thursday’s Bistro Night.

The “cooked to order” event takes place buffet-style and allows diners to create their own masterpiece by selecting ingredients from the chef’s pasta station, like garden fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions, olives, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and more, topped with house-made sauces such as Alfredo, marinara and pesto ($7.50).

A complete salad station will fulfill every salad lover’s desires ($4.50).

Sunday Brunch
There is no better way to get a broad sampling of a restaurant’s culinary abilities than its buffet. The inn offers a brunch buffet fit for a palace ($15.99, including coffee).

Plan on being so indulged you’ll have to roll to your car at the end of the meal or settle in and read The Rivah Visitor’s Guide while some of the food digests. The inn has an inviting lounge for those who can’t quite make it out the door.

Brunch items change with the availability of fresh ingredients. Many of the herbs come from the inn’s kitchen garden.

Chef Gene carved a rotisserie roasted leg of lamb and added a light mint sauce. Chef Cindy introduced us to baked shrimp and cheese grits, baked potato soufflé, penne pasta with a meat sauce, succotash of local veggies, apple smoked bacon, breakfast sausage and spiced peel ‘n eat shrimp.

As if that wasn’t enough, Chef Tina made delicious fluffy omelets-to-order from a 12-item omelet bar and perfect Belgium waffles with a selection of nine ingredients.

Inside my waffle I chose chopped dried apricots, sliced almonds and toasted coconut. I topped it with fresh whipped cream and a selection of house made apple, peach and blueberry jams. The waffle was crispy on the outside and soft inside. No syrup necessary.

Pastries included blueberry brunch cake and peanut butter/rice crispy balls covered in chocolate. We could not pass up banana pudding or fresh blackberries, blueberries and strawberries from Westmoreland Berry Farm.

We selected from three Mimosas—blueberry, mixed fruit or orange—made with champagne, pomegranate juice and a splash of vodka.

“That was the most fun and one of the best restaurants I’ve been to in a long time. Don’t tell anybody about it,” said Liz.

My lips are sealed.

posted 08.30.2013

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