A Restaurant... Not a Group Home!
Don and I totally lucked out when we found ourselves dining at this 256 year old Manor House.
It was built on a grant of land from George II of England, by a patent dated 1743. For many years it was a lodging stop for travelers halfway between Richmond and Petersburg.
How We Found It
Once again, we owe it to one of our vintage Ford Cookbooks. While staying in Williamsburg, we flipped through this 1950 edition and found a page featuring the "Halfway House" restaurant.
I Googled to see if it still existed, then called to make sure it was open! A couple hours later, we found the old building under some grand trees... right next to old US Route 1! I can't believe it's still there!
Facing the Highway
White boards and red shutters, faced the traffic. I saw curtains in the low windows, surrounded by brick. Sure enough, that's where we ended up dining, in the basement.
We arrived at 11:30, since we were squeezing this in on the way to the airport. The hostess had been expecting us and let us choose where to dine.
We picked a table right across from one of the 2 fireplaces.I studied the fireplace, then pulled a cookbook from my bag. Oh how I love traveling with our vintage cookbooks, put out by Ford Motor Company!
Our server appeared with a basket of cinnamon rolls and poppyseed muffins. As she lit our candle, I opened the book to the page featuring Halfway House. I pointed to the recipe and asked if they served Beets in Orange Sauce. Of course they didn't, but she was amused by the book and illustration.
We noticed that the fireplace in the book looked similar to the one near our table. The brick floor and the painted door seemed to match. But who were the people in the picture?.
On the other side of the dining room there was another fireplace.
Hiding behind a beam, to the right, we found the actual framed watercolor image, that appeared in the book.
People in the Picture
We learned that the woman in the painting was the owner, at the time when the cookbook was put out.
The boy was her son. The door and mantel haven't been changed, but the cabinet to the right was moved up stairs.
We learned this info from Sue and Rick, when they came downstairs from an office.
The Youngs have owned the business for over 30 years and they graciously spent some time sharing some of their knowledge about the place.
So Much History
I loved looking out the tiny basement window and wondering who else had peered through, in the past. Union General, Benjamin Butler used this house as a headquarters during the Civil War.
So you can be sure there was some peeking going on, then. And even before the Revolution, this basement space had been a tavern. The boots of many historic figures have evidently walked on these floors, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
I'm sort of glad they didn't have the beets, so I could get the Chicken Pie with flaky puff crust. It came with a twice baked potato and fruit. That seemed fitting for my Colonial Lunch!
Don had a crab cake which also came with a potato and green beans. For travelers who don't like hefty lunches, this was perfect.
Our Cozy Nook
The small table behind us was the only table that didn't fill during our stay. It was surprising to see so many business lunches going on. No one else seemed to stare at their surroundings the way we did. I can only imagine how the atmosphere must change at night, especially when fireplaces are lit.
Rick and Sue invited us to wander around after our meal. Finding the bathroom was the first adventure.
I'm not sure when plumbing was introduced, but the shed-like bathrooms with the whitewashed doors were a hoot. And for our trip upstairs, luckily there was a sturdy railing. I have no idea how many footsteps it took to make those stair-boards go from flat to wavy!
The second floor had 2 rooms. Don posed in the Meeting Room, so you can see the ceiling is actually pretty high.
The Lady's Parlor
This had been a room for the Ladies at one point, so I did the posing. There was a third story that we didn't visit. That may have been where overnight guests stayed long ago.
This was the part that made our meal feel most authentic. Our food was all prepared in this separate kitchen house!
We could see in through the screen door where the chef was bustling around with various dishes. There's was lots of coordinating going on between the kitchen and the house, just to relay orders. Then our meals had been carried on trays from the cabin into the house. I can't imagine anything more complicated, especially when weather was an issue! But everything ran smoothly and food was hot and delicious! What a memorable meal and a fun visit!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.