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Williamsburg, Va. Dining Suggestions?

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  • fletch2 Dec 2, 2002 08:13 PM
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Going to Williamsburg, Va. for Christmas. Does anyone have dining suggestions? We went last year and felt the restaurants in the historic area were nothing special. Are there any chef owned BYOB's with creative menus around? We heard the Trellis is good. Any opinions on that one? We're prepared to drive a few miles if that's what it takes.

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  1. Virginia's puritanical ABC board does not allow BYOB so you won't find that. You will find the CW (as in Colonial Williamsburg Foundation) Tavern's plain & not worth the price. The Kitchen at Powhatan Plantation usually does a fine winter menu in a teeny old plantation kitchen-new chef so don't know this year but have had fab duck, lamb, bread pudding, and the like in years past. The Dining Room at Ford's Colony is a 5 diamond restaurant and fabulous, used to be very affordable when it was a la carte but now it is fixed price but still worth it IMHO. The Cheese Shop off Merchant's Sq for sandwiches and picnic fixin's. Shackelford's way out by the Target is a good neighborhood grill as is the the Sporsman's Grill near Busch Garden. The Backfin has fresh seafood very conventionally prepared; i.e. fried or broiled, in a very casual setting. Overall though the 'burg isn't really known for good food.

    10 Replies
    1. re: WellFedRed

      Thanks for those Williamsburg, Va. dining tips WellFedRed. Greatly appreciated. Anyone else have any dining suggestions for that area?

      1. re: fletch2

        You might also want to try the Old Chickahominy House on Jamestown Road for breakfast and/or lunch. Their biscuits and pies alone make it worth the trip, and it's fun to browse through the gift shop and pet Mr. Biscuit the cat while waiting for your table. The DH and I have also gotten excellent sandwiches from the Virginia Ham Shoppe on Richmond Road to eat on the road. I love the Trellis' desserts, but since I'm not a fan of pretentious food that's about all I eat there. And go to Wythe's for fudge!!

        1. re: Jersey Girl

          How could I forget Old Chickahominy!!! Just like my Grandmother made!

          1. re: WellFedRed

            I am catching up on my Chowhound reading, having just gotten in from a 1 week vacation in Williamsburg. It may be late, but I can add that several of the people we ran into at events and banquets around Colonial Williamsburg recommended a Death by Chocolate dessert at the Trellis. Each night, via pre-arranged reservations elsewhere, we were too full to take them up on the suggestion, but I pass it on.
            Sounds like the jury has already decided, but while I'm here, let me put in a kind word for the taverns around CW. We loved most of the food, and the Christmas colonial entertainment in the taverns is part of the charm that draws people to CW at this time of year anyway. Since you've already crossed them off your list, you probably wouldn't be disappointed if seating at a tavern is not available- we booked several months in advance.
            One thought about Virginia Ham. We sampled it at one of the banquets, and one fellow diner we met had seconds and thirds and waxed nostalgic about his childhood eating the stuff. It wasn't part of my childhood, so all my tastebuds tasted was more salt than I took in all the rest of 2002. Needless to say, I did not fight the guy for seconds.
            Love the Chickahominy House...love sweet potato muffins at Colonial Williamsburg...love the place...
            Have fun!!!

            1. re: Ric

              I'm not a fan of the Trellis. Great desserts, but the food can be hit or miss and the service to be kind is spotty.

              The Regency Dining Room at the Williamsburg Inn has a very good wine list but expensive. The Cities Grille also has a good list and much more reasonable.

              There is a pretty good seafood place that I can't remember the name of at the moment just past the historic section (at the end the Trellis is on) that I have always enjoyed. It has blue awnings.

              1. re: dinwiddie

                Could it be Berret's Seafood Restaurant?
                I picked up one of those free "Williamsburg Visitor's Guides" last week while we were in Williamsburg, and it lists Berret's in Merchants Square, 199 S. Boundary St., Williamsburg; 757-253-1847. "Specializes in serving fresh seafood from the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean. Shrimp, oysters, clams, blue crabs...Dine by the fireplace..." (Berret's Taphouse Grill has same address and phone and 'Baked Oysters Taphouse'on menu.) I think we passed this place, trying to find somewhere to duck into to get warm. They were closed at 10 am, but there was a decent coffee place a few steps away, and we got our dose of 'warm.' Maybe on another trip, we will try Berret's on your Chowhound recommendation!

                1. re: Ric
                  b
                  blah blah blah

                  Yes, Berret's Seafood has the blue awnings. Definitely give it a try on your next visit...it is excellent all around! She-crab soup is a favorite. Their crabcakes are rumored to be the best in Williamsburg. And save room for dessert as their pastry chef is fabulous!

                  A lot of locals like it better than The Trellis...which does have spotty service and is a bit overpriced/overrated!

                  1. re: blah blah blah

                    Thanks for your input! It may be a while before we get back up there, but I definitely made a note of Berrets.
                    I really enjoy it when someone picks up on a posting a few weeks old. Sometimes when I catch something of someone else's, but the thread is a little bit dated, I still post if I have something to say. I always wonder, though, if the other person is still looking for follow-ups. Thanks again for taking the time!
                    Ric

                    1. re: ric

                      If you're still reading I'll 2nd Berrett's good mix of creative and traditional seafood preparations.
                      I have to say I still like to try the food at the Trellis. Especially his winter menus when he pulls out all those great winter vegetables and roasts. however I'll agree service is spotty and the place is packed and noisy.

                      1. re: WellFedRed

                        Got it! Thanx!!
                        Ric.

    2. The Trellis is quite good. I have dined there a couple of times. I find the atmosphere warm and welcoming, the staff friendly, and the food well prepared and presented.

      I don't think you'd be disappointed.

      1. Williamsburg is not known for good food? WellFedRed must have a lack of taste because Williamsburg is home to some of the finest restaurants in the entire United States. My favorite is the Fat Canary on Duke of Gloucester St. This is near the historic area of Colonial Williamsburg and a jewel of an eatery if there ever was. It is on the $$$ side menu wise, make sure you have a reservation and ask for the table in the window if you have four or more.

        Across the square from the Fat Canary is the Trellis. Once upon a time the food there was what everyone measured the quality of restaurants against. The service there is snobbish at best, the food is very good, but only a 6 out of a 10 (In the mid to late 80's when it was on par with what the Fat Canar does now)

        Behind the Trellis on Prince George street is the Blue Talon Bistro. This is where Dave Everett landed when he left Forda Colony. The food here is real................very well prepared with tremendous flavor and attention to detail. This is a classic French bistro in the 'Burg.

        Behind the Fat Canary is Berrets Seafood Restaurant. I recommend everyone to dine here for the best of local fresh Seafood. It is on the corner of Francis St. near "confusion corner" you will figure that one out for yourself. Richard Carr is the Executive Chef here. He is responsible for the cuisine here and at the sibling restaurants on the Yorktown water front (near the battelfields) and at Gloucester Point at the York River Yacht Haven. You will always get the best of fresh, local seasonal foods here to be sure.

        You must never forget the Williamsburg Inn. It is a throw back to finer dining, gloved servers, and unbelievable service. The food is traditional yet cutting edge at the same time Chef Hans Shadler is once again commanding this fine establishment. Be prepared to spend $$$$$

        The taverns that dot Colonial Williamsburg are ok I guess. The foods there are often batch cooked at the commisary and transported daily to these restaurants. I would rather have my food cooked in the kitchen where I am dining, not where 600 pieces of Chicken breast are pre-grilled, chilled, bagged and sent out like a military camp.

        The Chickahominy House is ok I guess...............the food will be greasy, too salty, but hey, thats breakfast right?

        So.......Williamsburg is not known for good food? Ha!

        3 Replies
        1. re: dajones

          I spent a month in Williamsburg at the end of last year, staying with an elderly relative. We went to Chickahominy lots of times, for breakfast and lunch. I really liked their Brunswick stew which I think they do everyday, although maybe not in the summer. I also liked their ham and biscuits. The portion was far too big to eat all of it so I took half home and had it for lunch next day. It's got a great atmosphere and the homemade pies are delicious. I didn't think the food was particularly greasy but the Virginia ham is quite salty if you aren't used to it, which I wasn't. There is also a Pie Shop (can't remember the name of it!) in Williamsburg which does take-out, or you can eat outside in the parking lot on a picnic bench. They do pizza pies, meat and vegetables and fruit and nut pies. I sent one of their pecan ones to a friend in Michigan for Christmas and he raved about it.

          1. re: cathodetube

            Jamestown Pie is on Jamestown Road with benches out front, and it does have great pies, but they changed a little with new ownership a few years ago. The bumbleberry pie was to die for but then I ordered one later and the filling was sparse. The chicken pot pie was good too.

            1. re: BurgJoy

              Quick update: Ate at Blue Talon tonight. Under done french fries, smashed potatoes raw in spots and over salted, Lamb shank was gristly, no distinctive flavor, Mahi Mahi was not flavorful and done to dryness. Flies were everywhere and swarming our food. Over $120 for 3 adults and 1 child (really great side of mac and cheese though) - definitely not a good night at Blue Talon. I cannot recommend again.

        2. Let me also put in a word for Pierce's Pitt BBQ. A really good eats kind of place.