I haven’t had much in the way of opportunity to post lately. I have one week off from work and school before they both start up again – I’m using this time to work. I grew up in construction and coal mining, and, honestly, I miss hard manual labor. Those of you that do it every day will scoff, and understandably so. I sit behind a desk and have done so for over ten years. I can tell you this: It is not healthy to sit behind a desk. So has begun my marathon of brute physical labor and exercise to whip my fat ass back into some semblance of shape. But in the meantime, I’ll keep eating!
We had the wonderful opportunity last Wednesday to take a quick journey over to the newly re-opened restaurant in Pearisburg, VA, The Bank Food and Drink. This has always been one of our favorites, and we were seriously impressed by all that they have done. Owner Linda Hayes has poured her heart and soul into this place, and you can tell. One thing that I have always loved about the place is the unique seating. It can be completely private and totally romantic, or they can re-arrange tables and seating for a more casual and family style dining experience in minutes. The colors are now more muted and soothing, with local art throughout the restaurant. Front house manager Rachel Isley seated us immediately in a secluded little area with a great view of the main foyer and after discovering my love for bourbon, immediately suggested a unique drink with Makers Mark, orange juice and candied ginger! I don’t know the proportions, but I would have never thought to put those ingredients together! Laura, laughingly remembering my obsession with orange juice in Italy (where it was often up to five euros a glass!!!), said – How could you not like it!
The menu is simple and pleasing, with fresh ingredients that can be prepared quickly and with precision. We started with crispy pork belly, which Laura was a bit apprehensive about. In the words of Anthony Bourdain – Life does not suck. Not right now. Not with crispy pork belly on a bed of creamy grits and crawfish. Oh, no, life is good, in fact, divine. The texture of the grits was such that I actually thought it was Risotto. And the pork….words fail me.
I switch to the homemade lemonade, which I am a complete sucker for in any circumstances and order a New York Strip. I very rarely order steak in restaurants, preferring to cook it myself. I order it medium rare – just on the rare side. It’s almost never done correctly – something that I was happily wrong about here. Chef Michael Behmoiras knocked this out of the park. Perfectly seared, seasoned and cooked. With sides of carrots and peas, I was a happy, happy man. Laura chose Braised Short Ribs with creamy polenta and was just as thrilled with hers as I was with mine, although I do admit I could not stay out of her polenta. She tried to stab me with her fork but I was too fast.
The ambiance is soothing, the drive is beautiful and the confidence and abilities of the staff are off the charts. Go, enjoy – and try the crispy pork belly!