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Dining Adventures in Williamsburg VA

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well we made a move to Virginia back in November and with-in a week we made our first trip to Williamsburg. Originally we had wanted to just stop and see what was available to us but we went ahead and bought a years pass. Well not a bad deal since we just made our third trip there yesterday.

Our first meal there, lunch, was at a stand in the historic area and reall not worth mentioning. The second trip is a different story. We had lunch again only this time at Shields Tavern in the historic area. What a meal we had too.

I started out with a drink called a Rummer. Supposedly back in the 18th century it was quite the crowd pleaser and from the one I had I understood why. It's a mixture of dark rum, appricot and peach brandies and it's served over ice. This drink will seriously take you out if your not eating and it was one of the most stout 7.00 beverage I have ever had. They had a couple other "period" beverages but I wasn't about to tempt fate especially with a 60 mile drive home.

For the meal I had the Shrimp Creole served over stone ground grits, Martha had a chicken pot pie and our daughter had a sugar cured ham sandwich of the kids menu. The food was very good and the portions were reasonable. We didn't leave too stuffed which is nice considering we were in the Colonial and they have interactive "Living History" portrayals in the afternoon. Service was very polite and done in period fashion as well

Since lunch was this good, it's defintely worth a trip back for dinner.

Yesterday we ate in the shopping district at a place called Trellis. Nice place and very busy. I gave the blackbean Burger a try, Martha ordered a Tuna Sandwich and our daughter, since they had no childrens menu, had a "not off the menu" chicken sandwich with Mushroom rice.

The plate presentation was terrific across the board as were the flavors yet some of the cooking execution was abit off. The tuna was somewhat dry. The bread was nicely done and thick. The plate was garnished with all edible items such as grapes, watercress and walnuts. Our daughters chicken was cooked just a little too long, unfortunately, since it did have great flavor. The rice tho really left something to be desired. It was had to tell if it was an attempt at Risotto with Aborio rice gone arye or they used basmati and overcooked it. The enoki mushrooms were very umm err uhh.... "bleck" for lack of a better word. Then again I prefer them raw so have never been a fan of cooked enoki's. The rice itself was almost a paste by the time we were served it.
My blackbean burger wasn't too bad although from the description I was expecting more of a "Neapoleon" presentation than a "Burger platter" since it was described as a Blackbean patty atop portobello mushrooms and roasted tomatoes, melted onions and arrugula with a tomato coulis.

Inspite of the presentation confusion, my only beef with the dish was the fact the oven roasted tomatoes weren't seeded and the "fins" of the portobello mushroom were left intact. This give the mushroom that "dirt" flavor and really takes away from the "mushroom" flavor especially when it is roasted. Because of the seeds the actual sweetness of the tomato was oveshadowed with bitterness.

Please don't misunderstand the critique since this isn't an attempt at being harsh. We will probably return there and this was one of the nicer meals we have had since we've been here. Especially since we are currently living in a hotel and have been eating every meal out since the 8th of November.:suprise: (Two more weeks to go!)

Well we're gonna give the Kings Arms a shot next time. This is also in Colonial Williamsburg and from what we have heard...Worth every dime spent.

There is also a "Tavern Ghost Walk" that sounds like it would be a riot to experience.

Well until then,

post #2 of 8
Thank you for the walk down memory lane. I've been to Williamsburg twice, although decades apart. The last time I had lunch at Chowning's Tavern and enjoyed the peanut soup. Williamsburg is on my "must return to" list.

Wasn't Marcel Desaulniers the pastry chef at Trellis, or is my memory off?
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

You mentioned the Peanut soup at Chownings? Shields Tavern had that as a special unfortunately it was set up for two and I just couldn't convince the family to try it. From the description it sounded outstanding tho.

Chownings (as with the other restaurants located in Colonial Williamsburg were closed from 2:30-5:00 and with the crowda that were there yesterday we had foregone spending the day there.

The Peanut Shop, The Smokehouse and the restaurant in the same building were closed because of a massive fire. Not sure if or when they will reopen. I guess both The Peanut Shop and the Smokehouse have been there a very long time so you may, or may not, recognize them.

There was also a place called "The Fat Canary". The menu looked outstanding , unfortunately it was only open for dinner. We had tried to eat at The Cheese Shop (tied to The Fat Canary) but it was so busy and the only available seating was outside in the Market Place and since it was 48 degrees yesterday we figured we'd leave that to another visit. ;)

I do hope that Martha and I get the chance to head out there without our daughter in tow since she really does get bored quickly without roaming the Colonial side. From the looks of things the Dinner menu's are the way-to-go for most all of the places we have seen.

BTW if you're up for a visit there in the near future...give a hollar before you head down from Wisconsin:D
post #4 of 8
OldSchool, it seems that there are many more places to eat than there were in the late '70s when I was last there. :)

I have a penchant for re-visiting with my husband places I enjoyed long ago before I was married. Williamsburg is on the list. I never got to see Jamestown and I'd love to visit there as well. If we do head your direction I'll let you know! :bounce:
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Well my folks made the trip out from Tucson Az this weekend and we did the Jamestown tour on the way to Williamsburg. When we arrived in Williamsburg it was shortly after lunch time and as you could imagine after touring the ships, fort and other sites of Jamestown we were rather hungry.

We were looking for a niced place to take my folks and originally tried to go somewhere other that The Trellis but only since we did visit there the last time. Our Daughter then shouted that she wanted the Nutty Tuna sandwich from The Trellis. Well my wife then followed suit and next thing ya know were all sitting at a very nice table in the main diningroom.

For the lunch...My mother ordered the Turkey sandwich. Basically this is a Turkey breast (slowly roasted at The Trellis) with fresh cranberry marmalade, toasted pecans , cream cheese, and frisee on crusty baguette. It was accompanied by a very fresh (and Freshly tossed) fennel and cranberry salad. My wife and daughter settled on the Nutty Tuna and this time it wasn't near as dry as the first. Martha explained that it was far superior to the first time. My father and I tried to order the Blackbean burger (for me this would have been a second time) and I also ordered the Blackbean and roasted tomato soup of the day. Yeah I know alot of black bean but I was in a more veg mood today but wanted the food to fill me better since we still had a full day. Anyhow After we placed the order then a few minutes later the waiter reluctantly returned and said they had just run out of them. Well my father ordered the turkey and I tried the Chef's Vegetale seletion.

This was fresh spinach served over warm wild rice with vegetable "spaghetti" (Zucchini and yellow squashes with red onions cut with the small julienne setting on a mandoline) marinated in a mustard/leek vinaigrette. I kept the soup and then surprisingly it also came with a salad. I really wanted to give a Bloody Mary a shot and especially to find out what made the 26.50 one so special but after last night I had my fill of liabations. None the less we ate and then ordered dessert. Of course it was "Death by Chocolate" and we did split it between us. Martha is the Choc-o-holic in the group and I thought she was gonna... WOW!!

Well....The entire visit from service to food was outstanding!!!!!:lips: We have really gotta get back there for dinner. We have really gotta get back there for dinner. Infact we were in the area and the place went 50 deep at the door just before 6pm.
My father also suggested that we make the trip again the next time they are here just for dinner and the Tavern ghost walk that is done in the evening. Infact we were in the area and the place went 50 deep at the door just before 6pm.

Well I did want to make a professional courtesy visit to Chef Michael Holdsworth...Unfortunately I was told that he only will meet the public by appointment. Okay not a problem. I did say that I was also and Executive Chef and just wanted to give him a compliment and a "heads-up" about this post I didn't fully understand the "appointment" thing and would have rather been told that since it was a Saturday he was currently taking care of some things....

Anyhow as I already said, my purpose was to just say that we really enjoyed the meal and if he was not aware of this site to please check it out since I was going to be saying some very nice comments about his food.

Ironically as I was walking out I did overhear the same sever that told me he was "unavailable" say that it was very nice to hear that another Chef was going to post some wonderful things about the place on-line.

Glad to be the one.

Hope ya get to see this Michael.:D

(and maybe next time I can say something in person.)

Mezzaluna, to answer your original question I believe you're correct and he was. Infact they have a cookbook of his along with another "Death by Chocolate" for sale at the restaurant.
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Finally!!!! After months of home renovations and some health issues we were able to make the trip back to Williamsburg today. After doing some antiquing with some good friends we again went to The Trellis (again) for lunch. The place does so well and we haven't been dissappointed in a vist yet. We were entertained by a very enthusiastic grill/prep cook that just finished his schooling at JW in Charlotte.

The menu had varied some (as expected) from our last visit. Our friends had the Angus burger and the Grilled Cheddar and Country ham sandwich. As usual DW and DD had the Tuna sandwich. I had the grilled Chicken breast and surry sausage.

It was so nice to see a hamburger that didn't look like a frozen hockey puck thrown on the grill and it was cooked to med perfectly. The ham sandwich was really grilled to perfection and the ham was sliced to the proper thickness. Anyone whom has ever had a real country ham understands what a difference that makes on a sandwich. I think it's great that my daughter has found something that doesn't consist of macaroni, cheese or fried chicken parts when we go out to eat. Heck she even devoured the watercress that was on the plate. Now if we could only get her to eat the grapes that come in the mix.

Anyhow the sandwich I had was a great combination. The chiken breast was cooked perfectly and the sausage (it seemed to be a type of brat/sage sausage) had a ver nice subtle flavor. I did add the horseradish mayo and that seemed to really round out the flavor.

Dessert was Diamonds and chocolate for both DW's and DD had the strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Again she surprised me with how much she ate of that considering the whipped cream was un-sweetened.

After lucn we went to the Cheese Shop accross the street and the wine cellar underneath. Found a couple great bottles of Poullie (one Drouhin and one Latour an Eiswein from Austria and a couple Corsendunk Abbey Browns for the wine cabinet. All in all a great day!

Hey Mezz! You asked about Marcel Desaulniers and I actuially found out that he still makes a weekly visit to the place. Considering he's one of the owners. I had no idea he still had a hand in the operation. I was very surprised to hear it from the staff. What a treat that woulda been to have him make a visit to the restaurant. Shame it didn't happen tho. Oh well.

Hopefully things will go well enough we can start to make more frequent trips. There are so many other places but I really wanted to take our friends here first. The Trellis is still our favorite place in Williamsburg.
post #7 of 8
I got lost at Williamsburg when I was 5.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

This info is a bit behind the times since it was a done deal in October of 2009 but.........The Trellis has been sold!!!!!! Co-Owners Marcel Desaulniers and John Curtis decided to sell after 30 years.


I learned this when I took the DD to Williamsburg today. This is a yearly trip we take just before school starts back.  The restaurant interior has been completely remodeled and has a much different look. I found an article that explained some of the details about what would remain at the restaurant but.....I have a quick critique about our experience today. Here is a link to that article......http://www.wydaily.com/business/3179-williamsburgs-trellis-restaurant-sold.html


When we arrived in Williamsburg today, it was with the understanding that some things would be unavailable because of Hurricane Irene. The fact that power restored only this morning to our home solidified that expectation. Anyhow, Our original destination for lunch was the Kings Arms Tavern but that was closed. I then decided that since I also owed the DD a dessert from The Trellis for achieving 6 BB times at the Summer Champs swim meet in Newport News, we would make it our back up destination for lunch for lunch.


When we arrived at The Trellis, they were also closed due to the hurricane but would open at 5pm. Needless to say that was a disappointment. I did try to see if we could buy just the two desserts at around 2:30pm but they would not sell them to us. I'm not sure if it was due to the items being ready or not but I will say there was something different about how they approached the question. It was actually met with a definite no even before the person would inquire if they were ready or not. Aftyer asking.......the person that met us at the door did check and we were told no, they were not.


Anyhow, this meant that I now needed to I decide whether or not I would make the effort to kill as much time as possible so we could, at the least, grab a couple Death by Chocolate desserts to take back home. Since I didn't want to drive out here again in a couple days, we did kill the time. I understand that there could have been more time needed for things to be prepared but I also figured that if this dessert was not ready by 2:30, there was a good chance that another 2-1/2 hours wasn't going to make that much difference. I figured that the least they could have told us was to come back in maybe an hour or two just to get the sale. but that did not happen.


None the less, We arrived back at the restaurant shortly before 5pm and we were greeted pleasantly enough by the host. I asked if we could please wait at the bar and maybe have a beverage and we were told this would be okay. The bartender didn't appear all too happy about this at all. This is something I will never understand. There is no reason any restaurant, in any state of economic times, should pass up a sale of any type only because you are 15 minutes earlier than what the sign states they will open.  My policy was always 15 minutes prior and 15 minutes after the hours of operation....the party would be served.


Regardless, we did get our beverages and waited for the kitchen to open. Even though we were getting the desserts to-go, they wouldn't sell them to us until 5pm. So....at 5pm.......I ordered two Death by Chocolate desserts, we drove home, had dinner and  just finished them about an hour ago. Understanding it has been some time since we last had this dessert, I will reluctantly admit that I have a rather good memory when it comes to food and presentations. I guess it comes with the territory from being a Chef for so long. No matter what, the dessert was lacking something from when we had it last and there were some changes made to the presentation. None of this was bad or unappetizing, it just wasn't the dessert we remembered.  Regarding the menu, food and some of my impressions of our visit, I am unsure what other changes have taken place but for the first time since our first visit to the restaurant back in 2006, it's difficult to say this because we do like the place but........this last experience will cause us to hesitate when it comes to visiting The Trellis when we make our way to Williamsburg again.  

Edited by oldschool1982 - 8/31/11 at 8:09pm
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