especially regarding things that aren’t all that important to remember. But it wasn’t until we were driving down Main Street in Wytheville, VA, and passed the Log House 1776 Restaurant that I remembered that we had eaten there on our visit four years ago. What did this mean? If it had been very good, I am sure that I would have remembered. Likewise if it had been very bad. A “Google” search showed that diners were split into two opposing camps—those who had a great dining experience and those that didn’t. The latter complained mostly about the service. But restaurant choices here—beyond chains—are limited, so we decided to give it another try.
“In 1776, a young man, who had been granted the right to build on this site in order to work for a large land owner, stopped building in order to fight in the Revolutionary War for our freedom and independence. All we know about this man was that he was called Will. We do not know his last name or even if he ever owned the 2-room tenant house he built.
“The adjoining log addition was annexed in 1804 after Main Street was built, and Wytheville was established as a town. The final addition was erected in 1898.
“A man named Robertson began a furniture business where the parking lot now exists. Later, the business was sold to the Rich brothers. Apprentices lived in the Log House while working for the Rich brothers. After mastering cabinet-making, these apprentices later started many of the other furniture-making factories in Virginia and Tennessee. The Rich Brother’s furniture factory produced, among a myriad of other quality offerings, the now famous Wythe County pie safe! The distinguishing characteristic of a Wythe County pie safe is the “urn and tulip” toms, which may be further embellished with a variety of other symbols including grape clusters, stars, candlesticks, and hearts.”
The building—both its interior and exterior—remain true to its historic nature. The exterior is covered with aged grey wood with the only sign of the present being a window air conditioner. The house is surrounded by gardens “…established in memory of Abby Chadwell and Nanny Steptoe who worked a garden together. We have been told that Nanny Steptoe brought all the children to the garden at 7:00 each morning for 30 minutes of silence to look at flowers and to listen to the birds singing. Abby and Nanny wanted them to love and appreciate nature.”
Inside, you find a maze of corridors and small dining rooms.
Some, like this back room, have more contemporary furniture sitting on a brick floor that is so uneven that the tables and chairs will continually rock as one shifts position.
A corridor leading back to the kitchen is embossed with horseshoe prints bearing the names of--well, we don’t know.
But the room in which we were seated was the most attractive with a well-worn quilt hanging along one wall,
exposed log walls,
and a fireplace to provide warmth on chilly winter evenings.
Next to our table sat what our server told us was one of the famous Wythe County pie safes. (But to me, this piece of furniture looked more like a linen press than a pie safe. I thought that pie safes were distinguished by their punched tin fronts that served to allow air circulation.)
Above the safe was a Santa Clause print and atop the safe was what seemed to be a permanent holiday exhibit of twig Christmas trees.
Both Chuck and I took a pass on the luncheon entrees that included pork tenderloin, Smithfield ham, rolled chicken breast, and rib eye or New York strip steaks. Also listed was chicken Marengo, which is alleged to have been a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. Instead, we both looked to the sandwich menu.
Chuck started with a bowl of clam chowder. The minute I saw it, I remembered that he ordered this on our visit four years ago. The chowder was full of both clams and potatoes in a semi-thick base. And, like any good chowder, it contained either bacon or salt pork. But Chuck thought that the smokiness was too pronounced. I didn’t, but this was his chowder, and I will evaluate it based on his preference.
For his sandwich, he selected the Big Farmers Delight that contained thin-sliced ham and turkey, Colby and Monterey Jack cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, and 1000 Island Dressing. And it came warmed on a soft pumpernickel roll. As his side of choice, he ordered the fries which were hand cut and twice fried.
My selection was the Zesty Italian sandwich which came toasted and was a case of Jewish deli (pastrami and corned beef and Cole slaw) meets Italian deli (hard salami, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoncini). And, as my side, I chose the herbed Cole slaw which worked better on the sandwich than as a stand-alone food item.
Both of our sandwiches were more than adequate, but nothing that would motivate me to return for another.
This was another good but not great meal. Contrary to the negative reviews on-line, our service was attentive without being overbearing. Overall, our lunch experience earns 3.5 Addies.
(Information regarding the Log House is from a small flyer that can be purchased for twenty-five cents at the front reception desk.)
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.