Town House Restaurant

Food & Wine's Best New Chef John Shields heads up a Chilhowie, VA kitchen well worth the drive.

By: Kate Nerenberg

Town House offers sensational dishes such as shima aji with wild herbs and fish juices made from the bones.

Town House
5 hours away

In 2008, Town House owners Kyra and Tom Bishop decided to turn their six-year-old steakhouse-like restaurant into a fine-dining destination. The odds were against them: It's in Chilhowie, Virginia, a mostly boarded-up town of fewer than 2,000 that feels like a pit stop on the way to Knoxville, Tennessee—2 ½ hours away. The Bishops recruited the married savory-and-pastry team John Shields and Karen Urie Shields from Chicago, where they had experience at the highly regarded Charlie Trotter's and the cutting-edge Alinea.

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The gamble paid off. Last year, John was named a Food & Wine Best New Chef. A recent ten-course menu showed his talent: Nearly every dish was outstanding, from a brilliant take on minestrone—shaved vegetables rolled into cylinders in a crystal-clear consommé to a "pastoral" course of sous-vide beef cheek, hay-infused milk, and nasturtium flowers.

At the Bishops' charming two-room inn, Riverstead, a renovated Victorian farmhouse seven minutes away, the food (complimentary chocolate cookies, house-made crackers with local cheese) is also top-notch.

At Town House (276-646-8787), four courses are $58, ten courses $110. Riverstead rooms start at $425 including dinner for two.

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