Our newest country obsession is this Federal-era restaurant in Fauquier County, beautifully restored by Ashby Inn vets Neal and Star Wavra. Guests have the run of the house—we’d start in the parlor with wine from one of many nearby vineyards and move to a table near chef Anthony Nelson’s open kitchen. A ten-foot-wide open hearth is used to roast local meats such as a showstopping Martin’s Farm rib eye with foie gras sauce, while oysters and whole rockfish are baked in the embers. Culinary fireworks aren’t limited to the flames: We’d happily travel for a host of small plates such as crunchy Buffalo-style pig ears. Make a day of it and plan for lunch at sister shop Riccordino’s, which dishes up Italian beef and other hot sandwiches that pay homage to Neal’s native Chicago. Moderate to expensive.
Also great: smoked-rockfish dip; roasted pork belly with hickory-soy; whole quail with red rice and andouille; roasted-garlic potatoes; sweet-potato cheesecake with marshmallow ice cream.