A Star Virginia Chef Has a New Destination Restaurant and Inn in the Shenandoah Valley

The Shack's Ian Boden serves a seasonal tasting menu at Maude & the Bear in Staunton.

Lamb saddle with sour cherries and roasted baby beets at Maude & the Bear. Photograph by Ian Boden.

Maude & the Bear. 1106 N. Augusta St., Staunton, Va.

Chef Ian Boden’s Staunton, Va., restaurant, the Shack, has been a foodie destination with national acclaim for a decade. For much of that time, his wife Leslie Boden has been lobbying to open another restaurant nearby, this time with an inn so diners could turn their visits into weekend getaways. Finally, it’s come to fruition: Maude & the Bear offers a seasonal tasting menu and three suites in a freshly renovated, century-old house in the Shenandoah Valley, about two-and-a-half hours from DC.

The Bodens bought and began renovating the 1926 Montgomery Ward kit house last year and opened it in March. “The town lore is that it showed up on the train, which is literally five, six blocks away, and they called the people that ordered the house saying, ‘Come get your house, you have 24 hours before we leave,'” Ian Boden says. They named the place after their daughter’s middle name (Maude) and son’s nickname (Bear).

Softshell crab with “delicious sauce” and vidalia onions. Photograph by Ian Boden.

The restaurant occupies the first floor of the house with a 24-seat dining room and a four-seat bar. Boden’s cooking draws from his Jewish-Ashkenazi roots and the Appalachian foothills setting, but the tasting menu also includes touches of Mexican, Turkish, and other global flavors from his team. Recent courses have included a cornmeal-crusted soft-shell crab with “delicious sauce” (a mash-up of thermidor and Américaine sauce) and pickled and wood-fired vidalia onions as well as roasted lamb saddle with sour cherries, roasted baby beets, hickory nuts, and a red wine sauce.

“I’m not really trying to reinvent the wheel so much these days,” Boden says. “My focus is much more on making sure that everything we’re cooking, the technique is appropriate and everything on the plate is perfect.”

Amuse starting the tasting menu at Maude & the Bear. Photograph by Ian Boden.

Four courses go for $90, while a seven course menu costs $140. Diners can splurge $250 for the “Kitchen Table,” which offers one seating each night with 12 to 16 courses including caviar service. An a la carte small plates menu is available at the bar. That’s where you might find “fowl wings,” made up of duck, guinea fowl, and pheasant wings confited, crisped up, then tossed with the Shack’s barbecue sauce and seaweed ranch. (Boden briefly ran the Shack Sauce Co., which made a sorghum barbecue sauce.)

Wines lean old-world, but you’ll also find funkier natural wines from beverage director Simon Willard. (Pairings are also available to accompany the tasting menu.) Cocktails pull ingredients from the kitchen and include plenty of classics, like a Paper Plane or Paloma.

The inn itself includes two suites in the main house plus a detached cottage with a full kitchen and washer and dryer. (Prices start at $400 and $500 for the cottage per night.) Leslie designed each space, named after Aesop’s fables, with a clean look that draws some mid-century and boho inspiration. Each suite includes a king-sized bed, sitting room, high-speed wi-fi, and mini fridges stocked with complimentary snacks and drinks.

Guests are treated to gratis breakfast at the restaurant. “We treat it very much like we treat our dinner,” Ian says. Weekend brunch ($55 for three courses) is also open to the public. Boden recently served a buttermilk dashi-rhubarb soup with asparagus four ways;, sheep’s milk yogurt granola with jam and lemon balm; and head-on North Carolina brown shrimp with roasted radishes, snap peas, and a vinaigrette of last year’s peas and fermented ramps.

Meanwhile, Ian Boden has been a culinary partner at the Tabard Inn in Dupont Circle since last year, though he says his involvement is now “very limited.” And while the Bodens still own the Shack, longtime sous chef Michael “Skip” Skipper is now running it as a no-reservations wood-fired pizza spot with handmade pastas and small plates, continuing restaurant’s ethos for local, responsible sourcing. “It’s kind of back to the way the Shack was when we first opened,” Boden says. “It’s super casual. It’s a little bit loud. It’s a fun place for people to go.”

Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.