Friday, September 25, 2020

The Shack

 I discovered The Shack by accident, after reading about a restaurant in my own back yard in a glowing review in the Wall Street Journal.  Who knew?  When I finally made it to dinner (the restaurant only seats about 30 people) I was blown away and I am not a foodie.  But the foodies soon discovered this gem of a restaurant hidden away on a side street in Staunton, VA.  It's name The Shack is quite accurate.  

You don't go to The Shack for the atmosphere.  I must admit though that even this tiny spot where burgers and fries are served on cookie sheets (and you've never tasted fries like these) has it's own ambiance.  

The better news is that owner and chef, Ian Boden, is planning to open a store soon (hoping the pandemic has not changed his plans) next to the restaurant where he'll sell the unique items he uses for his recipes.  Like Keepwell Vinegar from York, Pennsylvania or salt from J.Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, seventh generation salt makers from Charleston, West Virginia. He knows they have to use a natural solar evaporation process to extract the salt, which gives you a totally different taste flavor and texture.  This new venture will be called the Staunton Grocery.  Boden started his first restaurant under that same name which was closed during the Great Recession.  It was a gem too but I like The Shack much better.

The Washington Post called The Shack "sublime" in an early pre-pandemic review in February, giving it an excellent rating.  The restaurant was named one of the best new restaurants in the South in 2014.  Kinston, NC may have Vivian Howard, but Staunton, VA has Ian Boden. He's also a James Beard nominee.  Boden also changes his menu daily so you'll never know what you'll get but I promise it will be good.  And unique.  And probably not that good for your heart health.  But who cares?  We are living through a pandemic.

If you find yourself riding up interstate 81 in Western Virginia, not that far from Charlottesville, it's worth a detour. But plan ahead, those 30 seats go fast in normal times. Hoping for days when we can dine at The Shack again.  Maybe in late 2021?  It's on my new wish list. To be able to dine out again, without fear of getting Covid in one of the best restaurants in the South, in my own backyard.  Stay safe.

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