Gabriele and I just got back from a quick getaway to the Shenandoah Valley, renting a cabin we’ve been to a few times before. I wrote a post last year about the great time we had, and this visit was again just what the doctor ordered.
Last year we didn’t realize that downtown Front Royal offered some serious fine dining choices. But this time we were ready. Having enjoyed our meal at Element last March, we called weeks in advance and made a reservation at Apartment 2g, the haute cuisine experience right upstairs.
Both restaurants are run by David and Stacy Gedney, a husband and wife team who met while working at the Inn at Little Washington. Inside the space of two former apartments, they hand craft every Saturday a prix fixe, five course meal at 2g. We enjoyed a special dining experience in a totally unique setting, and discovered a new Pinot Noir from Oregon.
The entree and dessert are the only choices you make off the menu. Gabriele had filet, and I had sea scallops. The wine we discovered was the 2009 Sharecropper Pinot Noir. Conventional wisdom might question a Pinot with a filet, but Gabriele really enjoyed the pairing.
The wine has some spice and earth in the bouquet, with a silky smooth texture. The fruit was harder to peg, we eventually decided on deep cherry with a touch of cranberry. There is a nice finish with a touch of pepper and earth, but not too strong.
The wine drinks above its price, which looks to be around $25 retail. I highly recommended the Sharecropper, and the restaurant can sell you a bottle from their store downstairs — a perfect arrangement that keeps the wine list prices reasonable.
Each course of the meal was excellent. The amuse bouche was a spicy, thicker than mascarpone type cheese between two delicate mini rolls. We had saffron risotto with shrimp that somehow managed to be incredibly rich without being incredibly heavy. I’m not usually a citrus with my salad guy, but really enjoyed it here. The bread was magnificently fresh and served with two olive oil sides — balsamic and rosemary.
Both the filet and the scallops were perfectly prepared. My plate had five large, tasty scallops with a soy glaze much sweeter and lighter than “soy” might suggest. Gabriele’s filet was simply prepared with a red wine reduction, with a delicious potato galette type side and spinach. The standout dessert was the caramel cheesecake, baked on site of course.
Diners are invited to visit the kitchen during the meal, even though monitors in every room allow you to watch your food being prepared. So I did, and the Gedneys seemed very cool and friendly. They shared the fact that a woman lived in one of the apartments for 38 years, and that when they first opened 2g, they only had half the space since the other unit was still occupied. (Now that tiny space must have redefined the term intimate dining.) The kitchen area is the only part of the former apartments that they have substantially changed to run their business.
Service was very friendly and professional. The only slight glitch was a long interval between risotto and salad, which didn’t matter to us since we were on a long weekend with nowhere else to go. It just made it harder on me to not drink all my share of the Sharecropper before the entree arrived. Presentation was classic and straightforward, nothing fancy to distract from the food.
Apartment 2g (and Element) are a strange juxtaposition of location and meal, in downtown Front Royal right across from the Chevy dealership. Somehow it all just amplifies the experience. The Gedneys and others in town like Christian Failmezger of Vino e Formaggio have given people a new reason to come to town, besides the natural beauty. Drop by next time you’re there — you won’t be disappointed.
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