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Trucking for the Community Garden…

Not expecting to do much but watch the volunteers working on building the fence for the community garden, I ended up driving Peter Corum’s truck with the gravel over to the site because he was late getting back from Pennsylvania.

As we got started we discovered there were many things we needed that just weren’t there… like water to blend with the Quikcrete to hold the corner posts in place… so Elly and Joel (a great volunteer) and I went over to our house and put about twenty gallons of water in one of the new rain barrels I bought the other day , and we trucked it over to the garden.

We finally ended up getting 4 of the twelve corner posts in… we’ll get back to the rest on Saturday.

When was the last time you had an $85.00 Dinner? – Bill’s Restaurant Review of Potowmack Farm.

Elly and I, you must know, are not rich folks. Oh, we do all right, but I’m a retired graphic designer/web designer and she is one of the New Criminal Class – she’s a teacher. So when Elly pulled out the coupon she had planned to give me for Chanukah, but put it away and forgot about it, which was good for $25.00 off if we ordered two dinners at a restaurant in Northern Virginia called The Restaurant at Potowmack Farm, we decided to have a nice Friday Evening out. It’s about a 45 minute drive from our home in Shepherdstown.

We didn’t bother checking the menu on their web site, but only checked on the driving directions…it’s back country and up in the Catoctin Mountains, and, of course, we should have. The reviews of this place were excellent, and whenever reviews focus on the Chef (Christopher Edwards), we get curious. We’re hooked viewers of television shows like Top Chef and Chopped and all the restaurant makeover shows. We rarely get to eat at places with acclaimed chefs (there are very few, none actually, in our local area), and this seemed like an opportunity we couldn’t resist.

This is a lovely restaurant, located way up near the top of a mountain with a grand view of the Potomac Valley and the countryside below. We got there just before sundown and had a chance to see the spectacular view… if you go there, the view alone is worth attending a daytime brunch. The main dining room looks like a greenhouse, however this is a matter of design, it was obviously built directly for this use and has never been used as a place to grow vegetables. I should add, however, that Potowmack Farm is an organic food grower, maintains a commercial bakery and focuses on regularly changing local foods (they also buy a lot of their non-grown-there foods at Common Market in Frederick, where Elly and I love to shop for organics.)

The place is the cleanest restaurant I have ever been in…this would never be one of Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. The staff is courteous… sometimes to an extreme… and provides exceptional service. Our waitress was Rachel, and she explained the menu as she poured water. The menus, by the way, are single sheet pieces, well laid out and typeset with our name at the top (actually, it said “Menu for the Smith Party” on top… Elly had reserved in her maiden- and professional name, Ellen Smith.)

One side had an ala carte list, the other had the Prix Fixe description. Rachel recommended, since we were new at the restaurant, that we try the Prix Fixe, as it had samples of everything they do.

And then we looked at its price: $85.00 per (an additional $55.00 for wine with courses… it;s a good thing we are not drinkers.) This was going to be an expensive night, even with the coupon, whose $25.00 would be eaten up in the tip!)

So we had a starter, an appetizer, another appetizer, a main course, a dessert series, and coffee. And, I have to admit, the things we were served had the beauty that you see on shows like Top Chef – everything was artfully laid out on fine, white plates…oversized compared to the food and acting like a frame… and sided with sterling silverware.

Now for the down side (it’s not that bad, so don’t look for something outrageous). Portions are extremely small. We expected small, based on our television experience and having eaten at very good chef-oriented restaurants like Volt in Frederick, but  this was really teeny.  Given all the courses, we didn’t expect to be hungry when we left. We were.

The other problem we had was the amount of salt used in some of the items… oddly enough in the sauce under a dish of raw vegetables which, I guess, was a salad (it was lovely to look at), and on the extremely tiny piece of smoked beef in the grand entree. The beef we also found somewhat tough and chewy (although the rare center was quite tender and not salty… I wish there had been more of that.)

The desserts were wonderful, though also small. My favorite was a dessert souffle that was larger than most of the items served.

I think Chef Christopher is an excellent visual chef and I wish he had a greater sensitivity to salt content on some things. Their bakery puts out lovely small cakes and muffins and grand breads. And just knowing that everything is organic and local is very satisfying. We are certainly interested in going again, most likely for a Sunday Brunch where we think we can enjoy Potowmack Farm for about half the cost of the Prix Fixe. We give it our Thumbs Up.

Potowmack Farm is in Lovettsville, Virginia. For current menus, reservation info and and driving directions, go to http://www.patowmackfarm.com.