Staunton’s Zynodoa stands the test of time
by Peggy Hyland, Contributing Columnist
Nestled in historic downtown Staunton, Zynodoa Restaurant will transport you to another world. Stepping off the quaint city sidewalk next to the theater, diners enter a sleek, modern setting. The walls are decorated with local artwork, as well as a list of the farmers who provide the farm-to-table food that Zynodoa is known for.
The bar area is warm and welcoming, with imaginative cocktails and mocktails served up by staff with remarkable combined longevity. One bartender told me she has been there 11 years, which speaks volumes about the establishment and its clientele. The wine list is well-sourced, with a solid emphasis on Virginia vineyards.
The knowledgeable staff is happy to guide you through your options. We started with the bruléed cast-iron cornbread. I could happily make a meal out of that on its own. The top was crispy and the inside had the perfect texture, and it went beautifully with Concord grape jelly and European-style whipped butter, both from nearby farms.
I love beets, so I moved on to the Van Deesel Farm beet salad, which had two kinds of beets and goat cheese (always a match made in heaven) with spicy arugula. My companion opted for the Virginia blue crab fritters, which were incredible. Their pillowy texture was enhanced by a spicy remoulade.
My main course was the Polyface Farm vinegar-braised chicken, which also featured Edwards Smoked Surrey Sausage. It was done in a style reminiscent of gumbo, so the flavors and spices shone without the vinegar taking over. The pickled fennel on top was a delight, and the entire dish was swoon-worthy.
My dinner companion went for the Burner’s Beef tomahawk ribeye, which comes with a thorough provenance to the beef farm and their herd, dating back to the 1970s. The care given to the cattle is obvious with every bite, as this ribeye was some of the best beef I have ever eaten. The exterior had a flawless crust, the interior was melting without excessive marbling, and the black garlic steak sauce gave it all a smooth balance. It came with perfectly mashed potatoes and incredible zucchini that was almost caramelized.
Stuffed from our meal, we debated skipping dessert. Our server talked us into the elephant heart plum and cheese tart, saying it was the perfect size to split. He was right, and it was just the right size to end the meal. Topped with fresh mint, the tart had the perfect crumble and was not too sweet.
While not specifically a gluten-free restaurant, Zynodoa has plenty of top-notch gluten-free options, as well as delicious vegetarian offerings. They also have pre-show seating times for the adjacent Dixie Theater. On weekends, the street is closed to vehicle traffic and outdoor seating is available.
Zynodoa Restaurant is at 115 E. Beverley Street, Staunton, VA 24401. Contact the restaurant at (540) 885-7775 or zynodoa.com.