May 2019

Daniel M. Walker, Contributing Columnist

In their younger days, my grandkids would say, “Pops, let’s go on an adventure!” I would crank up my vintage Mustang convertible and we would have a great time, usually ending up at a favorite restaurant … of course. So the term “adventure” has a special meaning to me, with memories of special times and good food.

Let’s go on a road-trip adventure. The destination is a scenic, rural Virginia town and the mission is to enjoy good country cooking. The town is Farmville in the heart of Virginia. To add an ounce of intrigue to this adventure, we are going to have both breakfast and lunch in Farmville. So buckle up, shift that old Mustang into gear and off we go.

Breakfast at Walker’s Diner (No relation, but a great name for a restaurant.)

One of the iconic sights along Main Street in Farmville is Walker’s Diner. Its outside steel structure was constructed in 1955. The charm of having breakfast in a diner with counter stools is a treat no one should miss. “Charm may get you in the building, but good cooking will bring you back” one of my favorite sayings. That is exactly what’s happened over decades with satisfied diners.

Husband and wife, Steve and Loretta Graham, and Rob Chapman own the diner. Before becoming owners, Loretta and Steve cooked and served customers under a prior owner. As Loretta explains, “They wanted to tear the diner down and I just couldn’t let that happen, so we pooled our money together and bought it.”

I had just gotten out of my car in the diner parking lot when Allen, a diner customer, approached me and asked if I was the one who was going to write an article about Walker’s Diner? Word travels fast in a small town.

Being a food journalist, I could not resist the opportunity to conduct an on-the-spot interview of Allen’s impressions of his meal at Walker’s Diner. Allen recommended the western omelet and then he recommended a lunch restaurant. He said they were the two best restaurants in town. I got the impression from my street interview that Allen was a local authority on good eating in Farmville.

Once inside the diner, I ordered the western omelet. Allen’s assessment was spot on. The egg blanket surrounding the omelet was light and stuffed with a hearty mixture of cheese, ham, green peppers and onions, served with golden hash browns and biscuits. It was very, very good.

Two other interesting things I noticed are that Walker’s sells homemade doggie treats made with wholesome ingredients. Being a dog lover, I thought that was neat.

I also noticed a sign that reads, “Enter here as strangers, leave as friends.” I think that sums up my assessment of Walker’s Diner, along with the delicious food.

Lunch at the Riverside Cafe

I don’t take on an adventure unless I can complete it with “good cheer.” So if the lunch is tasty and good, and so soon after breakfast, there will be no challenge at all.

My restaurant selection for lunch (remember Allen’s recommendation?) is the Riverside Cafe located at the western end of Farmville’s Main Street by the famed Appomattox River.

The Riverside Cafe is owned and operated by Parker and Jean Wheeler. One of Jean’s favorites, and the house specialty, is “Chicken Battered in Special House Recipe and Pan Fried.” Being a Southern boy, I am always in search of the best fried chicken in the land. I may have found it; if not, it’s pretty darn close.

Erin, our server, explained it might take a little extra time because it is made from scratch, just the way I like it. As I remember, nobody ever hurried Grandma when she cooked her fried chicken. And the wait wasn’t really that long at all.

Served with my chicken feast were mashed potatoes with gravy and fried okra. Also served at the table were chicken tenders and fried potatoes. For dessert, we shared a slice of really velvety coconut cream pie that was smooth and melted in your mouth.

What an adventure a great ride through the heart of Virginia in the company of the people I love the most, two good meals of genuine great country cooking made for a good time for all!

Don’t forget, I’m waiting to hear about your favorite restaurant and/or road trip at [email protected]

WALKER’S DINER
307 N. Main St.
Farmville, VA 23901
Phone: (434) 392-4230
Hours: Tues.-Fri., 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Sat., 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sun., 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Closed Mon.


RIVERSIDE CAFE
522 N. Main St.
Farmville, VA 23901
Phone: (434) 392-2008
Hours:
Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Closed Sun.