Dining with Dan



by Daniel M. Walker, Contributing Writer


Dan Walker

115 Main Street    Warsaw, Virginia    804-761-6727

Hours: Thursday – Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dinner Only

One recipe for a great, low-country feast is good friends, a quaint Northern Neck town, and a talented chef who was once a licensed riverboat captain.

“My passion is food, cooking, and Southern cuisine,” says Carol Mead Smith, the creative talent behind Relish. This unique restaurant was originally located in Tappahannock, but relocated Feb. 1 to Main Street in Warsaw, Va.

“All my experiences in life have led me to create Southern dishes in the Northern Neck, even piloting an old-time riverboat down the Rappahannock. Being a native of the Northern Neck, I have an up-close-and-personal relationship with the bounty of fresh crops and water life. The local farmers and watermen are the soul of my cooking,” Carol continues. “It is that fresh taste that I want my diners to enjoy.”

Chef Carol Mead Smith

The evening I dined at Relish, I was joined by my long-term dinner companion and by friends, Greg and Carolyn White of Warsaw. Greg is president & CEO of Northern Neck Electric Cooperative.

My three dinner companions were warned in advance that when I am working on a restaurant review, it is standard procedure for me to also sample their entrées. So … we began our dining experience with the special cauliflower soup, crispy fried oysters, and a seasonal salad of arugula, mixed lettuce, candied pecans, local apples, and smoked bacon with blue cheese dressing.

I enjoyed the oysters so much that I pondered ordering them as an entrée.

For the main event, everyone tried something different. The first entrée was local rockfish with an oyster white-truffle cream sauce and lime basil rice. It can be described as yum! Next was a lump, local crab cake with homemade corn relish and lime aioli. You can really tell when crabs and oysters are fresh — their flavors are at their zenith. With the rockfish and crab cake, we now had two solid winners.

For a little change of pace, my long-term dinner companion ordered the filet mignon with blue-cheese butter, caramelized onions with port reduction. This selection was tender, juicy, and a delight to the palate! When I dine Southern cuisine, I often look for a shrimp-and-grits dish; so, for my entrée, I ordered grilled garlic shrimp and local Cerdito sausage. The grits were cheesy and creamy with a hint of roasted garlic.

You might think that with four different entrées, one would turn out to be a so-so dish. But no, not at Relish. Each selection was a gourmet treat.

To complete an excellent meal, dessert is a requirement. Again, we sampled a variety of selections. We had crème brûlée, warm apple cake with vanilla ice cream, and butterscotch pie. The flavorful apple cake and the silky, smooth butterscotch pie brought back fond memories of my grandmother’s cooking in her cast-iron black stove. Taste’s sweet memory can compress decades in a heartbeat, recalling happy thoughts of home and hearth. Dessert is not to be excluded when dining at Relish.

Some of the best cooks in Virginia live on the Northern Neck, and you will not be disappointed with your visit to Relish. Chef Carol certainly carries this long tradition to a new level. Well done!

 Let me know your favorite restaurant at dwalker123@comcast.net.



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