Dining with Dan

Southern Comfort at the Southern Inn


Story and Photos by Daniel M. Walker, Contributing Writer


Dan Walker

Southern Inn

37 S. Main Street, Lexington, VA

540-463-3612 � www.southerninn.com 

Southern cooking can be simple or complex, and I love it all. I particularly enjoy experiencing how different chefs interpret the various aspects of Southern flavor.

A case in point is George Huger, head chef and owner, along with his wife Sue Anne, of the Southern Inn in lovely downtown Lexington, Virginia.

Over the years, I have received many emails suggesting I try the Southern Inn, and now I know why. And I wonder � why did I wait so long? Everything I put in my mouth at the Southern Inn would make any displaced Southerner homesick for that good-old Southern comfort.

George Huger, head chef and owner, along with his wife Sue Anne, at the Southern Inn.

�I grew up on a farm in Lexington. My parents were in the food business, so cooking Southern just comes natural to me,� says George. George and Sue Ann met at Randolph-Macon College, and George later attended culinary school in Baltimore.

In an effort to get George and Sue Ann back to Lexington, his family encouraged him to buy the old Southern Inn, open since 1932. �Taking over an existing restaurant can be challenging, especially if you want to head in a different direction,� says George. �But with time, patience and some very loyal customers, you can get to the other end of the tunnel, even if a fire interrupts your rhythm,� he continues. The restaurant had major fire damage in 2010 and was closed for a year.

When I was growing up, pimento cheese was a staple in my diet and I loved it. When I opened the menu of the Southern Inn and saw an appetizer of fried pimento cheese, I just had to try it. To me, good pimento cheese is the pate� of the South. George�s was great and it�s worth a trip to Southern Inn just for the fried pimento cheese. The light-crusted pimento cheese was rich and creamy, and to my surprise, made without mayo. Also adding to the flavorful taste was a swirl of red pepper jelly.

Sometimes after a great appetizer, I�m hesitant to order an entr�e from fear of being disappointed. Included on the menu were iconic southern favorites: fried chicken, meatloaf, calf�s liver, saut�ed trout, and blackened chicken. On the specialty-entr�e list were pan-fried scallops, saut�ed red snapper, roasted duck breast, and grilled sirloin steak with blue cheese. After deliberating for what seemed like an eternity, I chose grilled pork loin with a side of mac and white-cheddar cheese served in a small cast-iron pan, with greens.

I have to confess that my choice was guided in part by what I believed would be a colorful and pleasing image for the magazine. I was rewarded with a juicy, flavorful serving of pork and an incredible complement of gala-apple chutney with the side of cider-braised greens. It was so good that I just had to save a portion of the meal to take home for my wife to try.

Are we done?  No, not quite. We have to have dessert, the rule of Dan, for happy dining. For some time I pondered a number of tempting selections, eventually narrowing the possibilities to Southern pecan pie and Grand Marnier cr�me brulee. I chose the pecan pie because it was served with homemade marshmallows. Homemade marshmallows! When have you had that delicacy? Wow! 

I am done, and happy as a barnyard peacock on my long ride back to Richmond; warm memories of outstanding flavor and the fun Southern hospitality offered by George and Sue Ann.

Many Cooperative Living readers plan road trips based on my Dining with Dan adventures. Without reservation, I recommend the Southern Inn. What better road trip than a visit to charming Lexington and a crowning meal at the Southern Inn?

I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of long-term BARC Electric Cooperative director Bill Leech and his wife Ruth, both of whom exemplified cooperative dedication and spirit. They were also dear friends of my family.

Please take a moment and email me at [email protected], with your idea for a possible Dining with Dan road-trip.



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