Just a brief story about a restaurant not closing in Rappahannock County:
Not only is Washington’s Blue Rock Inn shooting for an April 15 reopening — after bankruptcy, new ownership and nearly a year of renovation — but its new owners have hired award-winning chef Gerard Pangaud to get the place started.
“Chef Gerard is our executive chef consultant and he’s helping us open up the restaurant,” said Blue Rock innkeeper Mati Miller, sister-in-law of owner Said Hawa of McLean, who bought the Blue Rock property after it had gone bankrupt in 2008.
Since then, at least five other county eateries have gone out of business — the Flint Hill Public House, Viewtown’s ECow and Pellagatta’s, Rae’s and Stonewall Abbey in Sperryville.
“It’s his menu and he’ll be training the kitchen staff on his cuisine; he’ll be here full-time next month to do that,” Miller said of Pangaud.
Rachel Rowland, longtime sous chef at the much-acclaimed and much-missed Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Flint Hill (which also closed in 2008), is the executive chef who will stay on at Blue Rock after Pangaud’s consultancy ends, Miller said.
Pangaud is a veteran French chef whose cuisine earned numerous awards in the 15 years he ran his Gerard’s Place in downtown Washington, before leaving in 2008 to teach and consult — and, last year, take on the Pentagon Dining Room.
Gerard’s Place made Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants Blue Ribbons list consistently from 1993 to 2007, during which it also earned 4- Diamond and 4-Star designations from AAA and Mobil, respectively. It was a Washington Post Editor’s Pick in 2006.
Miller said the restaurant’s cuisine will be French-influenced fine dining, with entrees ranging from $20 to $27. The Blue Rock has completely gutted the interior and been rebuilt, she said, but will still have a pub – and a separate pub-like menu, with burgers, salads, sandwiches and more, from $7 to $14.
The patio with the Blue Ridge views also remains, she said.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Foster Harris House B&B co-owner John MacPherson. “It’s wonderful, the fact that he is heading up the culinary range and Rachel is going to be executing it. It’s just a fantastic move and a great thing for the county.”
MacPherson, whose inn holds annual “Tour d’Epicure” events for bicycle-bound gormands, added: “The more, the merrier.”