Heading into the future without a firm grasp of history? Not a likely course for Ken Thompson and his band of Thornton River Group restaurant associates. Getting local farm goods to their tables, artists and artisans on their walls and pretty much everyone else’s feet firmly on the ground? More likely.
Thus TRG’s latest venture, Tula’s off Main, moves into what executive chef Tom Nash is calling “Phase Two” of its stewardship of the cafe started two years ago in Thompson’s Kramer Building by baker and barista Darla Morres: A new menu, a full-time patio — and a fetching new bar. And all of it is enlivened and informed by the work of local growers, artisans and entrepreneurs, not the least of whom is furniture maker Peter Kramer, one-time Washington mayor and former owner of the Gay Street building that still carries his name.
Kramer’s spirit is in evidence most strongly in the newly opened Bar at Tula’s — and to be clear, Kramer is very much alive, having only moved his workshop downstairs, next to his showroom. But the bar was built in the exact space occupied for many years by Kramer’s shop — thus his spirit remains, though none of the sawdust — and the walnut-and-spalted-maple bar itself, the cherry-and-walnut tables and the wide-plank pine floors are all Kramer’s work. (With help from contractor Chuck Cmunt and crew.)
The menu has new additions, most that reflect TRG’s increasingly close work with area growers (some of whom are acknowledged on the menus themselves, including John Burns’ Goat Hill Farm in Washington, as well as Heritage Hollow Farms and tomato grower John Jenkins, both in Sperryville). In addition to the annual Tomato Dinner that Nash put together, with Jenkins’ produce, at Thornton River Grille (which, by the way, is now firmly in the capable hands of chef Abdon Garcia), there will soon be an Onion Dinner, thanks to Burns’ new plantings.
For now, there’s music on Saturday nights on the patio — just loud enough, Thompson said, that patrons coming outside after dinner at the Inn at Little Washington can hear it, as several did last Saturday and made their way up Gay Street — and free hors d’oeuvres in the bar from 4 to 6 Fridays.
Tula’s is open 11 to 5 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 11 to 9 Friday-Sunday (opening for brunch at 10 Sundays) and closed Wednesdays. Call 540-675-2223.
Murder comes to the RAAC Community Theatre in the form of “The Real Inspector Hound” next month. Written by Tom Stoppard, the one-act play is a hilarious send-up of country house murder mystery whodunits, such as Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap.”
The performances are Friday and Saturday, Aug. 15-16.
“This play-within-a-play involves two theatre critics who get drawn into the intrigue onstage,” says the director, Russell Paulette, English and drama teacher at Rappahannock County High School. “They are joined by the usual lineup of characters, such as the grand dame, debutante, maid, retired major, inspector and, of course, a dead body.”
The cast consists of current and former students from both Wakefield and RCHS: Justin Smith, Henry Mason, Wynnie Thompson, Gus Norris, Carolina Leonard, Jane Purnell, Will Thompson, Parker Critzer and James MacLeod. Brier Ann Clough and Nicky Taylor serve as technical crew.
RAAC Community Theatre artistic director Peter Hornbostel welcomes the production to the theatre lineup. “We are delighted that Russell is back to direct his third summer production for us and that he has cast this play with all local young people,” he says.
“The Real Inspector Hound” shows are at 8 p.m. Augt. 15-16 at RAAC Community Theatre (310 Gay St., Washington). Tickets are $15, and available online at raac.org (click on “Community Theatre”). If you do not have internet access, call 800-695-6075.