After we arrived at Holladay House Inn, we knew where we wanted to get dinner. In October we had come to Orange, Virginia to celebrate our anniversary and had eaten at Elmwood at Sparks Restaurant. So we knew how good it was and looked forward to another great meal.
Just as before, we made last minute reservations through our bed and breakfast, Holladay House Inn. With little notice, we were able to get in within minutes, even though they were very busy. We are even able to sit at our original table as we had for our anniversary. We were greeted by the waitress that helped us before and remembering her name I greeted her with it. She was surprised that I remembered. I have to say our last visit had been such a wonderful delight that it wasn’t hard to recall those that made it so good. Kristen got our drinks and allowed us time to read over the menu.
We quickly knew just want we wanted. I ordered a starter of Shrimp and Parmesan Grits with Shallots, Herbs, Tomatoes and Chardonnay Butter, which I enjoyed the last time I came and a Filet Mignon with Wild Mushroom Risotto and Roasted Vegetables. Brett ordered the Creamy Mushrooms and Penna Pasta Roasted Red Peppers, Parmesan, Belchamel, Basil Pesto and Toasted Pine Nuts which he had the last time as well.
As we waited for our starter, the Chef Cooper peeked out from behind the counter which was very close to our table and asked us how our Bed and Breakfast was coming. We were very surprised since we had only been there once before and were not local residence or business. How wonderful that he remembered!
The food was out of this world as it had been before. After we finished we ordered a single dessert of Crepes with Maple Butter Sauce and Pumpkin Ice Cream. As we finished, we spoke to Kristen and enjoyed the very special customer service she offered. We left wishing that they were closer to us so we could enjoy their wonderful food, gracious customer service and warm atmosphere more often.
The Sparks Building is a historic two and one half story Federal period commercial and domestic building that was built around 1830 for James Forbes. There has been some exterior alterations with include the construction of modern store front; the Sparks Building still retains much of its original material. The Sparks Butchery & Deli was located on the west side of the building in 1902.
When Chef Randy Cooper opened Elmwood at Sparks, the cafe had formerly offered a deli menu. Executive Chef Randy Cooper was trained in classical French and New American cuisine at Johnson & Wales University. Over the past fourteen years Chef Cooper has worked in many prestigious restaurants including Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado as Chef de Tourant; Boar’s Hear Inn as Chef de Cuisine; Ivy Inn as Sous Chef; Glenmore Country Club as the Fine Dining Chef, and most recently, as the Executive Chef of the Grille at Prince Michel Vineyards, receiving the coveted Four Diamond AAA rating.
Looking for those who are dedicated to natural and sustainable farming and seeking the best of local ingredients, Chef Cooper has quickly made Elmwood at Sparks a local favorite. Using his southern heritage along with his training, Chef Cooper will frequently change his menu to reflect the season and availability. Chef Cooper also showcases his ability to sift from a casual lunch stop to a fine dining restaurant in the evening. It is the evening menu that Chef Cooper culinary skills shine.
Whether Chef Cooper is offering a lunch menu, dinner menu or a catered event, according to his web site he stands by his philosophy that “It’s all about the food – whether customers want to grab a quick sandwich to take back to the office or dine here. Using the best products, I use my menu to offer quality dishes.”