Day Tripping - DC Metro
Warrenton, Virginia

Site Links

Items of Interest: Antiques, Historical Sites, Restaurants
(Located in Fauquier County off I-66
Take US-29 South toward Gainsville/Warrenton for 11.5 miles
Within an hour's drive from Washington, DC)

Old Fauquier County Courthouse

Warrenton, VA has been transformed from the small court house county seat of Fauquier County to a commuter bedroom community. From the modern sprawl along all approaches via Rts. 29, 211, or 17, one would not imagine that the peaceful historic district of "Old Town Warrenton" still has that court house town feel.

And Tom should know about that "town feel" since he grew up in Warrenton and taught school there before moving to the DC area.

Main Street Warrenton, Virginia
(Photo - Courtesy, Town of Warrenton)

Buildings, many from the nineteenth century, remain the same; their purposes, however, have been changed so that they now house galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops.

The historic area, with Main Street as its center, is extremely well maintained and very charming.

The town's center is planned in such a way that walking to the shops and sights is quite easy. Use Court House Square, with its Jeffersonian style court house as your center, and then explore Winchester, Culpeper, Lee, and Main Streets. History surrounds you here, for you are in the heart of the "Mosby confederacy".

History surrounds you here, for you are in the heart of the "Mosby confederacy". Along east Main Street, you can see the house Colonel John S. Mosby (of Mosby's Raiders fame) lived in after the Civil War; it has been completely restored and became a museum house.

His grave is in Warrenton Cemetery, just off Lee Street, near the Confederate memorial.

After more than a decade of controversy and false starts, the John Singleton Mosby Museum opened for a short period and then closed.

The Mosby House on Main Street
(Photo - Courtesy, Lawrence Emerson)

Col. John S. Mosby

Mayor George Fitch started a “task force” to open the museum after the original organization, The John Singleton Mosby Foundation, disbanded several years ago. Patricia Fitch, the mayor’s wife, helped start the original foundation after the Town of Warrenton purchased the house and three acres for $460,000 in 1999. The town agreed to lease Brentmoor for a Mosby museum.

An accident on the property, which killed foundation board member Harold Spencer in 2007, and subsequent lawsuits hastened the organization’s disbanding. The town in 2009 reached a $1.25-million settlement with Mr. Spencer’s family.

From the beginning, town officials envisioned — and promoted — the museum as a major tourist attraction. With state and federal grants, the town built the adjacent visitor center to provide restrooms and an educational center for the museum. The original foundation restored Brentmoor to its 1860s condition, removing utility systems and repainting the exterior as with historically-accurate beige and brown.

The house, when it was opened on March 9, 2013 as a museum, "illustrated the life and times of Colonel Mosby through permanent and rotating exhibits of artifacts from his long life (1833-1916), as well as artifacts belonging to members of his unit," Grey Ghost LLC said in a press release. "It is believed that visitors to the museum would have gained an appreciation for what the Mosby family’s lives were like during the post-war years."

"The museum's opening date commemorated the 150th anniversary of Mosby’s bringing Union Brigadier General Edwin Stoughton to Warrenton on the morning of March 9, 1863. Mosby and 29 men went into Fairfax City the night before and captured Stoughton and around 30 Union officers and men, as well as 58 horses, without firing a shot and escaped undetected through Federal lines to Warrenton."

The Warrenton Horse Show

Long before there was a Virginia Gold Cup, the Warrenton Horse Show was Fauquier County's claim to equestrian fame. Not much is known about the grounds' early days. Because the Warrenton Horse Show never had an office, much of the history lies buried in attics throughout the county. And many of the "old timers" are gone now.

Enter the horses. Taking a lead perhaps from the Upperville Colt and Horse Show, several Warrenton horsemen decided to hold their own competition in 1899. Charlie W. Smith and Julian Kieth reportedly spearheaded this endeavor. The Warrenton Horse Show was granted a charter on August 8, 1899, under the applicants William H Gaines, E. Astley Cooper, W. A. Thompson, M. B. Payne and George S. Smith.

Washington Horse Show History

The first show was held virtually in Neptune Lodge's back yard . Longtime show Director and Secretary Frank D, Gaskins is credited with the selection of this spot and its lease the first year.

In May of 1900, the Warrenton Horse Show Association purchased the entire 8.74-acre parcel , complete with schoolhouse, desks and other furniture. The purchase price for this sliver of a once great holding was $1,950. A new era had begun.

From the start, the show was a hit with spectators. The show also was noted for its interim entertainment. Unusual pageants and displays kept this lively between classes for many years.

The Warrenton Horse Show has toned down with time, but retains a certain loyal clientele. Now a C rated show by the USEF, it attracted about 4,000 people last year.

Above Text from Washington Horse Show Web Site (Click Here for More)

Warrenton Horse Show Hunt Night 2007
5 Year winning streak- trophy

Gold Cup

Virginia Gold Cup Race History

The legendary annual Virginia Gold Cup steeplechasing classic, now run before a sellout crowd of over 50,000 people, comes from much simpler beginnings.

Steeplechasing in Virginia has been a way of life since early Colonial times when the horse was the primary way of transportation, farming and war. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson met in sporting competition over fences. Organized steeplechase races have run in Fauquier County since 1844 originally at White Sulphur Springs then a fashionable spa near Warrenton.

Chris Morris
Official Hornsman of the Virginia Gold Cup and International Gold Cup
Great Meadow, The Plains, Virginia

On April 3, 1922, eight sportsmen met at the Fauquier Club in Warrenton and decided to organize a four-mile race between flags over the natural walls and fences of the nearby hunting countryside.

Pledging $1,000 to purchase a trophy for the winning owner, they ruled that it be kept permanently by the first owner to win the race three times, not necessarily in consecutive years nor with the same horse. Just 34 days later, they held the first Virginia Gold Cup race.

From its beginning, the race was intended to be a national event drawing “the best hunters in America.” Unlike today’s seven-race card, that first Virginia Gold Cup was a single-race event, riders to be “gentlemen wearing racing colors or officers of the U.S. Army in uniform.” Nine horses competed that May at Oakwood, the great estate on Waterloo Road near Warrenton overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains and once owned by President Lincoln’s personal physician, Dr. Robert King Stone.

In 1924 the race moved to a new course, Broadview Farm near Warrenton, and was run for the first time under national steeplechasing rules. It has run each year since with only few interruptions during World War II.

Above Text from Virginia Gold Cup Web Site (Click Here for More)

Old Town Warrenton

The Ullman House on Culpeper Street

(Click on Photo for Larger Image)

The quaintness, tradition and charm of bygone eras are apparent along Old Town Warrenton streets lined with historic houses and brick sidewalks. Townsfolk gather on the steps of the post office or at a coffee shop to pass the time of day, perhaps pausing to listen as the old courthouse clock strikes the hour.

Culpeper Street and Culpeper Street extended (the Springs Road) contains many houses and estates which date to the mid-nineteenth century.

Some notable examples are the Marr House, the Ullman House, Neptune Lodge, and Menlough.

Ron's brother Jim was a doctor in Warrenton for many years and lived in the Ullman House with his wife Sue. Ron stayed there for a short period while attending graduate school at George Washington University in the early 1960's.

The Confederate Memorial
Center of Photo
(Click on Photo for Larger Image)
Stop in at the Old Jail Museum, managed and staffed by the Fauquier Historical Society for tourist information, brochures, and maps. Here you can also get an Old Town walking tour map.

The building is a series of jails used continuously from the 18th to the mid 20th centuries.

There are colorful and informative exhibits at the Jail Museum depicting the history of Warrenton and Fauquier County.

Old Fauquier County Jail
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Warrenton Cemetery is an excellent example of the "Victorian park" cemetery. The grounds are not spooky or macabre, but rather you feel as if you are walking in a park. Its center is the Confederate Memorial which marks the mass grave of several casualties of Manassas battles.

Until recently the names of the buried were unknown, but through research they are now identified and listed on a new wall which surrounds the grave. Lovely trees and elegant memorials mark the graves, especially in the west end of the cemetery.

The Chapman/Beverley Mill
At the border between Fauquier and Prince William Counties, the Chapman/Beverley Mill cuts an imposing figure against its wooded backdrop. The massive five and one half story structure, originally built in 1742, is thought to be the tallest stacked stone building in the United States. The mill supplied food through five wars, but was gutted by fire in 1998. Today, though the arson left the structure a ruin, the stabilized mill walls and the mill store still stand as a reminder of the history of milling in Northern Virginia.

Chapman’s Mill was built in 1742 by Jonathan and Nathaniel Chapman, a father/son partnership from an enterprising, well-connected colonial family. Enlarged in 1758, the mill became a prosperous gristmill that fostered the development of the Shenandoah Valley as a wheat and corn producing region for the next one hundred years. Due to the mill’s location between the Valley and the city of Alexandria, corn and wheat could be transported efficiently by wagon to the mill, ground into cornmeal and wheat, and then shipped from Alexandria to ever-expanding markets in Europe and South America.

In October of 1998, the Chapman Mill fell victim to arson. The Turn the Mill Around Campaign (TTMAC), a 501c3 non-profit organization obtained ownership of the property and began the stabilization and interpretation of the Mill ruins. (Click Here for their Web Site)

Chapman - Beverley Mill: From Founding to Fire and Beyond

Our December 27, 2007 visit resulted in a fine luncheon dining experience at "Claire's at the Depot", 65 South Third Street in downtown.

The building housing Claire's resides on the site of a train station originally constructed in 1852 (the original wood structure was rebuilt in brick in 1908). Read more of the background of this historic building on Claire's web site.

Since purchasing the building in 1994, owner and executive chef Claire Lamborne has created a warm and friendly restaurant with some of the best food we have ever consumed, accompanied by excellent service. Our server for that day was Nicole - a delight.

For starters, we both selected "Claire's Famous She Crab" soup, a cup of rich, unbelievably tasty well seasoned cream filled with hearty chunks of crab. Both our eye brows arched at the first taste - a knowing sign of experiencing a gastronomic delight.

Our entrees included their "Cornmeal Crusted Fried Chesapeake Oysters" and "Butternut Squash Ravioli". If there are better, more tasty or fresher entrees on the menu, then we can't wait for our next meal at Claire's.

The butternut squash ravioli was simply unbelievable - the taste was a superb blend of cheese, sauce and vegetables and entirely new to both of us (Tom's choice, but I stole a sample). I love oysters and was not disappointed in their entree.

Claire's at the Depot
(Photo Courtesy Claire's)

My palate hasn't been this happy for a long time. The side french fries were startlingly unique, fresh and crispy - YUM. We ended our lunch with a hearty coffee (which we both loved) and Claire's key lime cheesecake which topped off a perfect meal.

Claire Lamborne
Owner/Executive Chef
(Photo Courtesy Claire's)

Review Update - August 25, 2009

On an incredibly beautiful day in late August, we returned to Warrenton and to Claire's for lunch. Our menu choices this time were Grilled Lemon Herbed Chicken (Ron) and Mixed Grill (Tom). Again, we were impressed - with the perfect flavor and doneness of the meats and the delightful taste of the vegetables.

Claire's cauliflower au gratin was so pleasant and the fresh green beans actually tasted like fresh green beans. We treated ourselves to dessert - Cocanut Cake for Tom and Flourless Chocalate Cake for Ron. What a wonderful ending for another superb meal. We are so impressed with this restaurant that we are running out of superlatives.

Our Rating (Five Chefs is Highest)

Photo Courtesy
Red Truck Bakery

"One of our favorite discoveries is Brian Noyes, the owner of the Red Truck Bakery in Virginia, who has a deft hand with pastries and an unerring sense of flavor balance."
- The New York Times

"The Red Truck Bakery is the love child of Smithsonian magazine art director Brian Noyes, an accomplished baker who has studied at New York’s Culinary Institute of America and L’Academie de Cuisine in Washington, D.C. Each weekend Noyes offers up a selection of goodies made in the humble kitchen of his Orlean farmhouse."
- Flavor Magazine

Washington Post Magazine Article (March 6, 2011) on Red Truck, Brian and His Partner Dwight McNeill
Click Here

We first heard about the Red Truck Bakery from a feature in the Fauquier Times-Democrat several years ago. At that time, owner Brian Noyes worked out of his home using mail order and a parking lot in the Virginia village of Orlean as his venues. Since then, we have been eagerly awaiting Brian's arrival in Warrenton - in a real establishment.

On our August 25, 2009, foray to Warrenton (for the express purpose of visiting Red Truck), we arrived around noon and walked into one of the most inviting bakeries in our memories. We should say, we love bakeries - for all the great reasons everyone loves bakeries - the fragrance of baked goods and the promise of things sweet and good.

WE WERE NOT DISAPPOINTED!!!. You just have to smile when you walk into Red Truck. The place is so clean and inviting - the fragrance we expected was so very, very pleasant and we were greeted with broad and sincere grins from the very attractive staff. What a great start. We looked around and began our culinary adventure.

Our purchases were designed to get a "flavor" of their offerings and included: (1) a loaf of Harvest Wheat Bread with Fruit; (2) Foccacia; (3) their signature "Alma Hackney’s Rum Cake" and (4) a jar of their Sour Cherry Jam (with a hint of almond).

Brian and Staff
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

(Photo by Ron Patterson)
Within a couple of hours of returning to Arlington, we just had to try the Rum Cake, and we did. Never have we been so surprised and delighted with a new taste - the cake was simply perfect - not too sugary and just tart enough to keep us interested. This is a winner, no doubt.

The next morning, we had toasted Harvest Wheat Bread with the Sour Cherry Jam for breakfast. Again, it was definitely yummy, yummy time. We love wheat bread and this tops our list. The jam helped start our day with a lift. The foccacia came later in the same day with the same result - done right with panache.

We can't recommend strongly enough that visitors to this site make whatever effort required to get to Warrenton and the Red Truck. We guarantee that you won't be disappointed. Tell Brian that Ron and Tom said "hey."

Bakery Hours
Monday through Friday from 6:30 am until 5 pm
Saturdays from 7:00 am until 4 pm

Brian (right) and Staff Preparing
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

PERSONAL NOTE (and a bit of local history): Tom grew up in Warrenton, taught school here, and worked as a teen in the building that now serves as Red Truck, but in the 1960s was originally an Esso service station. (Esso before Exxon until Exxon/ Mobil!)

His father managed the station until the Warrenton Supply Company closed. Originally the Warrenton Supply Company encompassed the west side of Ashby Street - the service station on Main, the hardware store in the middle, and a Nash/ Rambler dealership on Lee Street. Frank Moffett, Blair Moffett, and Harry Carter ran the car dealership and hardware store.

Tom's Dad was a Warrenton "institution", known as Newt (Newton), by everyone; there were many customers who only let Newt work on their cars! He worked there until his retirement in the seventies. Tom was never a "car person" but was coerced to work there one summer, spending much of his time across the street at the library (now the John Barton Payne Building)!

It is amazing to see the transformation of the service station into the current bakery - a seemingly totally "new" building - but one with "ghosts" and "shadows" - the memories of its previous life.

Their new headquarters, in two historic mercantile buildings in Marshall, Virginia (just one mile north of I-66 and two exits west of the edge of suburbia), is three times the size of their Warrenton café, with a larger kitchen, much more seating, a bigger market featuring an expanded retail selection, our incredible coffee, and a larger menu offering up specials for breakfast and lunch. Make it a destination: they’re near Great Meadow’s equestrian events, Virginia’s best wineries, hiking in the Blue Ridge mountains and Shenandoah Valley, canoeing on area rivers, cycling, antique stores, Middleburg shopping and more.

Bakery Hours
Open weekdays from 6 am to 7 pm,
And Saturdays & Sundays
From 7 am to 4 pm

Visit their new larger main headquarters just off of I-66:
Expanded bakery, café, retail market and coffeehouse

Our Rating (Five Chefs is Highest)

Where can you go in Warrenton to find original Civil War art by nationally known artists, superb framing, and great service? The answer is simple. Take the time to visit "Framecraft Fine Frames, Fine Arts" on Main Street.

Mark and Meleana Moore became the new owners of Framecraft in Old Town Warrenton in January of 2008.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Having previously owned an auto repair shop, Framecraft was a new and exciting endeavor for the Moores.

We dropped in the shop and met Mark on November 5, 2009, having been attracted by Civil War Art in the window and a notice that the artist would be signing his works later that month.

The artwork that drew us in was by Mort Künstler, considered as the premier historical artist in America, currently focusing mainly on the American Civil War.

Mark at Work
(Photo Courtesy Framecraft)

Both Tom and I are experiencing a renewed interest in the Civil War, known by some as "The War of Northern Aggression" (actually called that only by the diehard Confederates who live in these parts - among whom we are not numbered).

Mort Künstler
(Courtesy the Artist)

Still others refer to the conflict as "The Southern Rebellion" - reference a two volume tome by that name written in 1862 (Volume I) and 1867 (Volume II) by W.A. Crafts. We have this two volume set along with a lot of other old, very old, books on all sorts of topics.

At any rate, while at the shop, we perused an autographed book by Mr. Künstler which includes images of his Gods and Generals series of paintings, a companion book to the major movie of the same name, starring Jeff Daniels, Stephen Lang and Robert Duval (who, incidentally, currently lives in Fauquier County, specifically in The Plains) as Robert E. Lee. (Click Here for Gods and Generals Movie Photo Gallery)

The very next day, we purchased one of Künstler's works - a limited edition print (a beautifully framed, signed and numbered artist proof) of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, entitled "Divine Guidance" from the artist's Gods and General series (shown below - image courtesy Mort Künstler).

In the image, General Jackson, at his headquarters near Fredericksburg, Virginia early on the morning of March 17, 1863, has just received the hard tidings regarding the death by scarlet fever of a little girl he had befriended.

Just the day before, the general’s headquarters had been relocated from a winter campsite he had occupied for several months at nearby Moss Neck Plantation. At the time, the owner of Moss Neck, Richard Corbin, was serving elsewhere in the Confederate cavalry.

Left at home on the plantation was his wife, Roberta, and the couple’s five year-old daughter, Jane Wellford Corbin - who was known affectionately as "Janie."

General Jackson and Janie became friends. Jackson had an infant daughter back home that he had not yet seen, and he found little Jane irresistibly delightful. "She was very pretty and bright,” an officer would recall, "with a sweet and happy face and fair, flaxen curls.”

She came regularly to visit the famous commander at headquarters, and Jackson would interrupt his duties to play with her. "She would play there for hours,” an observer would recollect, “sitting on the floor with a pair of scissors cutting paper and entertaining him with her childish prattle." (story of Janie and Jackson, courtesy Mort Künstler Web Site)

But I digress. The "Meet the Artist" event at Framecraft was held at Warrenton's historic courthouse from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm on Saturday, November 21. We arrived dutifully at 10:00 am to find a line of what looked like 20 to 30 citizens lined up at the courthouse, leading from the sidewalk up a steep set of stairs and into the courthouse itself.

Well, we figured we would have a wait of an hour or so - NOT!!!!! Had we taken the time to do the math, we could have easily surmised that the wait would have been much longer.

We had stopped by the shop shortly before 10:00 to pick up our print and were handed a reservation number for our place in line - the number was 90. "90" we screamed (not really) - but we were a bit taken aback.

OK - the math would suggest that 89 stalwart collectors ahead of us, spending at least 2 to 3 minutes getting their print signed, with the concomitant discussion with the artist, would give us a wait time of more than three hours - as it turned out, three and one-half hours, to be precise.

The reason for the great interest in this event was that the artist was in town to sign a new release - a limited edition of "The Gray Ghost" (pictured at left - image courtesy Mort Künstler). This print portrays the visit to Warrenton in January 1862 of Lieutenant-Colonel John Singleton Mosby (CSA), nicknamed "The Gray Ghost" as he and his troops appeared to vanish whenever they ventured into harm's way.

During the Civil War, the town was near the scene of battles and skirmishes during which the churches and schools were used as hospitals. Frequently occupied by Federal troops, Warrenton was the object of raids by Colonel Mosby, who later made his home there and practiced law in the California Building across Court Street. A monument to Mosby stands beside the Old Courthouse.

As mentioned above, he is buried in the Warrenton cemetery.

The wait was worthwhile - especially since we were able to leave the line, with the number "90" in hand, have a great lunch at the Black Bear Bistro (see review above), return to the line and reclaim our place behind number 89. One of the reasons it took longer that it appeared it should have is that folks (like us) were leaving the line and returning later, giving the impression that the line was shorter than in reality.

The collectors who showed up for this event, as we were able to ascertain by eavesdropping in line, were either rabid Civil War aficionados, collectors of local subject art, or art investors hoping to cash in on valuable art soon to appear on eBay (selling higher than the purchase price, of course).

When we entered the Old Courthouse built in 1890, we were struck by its history.

There have been seven courthouses in Warrenton, the Fauquier County seat.

County Courthouse with Lines Waiting
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Since 1795, four have stood on the same site on Main Street as the existing Old Courthouse built in 1890. Fire destroyed some of the earlier structures. The present courthouse, usually called the "new" courthouse by local residents, opened in 1974 as a legal-office complex. It is located on Culpeper Street, adjacent to the Warren Green Hotel. The Old Courthouse still houses the General District Court.

Mort Künstler (seated) and Mark Moore (right)
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

How appropriate it was to stand below portraits of figures such as Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall (Fauquier native), Francis Fauquier, Governor of Virginia when Fauquier County was founded in 1759, and Governor William "Extra Billy" Smith, and see premier American History artist Mort Künstler signing prints portraying a significant historical event.

Mr. Künstler was so very gracious with his time and knowledge in responding to questions and sharing experiences, both his and those of the collected patrons who so admiringly spoke with him.

Mark Moore is to be commended for bringing Mr. Künstler to Warrenton and organizing this event which helps remind us all about the significance of our heritage. In addition to the art by Mr. Künstler, Framecraft features works by P. Buckley Moss and John Paul Strain who since 1991 has broadened his subjects to include historical art of the American Civil War.

Framecraft Interior Photos Courtesy Owners

Palmer Smith paints "en plein air"... a French expression which means " in the open air." The phrase is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors.

His works in oils on canvas are executed almost exclusively from life.

Palmer has a Bachelor of fine arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond and displays his works at Studio frame shop and Cresendo restaurant in Warrenton , Virginia. Palmer lives and works in the Virginia Piedmont. His wife Michele is also an artist, and daughter Aliyah will turn 8 on April 1st.

Warrenton is, as you know or should know, is in the middle of horse country in Northern Virginia. Everything horsey, including races, hunts, dogs galore and pure class exists in abundance in Fauquier and Loudoun counties.

Our definition of "class", incidentally, includes the incredibly beautiful countryside, the historical buildings and context, and most importantly the people we meet.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

When we first visited Horse Country at 60 Alexandria Pike one block below the County Courthouse, we were stunned by the ambiance which exuded the smell of leather, displayed horsyness (I think that is a word) in every direction, and represented in every sense of the word "class."

We had been here before and purchased books among other items, including an exceptionally "funky" hat for a dear friend of ours who makes her home in New York City. She taught with Tom in Prince William County. She loved the hat.

This establishment is so much more, however, than just saddles. There are great books, incredible mens and womens clothing, fine gifts, horse supplies and much, much more. This time, we found a new book on dogs (we love books on dogs, even though we have only a single cat). This was the latest book by William Secord entitled "Dog Painting: A history of the dog in art" and is the fourth in his series of books of dogs in art. We have all four. For more information on Secord, check out our Middleburg site.

What made our visit this day so worthwhile was our meeting and discussion with the owner Marion Maggiolo and Jean Roberts. Our purchase of the Secord book led to an exchange of views and experiences about dog books and especially a book by F. Turner Reuter, Jr.

Marion knows Turner, and those in the know who don't wish they did, and we had met him at the most recent Washington Antique Show in DC.

For those who do not recognize the Reuter name, he is Curator of Fine Arts for the National Sporting Library and Editor at Large for The Magazine Antiques. His latest book is Animal and Sporting Artists in America.

We had purchased the book at the Antique Show and Mr. Reuter was kind enough to autograph it and discuss at length with us views on animal art. We were impressed.

We found Mr. Reuter to be extremely personable, especially when he took the time to regale us with a recent (January 2009) exploit of his involving his meeting in the UK with the Prince of Wales. He explained that the morning of his scheduled meeting with the Prince (for the purpose of presenting the Prince with a copy of his book) that he discovered that he had lost his passport.

This became extremely significant since he was nearly unable to convince British authorities that he was who he said he was and that he had an appointment with the Prince that very morning. As it turned out, the State Department interceded and the appointment took place as planned.

What a great story!!! But, moving on.

(Photo Courtesy Red Fox Fine Arts Web Site)

While we were checking out, the topic of credit cards versus debit cards came up and Jean Roberts told us a remarkable story about her experience with American Express.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

In the 1970s, Jean applied for an American Express card and was told explicitely that the company did not issue cards to single women. Well, that was the wrong thing to say to Jean.

She began a process of objecting to such a patently discriminatory practice and secured the assistance of a Member of Congress for whom she worked.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

When faced with the possibility of legislation to prohibit such practices, Amex relented and Jean was the first single woman to receive the company's credit card. Heroes can be found everywhere. So we were able to hear an even greater story than the one involving the Prince of Wales. Now, how many times can you say that!!!

Needless to say, it is meeting with individuals like Marion and Jean that strengthen our faith in the basic goodness of our fellow humans.

They made what is sometimes a rather humdrum experience in other commercial establishments a memorable and enjoyable visit with folks who took the time and effort to make us feel welcome.

One final note. You simply must visit their amazing web site. It is a visual treat and extremely user friendly. You will get a real feel for what they have to offer.

On a very cloudy Tuesday in late September, 2009, we ventured back to Warrenton, primarily for the purpose of restocking our pantry with goodies from the Red Truck. Around 1:00 PM, we decided to stay longer and enjoy lunch. Since we hadn't yet tried a local establishment specializing in sandwiches, we agreed to venture into the Black Bear Bistro.

The building housing the Black Bear was previously inhabited by a succession of restaurants where we had mixed reactions - not especially favorable.

And why would we select the Black Bear? Very simple - we received an email from Chef Todd Eisenhauer explaining that he had "received a link to your site from Red Truck Bakery here in Warrenton." Adding that "My wife and I have just recently opened our own restaurant in Old Town Warrenton and we would love for you to check us out and include us in your site."

We dutifully checked out their web site and were delighted to discover that this bistro was a "True Virginia Restaurant" - using all Virginia products. We had been reading that the use of local produce and meats was becoming de rigueur in the restaurant business. And who can argue with the logic behind this. Incidentally, for those not conversant with the language of the French, de rigueur generally means the upcoming fashionable thing.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

According to their web site, "The Black Bear Bistro is a casual, friendly "pub" featuring Virginia beers on tap, local wines and a menu that offers everyday selections from Homemade Soups and Fresh Salads, to Appetizers, Sandwiches and Entrees while utilizing as much fresh, seasonal and local ingredients as possible."

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

In addition to the Bistro, and part of the Black Bear operation, is Sweeney's Cellar, the "distinguished dining" restaurant located one floor below street level. The Eisenhauers explain that Sweeney's harkens back to the Speakeasy Days during Prohibition.

Sweeney's features a full bar concentrating on specialty martinis, plus two dining areas, complete with stone walls, granite etchings and two hearthstone brick fireplaces. The Cellar offers a menu which changes almost daily and is presented at the table on blackboards by the server.

We were intrigued. Upon entering the Black Bear, we were instantly struck by the clean and colorful interior, featuring striking but not overdone decor. This looked like a place that wanted to attract and keep an appreciative clientele.

Our greeting was friendly and we were seated immediately in a nearly full room. Our server appeared right away and set the stage for nearly perfect service from an attentive wait staff.

We ordered cauliflower and goat cheese soup (Tom) and vegetable soup (Ron), a pulled Smoked Pork BBQ, house smoked, tossed in honey BBQ Sauce and served with Peach Chutney (Ron) and a sausage hoagie, locally made smoked sausage with sautéed sweet onions and local jalapeno derby cheese (Tom), and ended with banana cream pie with chocolate and coffee.

Ordinarily, soup is just soup - a way to introduce a meal and take up time until the entree arrives. Not this time - both were tasty without a flaw. The cauliflower and goat cheese combination was an entirely new experience - the vegetable and cheese flavors blending beautifully and not fighting each other for pre-eminence.

The vegetable soup was a surprise - not dull as was expected but flavorful, robust and oh so fresh tasting. Someone here loves to make soup!!!

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

Both our sandwiches were just plain super. I (Ron) am a barbecue fanatic and we devote a special page on this site to restaurants with barbecue we really, really like. This barbecue moves to the top of our list. The Bistro Chef has found a way to neither mimic the sweet barbecue that some prefer nor deliver the vinegar-laced recipe that others enjoy. This barbecue, enhanced by peach chutney (brilliant addition) grabbed my interest immediately. The taste was tangy, but not too much so, hearty but not overbearing, and perfectly done. Unlike so many such sandwiches, the barbecue was not dripping with sauce - the bun held together throughout the meal and there was no attempt to pile on so much meat that you end up having to use your knife and fork to eat a sandwich - I just hate that.

The sausage hoagie was truly unique - a delightful flavor Tom had not experienced anywhere else and I watched Tom's eyebrows arch after the first taste - a sign of instant liking. The pie was superb and the coffee was brewed to perfection. We understand from co-owner Liz Eisenhauer that the desserts are all homemade and that the banana cream pie we had is prepared by Sue of "Sue's Pies." Sue incidentally, offers her wares at Saturday's Warrenton Farmers Market.

The Black Bear Bistro is located at 32 Main Street. Please check out their web site and don't miss an opportunity to try them out - you won't regret it.

We are looking forward to a visit to Sweeney's Cellar for dinner - in the near future we hope.

Our Rating (Five Chefs is Highest)

Main Street in Warrenton has a lot of quality merchants. Among them is Carter & Spence - fine jewelry, watches, dinnerware and great gift items. We always go in the store to see what is new. On our last visit, in 2008, we purchased a large platter and six dessert plates with a theme of - you guessed it - dogs. The plates were manufactured by Gien of France.

According to their web site, Gien was founded in 1821 by Thomas Hall, an Englishman who wanted to introduce fine English earthenware manufacturing techniques in France. We found the plates impossible to overlook and made one of those spur of the moment purchases which you sometime regret later. Well, we never had any regrets.

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

(Photo by Ron Patterson)

This is a quality store and well worth your time to visit and peruse all the items on display. If nothing else, just seeing the amazing and unique dishes, jewelry, lamps, glassware and more is pleasurable. We found the service to be impeccable.

Details on their products are fully described on an unusual and entertaining blog, staffed fully by a cat named Zooey with a talent for typing. Check it out at the Carter & Spence Facebook Page..

Speaking of the Berkley Gallery, which we spoke of above, this is one wonderful collection of traditional American paintings and sculpture. As I mentioned to the proprietor at our last visit, the art here is anything but what I refer to as "commercial."

Each selected artist brings his or her own unique artistic value to scenes we recognize and enjoy. You will find no dogs playing poker at this location! On our December, 2007 visit we were very impressed with the work of Juli Kirk and Barbara Kiwak .

We were especially pleased to discover that the Gallery now has two locations - both in downtown Warrenton and merely across the street from each other. The newer gallery is more polished and spacious but carries the same high quality art.

You are encouraged to visit this gallery - you will most likely find something you must have - and prices are reasonable.

The Berkley Gallery on Main Street
(Photo by Ron Patterson)

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