Last week, my classmate Kas and I travelled to Roanoke, Virginia to present a workshop at the Gender, Bodies, and Technology conference. Our workshop, we think, went fairly well! We didn’t have a means for cooking at the hotel (also, we really didn’t have time), so we scoped out a few restaurants that looked good (we were looking for Southern food in particular for obvious reasons)
Our first stop was the Lake View Restaurant at the Peaks of Otter Lodge. How did we end up here if we were staying in Roanoke? Well, we had planned a half day trip to the Peaks of Otter. We arrived one week before the park was open for the season, and it was pouring rain when we arrived. Wanting to wait out the rain and do some sightseeing, we founds the only place that was open in the area. We checked out the gift shop and debated staying for lunch. We are so glad we decided to eat here! We ordered lunch, talked about and revised our upcoming workshop, and the rain stopped just as we were finishing up our lunch. We didn’t get to go hiking, but we walked the gorgeous trail near the restaurant and stopped at various overlooks where we enjoyed the view of the Appalachian Mountains on our way back to the hotel. My lunch was deep-fried catfish with a side of mashed potatoes and gravy. Kas had a chicken pot pie (sorry, no picture). This was my favourite restaurant of the ones we visited in Virginia.
That evening, we came across Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles. Neither of us had tried chicken and waffles prior to this trip. I wanted to try chicken and waffles because it’s on The Food List Challenge (a Facebook app). Actually, I was able to try two things on the list, the other being okra. Kas and I both ordered the same thing: fried chicken breast and a waffle with a side of potatoes. It was delicious! We agreed that the chicken was the best part of the meal. We almost decided to go back to this restaurant again.
Lunch the next day was fantastic buffet during one of the plenary talks. The room was quite dark for a performance piece, so I didn’t attempt to take a picture. However, I will likely try to recreate part of the meal sometime soon. There was so much to choose from! Garden salads, carrots and parsnips, vegetarian lasagna, chicken, meatloaf with a chipotle sauce, horseradish mashed potatoes, and so many desserts!
For dinner, we sought out a southern barbecue restaurant we had found online prior to the trip, the Blues BBQ company. The restaurant came very highly recommended by a very nice woman who was working in a Vintage store that we stopped at. This restaurant is where I first tried fried okra, which was delicious when piping hot, but the texture struck me as a bit odd when it had cooled down. A woman who worked at the market had mentioned that the texture is usually what determines whether someone likes okra. In addition, this restaurant is where Kas first tried fried green tomatoes. Yum! Our overall impression was that the food was decent, but a bit on the salty side for our tastes. What made this restaurant fun was the welcoming atmosphere! The staff seemed to genuinely want to make us feel welcome.
Our last day in Virginia, we had breakfast at Denny’s before heading north (making a one day stop in NYC before returning home). Kas got a standard bacon and eggs breakfast. I ordered the biscuits and gravy, which I had for the first time in Florida a few years ago and had mostly forgotten about until this trip.
Overall, the food was great! My favorite was the fried catfish. What is your favorite Southern food?