September 1 marks a big milestone. The celebrated Field & Main restaurant in quaint nearby Marshall, Virginia turns four years old. Owners Neil and Star Wavra have brought forth their considerable combined experience and have continued to hone every aspect of their creation of a rustic-chic casual fine-dining establishment nestled in a newly renovated authentic 200-year-old home. This professional team is passionate about everything they do – and it shows.
Escaping to the countryside always feels like a welcome respite for us Beltway denizens, but clocking in at just 40 miles (a short 45-minute drive) from Tysons, this makes for a quick and convenient jaunt out of town.
Field & Main offers hearth-inspired, locally sourced, farm-to-table cuisine. The restaurant has been offering carry-out for much of the spring, but diners may now also enjoy a lunch or dinner inside six days a week at strategically placed tables or – quite often as of late – may opt for the proverbial al fresco dining, a chance to really savor the flavor and while away an afternoon or evening in the open air.
The patio indeed provides a charming dining nook, but the innovative backyard cabana concept, implementing a forward-thinking vision of responsible service within the context of space, takes your dining experience to a whole new level.
Amazingly, these backyard cabanas were built in just a week a mere two weeks before the reopening. They are outfitted with darling little touches. Delicate strings of white lights twinkle overhead like tiny stars, subtly illuminating your individual tent, as you enjoy the methodical and comforting evening serenade of crickets—and the constellations adorning the night sky beyond.
They really have thought of everything. Upon arrival, you’ll notice a small tablet on your table in a plastic wrapper beside a small dish of water – but it is not a mint. Drop the tablet in the water and it magically expands into a towelette to sanitize your hands and the table—almost like a fun little science experiment. Next up, personal table fans with variable speeds—and lights! This is the true junction of artistry and ingenuity—not to mention inspired culinary creativity. At the core of it all—hospitality.
“You will see the extent we went to with what we have done out there. It’s really quite special,” says charismatic sommelier and beverage director, Anthony Russo.
They might start you off with a surprise amuse-bouche cool watermelon kombucha. This is the introduction to the freshness that is Field & Main.
One word. Tomatoes. “With the rain and the drought, this is the best year for tomatoes,” according to Russo.
Straight from the culinary garden and meticulously selected local purveyors, a refreshing chilled tomato gazpacho with garlic bread crumbs drizzled with basil oil; an intriguing heirloom tomato dish with yellow peaches, ricotta cheese, basil vinaigrette and crostini; and a marvelous montage of charred summer squash with corn, pecorino, and Virginia Surryano ham remind us that summer isn’t over.
“When you char vegetables over fire, you begin to flirt outrageously with sweetness. It really caramelizes those notes. It is an expression of vegetables you don’t always get to experience,” observes Russo. This technique also highlights flavors featured in offerings such their unique carrot dish. Or you’ll see one beet reinvented into three distinct preparations.
The cleverly named OoMami Smash Burger features a deeply comforting, eponymous umami flavor profile bursting at the seams with an insanely savory bacon jam brilliantly layered with multiple varieties of mushrooms and onions cooked down for hours—reduced to their most succulent and evocative essence.
“The burger is an emotional experience. People drive an hour to get it,” Anthony Russo notes.
From the hearth, you may sink your incisors into a hearty Manor Line Ranch pork chop with gently sweet miso-poached pear and citrusy Swiss chard. Housemade bread with whipped butter smear complements everything.
Water course selections such as ember-roasted Spanish mackerel with Biscayne sauce, capers, and fried boquerones, or sautéed wild-caught rockfish over saffron risotto, fennel-tomato broth with a hint of fennel oil are nicely accompanied by a crisp Sauvignon Blanc Le Grand Caillou from the Loire Valley of France.
The feast chocolate chip cookie with graham cracker crumble, housemade marshmallow, chocolate sauce, and vanilla ice cream is served up in an adorable deep-dish mini skillet. For those keen on indulging their sweetest tendencies, this concoction is a decadent delight.
An unexpectedly luscious, rich yellow corn ice cream exuding a decidedly Southern flair is also expertly crafted by pastry chef Sabrina Lang in her cozy bakeshop housed in the little stone hut off to the side—in fact one of the oldest buildings in the county.
And sparkling juices by Gorg Geiger from Germany include an aromatic botanical, fall-inspired Cuvée 21 infused with Perry pears, cider apples, hay flowers, and roasted organic barley, which brings me straight back to the Alps.
Yet primarily, this venue makes it a point to showcase the here and now. The Present Menu is described as a celebration of nature’s gifts available at this moment in time to honor the local food and drink, which manifests in a progression of dishes presented family-style. The full table participates in this selection. “We strive to emphasize the bounty of the the current season in the Piedmont,” offered server Lauren Osinski.
To account fully for the recent additional COVID-related needs, they have enacted protocols to safeguard everyone’s health and well-being. In addition to rigorous sanitizing and distancing, all staff will wear masks, and they print their ever-changing menus anew each day.
They take their genuine commitment to take care of you very seriously by taking all appropriate steps and precautions to ensure your safety—so that guests may feel fully at ease—in every sense of the word.
“We are community- and guest-centric. You help the community and the community helps you. And right back to the farm. Our CSAs are doing great, as are our farmers’ markets.”
Attesting to the loyalty they have built with their culinary followers, “Our top guest has been here nearly 300 times in four years. We create guest profiles. We see you. Sometimes they don’t even see menus. People trust us,” remarks Russo appreciatively.
This evokes the Japanese concept of omakase, whereby guests entrust the chef to be innovative and surprising in selecting dishes. There is a certain mutual reverence associated with this practice.
This sentiment is echoed by our affable server Lauren Osinski. “Field & Main was designed to be a community restaurant. When we opened the bar, we had farmers, horseback riders, cyclists and hikers off the trail from the Shenandoah, in addition to fine diners.”
Field & Main has achieved the perfect blending of upscale, refined cuisine and rustic comfort food, all while remaining affordable and approachable.
“We wanted to strike just the right balance. Casual elegance. Come as you are,” explains General Manager Julie Gray.
They could feel they were connecting with people across the spectrum. The message is clear. Everyone is welcome here. Treating people well is the very definition of extending that metaphorical hug outward. And what could be nicer! Especially now.
So stop on by. And relax.
Field & Main Backyard Cabanas
8369 West Main Street
Marshall, VA 20115
Online To-Go Ordering and Pick-up
11:30 am – 8:00 pm