AFTER THE WINERY: The Whole Ox

So, we weren’t planning to review anything other than wineries and the occasional wine-related product. But after eating at The Whole Ox in Marshall, VA, we just had to add a new category of posts for places you should visit after you spend the day winery hopping.

During the day, The Whole Ox is a butcher shop (which we’ll have to check out at some point very, very soon), focusing on snout-to-tail products from humanely raised animals, and their shelves are stacked with wine and beer (much of it local), coffee (also local), cheese (yep, still local), and a few prepared food items like soup and sandwiches.

At night, they turn into Butcher Bar, an unabashedly carnivorous restaurant that takes the same snout-to-tail approach to its menu items. To quote their website: “We try very hard to keep the whole experience comfortable, easy, and unadorned. We do not take reservations, we do not use fancy stemware, we have no vegetarian options. We keep service as simple and un-stuffy as possible, keeping the focus on the food and having a good time.” And that is exactly the experience we had there.

We had the sausage of the day (Polish sausage that night, if I remember correctly), beef heart tartare (which actually acted like a bit of a palate cleanser between the richer items), mussels in a local cider sauce (THEY BROUGHT US A SPOON FOR THE LEFTOVER SAUCE), bread with whipped herbed lard “butter,” orange brûlée tart, and coffee. It was the best meal we had in months. MONTHS.

Sadly, we had already eaten light hors d’oeuvres at somewhat lackluster wine club event before rolling up to Butcher Bar, so we limited ourselves to heavy apps, but we’ll be back. Oh, yes. We’ll be back. And we’ll come hungry.

UPDATE: In an email that was sent on January 8, 2018, the owners of The Whole Ox listed a lot of New Year’s Resolutions, one of which was to cut back on TWOX’s hours, basically eliminating the dinner service. Citing health reasons and the displeasure of long-time customers who felt the extended hours created a less personal atmosphere, they will now serve food onsite from 11:30am to close. According to the email: “Our revamped menu will more closely reflect the same foods that you have grown to love of ours: burgers, pot pies, soups, and other delicious treats. We will offer wine, beer, and select cocktails throughout the day and early evening. Rather than extensive service, dining-in at TheWhole Ox will once again feel more casual and informal. Simply place your order at the counter, pay, and your food will come to wherever you have chosen to sit.”

While we fully understand health needing to come first, this makes us (and according to Facebook, a lot of other people) really, really sad. TWOX was, by far, the best dinner spot we’ve found out here, and we never did get around to going back again. (We tried, but each time I called to get a reservation, they were closed on the night I wanted to come in. Womp womp.) While they’ve promised to be an awesome sandwich place, I’m just not sure I see us trekking out to Middleburg for a sandwich. But if we do, we’ll write about it!

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