… combines this region’s home cooking with accents from all over – – and the result is something you might call, “Appalachian Chic.”…
Appalachian Cuisine: Former Food of Poverty Now Culinary Gem | WVTF
Part Two: Palisades Restaurant Cooking at a High Level
Sometimes, you have to leave home to find it again. That’s what happened to the owner of the Palisades restaurant in Giles County, Virginia. She left there the day after high school and traveled the world as an events planner. Ultimately she came back home and opened a restaurant called the Palisades. It combines this region’s home cooking with accents from all over – – and the result is something you might call, “Appalachian Chic.”
The Palisades restaurant takes its name from the dramatic cliffs over looking the New River in Eggleston, Virginia. Owner and Manager Shaena Muldoon grew up a few miles from this 1926 building, that’s always been a gathering place for this village. It used to be the local hardware store. Now it’s an historic landmark.
“And when I walked in, I was instantly like, ‘This has got to be a restaurant.’”
After college, Muldoon became an events planner traveling to all eight continents. Her goal was to one day produce the opening ceremonies for the Olympics. But something about these original tin ceilings, the red oak floors, the beautiful brick and the original wooden merchandise shelves, just the whole feel of the place, had a strong pull on her.
“It just had a warmth to it that spoke to me I guess and said I needed return home and make it live again, so that’s what I did.”
There’s live music some nights and special events during the week and on holidays, a belt-loosening brunch on weekends and an eclectic dinner menu. And everything, literally everything, is made from scratch. And that’s unusual these days. Muldoon says that’s just part of the culture she grew up with.
“Where everyone did everything from scratch. You didn’t even think of getting things out of the box. You picked it out of the garden and then you made it. Or you went hunting and then you cooked it.”
And now that the rest of the world is rushing to adopt these old-time practices, it’s fun for Muldoon to see others getting on the bandwagon.
“I always laugh about the farm fresh eggs. Farm fresh eggs? This is what we have locally. You’re like, ‘Oh of course we have chicken on the farm. They’re farm fresh all the time.’ Or like the garden, ‘farm to table.’ Some of these terms to us growing up in the country are kind of funny, because it’s just what you always did. And so it makes it kind of interesting that what we grew up with and have always down is now chic.”
That’s Appalachian Chic. In this outdoor wonderland in Giles county, Muldoon wanted people to feel as comfortable coming in here after a day on the river or hiking the Appalachian trail as they would on date night. Tonight, people of all ages are here and the place has the feel of a big party. The food and the ideas behind it just seem to delight people, things like Palisades’ version of the pineapple upside down cake.
“It’s not your mom’s typical pineapple upside down cake. The cake is in little pieces and that’s your accent piece rather than that being the mainstay. Instead, the pineapple is in the ice cream and then the cream surrounding it. This is the kind of thing that we do. You’re taking something that everyone remembers and just kind of put our spin on it.”
The “Three Sisters of Southern Appalachian Cooking,” corn, beans and squash, are all grown up now and mixing with foods from all over the world.
“You know it’s important to me bring a little bit of things that I’d seen around the world back home. We try our best to take something that’s comfortable to you and twist it up a little bit, and that’s been my motto since we opened, is making people feel comfortable; you’re giving them an edge, but they feel comfortable with what they see; but I think ‘Appalachian Chic’ sort of fits in with that too because you’ve got the Appalachian theme where people are a little bit more down to earth, but then you’ve the chic feeling where you’ve added that little element of sophistication.”
By Robbie Harris • Jun 22, 2016