… “I was amazed at the quality of the food at such a quaint place,” Shifflett wrote…
EGGLESTON — As we hurtled along the back roads of Giles County, trusting the GPS but not entirely sure the seemingly endless miles of lovely scenery would actually lead us to our lunchtime destination, The Palisades Restaurant, photographer Bob Brown said to no one in particular (which happened to be me), “You’ve got to really want to eat at this place.”
We did, and plenty of others do, too. Several readers, including Sherman Shifflett of Louisa, have told me about it.
“I was amazed at the quality of the food at such a quaint place,” Shifflett wrote in an email. He’s made a couple of trips to the restaurant, and said, “We plan to go again. Highly recommend.” Which is saying something, considering Louisa is a solid three-hour drive from The Palisades, which has been going strong since it opened in 2009.
“Having grown up here, I’ve always loved this area and the county, and I just thought it was time for people to come to us to see how pretty it is,” said owner Shaena Muldoon, who grew up on a farm 2 miles from the restaurant. “I thought the restaurant could draw them.”
It was a leap of faith, considering there’s little in Eggleston except for the restaurant, though the county boasts the Appalachian Trail, the New River and, as Muldoon says, “a million different creeks and waterfalls. There’s so much to do within 15 minutes, it’s crazy.”
Meaning, people come to Giles for a variety of reasons, and Muldoon hoped they would find their way to Eggleston to eat, as well as to experience the vibe of a really good restaurant housed in an old small-town hardware store with its pressed-tin ceilings and hardwood floors. They did, and they do. The Palisades offers the sustenance of down-home with the spice of the unexpected. Comfort food with a flair is a common description she hears, Muldoon said, though she prefers “Appalachian chic.”
“I feel like that really fits us,” she said.
Much of the meat and produce on the menu is raised in the New River Valley. There are local trout and pheasant, sweet tea-brined pork chops and hand-tossed pizzas with intriguing toppings (smoked salmon, for example, as well as one called the Funky Hawaiian), plus the daily Chef’s Whim that allows those working in the open kitchen to flex their culinary imaginations.
The desserts sound crazy good: decadent flourless chocolate cake and cranberry-orange goat cheesecake, among others. I had the almond butterscotch stack cake with limoncello candied lemons and roasted figs with whipped cream, which was a nice exclamation to the main part of my meal: the day’s vegetarian special of spaghetti squash with vegetarian meatballs and asparagus.
Muldoon’s background is not food but planning large-scale events, and, as she put it, “creating atmospheres … (and) places people love to go.” She spent more than 20 years producing events across America and around the world, including the 1998 World Exposition in Portugal and the 2002 U.S. Olympic Torch Relay for the Salt Lake City games.
She loves to travel — after high school, she chose to attend college in Hawaii, and she’s visited each of the seven continents — and though she always enjoyed coming home for visits, she had no designs on settling in Giles County.
Until, on one of her trips home, her brother invited her to see an old building he had recently acquired in Eggleston. It was Pyne’s General Store, which during its heyday was the social hub of the community and a place she had visited as a little girl. The store, which opened in 1926, had stood empty since it closed in 2000.
“I walked in and made it all of 5 feet and said, ‘Wow, this has got to be a restaurant,’?” she recalled. “My brother was like, ‘Whatever.’ He thought I was joking, but I was serious.”
It took her four years to make it happen, but a restaurant it became — and Giles once again became her home.
“Even I had forgotten how beautiful it is here,” she said.
Eggleston is right on the aforementioned New River and was something of a tourist hot spot long ago, attracting visitors with its hot springs and natural beauty, including the nearby Palisade Cliffs from which the restaurant takes its name.
We came at Eggleston from the west, which took some doing, having driven from Pocahontas in a far western corner of Virginia where we had a series of interviews earlier that morning. It’s a more straightforward drive from the east: 20 minutes from Blacksburg, much of it on U.S. 460.
As it turns out, though, The Palisades is worth the effort either way.
Thursday, August 25, 2016 12:30 am
By BILL LOHMANN Richmond Times-Dispatch
Read the full article here.