Sunday, January 5, 2014

Josiah Chowning's Tavern - Williamsburg, VA

Josiah Chowning sign Colonial Williamsburg
Josiah Chowning
My mother started a tradition of picking me up from high school on the last day before break and taking us into Colonial Williamsburg for a little sight seeing and nourishment. We would walk up and down Duke of Gloucester street checking out the Christmas decorations on various buildings and then we would go to one of the taverns for lunch. We continued this tradition into my college days and well beyond. Thus began my deep affection for Williamsburg at Christmas-time and tavern dining.

This year I headed up to the Colonial district with my brother in tow. If you can get yourself motivated in the morning, it is always better to head out to any tourist-type attraction early. Experience has taught me that this is the best way to avoid the crowds. The rubber hit the road on schedule and we were able to snag a spot in my favorite pay by the hour lot with minimal effort. Even though we were going to spend most of the day walking, I still get happy when I get a good parking spot.

This year's decorations were beautiful as always. The morning started out a little cloudy and then cleared as the lunch hour approached. We read every posted menu along the street. My brother had his mind set on Christiana Campbell's Tavern which is located past the end of Duke of Gloucester just beyond the Capital building. Unfortunately, once we got there we learned they were not open for lunch. The first place we checked out had Brunswick Stew on the menu. That was it for me! After looking over all available options, we headed back to Chowning's Tavern.

If you have never dined in one of the historic Taverns, it can be a little startling when "characters" enter your room and perform. We were witness to two young colonial men discussing the proper attire for one's approaching nuptials. They were surprisingly comedic, and not intrusive. Some diners participated in the conversation, but if you did not want to do so, you were politely left to your own personal conversations.

I always look forward to having a traditional beverage at the taverns. They offer tavern cocktails, a nice selection of beers, and of course non-alcoholic selections. My favorite is a Rummer. As you may have guessed, it is rum with apricot and peach brandy on crushed ice. Depending upon the weather, a hot toddy may run a close second. The brisk walk in the crisp winter morning air had perked my appetite (not that I need much help in that area). I was ready for my Brunswick stew! I ordered the cup size and for my entree I selected a Crab Cake salad. My brother ordered a cup of stew as well and a Salty Virginia Ham sandwich with Cheddar Cheese on marble rye. While waiting for our order, the table next to us received their beer sampler. You get to choose three beers from the house selection, which is then served on a cute tray with slots for three mugs. I made a mental note to try that next time if I can get past the Rummer.

The stew came out first and was delicious. Very traditionally prepared with the tomato based liquid, chicken, Lima beans, corn and potatoes, topped off with a couple of pieces of chopped okra. It was a hit! The crab cake salad was a nice surprise to me. I did not expect to be wowed, but I was. The lemon caper sauce was a nice touch, and the additional dressing served on the side was an especially flavorful Italian blend, which tasted as if there was a hint of champagne included. The lettuce was fresh and sweet. My brother's sandwich looked great with thick stacks of fresh ham. I barely got the chance to photograph half of it! Speaking of which, I completed my meal with a cup of coffee and Chocolate Caramel Pecan pie. The perfect ending!

Currently there are several great dining options in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. Don't be intimidated by the taverns. I have dined in every one of them, and always have a great time. Typically they don't take reservations for lunch, and several are closed for the winter season. Check out the Colonial Williamsburg website for information on tavern hours and menus.


***Check out an accompanying post for pictures of Colonial Williamsburg
Christmas decorations***

Chowning's Tavern Menu
Christmas-time lunch menu

Crab Cake Salad at Josiah Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Crab Cake Salat

Virginia Ham at Josiah Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Salty Virginia Ham

View from the dining room at Josiah Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Duke of Gloucester Street as seen from table

Josiah Chowning's Tavern
109 E Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Hours: (vary by season) Sunday 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Josiah Chowning's Tavern on Urbanspoon

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