Photo by Stephanie Breijo
Though you'll have to wait until 2016 to eat at Shovel and Pick, chef Travis Milton's ode to Appalachia, you'll soon get to try a bite at Rappahannock and taste what you can expect. The former Comfort chef launches his long-running pop-up residency on Aug. 24, bringing a six-course tasting menu to Rappahannock's bar nearly every Monday, until his own restaurant opens in Scott's Addition, in what he hopes will be April of next year.
Guests can expect two seatings, one at 6:00 p.m. and another at 8:30 p.m., with dishes such as wood-fired, charred pork butt with Sour Hickory King corn, leather britches, potlikker and German Johnson tomato; roasted duck breast with pickled and charred blueberries, Flint popcorn pancake, cucumber and red ribbon sorrel; chicken liver and Surry County peanut terrine with Cheerwine vinegar jelly, pickled Bradford watermelon rind, Kentucky Bourbon-barrel soy peanuts and salt-rising toast; and a pickled Albemarle peach ice cream sandwich with wild Blue Ridge Mountain ginger/sorghum cookies with salted corn milk caramel.
The residency menu will change slightly from week to week, serving as an approximation of the full restaurant's upcoming menu, though it will rotate nowhere near as often.
"The menu of Shovel and Pick is going to change every two days-ish," Milton says, "and it's very, very strongly going to be based on what I get and where I get it from. It's going to be highly rotating. There will be some staples, appetizers and things like that, but entrées will shift quite a bit. Even the staples will be here for a couple months and then swap 'em out and put 'em back in a few months later."
Tickets for the pop-up are now on sale, available for $68 per person, and do not include alcohol pairings. But guests will still be able order cocktails that may wind up on the Shovel and Pick menu, according to Milton; the residency will offer farm-driven collaborative cocktails created by both Rappahannock's team and by Shovel and Pick's beverage director, Brandon Christensen (also formerly of Comfort).
Milton hopes that guests won't just come to eat, he says; he hopes they'll find time to chat with him about the food and the history of it, to get the full Shovel and Pick experience. "I want to kind of keep it small so that I can talk to people and explain the stories behind the dishes, and talk to them about what they liked and didn't like, and what they'd like to see moving forward."
Travis Milton's pop-up evening at Stauton's The Shack on Aug. 17 has been canceled for the time being, but you can also find Milton cheffing at Powhatan's Dinner of the Grape on Sept. 20, where tickets to the dinner include a pass for October's Festival of the Grape; on Sept. 26 at an Appalachian Food Summit dinner in Abingdon; and on Oct. 29 at Fire, Flour & Fork here in Richmond.
For live updates on Travis Milton's pop-up schedule, watch his Twitter account: @dash37board27. Rappahannock is located at 320 E. Grace St.