Farm to Table
Lewisburg is home to two of the finest new restaurants in the state—Stella’s Tea House and The Livery Tavern.
Photographed by Nikki Bowman and Carla Witt Ford
All foodies love to discover hidden culinary gems that elevate the art of eating. In Lewisburg, you don’t have to look far. The town, recently voted as Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Town, is home to some of the state’s finest restaurants, and John Hirt owns two of them—Stella’s Tea House and The Livery Tavern.
“We love the town of Lewisburg—its shops, people, and history,” says John. “Our family has been visiting Lewisburg since 2003 when I purchased Westwinds Ranch, a horse farm in western Virginia near Lake Moomaw. While we’ve enjoyed the several restaurants in town, we felt the locals as well as tourists would welcome and support more restaurant options, and so far we’ve been right.”
Stella’s Tea House, co-owned and managed by John’s sister Tammy Hirt Perilli, opened in January 2011 and is located in a charmingly restored 1890s Victorian home on South Lafayette Street. With indoor and outdoor seating, no matter where you live in the state, Sunday brunch is worth the drive. Don’t pass up the freshly made croissants hot out of the oven, and the Crab & Avocado Benedict, made with fresh eggs delivered by a local Eagle Scout, is truly spectacular. The Asparagus & Mushroom Crepes and the Grand Marnier French Toast are also favorites. For lunch, try the Wild Mushrooms & Chèvre Pizza, topped with pesto sauce, red peppers, chevre cheese blend, and a lightly dressed salad, or the Stella Burger from Sarver Heritage Farm. As for dinner, you can’t go wrong with Lindside Trout & Crab, a boneless local trout filet topped with lump crabmeat and served with rice pilaf and a lemon and caper butter sauce.
The Livery Tavern is the newest addition to Lewisburg’s culinary scene and is managed by John’s sister Nancy Stewart. Located on East Washington Street, it resembles an 1800s tavern, with an open, beamed ceiling, stacked stone fireplace, and rich masculine tones. “The name Livery Tavern came about as I was doing research on the use of the original structure located where the tavern is now,” John explains. “Based on historical records, we know the building was constructed in the early 1800s, perhaps even the late 1700s. A number of the older, local Lewisburg residents recalled the building used as a livery stable. During demolition of the old structure, we discovered horse shoes, bridles, and other tack related items.”
At The Livery Tavern, you’ll find a full bar, private booth seating, outdoor patio seating, and an extensive wine and port list. And the menu doesn’t disappoint. It takes a serious commitment to build your menu around local ingredients, and this dedication shows up in dishes like the Grilled Venison and two-inch, bone-in rib eye steaks, or the Roasted Quail, stuffed with shiitake mushrooms and served with wild rice cakes in a natural pan jus.
Although the ambience and menus are quite different, the two restaurants share one extraordinary executive chef—Reed Vandenbergh. A Culinary Institute of America graduate and Gold Medal Winner of the 1984 Culinary Olympics, Reed is known for his creative use of local and indigenous ingredients. Tammy says, “Reed is just incredible. He is truly one of the country’s finest chefs. He’s been able to create two distinct menus for two different types of dining experiences, while celebrating the Farm to Table approach in both restaurants.”
Stella’s is open for lunch Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Thursday to Saturday, 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.; and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Livery is open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m.
The Livery Tavern, 217 EAST Washington Street, Lewisburg, WV 24901; 304.645.9836; liverytavern.com