Discovering Hidden Gems in Virginia

Last weekend I took a trip to Franklin County, VA to learn about Homestead Creamery. Luckily I didn’t have to work on Friday, so Kyle and I took advantage of the day off and headed west a day early. On the way, we stopped at Smith Mountain Lake. Smith Mountain Lake is a gigantic lake in Franklin County, VA that is home to several marinas, resorts and private estates, as well as a State Park. The park features hiking and biking trails, a boat launch and a large sandy beach. On a clear 80 degree day, we were most interested in the beach.

The park charges a $3 admission per adult to enjoy the beach, and I think it is worth it. The clean and well-staffed swimming area features a sandy beach with roped-off swimming areas and two lifeguards, indoor restrooms, a grill and snack stand with eating area, a beach volleyball net, and a fun slide that sits on a floating dock.

You can also rent boats onsite, but we opted to just lay out on the beach and do a little swimming and wading to cool off throughout the afternoon. Though it was never overcrowded (as most coastal VA beaches are this time of year), as the day wore on, people started to leave and we found the spot to be very peaceful.

What a treat!

In the late afternoon, we packed up and made the one hour drive to Roanoke, VA, where we stayed for the night. After checking into our hotel, showering and freshening up, we took a short drive towards town for dinner. I took this overnight stay as an opportunity to try a restaurant that we had never made it to on our first trip to Roanoke in April. Wildflour Market and Bakery is a lovely little cafe and bakery in the Southwest Historic District.

I had gotten a few recommendations that this was a vegetarian friendly restaurant so I have wanted to try it out since planning our road trip last spring. We finally made it there last Friday night and it was worth the wait. The charming interior feels like a cross between a big city cafe and your best friend’s kitchen. The tasteful decorating draws you in and makes you feel at home.

There were large painted canvases all around the restaurant, displaying local artists’ work. The bar looked like a few converted bread baker’s cabinets. It may well have been, as Wildflour has a thriving cake business.

Our cheerful waitress helped us navigate the menu and pointed out the whole section of vegetarian options that they had available. Wildflour lists a millet veggie burger on their menu that piqued our curiosity. While we were deciding what to order, our waitress brought a small sample of the burger for us to try, which was really thoughtful. I noticed that she greeted almost all of the other customers by name and her exceptional customer service was very impressive. She even asked us, “so are you all new around here, or just passing through?” Because clearly if we weren’t new to town or just visiting, she would have known us by name already. Oh, small town charm.

The millet burger was  a winner, so Kyle chose it for his entree. Pardon the dark photos, the romantic low lighting was far from ideal for taking pictures. And oh what a stir I caused when I pulled out the camera. I guess they don’t see many food bloggers at Wildflour? Which is a darn shame.

The burger came on freshly baked bread. At this point I suppose I should mention that Wildflour prides itself on making nearly everything they serve from scratch. You can taste the difference. It’s fantastic.

I had the spinach ricotta pie and a side salad with homemade maple mustard vinaigrette.

The fluffy savory quiche was a good choice after spending all day in the sun. There was enough food there for me to feel satisfied, but it was light enough to not weigh me down for the rest of the evening. The vinaigrette on the salad was really tasty, and I understand why Wildflour sells containers of their homemade salad dressing to go. This would be a kitchen staple for me if I lived in the area.

Wildflour does not only excel in fresh from-scratch cooking; they also have a booming cake business and they specialize in doing wedding cakes. There were over a dozen varieties of cake to choose from after dinner, and because we had heard that Wildflour was great at cakes, we couldn’t pass on dessert! After much deliberation, we split a piece of carrot cake.

It was heavenly. If I was planning a wedding, I might consider getting married in Roanoke, VA just so I could have this cake. Do you think they would deliver to Richmond? Probably not. But you bet I would drive from Richmond to Roanoke for another slice. It was deeee-lish.

To be honest, we didn’t have a great experience in Roanoke the first time we visited earlier this year. However, our trip to Wildflour Market and Cafe and our drive around the Southwest Historic District turned it around for us. I will always have fond memories of Roanoke because of the evening I spent exploring this little corner of the town. We had the perfect romantic date to end a perfect day lounging at the lake, and our expectations were exceeded at every turn. I’m looking forward to making another trip out there in the future!

2 thoughts on “Discovering Hidden Gems in Virginia

  1. I know the owners of Wildflour, Doug and Evie, and have been a enjoyer of their fare since they opened many years ago. Millet burger is my favorite; I have it every time I visit their restaurant. So happy you enjoyed our little corner of VA. Come back soon.

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