As Innkeepers in Charlottesville, Virginia, a food and wine destination, we are constantly asked for restaurant recommendations. We keep a veritable stack of menus from local restaurants, and we are always happy to share our personal experiences with these fine restaurants to help our guests have the ultimate dining experience.
Among the many local eateries we recommend, Duner’s, The Downtown Grille, and The Local, to name a few, is one that remains a perennial favorite among our guests. That restaurant is Ivy Inn. Located just a few minutes from Foxfield Inn, Ivy Inn offers ambiance and fare worthy of a special occasion.
Ivy Inn Restaurant boasts a rich history, having been built in the early 1700’s. The kitchen, located literally in the back of the house, was at one time a tollhouse where travelers stopped for food and respite as they ventured between Richmond and Staunton. In 1815 a fire destroyed the original part of the Inn, and a year later it was rebuilt to include the structure which now houses the Ivy Inn Restaurant.
|Ivy Inn Restaurant boasts a long and rich history
of providing a respite for weary patrons.
The Inn was at one time part of a large estate, “Faulkner House,” named after famed author and writer-in-residence at UVa, William Faulkner. The house was sold about five times between 1893 and 1973 when the Ivy Inn Restaurant purchased the property.
A friend enjoyed her first experience at Ivy Inn while an undergrad at UVa. Her date, and now husband, took her to dinner before going to the Restoration Ball, which originated in the 1970s to help fund restoration of the University’s Rotunda back to its original design. The ball continues to be held each spring as it was back in the day.
|The Dome Room of the Rotunda at UVa was
the site for many a Restoration Ball, which is
now held at Peabody Lawn.
But going back to that one spring evening in 1977, she says that the evening was memorable, beginning with dinner at Ivy Inn, a venue that would over the years host anniversary dinners, birthday celebrations, and special meals with friends visiting from out of town. Tuxes and long, formal gowns were de rigueur for the Restoration Ball, made only more special by dinner at Ivy Inn.
|A popular favorite at Ivy Inn Restaurant is the
a.m. Fog Mushroom appetizer.
From the moment they walked through the door of the old, historic building she was taken. The charm, not only of the building itself, but also of the grounds, drew her in. The creaking wooden floors juxtaposed against the pristine white tablecloths, was enchanting. And the piece de resistance was still to come: the meal itself.
Today, the food is as exquisite as it was back then. Whether choosing the “melt in your mouth gnocchi,” foie gras, or pork shank appetizer, you cannot go wrong. The Lamb Two Ways (small rack and a gyro, described by one diner as better than she had in Greece!), or osso buco provides a wonderful offering for the entrée. And you can complete the meal with a creme brulée or English toffee pudding, to name a few.
|There is always room for dessert at Ivy Inn
Restaurant, whether you choose the Key Lime
Pie (shown above), or one of the many other
offerings, you can’t go wrong.
It is a testament to the cuisine and to the staying power of Ivy Inn Restaurant that it has stood the test of time, just like the building itself. Surviving over 40 years in the restaurant business is quite a feat, especially in a foodie town like Charlottesville where eateries come and go, despite how good they may be. So if you want to create your own personal history of memorable meals, begin with a visit to Ivy Inn Restaurant, the best-kept secret in Charlottesville.
Dan & Kathryn Bundy
Dan & Kathryn Bundy
Innkeepers at Foxfield Inn
What a great memory this article brought back! Me and my date back then (now my wife of 40 years) also ate at the Ivy Inn prior to attending the 1977 Restoration Ball. She still has fond memories of the wonderful atmosphere and the “bucket of seafood” dish enjoyed that spring evening. Hopefully we will be able to get back there some time soon.