Have you ever had that weird moment of realization when you think you’re in a new place, but then it occurs to you that you’ve actually been there before? That’s what happened in New Market, Virginia as I pulled into the parking lot of the Days Inn. It suddenly dawned on me – Wait a second, I know this hotel! Turns out I’d stayed there about eight years ago for work. Talk about random.
A triathlon in Luray brought me down to VA last weekend. Downtown Luray is about two blocks long, but it’s a cute two blocks: some shops, a cool outdoors apparel store and a few restaurants, including this one, Gathering Grounds Patisserie & Cafe, where we went for dinner.
The decor is quite charming and cozy.
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but the night before a race, you generally don’t want to eat foods that are spicy, heavy, or out of the ordinary… basically anything that could potentially upset your stomach. Keep it simple, get your carbs in, and call it a night. Save the foie gras and pickle sandwich for after the race.
I started with a very nice tomato basil soup.
And moved on to the baked pasta.
Truthfully, it wasn’t anything special and the pasta was rather overcooked and mushy. But as pre-race food it worked just fine.
On the way home from the race I stopped at Manassas National Battlefield Park. If you have any interest in American history, particularly the Civil War, you owe it to yourself to visit. Between their iPhone app, the visitor center, and the ranger-led tours, you’ll learn a lot. The area’s also quite beautiful and the battlefield looks relatively unchanged from 150 years ago.
Afterwards, in my search to grab a bite in Manassas, I saw this sign:
Two reasons why this piqued my interest: 1) a recent episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” had Larry and Jeff eating at restaurant called Palestinian Chicken; they made it look so good that I’ve had chicken on the brain ever since. And 2) the logo bore an uncanny resemblance to the fictional Los Pollos Hermanos fast-food chain on “Breaking Bad.” Two inane reasons to stop at a restaurant, and the two reasons why I sauntered in.
I can’t vouch for the fried chicken, but it looked damn good; practically everyone was ordering it. I opted for a grilled chicken sandwich with a side of sweet plantains and a sinfully refreshing horchata drink.
Tasty stuff, and that white dipping sauce makes the chicken sandwich.
All in all, a very good weekend in Virginia: a little racing, a little history, a little eating.
Gathering Grounds Patisserie & Cafe
55 East Main St.
7913 Sudley Rd Ste 101