Relish lives up to its name
by Sarah Bowis
Recently relocated from Tappahannock, Relish has become a Northern Neck dining tradition. As of March 28, Carol Mead Smith, owner and chef, and her staff moved to 115 Main Street in the heart of Warsaw.
Relish is open for dinner Thursday through Sunday. Her menu offers fresh, local seafood and local produce from businesses such as Garner’s Produce, Faunce Seafood, Sausage Craft and Edmond’s Farm.
I’ve had the pleasure of dining at Relish before, so I was ecstatic to receive this dining assignment and brought along reporter and friend Lisa, to indulge in the Relish experience with me. We arrived on an early Thursday evening, without reservations, and soon after we arrived the restaurant was full.
Coincidentally, Thursday evening is also “date night” at Relish, a promotion offering a party of two a bottle of wine, two-entrées and dessert for $50. Lisa and I certainly took advantage of the date night menu and of course, a little more.
Once seated, we were greeted by our server who delivered complimentary homemade pimento spread and crackers. Upon deciding what might quench my thirst, I couldn’t resist the name Candied Kumquat Manhattan. Not only did it sound delicious, I’ve never tasted a kumquat before and thought what better way than to experience it in a drink! Refreshing and smooth to say the least, the Candied Kumquat Manhattan closely resembled an Old Fashioned. Lisa chose a bottle of Pinot Grigio, light and refreshing, and certainly a choice that would pair well with our entrees.
To begin our Relish experience, we were both intrigued by the poached pear Bruschetta. Thin slices of crusty French bread came topped with blue cheese, caramelized onions, smoked bacon, pears and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar. The presentation of the bruschetta was beautiful and my taste buds didn’t know where to start. The different flavors complemented each other. The sweet pears contrasted perfectly with the tangy blue cheese. The crunchy bread combined with the soft texture of the caramelized onions, gooey cheese and delicate pears makes for an amazing appetizer that I recommend and would certainly order again.
At this point, I’m already thinking, how could a food combination get any better?
Next, Lisa and I were drawn to the seasonal salad consisting of roasted pickled beets, orange and grapefruit segments, goat cheese, toasted pistachios and another drizzle of the aged balsamic vinegar. The citrus and goat cheese are a refreshing combination, that I will attempt to recreate at home. Lisa enjoyed the pickled beets. They add another element of freshness to the salad, she says.
With seven entrees to choose from, deciding the main course was certainly difficult and slightly time consuming for Lisa and me. Crispy fried oysters with cheesy grits, rosemary infused meatloaf, or even a new customer favorite—fish tacos, put me in a food-fog.
I settled on the southern classic, shrimp and grits, served over cheesy grits and topped with a bacon jam. Lisa chose the North Carolina yellowfin tuna, which also caught my attention. The sushi-grade tuna is served over jasmine rice, and paired with a wasabi butter and citrus salad. For those who avoid heat, it is recommended you ask for the wasabi butter on the side.
The well-sized tuna was cooked to Lisa’s liking, and the side of fresh asparagus featured a drizzle of the aged balsamic vinegar, which added a touch of sweetness.
The shrimp and grits are certainly why I am a southern girl at heart. The grits were some of the cheesiest and creamiest I’ve ever tasted. Whichever entrée you choose, ask for a side of grits, because everything is better with grits. The bacon jam smothered my shrimp and added an unexpected sweetness to this savory dish.
We were advised the Relish menu changes frequently and I hope the shrimp and grits stay around forever. The side of asparagus drizzled with the aged balsamic vinegar certainly added a beautiful vibrant green to my plate.
If You Go
115 Main Street, Warsaw
Thursdays-Saturdays, 5- 9 p.m.
Sundays 4-8 p.m.
On the Menu
Did you know?
Relish relocated from Tappahannock to Warsaw in March.
Regarding the menu, we noticed it was a little light on children’s fare, but it’s never too early to start developing a palate for gourmet tastes.
Knowing we didn’t have much room left for dessert, we powered on. With only two dessert selections available that night, we ordered both and shared in each other’s delight. Little Egypt butterscotch pie and crème brule delighted us both. Both desserts were light in weight and heavy in flavor.
The butterscotch pie topped with homemade cream was a nice surprise for us both. Neither Lisa nor I are butterscotch fans but we enjoyed the pie and cleaned our plate. The crème brule was topped with an extra thick sugar coating and the-always-enjoyable sweet creamy filling. The desserts brought a perfect ending to a superb meal with a great friend.
Carol Mead Smith is a beautiful person both inside and out and she displays her love for food in her menu. Relish is a Northern Neck dining experience you don’t want to miss. When you come to the Rivah, come to Relish.