The Return to Blue Rock in Rappahannock County
By Bob Tagert
The Return to Blue Rock in Rappahannock County
Actually…Blue Rock has ties to the city of Alexandria. Many years ago, two brothers, Bernard and Jean Campagne-lbracq, owned La Bergerie Restaurant on North Lee Street – La Bergerie was a very popular French Restaurant for many years whose doors have since been closed. These are the same brothers who opened the original Bleu Rock Inn, which became a popular destination for Alexandrians back in the 80’s and early 90’s. The business has had a few different owners since then and the property eventually deteriorated until the recent purchase by Chef Bin Lu, formerly of Pineapple and Pearls, Bourbon Steak and Cityzen in D.C.
After watching the restoration of this beautiful piece of property over the last year, we finally had a chance to pay a visit when they opened their doors in late October. Although the Blue Rock is not “new”, it has had major renovations all the way around. The old “Tavern” is now the “Tasting Room”, the main dining room and terrace have all been revamped and there are now rooms available for those who want to spend the night/weekend. The old stables are gone and the landscaping has taken on a whole new life. (You will see, however, that the arena polo field is still in need of some TLC. We were informed that bringing it back to life is on the agenda but it may be awhile down the road.)
Located in the heart of Rappahannock County, Blue Rock is a modern take on the classic country inn. The 80-acre equestrian themed property, set against the Blue Ridge Mountains, features five uniquely designed inn rooms, an on-site restaurant lead by esteemed chef, Bin Lu and the aforementioned Tasting Room. An adjoining five-bedroom farmhouse, also recently restored, is available for private rental.
The experience at Blue Rock is designed to connect their guests to the history of the space and the surroundings through locally sourced ingredients and cuisine inspired by the Virginia countryside. Their goal is to reflect the inn’s deep history and pay homage to Blue Rock’s legacy through food and exceptional service.
The restaurant at Blue Rock features contemporary American cuisine offering an elevated yet approachable dining experience, regardless of the occasion. A seasonal, four-course menu composed of small plates, mains, and dessert offerings, will be exclusively available in the restaurant, with a la carte options in the coming weeks. Highlights include Buttered Peekytoe Crab with burnt caramel vinaigrette and Charlston “Ice Cream”, Blue Rock Private Reserve Caviar with house-made sourdough donuts, and Quinoa Crusted Black Bass served with chilled tartare, grapefruit and chicharron. Dessert features a DarkChocolate “Candy Bar” with banana sherbet, toasted hazelnuts and fresh cherries; Madeira-Poached Figs with warm olive oil cake and smoked ice cream, and a Champagne Sorbet with fresh fruit salad. The four-course menu is priced at $99 per person.
The Tasting Room at Blue Rock offers flights, tastings, and a comprehensive wine, beer and spirits menu with craft cocktails featuring local and imported brands. My favorites are the products from Copper Fox Distillery located in Sperryville a few miles down the road from Blue Rock. In fact, their cooperation is already paying off…the wood for the new Copper Fox American Chestnut Whiskey was sourced from a farm a few miles from Blue Rock. Visitors can choose from local Virginia wines or an eclectic mix of traditional and global options from emerging regions like Texas, Bosnia and Bolivia. Wine flights are meant to inspire discovery and conversation with tastes highlighting everything from Virginia wines to grower Champagnes, to Old and New World reds. A la carte food options in the Tasting Room include local and international offerings the likes of Charcuterie ($15) with red eye gravy and pimento dressing, Warm Crab and Gruyere Dip ($12), or a double patty Blue Rock Burger ($20). Tasting Room beverages and food can all be enjoyed at the bar or outdoors on the terrace, at fire pits and seating areas throughout the beautifully appointed grounds.
Construction was being completed on the new stage overlooking the pond the afternoon we were there since they had live entertainment coming in for the Grand Opening Ceremony the next day. Guests are now able to enjoy outdoor entertainment while seated on the manicured lawn or on the terrace.
On the particular day that we went, the weather was perfect. During these crisp autumn days the air is clear which makes for great photographs. The sky is a bright blue with puffy white clouds scattered about. Skyline drive is only about a twenty minute drive from Blue Rock. I would caution that on weekends half of Northern Virginia will be out this way. If you can, plan your stay during the middle of the week.
Besides just enjoying being in the countryside, there are interesting places to visit. There are excellent wineries near Blue Rock as well as shopping in Sperryville. Taking route 211 west will take you over the mountains at Thornton Gap and into the town of Luray, Virginia and the impressive Luray Caverns. Also nearby is Old Rag Mountain and White Oak Falls for a day of hiking. As mentioned, the town of Sperryville is enchanting. There are a few shops and galleries, a few places for breakfast, lunch or dinner and a few places to stay if Blue Rock is sold out…our favorite is 29 Main On the River. There is even a camping/outfitter located in Sperryville. The town is a true classic that a river runs through! And….we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Washington, VA aka Little Washington is right around the corner as well. There are some nice shops and galleries in that little burg as well.
The time of travel to Blue Rock is somewhere around an hour depending on traffic on I-66. You can jump off of 66 at Gainesville to Warrenton and then 211 to Blue Rock or jump off at Markham and check out the back roads. Once you get off of I-66, the back roads are a joy to drive with the beautiful countryside to enjoy. The leaves will be at their peak in November…time for a Road Trip!