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By Rena Malai | photos by Mark Gilvey
Since the 1700s, Haymarket has been a small, yet well-known community hub that’s served as a gathering point for locals and visitors alike. Today’s it’s a thriving, quaint Prince William town making its mark on the food scene.
Tucked away into the Hilton Garden Inn hotel sits Red House Tavern and its Crossroads Café. It’s not just another hotel restaurant, but rather, a boutique farm-to-table spot that serves up house-crafted cocktails and a chef-created menu that changes seasonally.
The team is dedicated to providing folks with a unique experience, in a high-end setting that’s more comfortable than pretentious.
The world class culinary team at Red House Tavern brings a rich amount of experience. Executive Chef Joel Valente spent several years training in New York City and hails from the Inn at Little Washington. The pastry and sous chefs bring culinary knowledge from around the United States, as well as an established rapport with Valente from working together previously.
Hilton Garden Inn Director of Events Clarice Lelle — also a former pastry chef — says it’s safe to say anyone coming to Red House Tavern is in good hands. The team’s dedication to serving up food that delights is at the forefront of each and every plate that comes out of the kitchen.
“Every dish is thoughtfully put together with the freshest ingredients, and the menu changes daily,” Lelle says. “We like to keep it updated so everything we serve is as fresh as it can possibly be.”
She says most of the menu items are designed to share so customers can have a fulfilling and unique eating experience. It’s about people having a place to come where they can break bread, connect with others, and try a lot of different things in a polished atmosphere that boasts all the expectations of fine dining.
“Our shareable plates are a little larger than a tapas serving, so it allows the chance to have different dishes in one sitting,” Lelle says. “People can come in for a quick bite or a larger full meal.” Items like charred octopus, homemade pasta, chef-selected artisanal cheeses, artic sea bass, and local oysters are just a few
well-loved staples foodies can expect to find on the main menu. Breakfast and brunch goers can enjoy house-made pastries and Virginia southern favorites like locally sourced fried chicken and waffles.
And don’t forget the drinks, because cocktails matter here. Red House Tavern’s signature fig old fashioned has all the elements of the traditional drink, but with — of course — figs. In a tribute to summer, Lelle recommends trying the Summer Sun, which is light and fruity with hints of coconut and pineapple. The liquor selection rivals any top notch speak easy, with choices like Papy Van Winkle bourbon and an array of Virginia wines, beers, and spirits.
Come and Connect
Red House Tavern opened in March 2022 and already they are embracing what it means to be a local spot where the community can gather.
Meeting with local farmers and suppliers like Ovoka, Laz E Hill, Calhoun’s Ham House, Whiffletree, and Autumn Olive is an important part of how the restaurant not only sources ingredients like eggs, vegetables, and meats, but develops a true link to the hard-working community that provides so much of the abundance the Virginia countryside offers.
“Our chef makes it a priority to personally connect with all of our vendors and visit them on a regular basis,” says Lelle. “It’s farm-to-table in every sense.”
The restaurant is already attracting a bevy of neighborhood regulars and Lelle feels Red House Tavern fills a gap the community maybe didn’t realize it had.
“The community has been really receptive of what we’re trying to do, which is to offer the kinds of items — like bone marrow, tuna crudo, and octopus — you might see in fine dining establishments housed in bigger cities,” Lelle says. “Our chef is amazingly creative and it’s great to see the community embrace it.”
The Crossroads Café is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Sundays and offers espresso drinks, pastries, comfortable space, and Wi-Fi. It’s a great spot for hotel guests to work and locals to take a break from their traditional work-from-home setting.
The restaurant offers space that can be reserved for birthdays, graduations, or any occasion. Red House Tavern will draw up a special menu for these celebrations, so folks can enjoy dishes created especially for them.
“We want people to enjoy themselves and experience cuisine on a whole other level,” says Lelle. “Whether you come just for a drink or a full meal we want to make sure your experience is memorable.”
Red House Tavern is located at 15001 Washington Street in Haymarket. Reservations are accepted. Folks interested in reserving space for an event can leave a message on the website at redhousehaymarket.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rena Malai is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Prince William Living. She can be reached at email@example.com