Faces + Places / Lifestyle

Use Your Chops and Get a Taste of Downtown!

Taste of Downtown is back! Brought to you by Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance and the Downtown Dining Alliance, this biannual restaurant week celebrates downtown restaurants and local flavors.

Starting today and running through Sunday, August 19, 22 downtown restaurants will feature lunch, dinner, and/or treat specials, with three locations offering a Sunday brunch.

Each time Taste of Downtown is held, it not only grows in the number of participating restaurants, but also often includes new categories, participating locations, or aspects of the event. Taste of Downtown is proud to welcome two locations new to the event: Arepera Las Chamas and The Corner, both offering lunch specials. This August’s event also features a new category -Sunday brunch on August 19 – with Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft Shack, Clementine, and the Local Chop & Grill House preparing delicious culinary creations to round out the week.

Brunch is not only new to Taste of Downtown, but also fairly new to the Local Chop & Grill House. After realizing what a great opportunity brunch is to highlight local foods in a unique way, the Local Chop & Grill House decided a few months ago to begin serving a relaxed Sunday brunch as part of its regular hours. Although the Local Chop & Grill House is known for its exquisite fine dinners, the Sunday brunch has a more casual approach while still providing a special dining experience.

Having grown up in the Valley and graduating from James Madison University, Local Chop & Grill House owner Jeff Hill is truly a local. After traveling around Europe and living in Colorado and Montana, Jeff decided to bring fine dining and unpretentious service to his hometown, and thus the Local Chop & Grill House was born.

The Local Chop & Grill House opened in 2009 in a historic building that was formerly the City Produce Exchange and a part of the Wetsel Seed Company.

The Local Chop & Grill House, 56 West Gay Street, Harrisonburg, VA

The exposed brick and wooden beams of the building give the Local Chop & Grill House a rustic charm, which is complemented by the farm fresh foods on its menu. The bounty of farms and produce available in the area allows the restaurant to execute progressive concepts and, as Jeff put it, “to celebrate the local farmers and showcase their produce.” The Local Chop & Grill House celebrates over fifty local farmers and strives for the best quality. This dedication is not lost on the community; the Local Chop & Grill House is proud to have won five Best of the Valley awards this year.

“Be where you are, and don’t try to be what you are not,” Jeff explained to me. The Local Chop & Grill House has an honest approach to food with an understanding that not everything can be local. Here, farm-to-table food is taken to new heights and all of the locally-sourced produce is labeled as such.  The Local Chop & Grill House stands behind this philosophy and Chef Ryan Zale reflects this in his innovative menu that changes seasonally.

This 1920’s Harlem original gets a Southern spin.
Fried Polyface Farms chicken marinated in buttermilk and house-made Siracha, LOCAL Molasses
Dijon mustard sauce, and LOCAL cornmeal waffle with LOCAL maple syrup and Chipotle powdered sugar

Blood Orange Mimosa

LOCAL Buckwheat Pancakes, topped with LOCAL honey creme fraiche, maple-bacon, and LOCAL maple syrup

As a board member of the Downtown Dining Alliance, Jeff appreciates the comradery of the downtown restaurants and not only looks forward to Taste of Downtown at the Local Chop & Grill House, but also the opportunity of enjoying other restaurants himself!

With Taste of Downtown taking place this week, the Local Chop & Grill House will be participating in the dinner and brunch categories. “I always get excited when I see a first-time diner on our reservations list,” says Jeff. “I can’t wait to meet someone who has never been here before and share this experience with them.”

For a list of all participating restaurants and menus, check out the Taste of Downtown page

Also be sure to check out the Local Chop & Grill House website for a list of upcoming events, including live music, Farmer’s Table dinners, craft beer dinners, and wine dinners!

Kari Owens is the HDR Promotions Intern for Summer and Fall 2012. She is a rising senior Media Arts & Design major and Creative Writing minor at James Madison University.



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