The Farmhouse:
A Christiansburg Dining Tradition

By Patricia B. Mitchell, 2005.

Farmhouse Waiter

A Farmhouse waiter at work during a busy August 2004 family gathering.

Lusty steaks; heavenly, hunky blue cheese dressing; and satiety-producing baked potatoes immediately come to mind when I think of meals I devoured at the Farmhouse Restaurant in Christiansburg, Virginia when I was a hungry college student at “V.P.I.” (now called “Virginia Tech”) in nearby Blacksburg. My boyfriend and I loved to slip into one of the wooden booths or to have the thrill of being seated in the Caboose. We'd always start with the house salad, dressed as mentioned above, then wait for that sizzling hot platter of cow meat. Potato, rolls, butter, and iced tea made the meal complete. (Back then, the best onion rings around were to be found at the Andrew Lewis Tavern in Salem, Virginia, so we didn't normally order them at the Farmhouse.)

The Farmhouse Restaurant was opened in 1963 in a 19th-century house which had belonged to the Ridinger family. Since opening, the restaurant has had only a few owners, and general manager Barbara Wade has been there almost since the restaurant was “born.” The eatery has always been famous for beef, although over the years the menu has been expanded. So, too, has the size of the restaurant. Additions to the original house, including several banquet rooms, now allow a seating capacity of over 600.

This past August my former boyfriend / now husband, Henry, and I attended a birthday celebration there for one of Henry's cousins. The tables were set most attractively; and pleasant, capable waiters took good care of our large party.

Honoree at the Farmhouse

The occasion's honoree Marguerite Gunn and her son Mark Gunn, the party's host, greet their guests in a festive Farmhouse banquet room.

First off, plates of the now “Famous [Fried] Onion Rings” were brought to each table as an “appe-teaser.”

For this event, we could choose from Filet Mignon, Prime Rib, Basil Parmesan Chicken, or Seafood Newburg for the entree. (A wider range of choices are offered on the menus in the regular dining rooms.) My husband chose the Filet Mignon; and his then-95-year-old, 80-lb. mother chose the Prime Rib. (The pile of meat was 'bout as big as she is!) Henry ended up “helping” her clean her plate. Obviously he enjoyed the meat. — I selected the Seafood Newburg.

Between the appetizer onion rings and the main course, a nice Garden Salad with a choice of several dressings satisfied our palates. With each entree came aluminum-foil-wrapped baked potatoes (just like in the old days), and rolls. A “Chef's Seasonal Vegetable” also accompanied the entrees.

We could choose either Deep Dish Apple or Old Fashioned Pecan Pie (à la mode or un-a-mode), or New York Style Cheese Cake for dessert.

The party was a great combination of fellowship, food, and fun. The Farmhouse ambience added to the evening's pleasure. It is easy to see (and taste) why going to the Farmhouse to celebrate special occasions is a local tradition.