Flavor on Main opens to accolades

By Posted on Apr 03 2015 | By

Culpeper’s fine dining scene continues to blossom 

Savvy investors coupled with an experienced chef have created the latest dining option for locals and visitors alike. The new eatery has the potential for five-star dining if early customer reviews are a leading indicator.

The restaurant’s sleek glass and dark wood interior sets the stage for cuisine often seen in Manhattan rather than the Piedmont. The establishment, planned and executed for over a year, reflects the commitment of the owners and the talented chef they have employed to gift the town a big city-like restaurant.

Be sure to note the date you first ate there because regional food critics will likely be discovering the place soon creating an “I told you so” moment for early adopters.

Flavor on Main (4)John Yarnall, owner of It’s About Thyme, joined forces with local businessmen Sandy Hall and David Young and out-of-town investor John Healy to conceive and create Flavor on Main Bar and Grill. Yarnell’s gastronomic experience dates to the Nixon White House where he was assistant to the chef.

The impressive looking exterior and interior design was the work of Paula Hall, wife of investor Sandy Hall. Rob Kearney with Taft Construction built the tastefully modern décor.

The food served at the restaurant is modern American cuisine. It is a style of cooking that reflects a panoply of cooking styles. In its strictest sense it’s the fusion of traditional European and Asian classic cooking techniques with the emphasis on fresh, locally produced, in-season and healthful foods.

The chef
The heart of any highly rated restaurant is the maestro orchestrating the kitchen. In this case it’s a young, talented and surprisingly experienced chef named Garth Hansen.

Garth HansenHansen, 29, spent his formative years on a horse farm near Leesburg. He graduated from college in New Hampshire, and after a stint of washing dishes and making salads at a local restaurant while attending school, switched majors and devoted himself to becoming a chef.

Upon graduation, he landed a job at the highly rated Marea Ristorante in Manhattan in 2007. The restaurant scores a TripAdvisor 4.5 rating based on 886 reviews and set the stage for Hansen’s upward career arc.

Intrigued with working at the famous Le Cirque restaurant, also in Manhattan, Hansen applied for and was hired as a sous chef. International food experts rank the eatery among the best restaurants in the world.

“I learned more French cooking there and modern molecular gastronomy,” said Hansen. The technique employs chemistry and biology to suss out and enhance the aromas and flavors of food.

After six years away from home accumulating a growing expertise in the kitchen, Hansen was homesick for Virginia. “I hadn’t spent any holidays with my family because they all are busy times at restaurants,” recalls Hansen.

In keeping with his penchant for working at high-end establishments, the young chef landed a job at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond. The beautiful five star, five diamond hotel is recognized as one of the finest in the country.

“At Jefferson I learned more from Executive Chef James Schroeder than anyone I had previously worked for, including budgeting and food ordering. I listened, asked questions and did everything to get myself into a position where I could confidently take on an executive chef’s position,” Hansen said.

The hard work paid off when he was approached to assume command of two establishments in Fredericksburg; Grapevine Café and Café New Orleans. With his growing reputation, Yarnall lured the young talent to Culpeper. Since his arrival last year, he has directed the firm’s catering and event center business while the restaurant was being built out.

“I want to make Flavor on Main a destination spot for Virginia. We are in a food revolution. People want and expect really good food with all natural products made in-house, not pre-packaged.

“Taste buds have changed and people have a way of picking up the phonies and knowing when people are legitimate,” emphasizes Hansen.

Today, Hansen and his wife and two-year-old daughter still live in the Fredericksburg area but plan on moving to Culpeper County. “I think Culpeper is the place where I want to live with my family; it’s the town I want to have my daughter grow up in.”

Flavor on Main has been opened only a few weeks and critical acclaim still awaits. In the interim, the restaurant’s Facebook page is replete with comments from happy diners. A few of the observations include.

“Food so good we literally had to kiss the chef.”

“I love this place! Amazing food—hope you are ready for it. Atmosphere is so mellow and ritzy. Cocktails are out of this world phenomenal!!

“The food was fantastic. I had the flank steak and it was cooked to a perfect medium rare. The price points were also very reasonable.”

“Our waiter was extremely attentive to our table so between the great food and outstanding service, I have to give it an easy 5 star rating.”

Indeed, its Facebook page has already scored 648 likes with a 5.0 star review from 24 diners.

Hansen’s motto has been the same no matter where he has worked: “Stay fresh and stay local.” With that philosophy in play, the restaurant should have diners coming back often.

Flavor on Main is located at 137 S Main St and opened Tuesday through Friday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Its website will be up and running in the near future. For reservations call (540) 321-4510.


Published in the April 2, 2015 edition of the Culpeper Times

Categories : HAGARTY TALES