The Three Blacksmiths expand service

By Posted on Oct 06 2019 | By

Popular Sperryville restaurant offers Wednesday dining

It’s a problem every restaurant seeks: guests requesting more dining hours. What drives such demand? For The Three Blacksmiths it was due in part to the Washington Post’s 2019 Spring Dining Guide that rated the restaurant number four out of its top 30 newcomers in the DC Metro area. One of many acclaimed reviews.

An impressive achievement for an establishment opened just over a year ago.

Tom Sietsema, the Post’s nationally known food critic and author of the guide, made this observation: “The lone complaint I’ve ever heard about this Sperryville sensation concerns the challenge of securing a table.”

Always nice to be called a sensation. And it’s now nice to learn owners John and Diane MacPherson have addressed what appears to be the only problem with their business. On October 2 they began accepting reservations for Wednesday service to be offered starting on October 23.

Sietsema, who is not known for an easy compliment goes on to say, “… wannabe diners can book out as far as 203 days (29 weeks). Worth the trip? Definitely—worth any hassle, too.”

The downside of that reservation policy is Diane’s observation, “As of September 18, we are booked through April 4, 2019.” Hopefully the additional dining day will ease some of the angst among their current and future fans.

To better understand how such a problem could exist consider the restaurant is currently opened only on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays for a single seating of 20 guests. The experience is more akin to attending a private three-hour dinner party than public dining.

So how did a relatively unknown couple catapult to the top of the Nation’s Capital dining scene? It started in New England where both originally hailed; John, 54, came from the Boston area and Diane, 51, south of Hartford.

Their careers took them independently to California and a serendipitous first meeting at a wine event led to couplehood. “We literally met in a vineyard,” remembers Diane fondly. The couple has a son Finn, 13.

After more than two decades their West Coast careers grew stale leaving them “cogs in a wheel”. John believed they should make a living doing something they loved and suggested running a B&B. Diane quickly agreed. It was something she had always wanted to pursue.

Their search for the perfect inn led them to Virginia and specifically Rappahannock County. In 2004 they purchased the Foster Harris House in Little Washington, gaining experience in hospitality while garnering a legion of fans. After 13 years of honing their culinary and hosting skills the decision was made to shift full-time to the restaurant business. The eatery opened in June 2018.

Almost anyone who owns a successful restaurant will opine it’s not all accolades and smiles. But The Three Blacksmiths might be the exception. Given the intimate setting and multi-course dinners served with casual ambiance and style, the experience is like spending an evening with family and friends.

“Almost every night someone out of the blue will say, ‘We’re having such a good time!’ That’s not something you hear all the time. But when someone is so in the moment that they recognize it and express it, it’s very gratifying,” says Diane.

John is the chef and Diane manages the dining room. A team of four rounds out the staff that John refers to, “As this little family of employees that’s hard to call employees. They are such an important part of the whole thing. It makes the work a really wonderful experience.”

While John did not start cooking professionally until the B&B opened, his training dates to his youth. “I grew up in a family that was ridiculously passionate about food and wine.” The family traveled widely in pursuit of their passion. All of his family are excellent cooks.

During his West Coast career John was a competitive cyclist. “The great thing about racing a bike is you get to eat a lot.” His culinary and racing skills led to the creation of the popular Tour d’Epicure, a cycling and fine dining adventure formerly offered by their B&B.

Always at the ready
So is everything perfect every night? Mostly yes, but situations do arise that call for immediate action. The MacPhersons recall one incident in particular. A group of six diners were standing around their table enjoying a convivial conservation before dinner. With the rest of the diners seated the owner’s asked if they’d like to take their seats.

As they moved toward their chairs, water began pouring from an overhead chandelier onto their table. It was a pleasant evening so it wasn’t a leaking roof. Quickly the table was moved, cleared and reset while John raced upstairs to investigate.

To his surprise an air conditioning unit had overflowed its holding tank and was streaming water into the room below. The unit was quickly drained and the unexpected “rain shower” ended
“Today those guests are regulars but their evening could have been ruined it the leak if happened during dinner, Diane remembers.

Pricing & Reservations
Payment for dinners is unique. The multi-course tasting menu costs $128 per person plus a $70 alcohol charge; gratuity and tax not included. Both reservations and payment are made online.

A $50 deposit per person is levied when reservations are made. On the morning of the dinner the remaining bill is charged to the guest’s credit card. “When guests arrive, they sit down, enjoy their meal and leave when they’re finished. There’s no business transactions after the dinner,” said John.

To make reservations visit www.threeblacksmiths.com/. If you can’t secure your first-choice date, be patient and try again. Your efforts will be rewarded with a unique an intimate dining experience.

Published in the September 25, 2019 edition of the Fauquier Times.

Categories : HAGARTY TALES