C and O Restaurant

C&O takes its name from the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway, which stretches from the Eastern shores of Virginia into, obviously, Ohio [and beyond]. The Railway began in Louisa County, VA, not far down the road. C&O’s building actually served as a bunk for rail workers on the Charlottesville line before the 1976 opening of the restaurant.

Sweet old sign.

Photo source. But, oh thank goodness the restaurant opened. No offense to the rail workers. C&O is hands-down one of the best fine dining options in the area, and by far the most charming. Sourcing local ingredients, C&O prepares contemporary American food with flair. Paired with their outstanding cocktails, impressive wine list, and warm staff, it’s a recipe for a perfect night.

Shaun and I have been to C&O many, many times, but we confine ourselves to the late-night menu. One of our favorite traditions is an old-fashioned and their famous cheese plate [and maybe their Shenandoah Joe’s coffee ice cream] at the old bar in the basement. Their bartender makes the best straightforward old fashioned in town [and there will be a post about Charlottesville’s old fashioneds coming shortly]. Rarely have we had an opportunity to enjoy a full dinner there, but we couldn’t resist tonight – and not just to check it off the bucket list!

Dinner here was important to us because: C&O is catering our wedding. There, I said it. We brought my parents and two family friends, sat out on the back patio, and enjoyed a nice evening.  I think everyone left excited for [eating at] next year’s event, especially after they gave us a tour of some of the other rooms in the restaurant. Their Gallery, used for private events, rotates art from different local artists, and boasts a brand-new modern chandelier.

The evening began with my family [for some odd reason] allowing me to choose their drinks. I got my dad the Dogfish Pumpkin, my mom an apple brandy + ginger beer cocktail, Tim a Blue Mountain Rockfish Wheat, and Karen a glass of sweet Virginia rose. I got everyone right but my mom… In retrospect, I bet she would have liked their margarita [pro-tip: C&O is also famous for their Greyhound, a cocktail made with vodka and grapefruit juice. They have a juicer in the basement bar. I’m not even a grapefruit fan and I love this one].

We ordered a cheese plate for the table.

The best in town.

Boucheron, brie, and Maytag blue, with their fresh-baked bread, quince paste, and fruit. This really is the best cheese plate in town.

Shaun and I followed the cheese plate with a mini-appetizer of smoked dates, mascarpone, and sun-dried tomatoes.

I'm still drooling.

The flavor was so smoky that I had to stop and make sure there wasn’t meat inside! This dish was perfect, down to the slaw. The sweetness of the mascarpone perfectly complemented the smokiness of the rest of the vegetables. I could have doubled the portion and made it my meal.

Shaun finished up with the rabbit boudin blanc, served with lentils.


He assured us it was phenomenal. I fulfilled my “Foodie Profile” dream: the vegetable wellington.


Served on a bed of rice with baby asparagus, this wellington was prepared like it would be with beef, but the pastry was stuffed with tofu and local vegetables instead. The green mush on top? A cilantro-mint cream sauce that I could eat with a spoon. Or a shovel. Whatever’s available.

This dish was all I dreamed it would be. What really set it off was the cilantro-mint sauce. To be honest, the Local also serves a vegetarian pastry dish: local squash, ricotta, and goat cheese pastries on a bed of couscous, and I think I enjoy it just as much. Each dish satisfies different cravings: C&O’s wellington fulfills a need for hearty, homestyle cooking, and The Local’s stuffed pastry pleases you when you’re in a cheesy, slightly sweet mood. I would 100% order this again at C&O, though.

Rather than order dessert, we walked to The Jefferson to show my parents the venue. I assured them the crowd of smoking teenagers there to see Umphrey’s McGee was not included in the package, but they didn’t seem convinced. We ran into an 11-month-old Bernese outside the theater whose owner was chowing down on Cinema Taco – Bernese owners think alike?

Time to relax and get ready for tomorrow’s vegetarian festival!


Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: C-Ville, Food


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/courtney-marello/1a/375/b30 Tumblr: http://abarrelofoddsandends.tumblr.com/


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