The smell of homebaked bread, the sight of oil lamps, and the sound of footsteps on creaky, wooden floors will greet you inside 1776 Log House Restaurant on a prominent corner along Main Street in Wytheville, Virginia.
Location: 1776 Log House Restaurant, 520 East Main Street, Wytheville, Virginia
Menu: Meals begin with a perfectly browned, fresh-from-the-oven round loaf of bread served with soft butter. It’s a great introduction to the experience of dining inside this building with such longstanding history. Clam chowder and vegetable beef soup are listed alongside some usual starters, such as spinach-artichoke dip and cheese sticks, but the corn fritters with honey are the most popular. Light, hot and fresh, it’s as if you’ve started with dessert. Sandwiches, burgers, and salads round out the lunch menu, but the dinner menu kicks things up a notch.
Dinner starters add such choices as a grape and cheese cluster, stuffed mushrooms, and shrimp cocktail. Entree options include steak, seafood and pasta, but many diners look at the house specialties, such as stuffed pork loin with apples, stuffed chicken breast with cream cheese, onions and celery, chicken verde pecan with spinach adding the green component or Virginia country ham. Each entree includes that amazing bread plus two sides. In addition to traditional sides, you’ll find the highly-recommended stuffed squash, fried grits with pepper jelly, and broccoli casserole. The stuffed squash was every bit as good as advertised, and I must return to try the intriguing grits.
Because of COVID-19, the menu is more limited than normal, and the seating capacity remains at 50%, so a reservation is strongly encouraged.
Thoughts: The food at 1776 Log House Restaurant is wonderful, but the ambiance pushes it even further up the list of special restaurants in town. To the left of the front door, you will find the actual log house portion that was built in 1776 and now serves as one of the dining rooms. All we have from history is that it was built by a man named Will as a tenant house for a large landowner and that Will stopped building to go fight in the Revolutionary War. An addition was added in 1804 and yet another section was added in 1898.
A furniture business used to be where the back parking lot is now, and apprentices for that business lived in the log house. The original business was sold to the Rich brothers, and one of their products became very well-known, the Wythe County pie safe.
During the Civil War, Joseph Chadwell owned the house, and freed slave Benjamin Steptoe lived in the cabin behind the restaurant, which is now Christopher’s Lounge. Both men went off to fight in the war where Chadwell was killed. The flower gardens and dining gazebo in the back of the property were established in memory of those men’s widows, Abby Chadwell and Nanny Steptoe, who worked a garden together. Be sure to allow time before or after your meal at 1776 Log House to stroll through the grounds and enjoy the rabbits, birds, goldfish, and frogs, along with the plants. You will also find a gift shop and an art gallery.
Current owners are James and Pat Green. James is the primary chef, and Pat and several of their children work in the restaurant. In deciding which dishes would make the final cut and appear on the menu, Chef Green made and ate each one for seven straight days, figuring that if he was still interested in eating them after that period they must be good enough for his diners. I believe he selected the perfect ones. They do not live on the property, but they can be found there most of the time cooking, tending to the plants and animals, and maintaining the impressive property. You will be surprised at the size of the restaurant with all of its winding nooks and crannies.
The small town of Wytheville can claim a remarkable number of historical events and notable people. This restaurant adds to the charm and credibility of that history.
Price range: Starters are $5.99-8.99. Sandwiches and burgers are $6.99-7.99. Entrees range from $12.99 for a veggie platter to $25.99 for a 16-0z. ribeye.
Disclosure: The reviewer received a complimentary meal as part of a press trip sponsored by the VisitWytheville.org.