Food critic

The following review appears in The Washington Post’s 2017 Spring Dining Guide.

The fried chicken is based on a recipe chef Ryan Arensdorf got from his grandmother (Dixie D. Vereen/For The Washington Post)


Attention, hunt country: The signature dining room in this Middleburg resort is better than when owner Sheila Johnson famously threw open the doors four years ago. While Harrimans still presents itself as a dressy country club for the horse-and-wine set, the service is steadier, and chef Ryan Arensdorf, a January hire from Chicago, says he’s focused on making his food approachable. Enter fried chicken, based on a recipe the chef got from his grandmother. A bath in brine followed by a roll in cake flour, seasoned with sage and paprika, leads to crisp golden chicken that’s lip-smacking good, especially when paired with tender biscuits. Come to think of it, the fryer is the source of the better dishes here: Rabbit fritters, rock shrimp tempura kissed with lemon and the “world’s best chicken nugget” (in truth made with sweetbreads and served with a swipe of Dijon-horseradish aioli). Not into fried food? Simple is the best strategy. Think crab cakes or veal porterhouse — but not whole fish (ours was dry and tasteless). The Black Forest cake for two is plenty for six to share, and it’s the fluff of dreams. The wine list is priced as if we’ve got money to burn. Delaplane Cellars for $200 a bottle? That’s one way to keep locals talking.

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1 1/2 stars

500 N. Pendleton St., Middleburg, Va. 540-326-4070. .

Open: Breakfast Monday through Saturday, dinner Wednesday through Sunday, brunch Sunday.

Prices: Breakfast mains $12 to $20, dinner entrees $13 to $45, brunch buffet $45.
Sound check: 74 decibels / Must speak with raised voice.