FOOD- THE DISH-Night moves: Court Square Inn gets dinner-friendly

Back in February, the Inn at Court Square received special mention in the Washington Post for being one of the Old Dominion's "most gay-friendly hotels." 

"The Post writer said he visited a number of gay-friendly places in Virginia," Inn owner Candace DeLoach, who is gay, told Dish, "but he chose to feature the Inn at Court Square. I was very honored."

For years now, the Inn has offered, in addition to first-class accommodations for gays and straights alike, one of the most interesting breakfast and lunch menus in town. Think herb-roasted pork tenderloin on a homemade baguette with smoked gouda, freshly baked croissant, and meal-like salads with shredded spiced chicken and roasted portobello mushrooms. Located in the oldest existing house downtown, and beautifully restored, the Inn also has an almost unique ambiance. 

Now, according to Deloach, in addition to being gay-friendly, the Inn is about to become dinner-friendly. Starting Thursday, April 19, new chef Jesse Wykle will begin offering an à la carte menu featuring such delights as rack of lamb, rib-eye steak, snapper, and shrimp and grits. 

"It will be upscale Southern cuisine," says DeLoach, "but in a casual atmosphere. We want people to feel as comfortable here as they do eating lunch and breakfast."

Farmington members and Clifton Inn devotees will remember chef Wykle (or at least his food): he served as the head chef at Farmington's Terrace Room, and later worked at the celebrated Inn on 250 East. Initially, DeLoach says, she hired Wykle to do private dinners, but that wasn't enough for the young chef.

"For years, I've wanted to do this," says DeLoach, "but my previous chef didn't want to work at night.  Jesse is younger and has a lot of energy, and he said he'd love to do more nights and weekends. So I said, 'Great, let's do it.'"

Dinners at the Inn will run Thursday to Saturday, from 5 to 8:30pm, and DeLoach strongly suggests you make reservations, as seating is limited. 

Dine out, learn to cook in

If you like cooking as much as you like dining out, you may want to head out to Mona Lisa Pasta on Preston Avenue or over to the Seasonal Cook on West Main.

 Jim Winecoff, owner/chef of Mona Lisa Pasta, and Terre Sisson of Charlottesville Wine & Culinary have teamed up again to offer cooking classes. In addition to demonstrating how to create a 30-minute meal, the duo can also teach how to wield a kitchen knife like a pro, covering the essentials of chopping, slicing, dicing, and knife care. Of course, the two-hour sessions, which cost between $45 and $65 per person, include plenty of instruction, but they also include the meal participants make and glass of wine or two. 

On May 2, the duo show how to make famous chef Gerard Pangaud's signature lobster in sauterne mango and ginger, and on May 11 they demonstrate how to make roasted asparagus, avocado grapefruit, and seared tuna and spicy radish rolls, among many other delights. A rolling mat is included. Better call 434-295-2494 to reserve a spot. 

Over at the Seasonal Cook, Ashley Hightower, chef/owner of Dinner at Home, offers a series of classes designed to keep busy folks from eating TV dinners and frozen burritos during the week. Dubbed the "Quick Weeknight Supper Classes," they'll teach how to substitute pasta and sauce for a proper three-course meal, including green mango and peanut salad, pan-seared scallops, caramelized onion quesadillas with tomatillo salsa, and zucchini ginger cupcakes... all without creating a prolonged disaster in the kitchen!

Classes on May 1 and 15 are still open, but call 434-295-9355 quickly to reserve a spot.

Night shift: Inn at Court Square owner Candace DeLoach and new chef Jesse Wykle plan to start serving dinner April 19.