Elevated in Eggleston

This off-the-beaten-path restaurant has become a regional staple.

Miso-battered Wagyu corn dogs and black-eyed pea and chickpea Hoppin’ John salad.

Photography by Brett Winter Lemon

Walking through the front door of The Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston on a chilly night, you are immediately embraced in warmth. Dark-stained wooden bookshelves brimming with Ball jars, porcelain, and framed photos of the Blue Ridge line the brick walls. The twang of live music marries with the buzz of diners and the rumble of a passing train. At the table, you are greeted with a vase of dill herb and greenery, and a copy of The Eggleston Gazette.

Exterior signage.

Built in 1926, the building that houses The Palisades served as a general store until 2000. The family-owned Pyne’s General Store was “the Walmart of its time” for Giles County, says Palisades owner Shaena Muldoon, who grew up in the area. In 2004, after moving away, Muldoon returned home to visit her parents and found that her brother had bought the building. She remembers thinking, “This needs to come back alive. It needs to be a restaurant.” At the time, Muldoon was a large-scale event planner for projects like World’s Fairs and art festivals around the globe. She opened The Palisades in 2009, an endeavor that she likens to “a daily event.” Last October, in the restaurant’s tenth year, Muldoon was awarded the 2019 Jim Wordsworth Award for Restaurateur of the Year by the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association. 

The menu is anchored by comforting country classics intertwined with unexpected twists, from surprising fusions to distinctive ingredients. Staples include a daily changing TV dinner—elevated food but served in a retro tray; the trout, for which the flavors evolve but the sourcing has remained local since day one; and the fall-favorite pear and brie quesadilla with pumpkin jam. 

An appetizer adapted from an entrée popular in the restaurant’s early days, the spicy shrimp dip is unbelievably creamy, meeting the palate with delicate honey flavor and finishing with a lingering spice. The tender meat of the wagyu corn dogs is enveloped in a soft and pillowy miso batter that reveals a hint of sweetness from the Bloody Butcher corn but is balanced with a wasabi cream and fig hoisin glaze. In the straight-forward Black & Blue salad, the perfect crisp on the steak gives way to buttery meat. The black-eyed pea and chickpea Hoppin’ John salad is earthy, laced with the zest and tang of Middle Eastern flavors in ras el hanout, sumac, mint, and yogurt, and brightened with an element of crunch. 

The wild and woodsy meat of the smoked boar belly is moist with a supple layer of fat that melts away. The belly, with the sweetness of winter spice, is served alongside coarse, crumbly, and savory jalapeño cornbread that is fried crisp and dotted with black beans, as well as a kale and apple slaw that offers a refreshing bite. The puff pastry on the Wellington doesn’t obscure the flavor of the duck, which is dressed with wild mushrooms and Dr. Pepper black cherry sauce. 

Sips of an anise-forward Barbaresco are interspersed among courses before dessert arrives. The reverse apple pie features a spiralized apple graced with the lightest dusting of batter and a powerful hit of ginger, accompanied by a palate-balancing miso ice cream. The more traditional chocolate cake is dark and rich with cocoa.

Chef Bryan Poole, a Virginia Western Community College culinary student who began as a prep cook at The Palisades five years ago while also working at other area restaurants, took over as head chef in late 2019. “I put things on the menu that people may not necessarily be able to get around here,” says Poole. As someone who grew up a picky eater, his goal is to entice diners to try something new. “I enjoy putting together flavor combinations that are unusual and work well together,” he says. Poole hopes to broaden the menu to incorporate items such as kangaroo and antelope.

While the restaurant does not offer cocktails, the wine list—with selections both local and international—is impressive and includes a section entitled “Shaena’s Choice.” (The Barbaresco was one of her picks.) An array of craft beer and cider is also available.

In addition to service that is genuinely warm and enthusiastic, Muldoon engages the community at The Palisades with events ranging from the Wines Around the World winter series, in collaboration with Virginia Tech professor John Boyer, to celebrity chef dinners. 

The Palisades is “always evolving,” says Muldoon. “That’s the most important thing in restaurants. We are always tweaking things, coming up with new ideas and the next creative thing.” ThePalisadesRestaurant.com

This article originally appeared in our April 2020 issue.

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