Local Flavors Shine

Close ties to purveyors elevate Chef Tucker Yoder’s ever-changing menus at Broadcloth.

(Photo courtesy of Broadcloth)

As we pulled up to the Wool Factory, just a mile from downtown Charlottesville, the skies opened. We scurried through the deluge down a series of cascading steps, across a courtyard, and into the dry embrace of Broadcloth.

Founded in 1840, the original Woolen Mills produced cloth for military uniforms for more than 100 years before closing in 1962. Now revitalized, The Wool Factory complex infuses a modern aesthetic into the historic space paying homage to its textile-making origins with a brewpub, Selvedge, a wine and coffee boutique known as The Workshop, an event space with on-site catering, and flagship restaurant, Broadcloth.

(Photo courtesy of Broadcloth)

The restaurant’s ambitious menu bursts with seasonal flavors thanks to chef Tucker Yoder’s enduring relationships with local farms and purveyors. While many chefs talk farm-to-table, Yoder walks the walk. A culinary veteran, Yoder was the force behind The Red Hen in Lexington and Charlottesville’s now-defunct OXO. He’s also done several tours at the Clifton Inn.

The drink menu offers cocktails with textile themed names like Le Peignoir, Off the Cuff, and a Dye House Old Fashioned. The beer selection from the in-house Selvedge Brewing also taps the textile theme with the Poplin Pilsner, Seersucker Gose, and Velvet Imperial Stout, to name a few. Bar snacks include their famous sourdough bread with butter or lardo and pickled mustard seed (don’t miss the opportunity to spread luscious cured pork fat on fresh, hot-from-the-oven bread), as well as duck rillette and blistered shishito peppers. The menus change weekly. Ours celebrated the local bounty of heirloom tomatoes, JimmyNardello peppers, sweet corn, okra, eggplant, and summer squash. Diners can choose from four courses ($60) or six ($90), or opt for the 8-10 course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($135). Wine, beer, and spirit pairings are also available ($35, $55, and $80, respectively). The wine list features Virginia vintages, as well as California, Washington, and international selections. Our four-course menu provided eight distinct dishes to share over a few hours marked by well-paced, gracious, and attentive service.

The amuse-bouche started us on a playful note with chilled honeydew melon over turmeric yogurt topped with icy shaved watermelon, a refreshing version of a palate-cleansing sorbet. We moved on to a tomato salad, which came alive with the umami punch of a dashi broth and a slow-cooked egg with a side of grilled sourdough to sop up all the juices.

Seared scallops, kissed with the sweetness of lightly cooked corn and peppers, were accented with a nasturtium oil marrying the flavors. Lightly seared rockfish, fresh from the Chesapeake Bay, was served with a harmony of grilled okra and summer squash; a turmeric sauce tied it all together. Seeds of the horizontally sliced okra appeared like jewels. The richness of a dry-aged duck breast, served on a bed of buckwheat, played off the acids of charred pickled cucumbers and dried and crumbled black olives.

While the first courses were decadent, our main courses soared to new levels. A rare roasted lamb loin from Rockingham County was heightened by the earthy undertones of charred eggplant and a succulent confit of garlic and tomatoes, dried ever-so-slightly as to concentrate the flavors. A grilled rib eye from nearby Timbercreek Farm was prepared simply, with roasted sweet onions and a short rib jus. The brilliance of Yoder’s food is from his light touch. “I let my ingredients do the work and stay out of their way,” he once told me. Humble words from a great chef.

Desserts and bread come from chef Yoder and Wool Factory consulting pastry chef Rachel De Jong. With a pastry certificate from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, De Jong has created for Petit Trois in Los Angeles and The Inn at Little Washington. Her sweet and savory breads, desserts, and pastries are now available at Cou Cou Rachou, her stand-alone bakery in Charlottesville.

The night we dined at Broadcloth, offerings included a playful take on the Tarte Tartin made with caramelized eggplant and accompanied by whipped feta, for a more savory take on this classic French dessert. A salad of peaches and plums came with a lacy lemon-thyme cookie and ice cream crafted from sheep’s milk cheese from nearby Twenty Paces farmstead.

The skies had cleared as we left The Wool Factory, a setting that—with its myriad spaces—only serves to widen Broadcloth’s appeal. We look forward to returning as the seasons change to taste the flavors Chef Yoder and his team will continue to coax from the bounty of the area.

The Wool Factory

A historic textile mill finds a new life.

Built in 1847, Charlottesville’s historic Woolen Mills once produced 15,000 yards of cloth per month, primarily for military uniforms. Although the textile mill was burned down during the Civil War, Henry Marchant, son of the mill’s founders, resurrected the business and, in 1878, it became Charlottesville’s first to install a telephone. When the mill finally closed, this historic site languished for decades before undergoing a $20 million renovation. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the newly revitalized complex, now known as The Wool Factory, includes event space along with Selvedge Brewing Co., a coffee and wine bar, known as The Workshop, and Broadcloth.

This article originally appeared in the February 2022 issue.

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