Off the Beaten Path

The Bad Apple speakeasy and restaurant is worth the search.

Looking for the Bad Apple? Don’t rely on your GPS to find it. This Prohibition-themed restaurant, outside of Pembroke (pop. 1,100), is situated inside a big, red barn at the end of Doe Creek Farm Road. From Blacksburg, you’ll take routes 700, 460, and 613, which means, in short, that it’s down a dirt road. Driving after dark, it’s easy to get lost, which would-be patrons do, a lot.

But the Bad Apple is worth the search. The red barn, which once housed sheep, is now an elegantly appointed restaurant. Dark paneling, crystal chandeliers, and a stained glass window give it a vintage, speakeasy vibe. It’s all a bit on the down-low—no street signs, no directional markers, or arrows pointing the way. The only clue is revealed late in the game: a discrete neon apple on the side of the barn.

The Bad Apple’s extensive cocktail menu features an impressive selection of Virginia distilled spirits as well as Virginia beers and wines. The only bad apples here come in the form of cocktails flavored with apple syrup from the farm’s orchard. The dinner menu changes seasonally to take advantage of what’s locally available and includes favorites like shrimp and grits, Beef Wellington, and vegan japchae, a Korean comfort food courtesy of Executive Chef Mikie Bodtke.

The shadowy, somewhat secretive ambiance of the place is a deliberate nod to Prohibition—when alcohol sales were outlawed in the U.S. The crackdown spawned an underground network of hidden bars in unlikely locations—barns, basements, old warehouses. Georgia Haverty and Allison Hollopter, the mother-daughter duo behind The Bad Apple, both liked the idea of a rustic exterior concealing an elegant, club-like interior, so they capitalized on the property’s elements to create this experiential dining destination.

The drive to The Bad Apple is quintessential Virginia—rolling hills, valleys, and fertile farmland—but once inside the restaurant, there is no view. The lack of windows bolsters the secretive vibe. Getting there is definitely a journey in itself. But once you’re seated, you’ll discover a whole new world of destination dining. BadAppleBarn.com

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