Southern home cooking brings to mind heaping platters of fried chicken, country ham, cornbread, biscuits and gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, fried apples, black-eyed peas, sweet tea and cobbler. As Paula Deen would say, “it is so good, y’all!”
Although Southern food is defined as the cuisine south of the Mason-Dixon Line, it is truly a melting pot of culinary influences which span cultures from North America across the Atlantic. We can trace the origins of southern cooking to the southeastern Native Americans who incorporated squash, tomatoes, corn and deep pit barbecuing into their cuisine. Europeans introduced baking with sugar, flour, milk and eggs and French/Spanish influences are the hallmarks of Creole or Cajun cooking. You can find influences from the culinary traditions of Africans, the French, Spanish, English, Scottish, Irish, African-Americans and Native Americans which rise up too create a unique signature, a blending of ingredients, flavors and cooking techniques that are readily identified as Southern food.
Some of our best-loved comfort food originated in the Applachian Mountains of southwest Virginia, and that is where the story begins for Goochland County’s Tanglewood Ordinary restaurant located in central Virginia.
In 1984, Jim and Anne Hardwick discovered The Homeplace restaurant. Tucked away in the small town of Catawba, in scenic southwest Virginia, the white farmhouse with the wide porch and rocking chairs paints a charming picture of southern hospitality. But it was a family-style Southern dining experience that really won them over. Over heaping platters of fried chicken, roast beef, ham and all the Southern sides an idea began to take shape.
And so the hunt was on for the perfect property to start a similar restaurant in the Richmond area. As luck would have it, Tanglewood Ordinary was available, an ideal property with charm, country atmosphere and a great location along Route 6 in Goochland County.
The original two-room log cabin structure was built in 1928 and served as a filling station and sandwich shop. In 1935, an addition was added providing a basement, dance hall, and living quarters. Dances were held there on a weekly basis including the senior prom for Goochland High School.
In the ‘40s and ‘50s, Tanglewood gained a reputation for being a wild scene after the sun went down. In spite of its rowdy reputation by night, by day, it remained a popular stop between Richmond and Charlottesville. Virginia Governor William Tuck often had his chauffeur drive him out for a cheese sandwich and a beer. He’d sit in his favorite spot, on the low rail fence out front and enjoy an afternoon in the country.
Since 1986, Tanglewood Ordinary has been serving up fried chicken, country ham and roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, black eyed peas, slaw, stewed tomatoes, cornbread, biscuits and cobbler- family style.
With great food (as much as you’d like to eat,) fast service, country atmosphere…add to the mix a beautiful scenic drive along River Road West (35-Mile Drive) and you’ve got a recipe for a memorable dining experience and one of central Virginia’s favorite family-style traditions.
Visit their website at www.ordinary.com. Tanglewood is open Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.