(Refueling Racers is a new feature on GamJams, where the restaurants, coffee shops and other eateries that support local racing are reviewed from the perspective of a ravenous epicurean athlete.)
by Judd Walencikowski, Food Editor
If you're a MABRA or VA-area cyclist, you've, no doubt, clocked some time on Skyline Drive. It offers demanding climbing and vistas that confirm the South’s terra firma is picturesque and fertile. If you ever find the legs and nerve to ride Skyline Drive to its southern terminus, you'll run smack into the Blue Ridge Parkway. The road snakes through the depths of Virginia and into North Carolina. Those states and that region have a culture, a landscape, people, and cuisine all their own.
Local restaurateur, team sponsor, race sponsor, and racer, Eli Hengst, has channeled the flavors of the Blue Ridge mountains and their surrounds and dropped them soundly in the midst of the District.
With his intimate connection to the cycling community, I thought it worth checking out Eli's latest offering. He has found success with other spots that cater to things cyclists seem to love (coffee at Tryst, The Diner, Open City and wine at Mendocino Grill, Sonoma, and Redwood), so I figured Blue Ridge would also be a worthy stop for a hungry and thirsty cyclist.
Blue Ridge (2340 Wisconsin Ave., NW) operates on a mission statement. In sum, food and drink aim to be seasonal, sustainable, sourced locally and the cuisine is meant to reflect the Blue Ridge region. After more than a half-dozen visits, I can report Blue Ridge succeeds. Dogged by some harsh press in mainstream media outlets (the Post, Washingtonian, and City Paper have been, in my opinion, unfairly negative), Blue Ridge does not seem to've dropped off in quality or ambition. My most recent visit suggested portion sizes of the mains have been trimmed slightly, but the quality has not suffered a similar fate.