He studied sustainability at the now-closed New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, and learned first-hand from his wife and her family about Appalachian food culture — namely, that nothing goes to waste. He incorporates that knowledge at the tavern and sources 90 percent of its food from Virginia farms. Pickling and preserving also figures prominently at the tavern.
The outside world has taken notice. In 2019, the tavern earned a Snail Food’s Snail of Approval, a designation that recognises restaurants centred on ethical and local ingredients. Rabin puts more of a premium on the basics.
“Don’t get me wrong, I would love to get more awards and more notoriety and all that stuff,” he said. “But at the end of the day, if I can’t cook the food or get my staff and I to cook the food consistently and correctly and really have the vision that we share onto the plate and make it obvious to our guests, then it doesn’t matter how many awards you’ve got.”