The Copper Fish on Monday

(The bar in the back of the Copper Fish. We had the three stools to the right).


Jake sent me a note on Sunday, asking if I was in Culpeper to have lunch yesterday with him and his lovely wife. I suggested the Copper Fish at noon on Monday, since the flagship restaurant on the block (“It’s About Thyme”) is closed Mondays. I arrived a little before they do, and rather than sit at one of the high-top dining tables, I strolled back to the bar after being greet by Chrystal, one of a half-dozen attractive and personable servers.

Being the bar was Kristen, mother of a student at James Mason University who will graduate this week, part of the rhythm of the end of Spring and the beginning of the summer. I got a glass of crisp Chardonnay to sip while I waited, and began to engage Kristen in a spirited dialogue about life, education and winding up in Culpeper. She had a raspy smoker’s voice and brassy, confident personality. We had a riot- much more animated than I normally am until happy hour.

Jake and his wife arrived within a few minutes and we decided to stay right at the bar and talked up a storm about the nature of retirement: “Monday. The new Saturday!’ I declared and decided to have another glass of wine and the lunch special- pizza cooked in the little pizzeria-deli that separates The Fish and Thyme- and through which the three family-owned restaurants share kitchen space. It is a pretty slick operation, and what started the renaissance of Davis Street in the historic core of town twenty years ago.

It is still going on as we transition from being a sleepy rural County to something that is beginning to look ominously like Loudoun. But when I parked the Panzer, always pleased that two-hour parking was free, even right downtown. I noticed that there was more and welcome change. The old Hazel River Inn had closed last year, and finally a replacement start-up had moved into the historic block that George Washington had surveyed, the Culpeper Minutemen might have met there during the Revolution and the basement of which was used as a prison for both Union and Confederate forces. The Grass Rootes is at 195 East Davis Street in the historic building. According to Kristen at the Copper Fish, the place offers a wide variety of food, but offers it with a certain southern flair and emphasis on Kansas City style slow-cooked barbecue.

I am always pleased when new BBQ comes to town- and offers something more than the vinegary North Carolina version.

(The Exchange Hotel and former hospital in Gordonsville).

They were headed down to Gordonsville, home of the Exchange Hotel museum, one of the Exhange, named for the old hotel and Civil War Hospitalthat looms above it. It is one of the better BBQ joints in the region, and is a proud if somewhat battered relic transportation hub back in the days when Rail was king.

(The food is better at the BBQ version of The Exchange).

In fact, our Irish family worked on the Alexandria & Orange, the rails that led from the port at Old Town down to the junction to points west and east. Which is how the family wound up in Nashville, and all the crazy stuff that came from that. The war is always still with you in this part of the Old Dominion.

Anyway, we were fairly moderate in our approach to lunch, and eventually we bade farewell to our new pals. The Copper Fish is a great place for lunch, and a reason to be in Culpeper on a Monday, though I would not try to navigate back north without a nap back at the farm first. It was a perfect day for that, too, but I imagine it is time to drag my butt out to the car and head north to get back with the program and look interested.

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra

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