While the drive from Richmond to Merroir, an oyster tasting room located in Topping, Virginia, is only about an hour and fifteen minutes long, as soon as you pull into the gravel parking lot off Locklies Creek Road, you already feel like you’re on vacation. That’s due in large part to the setting. The name of the small seafood restaurant is a play on the word terroir, but instead of speaking of the soil, it speaks of the sea — and for good reason. Merroir sits on the banks of the Rappahannock River, and the first thing you notice as you approach the restaurant is the view you’ll be enjoying for the duration of your visit, one that’s visible whether you choose to dine inside or outside.
Dinner on the river at @merroir_topping. This easy day trip from RVA is one of the 10 summer ideas we shared in our latest blog post. - M . . . . . #loveva #vafoodie #sunset #merroir #rappahannock #rappahannockriver #photooftheday #vais4bloggers #summer #summertime #chasingthelight #abeautifulmess #abmhappylife #thatsdarling #virginia #virginiaisforlovers #oysters #oyster #oysterfarm #seafood #foodblog #foodblogfeed #daytrip #riverview #riverviews #rivah #wine #drinkswithaview #mysouthernliving
Merroir opened in 2011 and is celebrating its five year anniversary this month. The tasting room was the first foray cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton, co-owners of Rappahannock Oyster Co., took into the restaurant business. Today, they operate three restaurants in addition to Merroir: Rappahannock and Rapp Session in Richmond and Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Washington, D.C. I’ve had the chance to eat at three of the four, and while each spot is certainly worth a visit, there’s just something special about Merroir — where you can enjoy fresh seafood while overlooking the river where the oysters are grown.
The simple menu is composed of small plates that are seasonal and always changing. As one might expect, seafood and oysters are predominant but there are usually one or two items on the menu for those who don’t enjoy seafood.
On different nights of the week, Merroir has various specials, with happy hour Monday – Thursday from 4 – 6 p.m., wine tasting on Tuesdays and burger night on Wednesdays. The restaurant also offers two hour oyster cruises for up to six people and oyster farm tours by reservation.
A Saturday at Merroir
Taylor and I went to Merroir on a recent Saturday evening for dinner and stayed for a few hours while we ordered several rounds of food and enjoyed the setting sun. One of the nice things about the menu filled with small plates is that you can try a lot of different things —and Merroir is a place where you’ll want to try everything.
We started with two different kinds of oysters: Olde Salts, briney oysters that were served with cocktail sauce, lemon, a mignonette and saltines, and the Angels on Horseback, oysters baked with herb butter and Edwards ham.
Next, we ordered grilled Asiago sourdough which came with a pesto basil olive oil for dipping. We couldn’t resist getting a stuffin muffin, a delectable concoction of oyster stuffing mixed with Edwards bacon and topped with a peppercorn cream sauce. On the changing menu, that’s one item that usually sticks around — something tells me it’s a fan favorite.
For our main course, Taylor ordered the cobia, which was the grilled fish of the day and I ordered the grilled softshell sandwich, served on a toasted bun with lettuce and onion and the star of the show, ramp butter.
Everything we had was delicious, including the beer and wine selections we enjoyed along with our meal. It’s worth noting that Merroir isn’t cheap but it’s not a place that’s so expensive it should only be reserved for special occasions. You can customize your order based on the kind of dining experience and price point you’re going for, and I promise you this, the quality of ingredients is evident with every item on the menu.
This tasting room on the Rappahannock is open year-round with service on Sunday – Thursday from 11:30 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. They don’t take reservations and it can get pretty crowded during peak hours, but don’t fret if there’s a wait – the “waiting room” at Merroir is quite comfortable, a set of picnic tables at the water’s edge where you can enjoy a drink before your meal.
If you’re looking for a fun way to spend the day on the river in Virginia, I highly recommend Merroir.
What’s your favorite day trip in Virginia? Tell us in the comments below!