When you walk into any one of the tiny centuries-old taverns in Ireland the low lighting and deep, dark, well-worn wooden walls, tables, floors and chairs make you feel welcomed immediately, and The Tavern at Lee's Hill provides a similar atmosphere.
Owner Brian Morris serves up some bodacious eats not to be missed. The Tavern Shrimp is one of these great dishes. Plump and spicy shell-on shrimp is served with a cup of the buttery, spicy sauce in a hollowed-out sourdough bread round. The sourdough bread is the size of a melon and they are baked by a small bakery in Charlottesville. The Tavern has been serving this little mouth-watering, sinus-clearing concoction for more than eight years, perfecting the buttery masterpiece down to a 14 ingredient science.
The rule to eating this shrimp and broth-filled bread bowl is very simple, and the order must be followed to the tee:
1. Order a cold beer on tap.
2. Starting peeling and eating the spiced shrimp at the base of the bread bowl.
3. Drink some of the cold beer to kill the spice from the mouth.
4. Continue eating the shrimp inside the bread bowl and continue drinking the ice-cold beer.
5. Start pulling pieces of the sourdough apart with your fingers and enjoy the softened flavored bread infused with the juices of the shrimp and the buttery spice bath that has been soaked up by the spongy tart sourdough bread bowl.
6. Drink more ice-cold beer.
Does it get any better than this? Hold on to your bar stool because it does!
The dessert presented is fried Angel Food cake dusted with powdered sugar and drizzled with a light strawberry juice. And a bonus is that they will pair it with one of their ice-cold draft beers.
This is not your ordinary pub food that is used as a filler to put something in your stomach while the pints are being refilled. This food is created, and obsessed over, by Morris to be the best he can make it. His Thai shrimp is as good as or better than the Bang Bang at the fancier places, and for a lot less, too. Let’s be honest, awesome food at a local pub is really not expected, nor anticipated by patrons; good drinks are. The Tavern hits home on both marks.
The selection includes 17 beers on draft and a handful of bottled craft brews such as Fat Tire. Of course, any good tavern worth its weight in salt will have Guinness, and Morris has it on draft.
“It just wouldn’t feel like a real tavern without seeing a pint of the foamy black gold," he said.
One new draft Morris presented was an India Pale Ale from Goose Island. A hop lover’s dream with a fruity aroma and a long slightly spicy hop finish, it paired well with the blackened naked chicken wings seared in a black iron skillet over an open fire. Those wings are the bomb and they come in four other flavors: BBQ, Fire, Mild, and a special Raspberry Habanero sauce that Brian’s friend manufactures in small batches. The original naked blackened wings are a five-star Awesome Eats for sure.
Next, Morris brought out a huge, hand-formed, all-lump crab cake with a fresh wedge of lemon because that is all that one would add to this beauty. The size of a man’s fist, this all-crab meat cake is awesome and makes me wonder why the joint isn’t named The Seafood Tavern. I soon find out why when Morris brings on the beef with a fresh, hand-cut, 12-ounce New York Strip steak. Tender, grilled over an open flame and simply seasoned, this steak will not disappoint the carnivores. The hand-formed burgers are off the hook and are the real deal for burger lovers in search of one cooked to perfection and accompanied by fat steak fries begging to be dunked in ketchup. The Blue Haven is a whopping half pound of meat (that is the only size they make them in) and topped with honey ham and Swiss cheese, one of six monster creations available.
The Tavern not only makes, but takes pride in creating their own sinfully delicious desserts. They must think they’re in Austin, or another big foodie-obsessed city. The Chocolate Lava Cakes are homemade by Morris. This dessert is for the true chocolate addicts. Between the fried Angel Food Cake with strawberry drizzle and the Chocolate Lava Cake, I’d order both and share with someone.
Go for the ice-cold beer. Go for the love of everyone knowing your name at the bar. Go for the awesome seafood. Go for the European pubby atmosphere right here in Fredericksburg. When you visit The Tavern at Lee's Hill at 10649 Spotsylvania Ave., tell Brian Morris that you have come for the wonderful Awesome Eats read in Fredericksburg Patch.