Traveling Tidbits

Along the Appomattox at Charley’s Waterfront Café

After the battles at Sailor’s Creek, Robert E. Lee and what was left of his Confederate forces aimed for Farmville, Virginia. Farmville with its population of 1,500 prospered on tobacco and served as the location of a major hospital with 1,200 beds. The South Side Railroad entered Farmville from the East, bringing with it supply trains filled with much-needed rations for the beleaguered troops. The Confederate army arrived in the early hours of April 7, 1865 with the supply trains waiting for them. 40,000 rations of bread and 80,000 of meal were given, including French soup and whole hams. Lee set up his quarters in the home of Patrick Jackson on Beech Street and went into conference with his generals about their next move.

Delicious Shrimp and Grits - Picture of Charleys Waterfront Cafe, Farmville  - Tripadvisor

So, naturally, after my visit to Sailor’s Creek, I left for Farmville to gather my own rations. Charley’s Waterfront Café & Wine Bar seemed like a great option. Situated just off Main Street in Farmville, Charley’s was founded in 1983 inside one of several repurposed warehouses in the area, right on the banks of the Appomattox River. Their Facebook page reads, “we strive to maintain a level of excellence that keeps you coming back! It’s important to us to preserve the friendly neighborhood atmosphere that has given us so many regular customers over the years.” I’d say they’re successful. I loved the interior rustic “mercantile” aesthetic with its exposed beams, huge sliding barn doors, old signs, and other country/mountain décor.

Their menu features upscale dishes at affordable prices without skimping on the quality. Appetizers range from the classic jumbo pretzels to some classy dips like warm pimento and hot crab. Cesar and cobb salads appear standard, but can be supplemented by blackened tuna or grilled chicken. Their soups echo the town’s heritage with their Tobacco Road Chili and French Onion soup (I personally don’t know if the French soup that Confederates ate in 1865 featured onions). Several sandwich options reflect the cool menu items listed thus far, including specialty sandwiches like the Charley Club (turkey, ham, and bacon) and The Waterfront (roast beef), alongside the Crabcake Sandwich, Panini Rueben, Bacon BBQ, and Classic French Dip. If you’re going to Charley’s for dinner, one can expect classy entrees like steak, porkchops, more crab cakes, fish, shrimp pasta, and even ribs. Be sure to save room for one of their desserts like cheesecake, brownie sundaes, chocolate truffles, or their special Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches.

For wine enthusiasts, Charley’s offers a wide selection, along with seasonal cocktails and beer. Right next door is the Virginia Tasting Cellar, and is very similar in style to Charley’s.

Crab dip and Charley’s Club (author photo)

Upon my visit, I was particularly ravenous, so I decided to splurge and get both an appetizer and a sandwich. Their hot crab dip came with a baguette roll cut into slices, providing more than enough to leave me scraping the bowl for every last drop. The dip was pretty hot, but once it cooled down, I found it extremely cheesy and equally delicious. Their Charley Club was massive! Quite a bit more than I expected. The bacon was crispy, the meat savory, and the seasoned mayo was just tangy enough to make me think it wasn’t mayo. The fries that came on the side were filling and not too oily or greasy. Despite my best efforts, I had to box up at least half of my meal and take it with me on the road (something I tried to avoid since hotel refrigerators are not guaranteed). The service was great, and the waitress was very friendly and sociable. Combine with the ambiance and the food, it was a memorable and pleasant experience after a long day of traveling down country roads and hopping around historic locations.

High Bridge, one of the routes leading to Farmville

Lee’s forces at Farmville would find no relief as Ulysses S. Grant and his three Federal armies were on the way. The Confederates had failed in burning the bridges that led into town, so they had to evacuate Farmville before they could be trapped. By 1:30pm on April 7, the Federals occupied Farmville. A Union soldier wrote, “Farmville, a quiet country village, contained… three or four churches, and a number of fine residences.” Grant made his headquarters at the Randolph House (Prince Edward Hotel) on the corner of Second and Main Streets, just down the road from the present-day location of Charley’s Waterfront Café and Wine Bar.

Address: 201 Mill St # B, Farmville, VA 23901
Phone: 434-392-1566
Website: http://www.charleyswaterfront.com/

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