A personal invitation from Executive Chef Travis Brust
Travis Brust is a local. He and his wife Jenna have been in Williamsburg since he accepted a job as the lead line chef at the Williamsburg Inn thirteen years ago.
So, it still surprises the now Executive Chef when he sees someone at the grocery store who knows all about the exquisite renovations that have taken place at the iconic Williamsburg Inn, but don’t know that the restaurants inside are open to the public, and always have been.
“I invite anyone I see locally to come as my personal guest and experience a different, but equally wonderful dining experience in any of our three restaurants,” Brust notes.
Having worked at the Inn for thirteen years, Brust knows what he speaks of.
Dining expectations have changed
In his position as Executive Chef, Brust has always sought to learn and achieve more. In 2012, Brust bested a list of famed chefs to win the World Chef Challenge and is the current president of the Resort Food Executive Committee, where executive chefs nationwide share trends and best practices with each other to ensure constant improvement.
“The resort world is changing incredibly fast,” points out Brust.
“Demanding expectations of our dining guests compel us to keep up with trend while keeping that blended with our tradition. We have worked very hard to provide a super approachable, friendly, comfortable but contemporary experience where you get involved in the story of the meal. A chef’s duty is no longer just to cook, but rather to be the backbone of the experience,” Brust explains.
Food with a story at the Williamsburg Inn
“Food with a story is more of the norm than the trend,” Brust tells us.
“Telling the story of Southern-Mid-Atlantic cuisine that is influenced by the British spice trade is the foundation of what we do. People might hear spice trade, and thing it will be too spicy, like Indian or Moroccan cuisine. It’s not. It’s the subtle nuances of these flavors that help tie the meal and the story together.”
Brust explains that the culinary and service staff members talk about food all the time. Service staff will actually “plate” the food to be served each day and then taste it so they can know for a fact how each dish tastes.
We gauge each guest to determine the experience they are looking for. You know when you have a foodie, and we’ll take the experience to that level. But if you are here for an intimate meal, we will shift our service to almost be invisible.”
Three different experiences, all open to everyone
“We want you to have three different experiences, all incredible, when you come to the Inn. And we want you to enjoy them so much you keep coming back,” invites Brust.
The Rockefeller Room
Many locals think of the Regency Room as the fine dining locale at the Williamsburg Inn. The Regency Room is plenty busy, Brust tells us, with holiday dining and special functions filling it every weekend.
Now the daily fine dining takes place in the elegant Rockefeller Room, a completely redesigned space closer to the heart of the Inn’s bustling activity.
“In the Rockefeller Room the experience is fine food plated on china, accompanied by silver and elegant glassware. The experience is comfortable and attentive, but it’s not intimidating. We welcome “resort casual” attire at the Rockefeller Room, and serve a menu full of great stories,” Brust tells us proudly. He’s excited about the restaurant’s first Thanksgiving and Christmas season, where they’ll be sharing such stories in special holiday menus.
The Social Terrace
The Social Terrace is one of the best outdoor eating places in the area. With seating for 148, tables, couches, and bar, the casual menu is a perfect compliment. There’s even an outdoor fire pit which is the perfect feature for these chilly fall nights.
“You get a sense of place when you are here and dining,” points out Brust, “and you would be crazy not to try one of our fall cocktails like our “improved martini” or our caramel apple rye toddy, topped with cardamom cream. Just like potato chips, you can’t just have one.”
The Terrace Room
“The Terrace Room is more like our home. You can get a lighter bite, an awesome salad, and coming soon is a pre-fixe meal that will be out of this world,” Brust tells us.
“You aren’t supposed to say you’ve got the best burger ever, but the Goodwin burger at the Terrace really is the best burger,” he smiles.
“Then you’ve got the most awesome toffee pudding, and you could never feel more like British royalty than when you eat our lemon posset.”
When Chef Travis finally does have a few minutes to be at home, he and Jenna Lee love hanging with their two pugs: Cooper and Coco (who have their own Instagram by the way), and letting Jenna Lee do the cooking.
“She cooks the best soup,” he says. “Her Zuppa Toscana is the best I’ve had.”