Lauren Barrett grew up eating her grandmother’s cathead biscuits. “My whole family is from Tennessee and the southwestern Virginia area,” she explains. She took the deliciousness of Appalachian food mostly for granted. But returning there in recent years with partner Charles Schech, she realized that while there are lots of places to get great biscuits further south, in NoVA, it’s no easy feat.
But now Barrett and Schech are sharing her heritage with the region in which she’s lived for 20 years. On Thursday, Aug. 20, they’ll open Buford’s Biscuits, named for Barrett’s father. The center of the offerings will be drop biscuits very much like the ones that Barrett’s Mamaw Nina made for the family. “Some people would say it’s an ugly biscuit,” jokes Barrett. “You just drop ’em on the pan and bake ’em.”
Once they’re baked, the biscuits are stuffed with Southern-inflected fillings. “We are putting a heavy influence on making sure everything is local and fresh,” says Barrett, who adds that most biscuits have only three elements between their layers. “We’re working with all local farmers. It’s a big mission of ours.”
The recipes were created, with input from former Wine Kitchen GMs Barrett and Schech, by chef Julio Opazo. Like Barrett, Opazo hails from the Blacksburg area and grew up eating the same Southern-fried fare. That’s why Barrett calls the menu “fried chicken heavy.”
Of the five biscuits on the regular menu, two contain fried chicken. Buford’s Biscuit contains a sweet-tea-brined fried chicken thigh, collard greens and whole-grain mustard veloute. However, Barrett says that her favorite is The Nashville, Opazo’s take on hot chicken. It includes local cabbage slaw and homemade pickles. Barrett also talks up the hush puppies with molasses butter. “They’re bites of heaven,” she says. And starting next week, she’ll be taking guests to heaven with her, one hush puppy and biscuit at a time. // 15 Loudoun St. SE, Leesburg
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