In 1772, Jane Vobe opened the King's Arms Tavern and it became one of the town's most genteel establishments, catering to Virginia’s colonial elite and most politically influential people, during and after the American Revolution. Today, this colonial chophouse serves the finest in the King’s grand tradition by costumed staff amid candlelight complete with reproduction furniture and design details, such as reproduction Queen Anne-style tables set with stately yard-square linen napkins, brass candlesticks and china stamped with the king’s coat of arms. Today, the tavern offers a full bar menu of ales, wines, cocktails and specialty drinks such as Mint Julep, “Rummer” and Punch Royal, and continues the tradition of fine dining as guests enjoy Southern favourites such as Mrs Vobe's Peanut Soupe, Potted Cheddar, Hunter's Game Pye, Roast Prime Rib of Beef and Mrs. Vobe's signature Tavern Dinner of Sage and Rosemary Rubbed Cornish Hen with wild rice dressing, scuppernong-chutney sauce and vegetables ending sweetly with Williamsburg Pecan Pie, inspired by 18th-century recipes with some of the more unusual names come straight from colonial cookery books. Enjoying our first night in Colonial Williamsburg after a long drive from South Carolina, we dined at The King's Arms for a wonderful evening of colonial cocktails and fine food in the tavern's romantic and atmospheric candlelit dining room, complete with an entertaining 18th-century style balladeer to set the merry mood.
The King's Arms Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg
The King's Arms Tavern 'Bill of Fare' dinner menu which features Colonial-inspired southern favourites such as fried chicken, peanut soup and roast prime rib of beef
The dining room is dark and full of atmosphere with only candlelight to illuminate the room
Mint Julep made with bourbon mixed with fresh mint and sugar poured over crushed ice
"Mrs Vobe's" cornbread
A trio of condiments for the bread: pickled watermelon; sweet corn; and Virginia ham spread
Mrs. Vobe’s Peanut Soupe, a southern favourite and a Tavern specialty garnished with roasted peanuts and sippers
A 18th-century style balladeer entertained tavern guests during dinner
A Soupe Befitting the Gentry, made from fresh vegetable inspired by 18th-Century "Receipts"
Dressed in a traditional colonial manner, our server obliged me with a photo as he poured our wine
A 2012 Montepulciano was the wine we chose for our dinner — although not very colonial, it was delicious
A final glass of wine before we wandered through the quiet lanes back to the Williamsburg Inn for a deep sleep before exploring Colonial Williamsburg in the morning
Cream of Peanut Soup
Recipe courtesy of The King's Arms
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
3 tbsp flour
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 cups light cream or half-and-half
Finely chopped salted peanuts, for garnish
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until softened, 3-5 minutes. Stir in flour and cook 2 minutes longer. Pour in the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until slightly reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavour as possible, then return the liquid back to the saucepan. Whisk in the peanut butter and the cream and warm over low heat, whisking often, for about 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve warm, garnished with the chopped peanuts.