Chef Todd Eisenhower

“I’ve always enjoyed creating new recipes, experimenting, making people happy,” said chef Todd Eisenhower. “I love taking a classic, traditional recipe and twisting it into something new, giving it new life.”

Often, he said, he and his wife will experiment with a dish at home just for fun, and it ends up on tables at the restaurant. “It’s just something we love, it’s a passion,” he said.

Eisenhower opened Black Bear Bistro, located in downtown Warrenton, in 2009, expanding it a few years ago to include more seating and a handsome stone woodfire pizza oven.

A delicious stop after a day in the mountains, the Black Bear Bistro is like a food oasis, with a creative lunch and dinner menu upstairs, pizza downstairs, and to top it all off, Eisenhower’s Blackberry Mercantile shop located a few steps across the parking lot.

“We have the butcher shop over there with locally grown beef, pork, chicken, Virginia cheeses, craft Virginia beer and wine,” Eisenhower said. “My customers know they can get food here they don’t get anywhere else.”

Born in Pittsburgh, Eisenhower has been cooking since he was 15 years old. “I’ve been very fortunate to work under very talented chefs who taught me everything, willing to share their knowledge,” he said.

Over the years he’s worked in restaurants in West Virginia, North Carolina and Virginia. He is a U.S. Army veteran and served two years in Desert Storm.

The Tandoori Pork Marinade is ideal for late winter and early spring. “Pork is readily available, and typically I like a little bit of heat when it’s still a little bit cold out,” Eisenhower said.

The marinade is delicious with any kind of meat. Eisenhower said you can leave it for as short as three hours, but overnight is best.

“It’s nice to grill, you get that rich, charred flavor, and it caramelizes the sugars for a fabulous texture,” he said.

He selected a Williamsburg Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany his featured dish.

“You need something bold like this to set off the spices,” he said. “The crispness gives it a good balance.”

Tandoori Pork Marinade

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup lime juice

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons Marsala wine

Marinate meat for at least three hours. Can be used with any meat. Pork loin was used in the dish photographed.

Marinated Red Onion

1 red onion, thin sliced

2 limes, juiced

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Mix all ingredients together; marinade one hour. Toss or mix each half hour.

Yogurt Sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1/2 jalapeno, minced

4 green onions, chopped

1 cup minced cilantro

1/4 cup minced mint

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 cup plain yogurt

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Puree together until smooth. Can be served with any meat or vegetable.

Hot Potato Salad

2 potatoes, peeled and diced (Par boil until fork tender.)

1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Indian spice mix (1 tablespoon coriander seed, 1 tablespoon fennel seed, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 tablespoon whole cloves, 1 tablespoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon cayenne)

Toss together to coat potatoes completely. Serves two.

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