For Chef Travis Milton, his newest restaurant is a passion project.
Travis Milton has been a standard-bearer of Appalachian cuisine for the past decade. He’s already pouring his passion for the region’s flavors into Nicewonder’s inaugural restaurant, Taste: Wood-Fired Kitchen, which serves small plates and casual fare. Born and raised in tiny Castlewood and with Appalachia baked into his DNA, Milton brings his lifetime of experience to Hickory, the resort’s newest restaurant, just opened in March.
At Hickory, which occupies the ground floor of Nicewonder’s newly opened inn, Milton showcases the cuisine of his Appalachian roots, a mingling of the culinary traditions of the area’s early European settlers and native Cherokee, forged by the challenging terrain. “We are committed to the region, and we want to welcome folks to this wonderful little corner of the world,” says Milton of the country’s original culinary melting pot. “We want to change the mindset of what Appalachia can be and truly offer.”
With all-day dining and room service, Hickory offers a sophisticated yet playful interpretation of Appalachian food. Here, Milton might fill gnocchi with slow-roasted pork and drizzle it with roasted apple jus or pair smoked duck with stewed kale, shallot soubise, and hickory syrup. He sources the best local ingredients, much of it from the vegetable gardens and the beef and chickens raised on the property in the heart of the Virginia Highlands.
A master of preserving—from heirloom seeds, vegetables, and pickles to the Appalachian culture and cuisine itself—Milton is a stickler for perfection: Just watch as he arranges a plate, just-so, using tweezers. It’s all to share his interpretation, both honest and elevated, of the food he loves with each of his guests.
A Yurt of One’s Own
Twinkle lights strung in the trees create a starry sky above Nicewonder’s nine cedar yurts, opened last October. “It’s a little Shangri-la in the woods,” says Kevin Nicewonder, the resort’s owner.
Luxuriously furnished, the yurts range from 500 to 720 square feet, sleep two to six guests, and are equipped with kitchenettes and steam showers with rain heads. Thoughtful touches include gourmet coffee makers, plush terry robes, wines from Nicewonder Vineyards, and curated local snacks.
Coming soon is a wellness village where additional yurts will house a fitness center (set to open by June) and spa (coming this fall). It will be the perfect spot to enjoy a massage or facial. Guests can also jump in a golf cart and play a round on the Tom Fazio course located just next door at Nicewonder’s sister property, The Virginian.
The Farmhouse Inn Penthouse
The newly opened, four-story, 28-room farmhouse-style inn has queen and king rooms and suites, ranging from 325 to 650 square feet, and a 950-square-foot penthouse suite with spectacular views of the lake and surrounding vineyard farmland.
The inn blends into the bucolic landscape with dual copper cupolas complete with weather vanes. Common areas include a brick fireplace, lounge areas, and local art. From a wedding with 300 guests to corporate retreats, Nicewonder offers a perfect event space for any occasion. Outdoor areas with firepits, an infinity pool, and a hot tub round out this elegant country inn. NicewonderFarm.com
This article originally appeared in the June 2022 issue.