Hometown Eats: Benjamin’s Restaurant
FOREST, Va. (WDBJ) - Upscale dining with a casual, rustic feel. That’s how Benjamin’s Restaurant in Forest can be described. Also, bring your appetite.
“Look at this body. This is his fault. This is Ben’s fault,” joked regular customer and local businessman Clay Davis.
Owner Benjamin McGehee has held about every job in a restaurant.
“My passion was food. Always has been,” said McGehee.
20 years ago, he opened this surf and turf joint in Forest.
“I was 24 when we opened Benjamin’s,” said McGehee.
He knew from day one this restaurant would reflect his love of flavor.
“A lot of chain restaurants are married to a menu, and they don’t have the flexibility of raising their own beef and pork or vegetables,” said McGehee.
And in the back of the dining room, you can see a picture of the farm where the food on your plate came from.
“Knowing how clean it is and knowing that it’s raised 10 minutes up the road is pretty special for us,” said McGehee.
If you still need to know where the passion comes from, Benjamin gets it from his momma.
“At an early age he started wanting to be in the kitchen, so I guess it runs in the family,” said Susan McGehee, aka Mama Sue.
And you can find lots of McGehee family history on the walls.
“Every piece has history and tells a story. Grandfather’s tools, some nautical artifacts we picked up in a shipyard, old paintings and old pictures, and younger days when I used to ride bulls,” said Benjamin.
But there’s a whole lot more than décor and a stage for live music out back that’s made Benjamin’s the favorite of so many.
Benjamin’s motto is “Great Cows and Crabs” and chef Chris Tidwell puts that to the test every day. He started here in high school, cut his teeth in a few other kitchens, got a culinary degree, came back in November 2021 and was named head chef in February 2022.
Make sure to keep an eye on the rotating specials menu, but for us, Chef Tidwell is making the redneck nachos and surf and turf mac and cheese.
It might seem impossible with the portion sizes, but save room for dessert, because Mama Sue has a gift when it comes to the sweet treats.
“This is my creative strength. A lot of people paint and play music, I just love coming up with something different for dessert,” said Mama Sue.
“I’ve been blessed with good staff and a great community that’s supported us for years and years,” said McGehee.
“It’s Bedford County, it is the community,” said Davis.
Benjamin’s Restaurant, a hometown eat that takes you back to momma’s house.
Benjamin’s address is, 14900 Forest Rd, Forest, VA 24551
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