Dining Out

Stock Café

A Scandinavian Bistro in Roanoke, Virginia

The interior of Stock Café
Written by Layla Khoury-Hanold, Images courtesy of John Park
Chef Jeff Farmer of Stock Café poses in the photo

Step through a set of dramatic glass doors, walk past gleaming brass poles, then weave your way through the cozy living room vignettes and displays of East Fork Pottery dishes to arrive at Stock Café, a Scandinavian- and Nordic-inspired bistro in downtown Roanoke, Virginia. It’s a tongue-in-cheek reference, but Stock isn’t your average chain-furniture-store-café slinging meatballs and throw pillows.

Stock is located inside Fire Station One, a 115-year-old firehouse that local ecofriendly furniture maker Txtur converted into its flagship showroom and a boutique hotel. Here, you can slurp Virginia oysters and sip an aquavit-infused cocktail at the bar or feast on whole local trout in the dining room, but diners can also sit on the showroom’s custom couches to sample small plates like smoked trout smørrebrød or shrimp toast. Dishes like these anchor chef Jeff Farmer’s seafood-centric menu, which filters Scandinavian inspiration through a Southern lens, all with an eye toward sustainability.

Farmer describes many of Stock’s dishes as “quasi-Scandinavian,” although he says it’s been validating to have locals, as well as Danish, Dutch, and Swedish guests, applaud his interpretations. Toast skagen riffs on Swedish shrimp toast by eschewing small, sweet shrimp for a plump North Carolina variety. The selection of smørrebrød, traditional Danish open-faced rye sandwiches, are just as likely to be topped with gravlax as they are trumpet mushrooms. Steamed mussels are dolloped with a cream spiked with freshly grated horseradish and reduced aquavit.

“We’re trying to use the ingredients and keep the flavor profiles the same but doing it with what’s available for us,” Farmer says. The whole trout comes from Smoke in Chimneys, a sustainable trout hatchery in New Castle, Virginia; it’s simply prepared to let the mountain-spring-fresh flavor shine. Rappahannock Oyster Co. out of Topping, Virginia, supplies Stock with briny, bracing Olde Salt clams, bay scallops, and buttery, sweet Rappahannock River oysters, served on the half shell alongside horseradish, beet-and-shallot mignonette, and fried saltines.

Trout dish served at Stock Café

Farmer’s reverence for local seafood echoes a personal connection, too. He originally hails from New Orleans and Mississippi. “At a very young age, I was exposed to everything seafood,” he says. “We lived not too far away from the Pearl River. A lot of shrimp, crawfish, crab—everyone fished.” Even when his family moved to landlocked Roanoke, Farmer recalls supping on fresh catch from his grandfather’s summer coastal fishing trips, celebrating Christmas with oysters, and eating salt fish for breakfast. “You take fish and preserve it in salt and soak it overnight, then fry it the next morning,” Farmer says. “It’s very Southern.”

Salt-curing fish—and pickling and smoking—are also Scandinavian preservation traditions. These techniques dovetail with Stock’s culinary concept, but they also echo Farmer’s sustainability ethos. Norwegian salmon is cured in salt to make gravlax, which stars on the Stock board alongside smoked haddock, pickled herring, and cured trout. When a summer drought caused Smoke in Chimneys’ trout pond’s mountain spring water source to run dry, they lost thousands of trout. Farmer purchased and lightly hot-smoked as much trout as he could to be able to serve the smørrebrød through winter. Norwegian salmon also gets the hot-smoked treatment, which the kitchen staff portions, freezes, and uses as needed, reducing waste. Smoked salmon scraps get folded into the cultured “everything” butter and salmon dill dip that accompany the bread course featuring rye from neighboring bakery Breadcraft.

“Ten, 15 years ago you’d buy your product, and if by the end of the week it didn’t last, you threw it away. Now we’re at a point where we’re at—not zero waste, but pretty close,” Farmer says.

What to Order at Stock Café

Plates to Share

Stock Board: A medley of house-smoked, pickled, and cured fish, cheeses, sculptural rye crackers, and accoutrements like capers, mustard, and fresh dill.

Kapsalon: Hand-cut fries topped with chicken shawarma and gouda, a flurry of lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and finished with liberal drizzles of garlic sauce and sambal.

Large Plates

Trout: Air-dried Smoke in Chimneys’ rainbow trout served whole alongside potato rösti, crème fraîche, and purple dulse “everything seasoning” made with nigella seeds and seaweed flakes.

Ski Queen Ice Cream Sandwich offered at Stock Café

Something Sweet

Ski Queen Ice Cream Sandwich: Ski Queen, a Norwegian cheese typically served shaved on toast, sandwiched between two chewy gingernut cookies.


Ett-Tva-Tre: A gin-based cocktail crafted with oyster-shell-infused aquavit.

about this restaurant

  • Chef

    Jeff Farmer

  • Address

    13 Church Avenue South East
    Roanoke, Virginia

    • Scandinavian

    • Seafood

    • Bistros & Cafes

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