Sunday, August 31, 2008
Have you ever had Surry sausage? These smoked pork sausage links, made right down the road by S. Wallace Edwards and Sons are delightful. We encountered them many years ago while living in Williamsburg. The Grocer's store in Colonial Williamsburg carried them (along with Edwards smoked petite Virginia ham), and we treated ourselves to them on occasion. The Fresh Market also carries them here in Richmond for $4.99 a pound. I usually pan fry my links and eat them plain or sprinkled with Parmesean cheese. But these wonderful local morsels can also add deliciousness to soups, beans, and stews as well.
Friday, August 29, 2008
To nibble we sampled the local mixed green salad with a light lemon basil vinaigrette ($6), roasted garlic white bean dip with crostini ($6), a cheese sampler that featured a soft goat cheese with truffle ($10), and a sliced baguette with extra virgin olive oil and a balsamic reduction for dipping ($2). All yummy. I especially liked the goat cheese. The slice looked a bit like brie with the rind (which I simply cannot eat), but The Thief did not offer anything so offensive, thank goodness.
The Barrel Thief features bread from The Flour Garden and microgreens from Manakintowne Specialty Growers. When I return (with hubby in tow, hopefully) other delectable offerings, besides the wine, include Teriyaki Tenderloin ($14), Serrano Ham and Manchego Panini ($8), and Nutella and Pound Cake Panini ($5). I am now salivating over the opening of the second Thief on Patterson.
After laughter and conversation at The Barrel Thief I hooked up with my spouse and we travelled further north to Ashland Coffee and Tea to hear a wonderful Brazilian jazz group – Quatro na Bossa. Folks – go see them. They are playing a couple of times at Havana ’59 in September. The sultry vocals of Laura Ann Boyd spread an infectiously happy samba fever to the entire audience. We finished the evening with an espresso milkshake.
Yes, I had quite a lovely evening and you are free to be envious.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Date Night is every Wed. at Northside Grille. A cheap way to have a decent meal. And, you can eat at the bar if you want like we do.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
To the Management and Staff at Lemaire and the Jefferson Hotel:
My wife and I dined at your establishment last night and, frankly, our experience was less than stellar. In fact, sub-par is the word that comes to mind.
We did experience some good things. The hostess held out a warm greeting and seated us at a window. She also congratulated me on my birthday. It was very nice that you read my comments/request on the Open Table reservation and thank you for utilizing Open Table. Our cocktails were delicious and refreshing. We liked that the bar featured a Pimm’s Cup and a Tequila Sunrise. We ordered a 2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape from your wine list. A 2006 appeared. For an establishment such as yours, not to have updated the list to reflect the change in year or at least for the staff to alert us to this fact is an oversight. The wine was presented to us and I was asked to taste it before I had finished my cocktail. A minor glitch in attention to detail, but still a glitch all the same.
For appetizers we ordered the Vidalia Onion Bisque and the Fried Oysters. Both were excellent. It shows that you take pride in your seafood selection. We definitely thought we were in for a real treat for the remainder of the evening. Alas, it was not meant to be. I was so delighted by the sweetness and quality of the oysters; I asked the waiter where they were from. He said he would follow up with the kitchen. He never came back with the information, even though he cleared our plates and delivered new dishes. The wait between our first and second courses was longer than it should have been. Another table arrived after us and had finished two courses and left by the time our second course arrived. This may have explained why our spoon bread was room temperature. If this dish had been served piping hot, it would have been the hit of the evening. My wife would have raved about it for months; instead, she took a few bites, commented on the lack of heat, and we took it home with us. This morning she microwaved it for breakfast and thought it was much better hot. My filet mignon, although a good cut of meat and cooked to my order, was lacking some of the promised flavors. Did you use bourbon and brie in the dish?
The most disappointing and to the point of downright annoying was the end of our meal. As we waited for second courses to arrive, most other diners had left. As we made our way through the second course we thought at least we will have a quiet romantic end to our meal. We never should have entertained this thought. Even though we were still eating, the wait staff began noisily setting up for breakfast the next day. This was at 9 PM. As we ate, all we could hear was clatter from silverware and dishes. In fact, one waiter clattered down coffee cups and 10 minutes later another waiter took them up again with the same vigorous amount of clatter. The noise bordered on rudeness as we hurried through the rest of the meal so we could escape to a more peaceful landscape. We did not hurry enough. The dining room next to ours also started setting up the breakfast buffet. We heard what sounded like pots and pans crashing down an interminable number of steps. It was so loud, my wife jumped and exclaimed about some potential kitchen disaster. 10 minutes later, we heard a similar cacophony. We then knew it must be some regular nightly ritual. But why would this occur when diners are still present? To top it off, my wife was presented a piece of birthday cake and was congratulated by the waiter instead of myself. The thought was appreciated but the attention to detail was again missing.
We moved to Richmond six years ago and always wanted to experience Lemaire’s storied hospitality, service, and cuisine. Unfortunately, at this point, we are not likely to return and we cannot recommend this place to others. I hope with the coming renovation, that not only the surface features will improve (particularly the fuzzy sound speaker tortuously sending out classical music), but that kitchen coordination, wait service, and attention to details will also be addressed.
Thank you for your attention,
About a week later an employee from the Jefferson (my husband did not catch his name, unfortunately) called and apologized profusely and then told my husband to expect something in the mail. We were pleased that we received a phone call and thought it would be some sort of gift certificate.
That was three weeks ago. We waited patiently, but three weeks seemed to be more than enough time to receive something in the mail.
Needless to say, we have been disappointed twice now due to lack of service and attention to details. Why would I or anyone else shell out big bucks for such a lousy experience?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Here’s the deal:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Red out any items that you would never consider eating.
Here is my list (with a few comments thrown in):
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (I'm counting this because I like alligator)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
10. Baba ghanoush
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream (DeLucca's is awesome)
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea (tea at The Jefferson!)
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
47. Chicken tikka masala
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
66. Frogs’ legs (I had these at CanCan and they were delish!)
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
79. Lapsang souchong
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. (I consider Charlie Trotter's to be sufficient)
85. Kobe beef
90. Criollo chocolate
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
2006 Domaine Saint Andre de Figuiere, Cotes de Provence
2007 Domaine de la Mordoree, Lirac, White Rhone
2006 Ermitage du Pic Saint Loup, Coteaux du Languedoc
2002 Chateau Pradeaux, Bandol Rouge
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
So, now on to my rant. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the South, but, in my opinion, any bean – lima bean, butter bean, navy bean, pinto bean, October bean, black bean, cannellini bean, great northern bean, kidney bean, cranberry bean, or for that matter black-eyed peas needs to be COOKED! Crunch has no place in the above line up (please note, I did not include green beans in this bean roll call). The beans can be firm, but the tooth jarring simply hardness must disappear. I’ve been to a couple of places where the waiter insisted that this was the intention of the chef. To my mind it just seems like the kitchen was slacking. Where is the joy in a crunchy bean?
Sunday, August 10, 2008
My husband ordered the biscuits and sausage gravy. The gravy was not the ubiquitous thick white stuff that most places serve. This was a bit thinner with visible chunks of spicy sausage. And a steal at $4.
We both savored the Community Coffee. I ordered mine iced and added a touch of cream. My hubby had his hot and straight. Both were refilled as needed.
We also enjoyed chowing down with the other members. And discussing Deviled Eggs - should sweet pickle relish be included or not? When we inquired about the availability of the Develed Eggs at The Black Sheep, our waitress replied that they had sold out last night and that Kevin's Mom would be arriving soon with more. Kevin's Mom may need to increase her production!
After a lovely breakfast my hubby and I made our way to the Watermelon Festival. What a fine day and we found a parking spot in the shade. Williams Bakery featured Watermelon Bread
and Weezie’s offered Watermelon Beverages of the alcoholic variety.
Since we had eaten a late breakfast, food took a back seat to people watching. Because the weather was not blazing hot, we stopped by Bin 22 and enjoyed a spectacular glass of red wine – 2006 Grilos Vinho Tinto from Dao Portugal. Heavier than we expected with a bright cherriness that we could have enjoyed all day.
We hope to have the opportunity to stop by one evening to mull over an entire bottle.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
For entrees, I took a traditional stance and ordered Pad Thai with Chicken – stir-fried thin rice noodle with dried bean curd, bean sprouts, peanut, scallion, radish, and egg flavored with special sauce ($8.95). My hubby chose Pad Cashew Nut with Chicken – stir-fried cashew, onion, water chestnut, scallion, and dried pepper served with jasmine rice ($8.95). Both dishes could be ordered with one’s choice of meat and one’s choice of spiciness – mild, medium, hot, or extra hot. And ingredients could also be omitted upon request. (I omitted the bean sprouts because they have always tasted like dirt to me.) Unlike some other Thai restaurants these days, medium spiciness meant these old eyes watered profusely amidst my nose running. Both dishes were chocked full of flavor. My rice noodles picked up the special sauce and the chicken was very tender. Tiny pepper flakes throughout the dish ensured that with every bite the heat increased (just think what hot would have felt like!). The Pad Cashew had a brown sauce and a mound of white meat chicken. Whole dried peppers were added to this dish. The scallions added a nice touch of color. As the heat mounted my husband contemplated a Thai beer - Singha or Chang, but muddled through without it. And while Pad Thai offered a choice of house Cabernet, Merlot, or Chardonnay, they really should look into carrying bottles of Riesling or Gewurztraminer to pair with the spicy dishes.
It was great to see this out of the way place doing well and serving delicious food and I have some spicy leftovers to enjoy for later.
8456 Meadowbridge Rd.
Mechanicsville, VA 23116
Monday, August 04, 2008
Zorba's continues to be our standby when we do not feel like cooking and want to stay at home. We are having our standard tonight along with a bottle of Enotria Barbera from Mendocino. Just what a Monday needed!
If you live in Northside, call them up at 264-5370. They need a $10 minimum to deliver and are open 7 days a week from 4-10 PM.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Still a fantastic Mexican place. And one that we had inadvertently forsaken for quite a while. My hubby and I met 007 there last night.
It was too blazing hot to eat outside, but the blond booths and the cool interior beckoned us. I’m still fascinated by the alcoves giving homage to various icons.
Cielito Lindo continues to concoct a kick-ass margarita. All of us were partial to the Gold variety: 1800 Anejo and Cointreau on the rocks generously served in a water glass. Mmmm! We had also forgotten that the salsa contained a slightly smoky flavor which added to our delight. For starters we shared the guacamole. The perfect cool, creamy dish to begin the evening with lots of avocado chunks and the right balance of cilantro and salt.
For dinner 007 ordered her favorite (mine as well!): Talapia Verracruz – fish served with an olive and caper verde sauce. She declared it as good as ever. My hubby turned out to be in a tamale mood, which was, quite frankly, bizarre. Every time he had ever had tamales he had not cared for them. The masa was always too heavy and overpowering. Well, not this time. The masa was more akin to a light and tasty cornbread encircling a tasty pork filling. We were very impressed with the texture and the taste. I opted for the Carne Asada Tacos – spicy pork with cheese and pico de gallo. I had my choice of soft corn or flour tortillas. I chose the corn because I had the option. Very satisfying. All dishes came with Spanish-style rice and we had the option of a side of refried beans, black beans, or a black bean/corn/carrot salad.
While we were enjoying our dinner, a couple of guys walked in to pick up a catering order. Some other lucky Richmonders were also eating well this evening.
4702 Forest Hill Ave.