Sunday, July 31, 2011

SOJ 7/30/2011

At the South of the James Market yesterday we bought orange strawberry tomatoes, onions, green beans, purple hulled peas, parmesan-oregano bread, a whole chicken, goat cheese, and fingerling potatoes. The market is bursting with lots of spectacular produce in a variety of colors.

Here is a weekly sampling of photos:

Your perfect BLT starts here

Green Beans

Tomato Rainbow


How sweet

Feels so good

If you have any photos of any of the local markets, post them here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Unintended Dining

It's been hot y'all! Way too hot for me. Yet, the heat has not stopped me from going out to eat. During the last couple of steamy weeks we've intended to eat at one place and ended up somewhere else.

First up we tried to get into Blue Goat. It was a week night, no reservations. What were we thinking? At least a 30 minute wait and the bar was packed. Not the goat's fault. We ambled up Grove in the stagnating heat. Coast was closed. Another half a block to Cafe Caturra. We entered to a wall of LOUD. Mostly women, very crowded. I immediately registered hens cackling. Hubby and I looked at each other and flew the coop! We finally decided to go outside of our usual beaten path and try the beaten path of some other Richmonders at Pegasus on Patterson in the Post Office Square.

Pegasus Door

We had made note of Pegasus some time back and then promptly forgot about it. The menu posted on the door looked decent and featured Greek dishes and seafood offerings. As we entered, an old school charm greeted us. The decor reminded me of upscale dining decor in the 1970's. Heavy wood, cozy booths. Most of the diners were older and regulars. And despite being tucked away with a nondescript storefront, the place was busy for a week night.

Our waiter greeted us warmly as we settled in to look at the menu and peeked with a bit of trepidation at the wine list. To our delight, the wine list, though small, offered a number of decent choices. No bottle was over $40 and all were available by the glass as well. There are a number of traditional Greek/Italian restaurants in the area. The food begs for wine, but the wine lists are atrocious. Pegasus impressed us and we ordered a bottle of Kunde Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma.


As for food, all entrees were served with piping hot rolls and a house salad. We ordered the house dresisng (Greek-style) and were treated to a bit of creamy feta with the dish.

Pegasus House Salad

I was tempted by some of the seafood options on the menu, but in the end ordered the Grecian Ziti with caramelized onions, tomatoes, feta, and romano. The onions added a tiny bit of sweetness to the dish. The tomatoes were diced and fresh and did not overwhelm the dish. The feta was of the creamy variety and not too sharp. A delight for the tastebuds and enough to enjoy for lunch the next day.

Pegasus Grecian Ziti

Hubby ordered the flounder special with mashed potatoes. The good-sized portion of fish was sauteed in wine, garlic, and shallots. He was well-pleased with his selection.

Pegasus Flounder

As we were paying the bill our waiter gave us a take out menu. Apparently, regulars also like Pegasus meals to go. An unexpectedly delightful evening. I want to go back to try the seafood.

The next incident was when the heat index read 115 degrees. I had worked from home that day. I was tired of being cooped up in the house. We decided to go to the movies and wanted a nice dinner first. It had been a while since we had eaten at Water Grill. We arrived around 5 PM so we could have plenty of time to eat before the movie. The sign outside invited us to "Beat the Heat." There were patrons at the bar, but nowhere else. The hostess seated us upstairs. As soon as I sat down I could tell that the AC was not working well. We got water and started to look at the menu. I was still not cooling down and knew there would be trouble if I tried to brave the heat. We went downstairs and the air was much cooler. We told the waitress at the bottom of the stairs our situation. She immediately remarked snidely, to the point of rudeness, that we would have to wait for the hostess to check on table reservations. No apologies for our situation; maybe she had been working upstairs earlier and had gotten steamed. And there were still no diners in the cool part of the restaurant and it was a bit after 5 PM. The hostess proceeded to seat us in the enclosed porch. We sat down. This was not a decently cool part of the restaurant, either. With so many options available in Carytown, we beat the heat and left walking across the street to Xtra's Cafe. As soon as we entered, the AC greeted us and continued to greet us as we climbed the stairs. It was a bit strange since we had just dined at Xtra's the previous week, but it was welcome relief.

We celebrated by ordering Blood Orange Margaritas. Mmmm.

Blood Orange Margarita

We ordered Boom Boom Syrah, a lovely fruit bomb from Washington State.

Boom Boom and Glass

We tried the Mahi Mahi Spring Rolls (a bit fishy for me).

Xtra's Mahi Mahi Spring Rolls

I had the French Dip again (the ciabatta was not as toasted this time) and hubby selected the Shrimp Linguini which was delightful and refreshing.

Xtra's Shrimp Linguini

We ended up having a lovely time.

For dessert I feasted on eye candy: Chris Hemsworth in Thor at the Byrd (thank goodness the AC at the Byrd was working!).

Byrd Marquee

I hope the rest of you out there are staying cool.

Amuse Pictorial

We enjoyed brunch at Amuse last Sunday.

Table Menu

Pink Citrus Fizz

Tomato Jam

Eggs and Sausage

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Belvidere at Broad

A couple of weeks back when the heavens poured down some rain we headed over to The Belvidere at Broad for dinner. A few empty tables existed. We were grateful since it had started to rain hard (and continued while we ate).

Belvedere at Broad Bar

The wine list offered a variety of choices and we ordered the Flying Fish Merlot from Washington State. Decent red at a decent price.

For dinner we began with the organic white bean hummus served with red peppers, feta, kalamata olives, and house-made pita.

Belvedere at Broad White Bean Hummus

Neither of us are fond of chickpeas, but we both adore white beans; thus, we took a chance...and was handsomely rewarded. Smooth, almost creamy, with great flavor. Very yummy.

For an entree we were both in a burger mood although there were other tempting items such as herb roasted duck breast and ahi tuna tacos. There also several vegetarian and gluten free options. On the burger front one could choose between beef or turkey and white bean. We chose beef. The 1/2 pounder came with caramelized onions (a big plus in my book), lettuce, tomato (none for me), and house aioli on a grilled ciabatta roll. We had six different cheese choices. We both jumped on the smoked gouda. And then to top it off, added applewood smoked bacon.

Belvedere at Broad Bacon Cheeseburger

oh. my. god. We had happy tastebuds. And it came with a side. I had mashed potatoes (not bad - mine are better) and hubby had sweet potato fries (also, not bad).

The burger was delicious, but big. Go hungry. Not many would have room for dessert.

Belvidere at Broad on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 23, 2011

SOJ 7/23/2011

It was a hot one at the South of the James Market today. Most of Richmond decided to beat the heat the best they could and arrived at 8 AM. We were amongst that number. Not as many food carts today which was understandable. The limeade stand had a line and Soul Ice conducted a brisk business. We picked up red and orange tomatoes, the first purple hull peas of the season, potatoes, a whole chicken, peppers, and fresh pasta. We had freshly made sourdough doughnuts and iced coffee for breakfast. Yummy, yummy!

Here are a few photos, of course.

Making Doughnuts


Pepper Variety


Apples and Garlic

If you have photos of any of the area markets, post them here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Xtra's Cafe

Last Friday, the weather was lovely. In fact, down right cool for July. We decided to go see Two Gentlemen of Verona at Agecroft Hall. Sadly, Style Weekly panned it in today's edition. We had a good time anyway. We really liked Claire Maughan who played Crab the Dog as well as the musical poetry of Turio (Todd Patterson). And Michael Brown sung the credits and do's and don'ts to much amusement and hilarity. Agecroft is indeed a magical setting.

We didn't bother with a picnic on the grounds, but dined at Xtra's Cafe in Carytown instead.

Xtras Sign

Since we arrived early, we had no problems securing a table, although the tables located on the tiny balcony were reserved. I liked the bright spaciousness of the place.

Xtras Interior

We ordered an Electric City Cab from Washington State to imbibe. Smooth and tasty.

Electric City Cab

I had a tough time figuring out what to eat. I didn't want an entree - too early for that much food. And, truthfully, nothing on the menu jumped out at me. So, I ended up playing it safe and having the Xtra's French Dip: Hand-sliced tender beef, caramelized onions, and melted Swiss, served on a toasted ciabatta roll with au jus for dipping. The sandwich also came with a generous portion of fries.

Xtras French Dip

This sandwich bowled me over. The beef was tender and succulent. The onions were a great addition. And the toasted ciabatta sealed the deal. It all made me very happy.

Hubby got the Crab Cake Sandwich: Pan-fried crab cake served on a challah roll with lettuce, tomato, and avocado tartar sauce. Also with fries on the side.

Xtras Crabcake

Yes, he enjoyed his, too, but mine was the star of the dining show.

Unfortunately, I may never try anything else from Xtra's Cafe unless I eat there every day. That French Dip was that good.

Xtra's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SOJ 7/16/2011

Another Saturday, another day at the South of the James Market. Fabulous weather and fabulous produce.

SOJ Poblanos

SOJ Golden Fur

SOJ Morning

SOJ Butterbeans and Beets

SOJ Tomato Variety

If you have photos of any of the fabulous markets in the area, post them here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bar Tales

In the span of about six weeks I visited four different Fan area bars. Here's what they had in common:

  • I was alone (highly unusual)
  • The only beverage I had was water (unusual in the extreme for me)
  • I ate between 5 and 6 PM (early for me)
  • I had never eaten at the place before (typical for me)
  • All had tasty food (lucky me!)
I was enrolled in a class at the Visual Arts Center. Every week I parked at the center and walked to an establishment I had never visited in the past. What interesting and varied experiences! The places included Sprout, Garnett's, City Dogs in the Fan, and Bellytimber Tavern.

Sprout was first up. I really loved the bright blue paint and the art nouveau style. The bar sported mismatch stools. Faney, the bartender warmly welcomed me and immediately made me feel welcome. She was enthusiastic about the local fare. I was pleased to learn that Ault's Family Farm was providing the sausage. The menus were made from recycled album covers. I enjoyed the Scottish Egg: A hard boiled wrapped in sausage and fried, served with a Parmesan cheese crisp and Manakintowne greens with a light vinaigrette. Delicious! And Faney kept me engaged. For an introvert like me, all by my lonesome, she made me feel very comfortable in a new space.

Sprout - Blue Window

Sprout - Tables and Chairs

Sprout - Scotch Egg and Cheese Crisp

The next week I went to Garnett's Cafe. The mismatched kitchen chairs out front has attracted many a local photographer. This place had a clean, homey atmosphere. The jars of homemade pickles lining the top of the bar was a favorite touch. Very quiet in the early evening and introspective. A peaceful hangout. I ordered The Colonel: roast beef, turkey, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato (hold the tomato for me), and Tiger sauce on toasted bread, served with potato chips. The sandwich was piled high. The Tiger sauce was hot and sweet; an interesting condiment that gave the dish a bit of zing. And I always appreciate toasted bread.

Garnett's with Motorcycle

Garnett's Pickle Row

Garnett's The Colonel

Chair Sill Life with Coke Can 2

City Dogs in the Fan was a bar. I'm not sure what they made of a single middle-aged woman, especially one only drinking water. But the bartender took it in stride (I'm sure she has seen it all...). I had the Louisville Dog: all beef dog with yellow mustard and whiskey caramelized onions with onion rings. Quite yummy. I did come to realize that it had been far too long since I had been in an out and out bar. Three guys walked in, ordered a pitcher of beer, and part of the conversation included "You never have to worry until she tells you that you're the Daddy." The dogs were good, anyway.

City Dogs Sign

City Dogs Bar

Louisville Dog and Onion Rings

Last up was Bellytimber Tavern. I selected this place because they advertised wood-fired brick oven pizza and I could smell the wood smoke wafting up Main Street. Another single woman was eating at the bar. Office-types were meeting for drinks. Pizzas were $2 off during Happy Hour. The bar sported a stuffed ram's head. I chose the Basil and Capers Pizza. I love capers; my hubby could care less; perfect choice for the evening. And the thin crust pie was big enough to take home leftovers. Just the right amount of red sauce, ample cheese, thin strips of basil, and, of course, capers. Bellytimber offers other interesting pizza ingredients, too, such as duck confit and hoisin sauce.

Bellytimber Sign

Bellytimber Ram

Bellytimber Pizza

Four bars. Four different experiences. Four delicious meals.