Sunday, February 26, 2012

In Arcadia

While the Shockoe Bottom location is anything but pastoral, the interior of Arcadia portrays an idyllic notion. White tablecloths, a river of round mirrors flowing down a soft yellow wall, cozy tables for quiet conversations.

We arrived early with no reservations and were promptly seated. The place did fill up as we progressed with dinner, so reservations are recommended.

Menu options include starters, salads, small plates, and entrees and then a selection of Braveheart Beef steaks along with a la carte sides. We spent a lot of time sipping our Manhattan cocktails ($10) (my cocktail of choice for the last couple of months) and deciding what to order. The menu held lots of tasty options in various price ranges.

Once we decided on our eating strategy, we selected our wine. Arcadia sports four wine lists: Wines by the glass, $20 bottle wines, $30 bottle wines, and reserve wines. The $20 and $30 lists are the some of the best restaurant wine prices in all of Richmond, maybe all of Virginia. For this evening we chose the Sharffenberger Brut Sparkling from Mendocino, CA for $30. Lovely bubbles.

Scharffenberger Sparkling Wine

For eating we began with Deviled Eggs with White Truffle Oil and Caviar ($6) and Shaved Iceberg Salad with Duck Bacon, Roma Tomatoes and Creamy Shallot and Mustard Dressing ($6).

Deviled Eggs

Shaved Iceberg

The yolks of the deviled eggs were whipped and fluffy and had a slight earthiness from the truffle oil. We liked them because they were slightly different from what we grew up with. The presentation of the iceberg lettuce salad was delightful. The dressing was flavorful and I loved the duck bacon.

Next we ordered two small plates: Grilled Agave Basil Shrimp with Curry Basmati Rice ($12) and Braised Chicken Thighs with Ricotta Spaetzle and Beet Oil ($12) as well as a side dish of Yukon Gold and Sweet potato Fries with Truffle Oil and Sea Salt ($6).

Grilled Shrimp

Thighs and Spaetzle

Yukon and Sweet Potato Fries

Hubby raved over the shrimp and rice. The shrimp were plump with just the right amount of grilling. He could have eaten another plate of just rice - it was that good. And the thighs were perfect. I usually do not order chicken in a restaurant, but the dish intrigued me and did not disappoint. And, of course, the spaetzle delighted the palate as well. We had a generous portion of fries to share.

Upon hearing the list of desserts, we decided to share a Della Nonna Lemon Torte ($7) and Illy coffee ($2.50).

Della Nonna Lemon Torte

Not too sweet, not too tart. A nice finish to the evening.

Lauren, our server, was delightful. She gave us time to decide what to eat and drink. She expertly opened our bottle of sparkling and continued to fill our glasses until the bottle was emptied. Well done! And John Van Peppen, the owner, glided from table to table asking how everything was. Great service, inviting atmosphere, delicious food, affordable wine.  Arcadia.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pleasant Weeknight Pairing

This week past week after a hectic day at work we decided to visit Cafe Rustica. It had been forever since we last ate here. Both of us were extremely pleased to find Schweineschnitzel still on the menu accompanied by red cabbage and pan-fried spaetzle. Yummy! I so enjoy schnitzel and the spaetzle is fantastic. I love the flavor the pan frying gives this little German dumpling. And the the pork was large enough to take half of it home and scarf up as leftovers the next evening.

Pork Schnitzel

Then, we came to dessert - Grilled pound cake with lemon curd. Simple, yet so satisfying. The grilling of the cake caramelizes the sugar in the pound cake. Delicious!

Grilled Pound Cake with Lemon Curd

Thank you Cafe Rustica for a delightful evening!


Jewish Food Festival

Last Sunday as the snowflakes began their furious descent, we visited the Jewish Food Festival at Keneseth Beth Israel on Patterson Ave.

First of all, the place was CROWDED! and a bit chaotic. Everyone had turned out for this celebration of food and tradition. A band was warming up, but the overwhelming presence of humanity distracted me from the music.

One purchased tickets and exchanged them for food. Tickets were $1 each and any unused tickets would be refunded. I liked the offer of a refund. We acquired a menu and tried to keep out of the way as we decided what to eat.

We shared 5 items:

Salt and Pepper Kugel
Salt and Pepper Kugel - Noodle Casserole
Chicken Schnitzel
Chicken Schnitzel - Tender with a good crust
Cholent - A delicious stew with beans, barley, potatoes, and meat
Matzah Ball Soup
Matzah Ball Soup - A first for me! Very flavorful!
Potato Latkes
Potato Latkes - My favorite dish!

We would have considered trying more, but the crowded conditions proved to be too stressful for us. We definitely want to return next year. The food was fabulous. We might have to consider take-out, however.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Amazing Pizza from Aziza's on Main

Pancetta and Cheese Pizza by pjpink

Pancetta and Cheese Pizza a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Aziza's on Main continues to cook up wonderful pies. On this night we enjoyed a white pizza with cow's milk mozzarella and pancetta.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Magpie Pictorial

Last week we had dinner at the Magpie. This lovely spot in Carver continues to produce tasty morsels. We particularly like the small plates.

In Fashion
In Fashion Cocktail - an updated Old Fashioned
Boar Hushpuppies
Wild Boar Hushpuppies with Rosemary Oil, Honey, and Pomegranate
Butternut Squash Gnocchi
Butternut Squash Gnocchi - tossed with cinnamon and served with a slightly sweet sauce - almost dessert!
Flower Vase Candle
A cozy, delicious evening

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shrimp and Sirloin Skewers

Shrimp and Sirloin Skewers by pjpink

Shrimp and Sirloin Skewers a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
From Tastebuds American Bistro. Thai-influenced with a peanut ginger sauce accompanied by a jasmine rice spring roll and veggies. $16. Tues-Thurs for $3 more one can add a salad (spinach with goat cheese is my fav) and chef's dessert of the day.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Phil's Continental Lounge

I have a confession to make. I've lived in this city for almost 10 years and commuted to work and/or school for many years before that and I had never been to Phil's Continental Lounge. Let the groaning and rolling of the eyes commence. I deserve it.

I finally remedied the situation albeit in the new location. Bright colors of the new building and patio added some cheeriness to the gray day.

Phil's Continental Lounge

We went on a Saturday for lunch and the placed was mobbed! We waited 10-15 minutes for two spots at the bar. I ordered a limeade. And enjoyed it.


I ordered the grilled pastrami and Swiss on rye with chips. Delicious and satisfying,

Pastrami and Swiss on Rye

Hubby took a chance on the special - meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans. One may ask why this selection would involve any kind of risk. I'll tell you. The meatloaf was not made by his mom and anytime mashed potatoes are ordered there may be instant (fake) flakes involved. We were pleased to note that the potatoes were real (yeah!). And hubby thought the meatloaf was as close to his mom's as he had come by in the River City. This declaration was truly impressive. First time EVER he had gone gaga over restaurant meatloaf. He had tried many with high hopes. Phil's succeeded.


While I regret never having been to the original Phil's, I'm glad to have made his acquaintance in the new location. May this be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Out to Pasture

A couple of Fridays ago we stopped by Lemaire to have $5 Manhattans during happy hour. We would then wander downtown to find dinner. Since Pasture was near by, I wanted to stroll over to at least see what the place looked like. To our surprise they still had numerous tables available so we stayed and ate.


I liked the bright green colors against the white walls and wood. I liked the soaring ceilings and the large storefront windows.

Pasture Table and Chairs

The menu offered lots of Southern-influenced variety. All small plates meant to be shared. We started off with a Chinon (Cab Franc) at $29. We like wine from this French region and this red did not disappoint.

Cuvee Gabriel Chinon

We ordered quite a few plates. Some were outstanding, others had us shaking our heads. Here is a run down:

Pimento Cheese $4

Pimento Cheese and Crackers

Both hubby and I liked this starter. I have never been a huge fan of the stuff even though I grew up in the South, but this one was creamy with finely shredded cheese with a hint of pimento pepper throughout. Easy to share with Ritz-style crackers. From a taste and cost perspective, we would consider ordering again.

Deviled Eggs $7

Deviled Eggs

While decent-tasting, fairly ordinary. My sister-in-law produces about the same (minus the salmon roe which did not impart a lot of flavor) for a lot less money. We would pass on this small plate next time.

Sweet Tea Smoked Trout $11

Sweet Tea Smoked Trout

Kick ass. Loved this dish. Lightly smoked and moist. I would order this dish every time.

Brussels Sprouts $6

Brussels Sprouts

Hubby enjoyed them. I thought they were okay, but I'm not a huge sprouts fan. The portion seemed small for the price.

Fried Oysters $10

Fried Oysters

Served with cole slaw. Hubby (who is my fried oyster aficionado) said they were decent, but a small helping. The slaw was just okay. Pasture would not be his go-to fried oyster place.

Pork Rillettes $8

Pork Rillettes

While hubby was not a fan, I really enjoyed this dish. The intense pork flavor and creamy fat with crostini-like toast was fabulous. Served with quince and whole-grain mustard, fresh parsley, and pickled fennel. I thought the amount and quality of food for the price was also good. I would order this again.

Fried Chicken $11

Fried Chicken

Served with spicy honey (a nice touch) and potato salad. Some of the best fried chicken ever outside of my mom's (about the only dish she can make) and my husband's grandfather (cast iron skillet on the grill). The potato salad was just so-so. I took some of my parsley from the pork rillettes and mixed it with the potato salad to give it a flavor boost. So even though the chicken was great we kept talking the price and the smallness of the plate. We weren't sure if we could continually justify the price when I can make pretty good chicken at home.

While the Candy Bar looked tempting for dessert, we had ordered a lot and decided to pass on the sweet stuff.

We had attentive, casual service throughout the evening. As our dinner progressed the place filled up and got a bit louder. The number of cars using the valet parking service astonished us. I guess for the later diners, it was the thing to do. For us, we left with full bellies, a few memorable dishes, and a few misses and wandered back to our car parked about a block away from The Jefferson.

Knife Fork Napkin

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Great Finds at Winter SOJ 2/11/2012

The South of the James Winter Market is smaller, but great finds are still abundant. We saw a number of folks stocking up on pork and beef products from Ault's Family Farm and Deer Run Farm. If you are hankering for something sweet for breakfast, Mrs. Yoder's now has an enclosed food truck for her yummy donuts. Pizza Tonight was selling pizza kits and then you could pick up some Virginia wine from Grayhaven.

Here are a few photos:

Sausage and Eggs
Sausage and Eggs from Ault's
Dollop - A new vendor featuring whoopie pies and pink peppercorn marshmallows.
Alfredo's Honey
Alfredo's Honey - My favorite is the cinnamon whipped variety
Walnut-Dulce de Leche Cookies
Dulce de Leche Cookies from Hispania Bakery are out of this world. One sample and you will be hooked.
Winter Market Dog
And, of course, dogs are always welcome at the market. What a cutie!
If you have photos of any of the local markets, post them here.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

City Diner

Last Sunday we got up before the sun came up over the James River to explore some of the more interesting parts of the Mayo Bridge area. Interesting jaunt, but cold. I promised hubby to take him wherever he wanted for breakfast.

As we cruised up Broad Street we passed City Diner and promptly made a u-turn. I appreciate a diner with the fire department sitting in one corner, the loner drinking coffee and reading the paper, families sitting down to  a hearty meal, and the waitstaff greeting the knowns and unknowns with a steaming pot of coffee. We enjoyed a couple of artery-clogging platters: Bertha G: 3 scrambled eggs with ground beef, onions, and garlic with home fries and toast; and Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs: the steak was smothered in sausage gravy, the eggs - over easy, with home fries and toast.

Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken Fried Steak and Eggs at City Diner

Such down-home decadence.

Here are some pics from our early morning photo safari, too.

Pre-dawn Turning Basin
Turning Basin just before dawn
Good Morning Richmond
Good Morning Richmond
Southern States
Southern States
Red Sky Morning