Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What to Do and Eat in Richmond, Virginia

I recently moved from Richmond after living there for 2 years. I was typing out a guide of Richmond restaurants and sights for my parents' upcoming visit and decided to share with the world.

Downtown/Shockhoe Bottom
Canal Walk
Confederate White House
Edgar Allen Poe museum
Holocaust museum
Pipe Walk - hidden but cool. walk on an old pipe along the river. slightly adventurous
John's Church - where Patrick Henry said give me liberty of give me death. reenactments on sundays, holidays, $

Tarrant's - cool interior, good food, not super fancy
Alamo - extremely casual outdoor bbq, ghetto but good
Country Style Doughnuts - fabulous doughnuts. can be on the way to airport if you're on surface roads. definitely in the ghetto
Bottom's Up Pizza - the real Richmond experience! eat outside beneath 2 freeways
Comfort - tre chic Southern food in a deceptively casual restaurant

VCU area (between downtown and the Fan)
Belle Isle - where Chris Berridge was POW
Hollywood Cemetery - magnificent, Jeff Davis + 2 US presidents' graves
Jefferson Hotel - 4 star hotel, nice lobbies, historical displays, restaurants. the Brandcenter was it's old carriage house

821 cafe - pretty good place for lunch by brand center
mojo's - by vcu, has a definite student vibe. also the best wings i've ever had. 1/2 off mondays
Jefferson Hotel - it's four stars, baby

The Fan (Uptown)
Maymont Park - an absolute must. Japanese and Italian gardens, mansion tours
Carytown - the nicest neighborhood to shop and eat downtown
Byrd Theater - incredible, majestic 100 year old theater has second-run movies, preluded by organ performances on Saturday night
VMFA - Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Monument Avenue - a must. cobble stone streets, confederate statues and old churches
University of Richmond - boasts itself Ivy League of the South. the end of the fan district

Acacia Midtown - here's your fancy restaurant. a favorite of the cast of Lincoln
Buzz 'n' Neds - counter-style, best bbq you'll ever have
Kuba Kuba - the Cuban restaurant we went to
Water Grill - good filet, good price
Cook Out - the Southern version of In n Out. large menu, good shakes, try the cheer wine float
Crossroads Cafe - funky ice cream flavors like lavender, basil and rose

Short Pump
This is where the nice, outdoor mall is. Also Trader Joes, Whole Foods, etc.
ComedySportz is almost out there

Cold Harbor Civil War site

Rita's Italian Ice is the best

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hard Times Chili

According to the Internet, people are still looking at this blog! Wow!

How long has it been? So long I got an entire masters degree. So long, the hands you can barely see in that last entry's pic were my now-married-to-another-guy girlfriend's!

I feel like you deserve something new, Internet people.

I was driving through rural Virginia a couple months ago, and my hickish roommate stopped into a county store. It was a carnival of delights. Country smoked hams everywhere, peanuts galore. And I spotted this wonderful little product:

Look at that logo! Isn't that great?

Turns out Hard Times Cafe is a fairly large restaurant chain in the East Coast with 18 locations in Maryland, DC, and Virginia.

Apparently they serve their Cincinnati Chili over spaghetti with cheddar cheese, which you can see in their press pic:

That's my kind of wackiness. Shame I didn't hear about them until I moved to Chicago.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Amazing Irish-American food in Utah? Ah yeah!

The moment you step out of your car in the parking lot and you get a whiff of roasting lamb, and you know this is going to be a good night.  Welcome to MacCool’s.

MacCool’s Public House bills itself as an “Irish pub-style family restaurant for ALL to enjoy!”  Culinary speaking, it serves traditional Irish fare with local influences. 

All your Irish favorites are there.  The appetizers start the menu off full-steam with bangers & mash, sweet potato fries, and lamb ribs.  Remember the smoky BBQ smell in the parking lot?  Multiply that by a million and that’s the flavor you’ll be enjoying with a Jenga-esque stack of char-grilled lamb ribs.  The sauce is definitely boss though, so don’t worry if you’re a lamb virgin.  It’s delicious and sweet.  No meal at MacCool’s is complete without lamb ribs and one point or another.

MacCool’s has a smorgasbord of nine different salads, including the Tossed Salmon (char-grilled salmon fillet chopped and tossed with grilled green beans, tomatoes, candied walnuts, dill, shallot, and yogurt dressing) and the Curry Chicken Salad (smoked chicken, peanuts, red grapes, spring mix, cucumber, curry dressing).

The menu also boasts no fewer than 15 tempting sandwiches (and nine burgers!).  There’s the traditional Irish corned beef special, and even a sandwich made with their house smoked gravlox (potato cakes), bacon, red onion, and tomato on ciabatta.  The BBQ pulled pork sandwich puts their legendary sauce to good use.  As with all of their meats, you can tell it’s fresh and all made in house.  The BBQ pork sammy comes with slaw and a mix of russet and sweet potato fries.

The Traditional Irish Fare entrees include fish & chips, corned beef & cabbage, stews, chowders, and several meat pies.  In addition to the Classic Sheppard’s Pie with roast beef, there’s its American cousin, the Buffalo Sheppard’s Pie.  This dish convinced me that bison was meant to be eaten in pie form.  Buffalo burgers, steaks, and jerky are just too dry to really be enjoyed.  But mixed with venison and Andouille sausage simmered in English ale, and layered with roasted corn, mushrooms, mashed potatoes and Irish cheddar?  Yes, sir, I do believe you are a genius.

Finally there’s the Ploughman’s Breakfast.  This meatfest includes four lamb ribs, two fried eggs, two strips of bacon, a potato cake, sourdough toast, and the best sausage I’ve ever had stateside.  The sausage (called a banger) was exploding with delicious, fresh, natural flavor.  There were no distracting herbs or spices.  It didn’t need any.  The meat stood on its own two feet.

Summary: Please, for the love of food, go eat at MacCool’s as fast as you can.
Rating: Astronomical

Salt Lake (1400 S. Foothill Blvd.), South Jordan (11610 S. Main District Dr.), and Layton (855 W. Heritege Park Blvd.)  Open from about 11am-10pm daily. http://www.maccools-utah.com/

Friday, July 23, 2010

One Bite Review: The Copper Onion

I don't review restaurants until I've had at least a couple dishes there.  But my recent meal at the  Copper Onion in Salt Lake was so tasty and interesting, I wanted to write something. Plus, it ain't the cheapest place around, so I may not be back too soon.  So here goes, the inaugural One Bite Review, a short review of one plate.

The Copper Onion Burger is the best hamburger I've had in Utah, maybe my whole life.  And I loves the burgers.  They are probably the only food I actually get cravings for.  Salt Lake Magazine's food critic can't stop talking about the Copper Onion Burger, so I went there with my boss one Friday afternoon.  The place is trendy and a little stuck-up, like you'd expect from a place raved about in SL Mag.

We both ordered the Copper Onion Burger with arugula salad (thrice-cooked fries are available instead).  The lettuce was tossed in parmesean and olive oil.  The three ingredients together made a deep and bold unami taste.  The $11 burger was very thick - perhaps one inch.  The beef juice was soaked into the bottom bun, so I thought it was going to be a soggy experience.  On the contrary, the homemade roll was thick and hard enough to capture the juice without bogging it down  And, really, wouldn't you rather have a burger with all its juice intact?

The toppings include grilled red onions, white mayo, and shredded lettuce.  The onions are tasty and sweeten the dish up.  The toppings are perfect, but they're really just a supporting cast to the beef.  I don't know how they did it, but it was the best ground beef I've ever tasted.  Juicy and rich.  Too bad the patty wasn't uniformly cooked, as there were a couple bites of rare in my medium burger.  It's a shame they came at the end of my burger, otherwise it would have been utter plated perfection.

Vehemently recommended.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Event Report: Meet the Maker

Log Haven is a pretty silly name for a restaurant. At best, it makes me think about bottled maple syrup. At worst, it reminds of the phrase "hog heaven."

Regardless of the dumb name, there it is: sitting three miles up Millcreek Canyon, it all its well-reviewed, four-star beauty. Salt Lake Magazine's food critic mentioned on her blog that Heaven's Log...er...Log Haven...was having a free tasting with samples from local "artisan food makers." These included Beehive Cheese Company, Uinta Brewery, Clifford Family Farm, Creminelli Fine Meats, and Kenyon Organics.

Not being a drinker, Uinta Brewery was out for me. Kenyon Organics gave out seeds, and Clifford Family Farm's deviled eggs were good, if hidden.

The real dynamite was the aged culinary perfection of Beehive Cheese Co. and Creminelli Fine Meats.  First off, Creminelli is actually run by a real Italian family.  So when they serve you salami, you better pay attention!  They offered no less than 10 different varieties of salami for our endless sampling pleasure.  All were delicious and the flavors were delicate - with the exception of the spicy Salami Piccante.  Of particular note were the Salami Cacciatore, flavored with juniper berries, and the Salami Tartufo which was decked out with none other than Black Summer Truffles from Northern Italy!  Top it off with some Wild Boar Salami and we're really talking artisan!

But the highlight of the evening was Beehive Cheese Company's artisan fromage. They busted out none other than the American Cheese Society competition winning Barely Buzzed. Not being a espresso consumer, I can't report on it. But it's neighbor, Sea Hive, may have been the best cheese I've ever tasted. This brand new flavor is infused with salt harvested from Lake Bonneville's ancient lakebed in the belly-button of Utah ("more than 50 trace mineral deposits," the website boasts), and honey from local orchard and wildflower-pollinating bees. My friend noted its smooth texture, while its honey touch grabbed my attention.

These world-class artisans are worthy of every cheese and salami lover's attention. They both ship directly from their websites (www.creminelli.com www.beehivecheese.com).