Wednesday, August 18, 2010

From Richmond with Love

Mark and I headed to Richmond, VA this past weekend for the rather lovely wedding of Mark’s old roommate(s), Ryan and Lindsay. I’d never been to the former capital of the confederacy before and, frankly, I never figured it would be the fantastic food destination of my dreams. I found Richmond to be like a cross between Alexandria, VA (charming, historic, and friendly) and Baltimore, MD (shady, hipster paradise). You couldn’t shake a Pabst Blue Ribbon without hitting a dozen tattooed, stretchy pants, Chuck Taylor clad hipsters. Even so…they know how to eat. Everything was fresh, delicious and unique.

We went for Saturday brunch at Helen’s Café in the uptown neighborhood. It was a super cute, hole in the wall kid of place that the yelpers were going nuts over so I knew I needed to try it for myself.
I’ve never ordered corned beef hash before, but something about my killer hangover, and the “House Made Specialty” aspect was calling out to me. I’m so glad I got it. Salty, briny, with a fantastic texture and two perfectly poached eggs on top. Mark’s Irish breakfast was just what the economist ordered with special mention for the delicious sausages. The breakfast potatoes were a nice treat with peppers and onions in the mix. Also, they served mimosas by the pint. I’m starting to like Richmond…
Urban Farmhouse for Saturday lunch was utterly adorable. It was easy and delicious (like a better, non-chain Panera, ABP, Corner Bakery). I was too tired to take pictures, which is a shame.

Sunday brunch was the much anticipated sandwich-a-poloza where we got the biggest sandwiches I've ever seen.
They were obscene and I was (not) ashamed to order one. We arrived at The Black Sheep around noon and there was already a 30 minute wait for our party of 4. Sheesh…a 30 minute wait…in Richmond?!?!? This place better deliver, is all I was thinking. We waited in the outside steam room/back patio where they did serve us drinks (MORE mimosas by the pint – let’s bring this phenomenon to DC pronto) and let us peruse the menu while we waited.
I got the USS Congress (honey chipotle pulled pork), Mark went with the USS Brooklyn (jerk chicken) and Yo got the USS Sultana (gyro). Katie went with a much more reasonably sized sandwich that also looked delicious, but her sandwich felt emasculated by the three monstrosities that landed in front of the rest of us. Mine was stellar with very juicy pork, nicely seasoned slaw that still had a good crunch, and grilled pineapple slices that added texture.
Mark’s jerk chicken stole the show: spicy with a sweet banana ketchup and peach chutney to balance. I also really liked Yo’s sandwich with incredibly tender lamb and beef with a crunch from the cucumbers and red onions.
I ate about 2/3 of my sandwich and was crowned the winner for the day, however I crowned myself the loser about halfway back to DC on 95 when I felt like I was going to die from the sheer volume of food that I'd just consumed.
Needless to say, if I ever find myself in that neck of the woods again, I will be very excited indeed.

Disclaimer: We did not venture into the “stray bullets” section of Richmond so I can’t comment on anything except downtown, but if you plan to do so, bring you Kevlar and consult the local magistrate.


  1. I've shaken off my initial shock that you've never ordered corned beef hash, so WELCOME to the awesome side. Also, that sandwich is enormous. I want it, obviously. Thanks for Richmond tips!

  2. I couldn't eat for days after that...oh wait...that's not true at all. I went for RW lunch yesterday and today and housed a steak at J&Gs and then fried chicken and ribs at Art and Soul. I am DC's biggest pig. Don't worry, Jack, I'll be ready for our dinner tomorrow.

  3. I saw the Black Sheep on Man vs. Food! I love that show :)