I held off from breaking out her famous little expression but if the truth be told, I would have worn myself out using it. I didn't know it before I visited, but Richmond has some pretty amazing restaurant offerings. Big ups to my friend and resident of Richmond, Victoria, for selecting unique and gobsmackingly-good places.
Let's get started with Lulu's, which started our trend of visiting comfortable, intimate cafes with lots of original, local-themed artwork this weekend. Though originally we planned on visiting the Shockoe Bottoms Tomato Festival, the 106 degree weather killed that plan, so we hit up Lulu's for some A/C and cold drinks. My choice? A Bloody Mary. Hey, it includes tomatoes.
The Bloody, spicy and cold, well complimented my lunch of Creole Grillades and Anson Mills Cheese Grits. Grillades are pounded cuts of beef, smothered in tomato gravy spiked with chili peppers. LOVED this dish so much. And yes, it was indeed, "too rich to eat." Miss V ate up a Tomato, Onion, Avocado and White Cheddar Omelet, while Scott dined on the BLAT Sandwich of bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato.
Cue to not but five hours later when we did the whole eating thing all over again after working up appetites fanning ourselves and navigating the exhibits of the fantastic Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Victoria led us to Comfort, which specializes in food your Southern grandmamma made (if you were ever so lucky to have a Southern grandmamma). This means it's not nearly good for you but it's definitely sure to put some South in your mouth.
To start, we ordered the pimento cheese appetizer, which surprisingly came with a side of shaved Smithfield ham (no mention of it on the menu, so with a vegetarian at the table, it was certainly unexpected) and about eight Ritz crackers.
The Ritz were a kitschy little touch, but we all agreed that restaurants always skimp on the delivery systems of dips and spreads. If you're serving an ample mound of lovely pimento cheese, have the good graces to provide more crackers (or better yet, white bread slices, to be more authentic).
Scott ordered trout with fried okra and green beans, and Victoria and I went all out on the vegetable plates. We both ordered roasted beets, mac and cheese (yes, in the South, mac and cheese is a vegetable. Just go with it.), green beans for her, and squash casserole and fried okra for me.
Again, all that food made me want to cry out my grandmother's expression. Tell me how we managed to squeeze out of the booth we shared, because I'm still in amazement.
The next morning, we repented with fresh fruit and Granola Muffins made by our lovely hostess, then ruined it all with a lunch at The Black Sheep.
Now, the place is great, with staffers who are apparently are required to look quirky and have no less than three tattoos apiece. They also have an interesting way of handling incoming patrons. The sign on the door says it all, paraphrased, "Please remain outside. Our hostess will come and assist you shortly. Keep the door closed. It is HOT."
Yeah, no kidding. We patiently stood at the door, peering in to see if anyone would come and save our sweaty asses in ungodly humidity. Momentarily, the hostess came and took our names, telling us we had a 30 minute wait and we were welcome to wait it out at their patio. Their, uh, outdoor patio.
Well, hell's bells, we waited. With ice waters and an assist from a cold bottle of Cheerwine for Scott, we waited. Watching others nibble on plates of cold watermelon wedges, we waited. Finally, our turn came, and it was like being unleashed from the depths of hell into heaven's gates themselves.
A heaven with A/C, iced beverages, cute table decorations,and a lip-lickin' good menu. We celebrated, with Victoria on a kick for the USS Wyoming (pickled daikon radish, pickled carrot, cucumber, jalapeño, marinated tofu, cilantro & aioli on a french baguette), Scott rooting for the Cuban Reuben (pastrami, cured roasted pork loin, chorizo sausage, pink saurkraut, and swiss pressed on a ciabatta roll) and moi for the, of course, Miss E - avocado, bacon, cheddar, tomato, red onion and horseradish on texas toast.
Prior to the sandwiches, we shared some yellow tomato and basil gazpacho, chilled and seasoned to delight.
I want that freaky little lamp.
And after the sandwiches? How about a little sweet tea glazed-lemon cake over lemon curd with sweet tea ice cream?
How southern can we get? Any more of this and we'd be whistlin' "Amazing Grace" while prayin' to the Good Lord for all our food sins and callin' all our cousins and 'em, bless their hearts, to share the news. We've been saved...by pimento cheese and sweet tea ice cream.
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.