Travels: Heading South to Richmond, Virginia

My close friend Jen recently moved to Richmond, VA with her boyfriend, Iain.  After picking a good weekend, Dave and I made the four hour trek (on a good traffic day) for a visit.  They live in Carytown, a cute little neighborhood outside of downtown Richmond.  Here are some edible highlights…..

Friday night for dinner they took us to ACACIA mid-town; one of the nicer restaurants in the area and around the corner from their place.  ACACIA certainly could have been plucked out of Philadelphia as both the food and décor rivaled restaurants of those in a more urban environment.  On a Philly-related note, the chef, Dale Reitzer, was named Best New Chef by Food and Wine Magazine the same year as Marc Vetri (Holla!).

As I mentioned, I love to taste, so Dave and I have developed a dining routine that consists of sharing 2 or 3 appetizers and then one entrée.  With Jen and Iain added in the mix, we ordered a few extra appetizers of crispy risotto balls, fried oysters, tuna ceviche, and a charcuterie plate.  The charcuterie plate included a foie gras mousse and beef tongue.  Being a member of the tribe, I’ve seen tongue in a lot of delis but have never actually tried it.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but my dining companions were not fans.  If I see foie gras on the menu, I’m ordering it!  I love the texture.  Ironically though, I don’t like duck meat.  I digress……….on recommendation from Jen and Iain, we got the crab cakes with cheesy grits and green beans.  As a born and bred Marylander, I have to say I know my crab cakes.  It should be all meat and hardly any filling.  And this crab cake was exactly that!  Broiled to perfection, lumpy, and the most interesting part was the cake included the mustard from the shell of the crab.  If you have ever sampled the mustard, it’s a very distinct taste.  I like it, plus it’s my mom’s favorite part of the crab.  However, others might say it is an “acquired” taste.

My Favorite Dish of the meal was the Crab Cakes

With an Honorable Mention to the Butternut Squash Risotto Balls

We then went to McCormack’s Whiskey Grill, a cool whiskey bar with a tremendous amount of liquor bottles behind the bar.  They even had one of those rolling library ladders to aid in reaching for all those bottles.

Dave is a whiskey/scotch/bourbon drinker, thanks to both his grandfathers, so this was a treat for him.  As hard as I try when I taste whiskey, I can’t help but associate it with rubbing alcohol and/or conjure up bad memories of drinking Southern Comfort in high school.  Both give me that “I’m disgusted” face, and the chills.  I asked the bartender for an “introductory” whiskey and he gave me Jameson.  It certainly didn’t go down any easier, but he described it with notes of caramel, and at least this time, I could actually SMELL the caramel, and not pure alcohol.

On a walk through Carytown, one of the coffee shops was advertising a Nutella Latte.

Um, yes please!  I made sure we stopped there on our way to Kings Dominion (my favorite theme park EVER!) for my daily coffee fix.  As I watched the barista put Nutella in the bottom of the coffee cup, I thought “This is going to be awesome!”  But my first sip tasted like a regular latte.  Even by the time I drained the cup, there wasn’t much hazelnut flavor.  Disappointment set in; I should have known better than to have had such high expectations.

So, if you are ever in the Richmond area, Carytown particularly, I would highly recommend ACACIA mid-town and McCormack’s Whiskey Grill, but you can skip the Nutella Latte. However, a visit to Kings Dominion is a must!

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