Open discussion

We hope you’ll use this space to share your comments about Richmond Restaurant Week 2010: where you went, what you ate, what you thought, and so on.

We hope you’ll use this space to share your comments about Richmond Restaurant Week 2010: where you went, what you ate, what you thought, and so on.

We’ll keep comments open here for the entire week, so feel free to share your thoughts!

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Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. Where is everyone planning on going tonight?

  2. Rowland Fine Dining! It would have been Mezzanine had they planned on being open tonight. Looking forward to my first Restaurant Week experience.

  3. I have a question for people who consider themselves “foodies”:

    Do you dread events like Restaurant Week? Is it like Amateur Night for you?

    (I am definitely not a foodie, so I’m trying to understand this perspective because apparently it’s a popular one.)

  4. Jeremiah on said:

    We went to Acacia last night and it was awesome!

    Future diners go with:

    app: duck confit
    entree: ribeye with BONE MARROW PANCAKE
    dessert: far east parfait

    And make sure to drink it up!~ The cocktails are quite delicious as always.

  5. I went to Six Burner last night and wrote it up:

    I’d never heard the “Amateur Night” thing before, but if the implication is that restaurants are somehow pulling punches because of the volume and low prices, I’d say just go to restaurants that are known for high levels of execution to begin with.

    I do think the presentation on the desserts at Six Burner were a little lame, but the food itself was firing on all cylinders (and other cheap metaphors for high performance).

  6. It’s not the Amateur Night question so much as hating crowds and not wanting to be rushed through a meal. Beyond that, babysitters are expensive, and I have yet to see a menu that warrants hiring one and dealing with the above-irritations.

  7. Cindy on said:

    I also went to Six Burner last night. I’d recommend diners choose what Daniel ordered, since our other dishes were a bit underwhelming. The salad was just okay – there needed to be a little more dressing or something to cut the arugula’s bitter taste; I couldn’t help but make comparisons in my mind to the beet salad on Acacia’s regular menu this summer (similar and tastier). The bacon-wrapped and fried pickle was good, but could have been great if the pickle had a little more zip or tang. The highlight by far was the short rib, perfectly tender and delicious. Not sure what type of braise was used on the greens, but the taste was off for me; the mac and cheese side made up for it. The crab cake was fine, though not as noteworthy as the short rib. For dessert we ordered a few sorbets and gelato, the sorbets were rock hard and difficult to spoon into bites. Taste wise, they were a bit too sweet; the creamy gelato was a better way to end the meal. Throughout, service and cocktails were above average. Overall, SIx Burner is worth a trip if you are looking for a Restaurant Week destination, but be sure to visit Daniel’s blog link above to get better first course and dessert options.

  8. The Melting Pot @ 9704 Gayton Road in Gayton Crossings believes in contributing to the community whenever possible and is offering a three course menu and will contibute to the Food Bank as well. Same price… same amount of courses… same contribution! We have been locally owned for 15 years and are just as much a locally owned restaurant as any participating in this program. We want to help the Food Bank. Please call us for details. 741-3120

  9. Cindy on said:

    I’m back to report on our second night of Restaurant Week. This time we went to Acacia, which never fails to deliver. We have dined there countless times, and never once have I left without enjoying a great meal. There have been a few times that I didn’t order the right thing considering my palate/preferences, but that was my own mistake; never has the food been under par. Tonight, even with the busyness of Restaurant Week, they were still at the top of their game.

    Up first, the warm goat cheese salad for me and the crab fritter for my husband. The honey poached apples were the highlight of the salad, but the crab fritter won out – it was deep fried like a hushpuppy with tasty accompaniments. Yum.

    My main course was the rockfish, sauteed with local broccoli puree, brussel sprouts, sunchokes, roasted pumpkin, and red wine sauce. Everything worked really well together – light, fresh, delicious. I may not always prefer all the components in a dish here when I read it on the menu (i.e. brussel sprouts, pumpkin), but the chef does them so well I always clean my plate anyway. My companion enjoyed the ribeye steak with bone marrow pancakes and tasty farm greens. This dish symbolizes what I love about Acacia – they are creative (bone marrow pancakes – who thinks of this stuff?!) but unlike some places where creativity equals strange inedible dishes, their creativity breeds dishes that stretch us a bit out of our comfort zone and leave us satisfied and ready for the next visit.

    For dessert, the apple ginger mousse cake with caramel mousse and creme fraiche sorbet was like a taste of fall. The red velvet sundae with red velvet croutons, chocolate sauce, and raspberry gelee was a creative play on an old standard that led my spouse to nearly scrap the plate clean.

    Fantastic cocktails and service at the bar continue to solidify Acacia at the top of my list. We love sitting at the bar and chatting with the bartenders when we can. By far the best all-around experience we have enjoyed in Richmond can be found at Acacia.

    Just in case I am gushing too much, if I had to provide a constructive critique of the restaurant it would be that it is often too loud (I prefer to sit on the patio or at the bar when possible to hear my table mates) and the bread is out of place since it is cold and strangely average, but these are small things to overlook when the food is this tasty and service at the bar is fabulous.

  10. Has anyone been to Julep’s yet?

  11. Also, Whine Me Dine Me has an post up about the Berkeley Hotel:

  12. Alison on said:

    Avenue 805! Loved the eggplant app, seafood ravioli, and devil’s food cake!

  13. I went to Secco last night:

    I go there a lot anyway, but their menu for this week is a really good value.

    Looking forward to Acacia on Friday!

  14. Jodie on said:

    Helen’s last night was bangin! Packed but service was great and timing of the busy kitchen was fine. We went right at 7 so was there for the rush. We shared a 1/2 bottle of California Cabernet. (I wish more restaurants would offer 1/2 bottles!) The acorn squash soup was delicious and the pork belly app was amazing, Hubby had the shortribs and i had the crab and bacon mac & cheese, the ribs were falling off the bone but stick-to-ur-ribs goodness and my mac was amazing as always, (a staple of the regular dinner menu at Helen’s, I ordered this on my last visit, how could i resist!!) We had each of the dessert options and both were super, the cobbler is more home-style and chocolate a bit more refined, but both delivered the goods. Don’t miss Helen’s! off to bacchus tonight, ill review tomorrow!

  15. I’m hitting up Lulu’s tonight, and I’m so excited about their new chef/new menu. Then tomorrow night, it’s Acacia. I can’t wait to share my (hopefully delicious) results.

    @Valerie, as a professional chef, I’m well familiar with cooks, front of house staff, and even regular customers lamenting restaurant week as “amateur hour.” In fact, it’s not just restaurant week; it’s any time the restaurant is bursting with customers who are not familiar with the subtext of diner-restaurant-relations that are always at play. This includes mother’s day, and my personal least favorite, Valentine’s day.

    Some of the resentment is because these ‘amateur’ customers are often more labor-intensive and less likely to leave big tips. Some of it comes from the fact that being balls-to-the-wall busy (which is precisely what happens in most of these situations) isn’t always pleasant and tends to bring out the jerk in people. Trust me.

    But at the end of the day, restaurants should be about hospitality, at least to some degree. If so-called amateurs need some menu item identifications or constant refills of iced tea, that’s what restaurant employees need to provide. I think it’s easy for restaurants to rest on the laurels of their food, ignoring the service aspect of the big picture, and that’s a big mistake.

  16. Six Burner’s beef shortribs were one of the best things I have ever tasted. Ahhhhhhhhhhmazing.

    Unfortunately, it was my husband who ordered them — the rockfish/shrimp over the bean soup was also delicious, but not AS delicious.

    The panna cotta was definitely the best panna cotta I’ve ever had in Richmond. I could eat that every night.

  17. tammy on said:

    Bacchus last night was tasty. Portions aren’t full size but we all still ended up totally stuffed. The place was completely packed by 7:30. I saw some walk out because they didn’t have reservations and didn’t want to sit at the bar. Sitting at the bar can be so fun sometimes!

    Shrimp scampi was light and garlicly like it should be. Baked polenta was a little odd with the addition of gorgonzola. The calamari was tasty but don’t get it if you favor battered or heavily saute’d versions.

    My salmon was yummy but a little on the overdone side. My dining guest got the same and theirs was perfecto. The chicken with crab was light and juicy with tons of flavor. The sirloin was perfect but my guest didn’t like the horseradish sauce. The apple crisp dessert was a hit. The chocolate peanut butter pie was a bust. It was very pie-like (which was good) but somehow there was no peanut in the butter. It was creamy buttery (if that’s possible).

    Overall, it was good times, good eats and good service. So enjoy. Bottles of wine are on special too. Bonus.

  18. Sarah on said:

    Went to Stronghill last night. A pretty big disappointment.

    We were seated and promptly left sitting without water or a server for 15 minutes.

    Ordered the sweet potato soup, trout with red beans and chocolate mousse.

    Sweet potato soup was okay, needed more pepper. But not bad. The trout was just not good at all. The fish was really dry and the red beans were not completely cooked and still crunchy. The mousse was okay, but just mousse nothing fancy or special.

    Over all the service was really. really. really. slow. I know it’s restaurant week and everyone’s really busy, but it seemed like they were completely unprepared and the kitchen just couldn’t keep up at all. We sat for about 20 to 30 minutes between each course. Wouldn’t recommended going there at all.

  19. 20 to 30 minutes? That’s frustrating. Anyone else experience that?

    Tammy, thanks for sharing about Bacchus. I’ve always loved that place.

  20. I probably could have helped Sarah avoid that dinner disaster, but Valerie wouldn’t let me post a list of restaurants to avoid. So, I resisted naysaying, for charity. To Valerie’s earlier question, I don’t really identify with the “amateur night” critique, but I’ll admit that I’m not big on dealing with crowds or feeling like I’m participating in a feeding frenzy. I do feel kinda over the monotony of options and style of food among the RW menus, but some of that stuff is there because there’s a market for it.

    Staying positive, however, has been a great exercise. I didn’t have to look too hard to find food and backstories to get excited about. Really jealous of the meals you all are having. And for those wondering, my wife is on a pork belly kick, so in my list of recommendations, I subconsciously gravitated toward menus that offered it (as long as there was an exciting veg/fish dish to highlight as well).

  21. Mezzanine was AMAZING last night. There were some exciting add ons to the published Restaurant Week menu and they were all a hit. I had a seafood ceviche as the first course that had shrimp, scallops, tomatoes, and jalapenos and was chilled perfectly. The lobster gnocchi was a home run and the braised short ribs were melt in your mouth delicious. We all ordered the bourbon pecan pie which was just the sweet finish we were looking for.

    The service was also A+ which is always a huge plus in my book during Restaurant Week. Definitely go to Mezzanine!

  22. I did it, Restaurant Week that is. All of Jason Guard’s suggestions seemed quite good but we decided on Water Grill. The menu seemed nice and we were on a “spur of the moment” mission. Knowing some people and some lucky timing got us a table very quickly and I must say, the overall experience was stellar. I had oysters to start and crabcakes to follow. The oysters were perfectly cooked with a nice sauce and I particularly enjoyed the pickled celery/mesculine salad–though the plating was a little odd. The crabcakes were the best I’ve had in Richmond, simply the best, though the potatoes and out of season asparagus served with them were not all that good. Potatoes and asparagus be damned, the crabcakes were amazing. Did I mention the crabcakes were amazing? And that they were the best I’ve had in Richmond? Ever? I won’t write about dessert because I’m not a dessert guy. I got the creme brulee, she got the brownie, we traded. I ate it, and enjoyed it, thats saying something for me.
    I feel like WaterGrill gets short shrift sometimes for a variety of reasons but I’ll put my name on the line saying I’ve always had wonderful food there, wonderful service and gosh darnit, its beautiful in there.

  23. Went to Millie’s last night, wrote about it here:
    I’d give it a 7/10

  24. And my last restaurant week meal:

    I know plenty of others have beaten me to the punch re: Acacia, but I’d already written up the other two places I went, so why break form?

  25. I only was able to go to two restaurants this week (had hoped for 3, but time got away from us on Saturday…)
    I ended up dining solo during the week at Acacia and Juleps as my hubby was out of town, so I just decided to pop in after work to these two. I adored Acacia when they were on Cary, but somehow just haven’t taken the opportunity to dine in the new mid-town location. And while I drive by Juleps nearly every night, I somehow just haven’t stopped.

    I got to sit on the patio at Acacia, which was perfect. The service was outstanding, even though the place was beyond bustling. I ordered the crab fritters, market fish (flounder), and Far East parfait. The fritters were very good, but seemed a bit light on the crab. Nevertheless, quite tasty. Next course: I loved all the components of the fish entree; however the fish itself was a bit overcooked, so I ended up loving everything else in the dish, but ended up pushing much of the fish to the side to concentrate on the rest, which was intriguing and yummy. The parfait was a nice light ending to the meal, in particular the coconut sorbet), but I had hoped for a bit more lime flavor overall. That said, while not blown away by the meal, I enjoyed it enough to want to go back another time with my husband.

    The next evening, I decided to try out Juleps. After driving around 20 minutes to get a parking space, i was a little disappointed to also wait quite awhile at the hostess station for seating (and to be completely ignored by the waitstaff that kept walking by. I certainly didn’t expect them to seat me, but it would have been nice to have been acknowledged with a “hello” or ” the hostess will be here shortly.” There were several empty tables, and, not having been here before, while I highly doubted it, I began to wonder if perhaps I should just seat myself. I even considered leaving and wandering over to Lulu’s or venturing down the street to Millies. Eventually the hostess arrived and told me that the only option for a single diner would be at the bar. I asked about the empty small tables, and she explained they were reserved, and the diners would be there within 45 minutes or so (seemed a bit of a waste to keep empty tables open for that long, but nevertheless. I decided to stick around and try the food and was sooooooo glad that I did! The bartender was completely overworked all night, but was attentive and friendly. I opted for the fried green tomato beignets, shrimp and grits, and chocolate raspberry torte. The green tomato beignets with jalapeno aioli were amazing!!!! Perfectly cooked with just the right amount of spice in the aioli, I could easily have made an entire meal of that dish! The people around me ordered the filet and salmon dishes, which looked quite good- especially the salmon. However, when my entree came out, without exception, everyone leaned over and said they wish they had ordered my dish! Very flavorful, filling, and quite good. (Although, I must say that IMO the best shrimp and grits in town reside at Mezzanine… but Juleps version was quite good.) Being a chocoholic, I was looking forward to the finale, and it didn’t disappoint. It was on the small side, with two small squares of the torte covered with raspberry puree and fresh whipped cream. Because of the richness, any more would have made for a miserable tummy because I know I would not have been able to resist eating all of it!

    So, from my limited RW experience, service kudos go out to Acacia, but the food at Juleps took the lead. (I will just try to go back to Juleps when they’re not quite as busy…)

  26. tammy on said:

    LaGrotta was consistent as they usually are, which is a good thing during crazy week. The must-get was the carpaccio. Four out of five of us got it. But once the soup du jour arrived we regretted not being adventurous. I can’t remember exactly what it was in it…think squash, potato and procuitto and something. It was a creamy bisquey thing. Heaven. The majority also went with the veal but the sole was outstanding. Light and flavorful. And huge portion on everything. Dessert was coconut cake or tiramisu. I’m not a coconut fan at all so tiramisu it was. The cake itself was yummy but it sat in pool of what we came up with was “tiramisu goo”. It really didn’t have much taste, it was lighter than the cake filling, but it just make for more sogginess than I like my tiramisu to be. The coconut cake was a hit by those who got it.

    Rounded out the week at Water Grill. I anxiously awaited this spot all week. I was not disappointed. The place was noisier than usual, especially sitting in bar side of the second floor. But it cleared out shortly after our app showed and we could hear each other again.
    She crap soup was very tasty, just the perfect creaminess. The lobster potstickers were lighter and popped of flavor. The much-raved about crab cakes were delicious. Not overly done and not too much breading. A little more remoulade to spread around would have been perfect. The petit mignon was Ahh-mazing. It melted in your mouth. Cooked perfectly to desired medium-rare. Dessert was yummy as well but we were so full to eat all of it. The keylime pie wasn’t tart, just the way I like it. The creme brulee was an even creamy and sweet. The raspberry garnishes were the most flavorful little pops of berry. So good.

    Another Restaurant Week down. Didn’t have a bad experience all week. Though places were crowded, service was still great. Great eats!

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