Sitting on the outer edge of Northside Richmond — just across the Boulevard from Buz & Ned’s — Stronghill Dining Company has opened to good reviews, including recent ones in Brick Weekly and on the Monkey Dish food weblog. From Monkey Dish: That chop I’d dreamt of, when received, was a tenderloin cut from its bone before […]
Sitting on the outer edge of Northside Richmond — just across the Boulevard from Buz & Ned’s — Stronghill Dining Company has opened to good reviews, including recent ones in Brick Weekly and on the Monkey Dish food weblog.
That chop I’d dreamt of, when received, was a tenderloin cut from its bone before being cooked. It smelled like a smokehouse and I snuck a bite of the earthy black-eyed pea cake , collard greens and tasso gravy before returning the entree to the kitchen. After it left the table the homey smell of smoked pork was hard to forget. A bead of pot likker from the kale slid down my wrist and left a salty tang on my skin. Why be so hard? I should have kept that boar, bone or no bone, especially after the apologies and encouragement to taste the dish from the manager, Cole, who sympathized with my loss and agreed that the plate wasn’t as described on the menu.
One bite of my friend’s backfin crab cakes held together by Southern hospitality, not breadcrumbs, served atop quail hash with a runny fried egg , removed all self-pity. Who can feel sorry for themselves with egg yolk stuck to their lips? The dish was an inventive mutation of classic, farm table cuisine. I remembered Edna Lewis’ words from, the seminal southern cookbook, “In Pursuit of Flavor” — “quail are delightful little birds that you never have to worry about being tough”. She was right. The quail had the tenderness of a ragout.
To finish the meal (removing all memory of that boar chop) we had the Pecan Pie ($7) with homemade crust and a chocolate mousse ($6) drenched in a strawberry coulis. Both are made in-house, the pie from the owner’s mother cache of Southern dessert recipes and the mousse recipe was lifted from the Chocolate Gods—an airy , yet dense goblet of mouth-coating milk chocolate, it was the perfect happy ending. But next time I want a bone.
Rob and Jessika Weaver weren’t necessarily considering opening a restaurant when they purchased the building across the street from one of their most successful ventures, River City Tattoo. But two years later, Stronghill Dining Company came to fruition because the Weavers knew all the right people.
“The building came first,” Weaver said. “We just wanted to buy it before someone moved in we weren’t fond of.”
Calling it a “long-term investment,” Weaver and his wife purchased the property in December 2006 and began to brainstorm what to do with the vacant lot adjacent to Velocity that was once home to Motor Europa.
The restaurant idea surfaced, largely because the couple knows so many people in the industry — “because of the tattooship,” Weaver said.
And we’re not talking about starving students trying to scrape up some book money by waiting tables. We’re talking career professionals who are known around town for being the best in their trade.
“These are veterans — people who have pride in what they do,” Weaver said. “We got the right people.”