Ask Lauren: The $100 anniversary, great dining with kids, and dietary restricted rehearsal

Looking for a place to eat but have a long, seemingly impossible, list of constraints? No prob, just ask Lauren!

Have you ever had to plan a dinner but were presented with a seemingly impossible list of constraints? Something along the lines of: “I need a place to take my mom and stepdad to meet my new boyfriend, but he only eats beets and seafood caught in the Pacific Ocean”? Whenever this happens to us at the RVANews office, and it happens all the dang time, we just ask Lauren. Who knows how she does it, but her mind can sort through all of our dietary restrictions, awkward social situations, and long term relationship goals and suggest the perfect place/thing to go/do.

It’s really awesome.

So we’ve decided to share our amazing–life saving, really–resource with you, and are excited to launch our newest column, Ask Lauren. Each week I’ll take your questions; ask Lauren her thoughts, feelings, and emotions; and write them up for you in this easy to read format. Think of us as your handy RVA concierge!

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It’s my 11-year anniversary, I’ve got $100 to spend, my wife needs gluten-free options, I want to eat some meat, and our baby sitter only lasts for three hours. What do we do!?

OK, first you’re gonna want to head over to Amuse at the VMFA. They’ve got great champagne cocktails for six bucks starting at 2:00 PM. It’s important to start any celebration off right, and you can’t go wrong with champagne. Next, head down to Acacia on Robinson in The Fan.

They offer a $24 prix fixe dinner Monday – Thursday from 5:30 – 9:00 PM or Friday and Saturday from 5:30 – 6:30 PM. You’ll get three incredible courses from one of the best restaurants in town for under $30! It’s a wonderful deal. Make sure you check the prix fixe menu on their site for gluten-free options as the menu does change frequently.

My parents want to take me and my partner out to a great dinner, the only problem? We’ve got a toddler. Where can we go to eat a nice dinner but in an atmosphere that’s kid appropriate?

Toddlers don’t have to be a problem when looking for a nearly-fine dining experience. You’ve got a bunch of options around town, but Pasture is our favorite. It’s just about the best place to take your kids and still get some of the best food the city has to offer. Two reasons:

  1. Pasture’s ceilings are tall and the walls are concrete, which makes for a pretty noisy environment. So when your wee one freaks out on you for eating all of the pimento cheese, the rest of the restaurant is mercifully spared.
  2. Pasture’s comfort food-oriented small plates are easy on kids’ palate and promote sharing with the whole family. It’s like a delicious, teachable moment!

Also, they’ve usually got Tuppers’ Keller Pils on tap which Beer Advocate gives a 99 and calls “world class.” Just saying.

My fiancé and I are both vegan and gluten-free. We’re getting married in a couple of months and are looking for a place to host the rehearsal dinner that can accommodate our dietary restrictions without turning off our families. Suggestions?

Mekong is the perfect place for something like this! They’ve got a ton of vegan, gluten-free, and vegan gluten-free options, plus they’ve got more meat than you can shake a stick at on the menu–there’s definitely something for everyone. The flat noodles with tofu or the clay pot tofu are both excellent choices for the V/GF crowd. And an added bonus: the extensive Belgian beer selection will make hanging out with your future in laws a bit more fun.

Also, and this is important, Mekong has plenty of space and can accommodate large parties with ease.

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If you’ve got a question for Lauren (no matter odd or numerous the constraints), don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below!

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Ross Catrow

Founder and publisher of RVANews.

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