Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hutch Bar & Eatery - @@@@

Picked this place on a whim tonight because I was in the area. Actually I missed out on a Peruvian place since they were closed for cleaning. Disappointed I searched for another place to eat and am glad I found this.

I ordered the fried chicken dinner which came with either a spicy or sweet option. I opted for the spicy and it had a chili oil, mashed potatoes, and brussels. In short all of it was really good - potatoes creamy, brussels fried and not bitter, and the oil giving it a bit of spice. The chicken was really good - traditionalists may scoff at the boneless chicken breast but I liked it.

In fact I liked it so much I ordered the fried chicken sliders app after the main! What was good about the sliders were that they were a twist on the sweet version of the fried chicken dinner in that they had the maple butter spread atop the biscuit sliders. Again a non-traditional take on the food which I really liked. The little biscuits also had a spicy mayo on the bottom giving it a nice contrast. Chicken was super hot and tasty as well.

This seemed like a hidden gem to me as it was in a part of town that I am not too familiar with. I would not have found it without Yelp so props to them for that. Good service too with a full carafe of water which was great. If you can find it, I suggest you try it out (the sandwich selection looked strong too - I wish I was closer for lunch!)

1308 Gaskins Rd
Henrico, VA 23238

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Can Can Brasserie - @@@

Great day outside today so I went walking down Cary St in the somewhat famous Carytown area of Richmond. It is an eclectic street with plenty of vintage stuff, glass shops and restaurants.

I was happily surprised when I saw a French bistro restaurant on the street and knew I would walk back for dinner there. It was average for my tastes - not great or horrible. First off, the bread and butter which is a French staple was not as good as at other restaurants. I do think the butter was rich however the bread was flavored somewhat like the which masked the flavor of the butter. For the meal, I started with the French onion soup of course and it was pretty sweet. In fact almost too sweet. I have had it similar to that before, it's like they put some apple cider in it as well. Cheese was good, somewhat light compared to the Yelp pictures. For my main, I again had the steak frites and they give you a choice of 4 sauces to select. Maitre d' butter, red wine shallot, red wine blue cheese, and brandy peppercorn were the choices. I probably should've just got it plain but went with the butter. I promptly moved most of the butter off of the steak. The steak itself was cooked good, medium rare was actually red in the middle. The NY strip was tender and the butter did make it more flavorful. The fries were good, on par with other French places I have gone to.

Overall cool decor, service, and atmosphere for this restaurant in Carytown. I don't think I have had French in Richmond and would say it is worth trying. I do like the place in Providence better in terms of steak and soup but this is good for the city. Definitely a locals place; not too many corporate types here. Worthwhile to check out.

3120 W Cary St
Richmond, VA 23221

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Millie's Diner - @@@

By all accounts this was a good meal. I tried some new items such as pork cheeks and chess pie. The main I had was a grilled sirloin which was cooked great. The cheesy potatoes were also really good. The pork cheeks tasted like very tender pork chops - just a chunk of meat that was super tender. The pie was pretty sweet, probably too sweet for my taste.

However this was a textbook case of why I don't love restaurant weeks as much as others. They said they only had half of the regular menu and then the 3 course fixed price menu which I guess was ok since it is a small spot, but still somewhat leaving you wondering what else they had. Then I thought the portion was smaller than normal, although I have no comparison. But they have to make money somehow right? Then I got the desert but I would clearly prefer more main. Let alone it's amazing sweetness which I could've done without. Clearly i like savory food more but may just be an outlier.

Anyways the place was pretty good. Small local vibe was cool. Exposed kitchen area and everybody seemed pretty cool. Someplace to check out - perhaps next time with the whole menu.

2603 E Main St
Richmond, VA 23223

Thursday, April 20, 2017

La Estancia - @@@

Very close to a 4. Very good, just a touch below Tango in Boston that I really liked. This is a local Argentine restaurant that I really enjoyed. Quite a bit of food too for under $30 so the value is good for the metro DC region.

I ordered the short ribs or asado tira medium rare. They are not melt in your mouth, but rather a bit of chew to them. If you are expecting filet like tenderness, I would not get these. Instead I like them because they taste like beef, are flavorful, and juicy. Served on a scalding hot iron plate, I actually removed one because they were still cooking quickly on the plate. Ate all of them and love the contrast with the large boneless pieces and then the bones individually. Much better than the boneless short ribs I head earlier this week where they were braised. I just like the bone-in grilled flavor better. Sadly forgot to ask for chimichurri but they were good enough that I didn't think of needing it. Would've been interesting to compare though. Also comes with 2 sides which I upgraded to 3 cause I have a problem. "Salad bar" had iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, cucumbers, and onions but also had brocolli (helpful) and a great potato salad which no one could explain what it was called (ensalada Russa aka Russian salad is the best I got from the employees). Cubed potatoes, cubed carrots, and peas in a sweet creamy sauce. Really good. Better than my mashed potatoes which were ordinary. Also fried plantains but not super fried and much more similar to the caramelized plantains that I like. Soft and sweet rather than thin and crispy. I think they call them maduros. Really good and still eating them as my dessert.

All in all really good. Very helpful staff with constant water with lime refills. Soccer reruns playing on tv with El Clasico in 3 days. Try it out if you are in the NoVa area. It's in a strip mall, you will not be sorry.

7810 Lee Hwy, Suite F
Falls Church, VA 22042

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Hattie Mae's - @@@@

I tried out another southern restaurant tonight to good results. As luck had it, it was all you can eat fried chicken night. I had to show restraint on ordering

First I did order the cornbread if for nothing else it was $5. That seemed high and was good but not that good. The dark gravy was potlicker gravy which was a thin, runny salty sauce that was slightly flavored and not favored. The real honey in butter was the complete opposite - really good, thick, and flavorful. But then again butter is usually good.

Next got the fried chicken because of course. It was really juicy and the skin was flavored with pepper, pretty crispy and really good to eat. Freshly fried and hot, it was some of the best fried chicken I can remember. The fries were coated so some might now prefer. They were fresh and hot but I thought just ok. The cole slaw was creamy and more minced than usual but still not bad. A little sweet like I like it. The hush puppies were really good but I haven't had hush puppies in years so lack of overall comparison.

I thought the chicken was really good and would get it again. The location is in a cool planned mixed use shopping venue with retail/commercial stuff and is really inviting. Large tvs at the bar and comfortable seating in the dining room. Service was friendly as well. I really enjoyed it and would recommend. Plenty of seating on a Wednesday at 7 pm made it easy to get in and linger in the booths (and eat more chicken)!

1601 Willow Lawn Dr, suite 840
Richmond, VA 23230

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Family Secrets - @@@

Super hard to give Family Secrets (FS) a 3 rating cause I thought it was quite good. Just with being at Croakers Spot (CS) yesterday it was pretty easy to compare head to head.

I will type this out quick as I am waiting for a few fried chicken wings. Cornbread - FS. I liked how it was more dense and a bit sweeter taste. Then with the butter I thought it was better rather than the sweet syrup at CS. Cabbage - CS. Better flavor, consistency, and texture. I enjoyed the peppery-ness at CS and was seasoned better. Rice - CS. The rice was slightly watery at FS which detracted from the tasty gravy. The rice/gravy combo at CS was great. Main - toss up. Really liked the smothered pork chops tonight at FS, slightly sautéed then covered with tasty brown onion gravy. Similar to the chicken at CS. I usually prefer pork over chicken but CS was really good too.

I would happily return to both. There is more meat choices at FS which is a plus. Much less busy and also much more hole-in-the-wall. It is in a strip mall but it had a constant stream of diners and take out even past 9 pm. Good helpful service. All good signs. Happy to dine at either.

5310 Chamberlayne Rd
Richmond, VA 23227

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Croakers Spot - @@@@

Asked for recommendations for southern food from the coworkers and they did not let me down. The place is pretty small it seems - I had to sit at the bar which had 1 seat left. There also was a band coming in to play so I started out with my two favorite things!

I had a recommendation on the meal as well but took a while to look through the menu anyways. I guess their thing is seafood - their slogan may be "the soul of seafood"?? Also making the choice even more interesting. But I did get the recommended southern smothered chicken which was extremely good. Huge portions and could've had another piece of chicken. It was a semi fried chicken breast smothered in brown, onion gravy all over white rice with a side of cabbage and cornbread. I'll start with the cornbread and side sauce which actually was my least favorite. The sauce was described as very addicting which ended up being pretty good. It was sweet and syrupy and definitely had a unique flavor. I still prefer butter with cornbread which was good here but still not my favorite. Then the cabbage which was really good. Tender, sautéed, and super peppery - I definitely enjoyed it. Then the chicken over rice with gravy was just solid. The chicken tasted almost fried prior to being smothered but I am guessing it was pan seared briefly. The skin seemed on as well but was able to cut everything with just my fork. The gravy mixed with the rice made the dish. I could eat multiple servings of it.

Couple of other odd things included me ordering a side of fish just to try. Note - I ordered one piece and three came out. The filets were not boneless so it was kind of a pain to eat...needless to say I didn't eat it all. The flavor itself was pretty mild but I wouldn't get it again. I also don't like seafood much but then again had a cup of the chowder. It was an interesting take in that it had some parmesan cheese on it, croutons and old bay. It still was creamy and had a bunch of seafood and potatoes and to me was a very mid-atlantic take on the soup. Another was the band. They played at reasonable levels to me but I was on the other and not really needing to talk to anyone. They also played Michael Jackson, CeeLo, and Chris Brown rather than rock music so more enjoyable than normal. Another was the guy sitting next to me who was selling cell phones and was trying to connect service to someone who didn't have a SSN or TIN. Boost Mobile and Metro PCS. All sorts of things going on. Great vibe to the place - was like a barbershop that sold good food. Really good service by the bartender too - kept the water full.

Would definitely recommend coming to try especially if you like seafood. Or southern. Or just good food. I'm not sure if it is always this busy or not, but you may want to prepare to have some wait as I got there at 7:30 and there were no tables to be found. There is a dedicated carry-out entrance so that also may be an option. I feel my dish would be good after transit still so can see why people take advantage of that. Come check it out.

1020 Hull St
Richmond, VA 23224