Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Deep Run Roadhouse

12377 Gayton Road
Henrico, VA

                Recently opened by Alamo BBQ’s former owner, Deep Run Roadhouse offers up all of the same great bbq as Alamo and then some but it lacks the charm and atmosphere that really made me fall in love with Alamo BBQ.
                Located in the far west end of Richmond near Shortpump, Deep Run Roadhouse is housed in a dinky old nondescript shopping center hidden amongst large subdivisions and across the street from what is probably the most ghetto area in Shortpump. Inside, the restaurant could be any other “fancy” bbq restaurant.  One wall inside is a huge chalkboard with the menu written on it and on the other wall is a large cashiers counter where you place your order.  Just like Alamo, the menu is Tex-mex BBQ with a variety of smoked meats, which can be served as tacos, burritos, sandwiches and just by themselves. The only additional Items on the menu that I noticed were potato wedges, pork chops and burgers. The rest of the menu is identical to Alamo’s. 
                I ordered a fish taco and a fajita burrito with smoked rope sausage and both items were fantastic.  The fish was flaky and topped with their incredible southwest slaw. It very well may be the best fish taco in Richmond. The burrito was loaded with smoky rope sausage, rice, beans, cheese, grilled onions and peppers.  With a little bbq sauce the burrito blew.  The food was perfection.
                The décor and the atmosphere was nice and very subdued but it really lacked the personality that makes Alamo BBQ what it is. It seemed a little stuffy for a place that calls itself a “Roadhouse” but to be fair they are catering to the high end Shortpump crowd while Alamo generally feeds the grungy Church Hill Hipsters. ..
                In the end, the only thing that really matters is the food and the food at Deep Run Roadhouse is outstanding!

Jimmy’s Grille

16 Goodrich Ave.
Petersburg, VA 23805

In the Walnut Hill area of Petersburg off of South Crater Road hides Jimmy’s Grille, a “high end” diner that you would never see unless you know where it is or if you get lost. Jimmy’s Grille is actually a Petersburg tradition that has been around for tears but has stayed hidden in plain sight. 

Jimmy’s Grille is smartly decorated with well painted walls and stylish pictures and furnishing but do not let the looks deceive you because at its heart Jimmy’s is a dinner, it just has a little bit of lipstick on.  Jimmy’s menu is what gives it away, from hot dogs all the way to grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers, it serves classic dinner food in a classy way. The menu reads like Andrew’s Grill or Quick lunch but the décor is more like Longstreet’s and Croaker’s Spot. 

I ordered the dinner classic two hot dogs all the way with slaw. This included chili, onions and mustard topped with sweet and creamy cole slaw.  It is almost impossible to beat a well done slaw dog and Jimmy’s does it just about as good as anybody.  The hot dogs were plump, juicy and just a little bit burned, topped with meaty chili, fresh onions and classic yellow mustard, the flavors danced harmoniously across my palette with no one flavor taking the lead. 

I can’t say that Jimmy’s is any better or any worse than the other handful of little dinners in the tri-cities, it’s just different.  But I can say that if you are in the mood for classic dinner food but want to enjoy it in an actual restaurant atmosphere, with a waitress and without the heat and sound of a flat top then Jimmy’s Grille is the place the place to go.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Antonio’s Sub Café

14079 Patrick Henry Hwy
Amelia Court House, VA 23002

Who would’ve ever guessed that one of the best subs I’ve ever eaten would come from a little sub shop in Amelia County, but on a recent trip to Amelia that turned out to be just the case.

Antonio’s Sub Café is a small place nestled next to a closed Movie Scene store in a dinky shopping center in Amelia.  If you don’t get stopped at the stop light in front of it you may never even notice it. Inside, the place is just as simple; random decorations on the walls, nondescript chairs and tables and a menu of subs written on chalk boards and random pieces of paper on the wall behind a large counter that takes up most of the restaurant.  Among the typical selection of subs was one that really peaked my interest, The Sicilian.  It came with pancetta, salami, roasted red peppers, and freshly sliced mozzarella then topped with oregano and balsamic vinaigrette and finally toasted. 

Antonio himself took my order, a no nonsense Italian guy who obviously has a knack for making great subs.   In about 10 minutes my sub was freshly prepared and came out hot, crispy, and perfect.  The quality and the freshness of the ingredients really made this sub shine.  Everything worked perfectly together, the salty meats, the delicious thick slices of mozzarella and the thick sweet balsamic vinaigrette.  This sub was perfect but what really set it off was the high quality balsamic vinaigrette that added the perfect amount of sweetness to the sub.  After eating it I was truly speechless because all I was hoping for was something slightly better than a McDouble at the McDonald’s across the parking lot.   

If you are ever in Amelia, I suggest you stop by Antonio’s Sub Café and order the Sicilian. Actually order two and bring the other one to someone who you love;  they will definitely enjoy it more than flowers.  You will both thank me!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Crab Dump

4412 West Hundred Rd
Chester, VA 23831

            I met my brother for lunch last week and we decided to check out the Crab Dump in Chester. While the name leaves a good bit to be desired, the place was actually pretty good. Located in a dinky little shopping center on Rt. 10, the Crab Dump is a small hole in the wall with nautical decoartions, brightly colored walls, and two huge crab claws hanging over the doorway, which actually look a lot cooler than I can describe here. There are maybe 10 tables inside with 4 chairs at each. The menu is exactly what you would expect at a place called the Crab Dump, Seafood.

            While the places specializes in “crab dumps”, steam pots filled with whatever type of seafood you want with corn, sausage and potatoes, we decided to stick to the much less expensive lunch and sandwich menu. Before I saw the daily specials I was torn between the Surf and Turf Crab Burger and the Oyster Po’ Boy.  But after my brother mentioned the lunch specials written on a board on the wall I decided on the less expensive Crabby Patties, 4 miniature crab cakes served with house made remoulade sauce for $5.99 and Alex ordered the $5.99 Scallops and fries. We also started out with Fried Mozzarella Sticks for $3.99.

            In no time we had 4 Mozzarella Sticks served on a paper plate in front of us which disappointingly did not come served with marinara sauce. Even though they probably came from a bag, they were freshly fried and actually tasted very good.  Not long after we finished up the mozzarella sticks our meals were brought out.  Together my 4 broiled Crabby Patties made up at least one decent sized crab cake and $5.99 is a pretty good deal for a crab cake. Alex’s meal came with 4 huge sea scallops that were fried to perfection perched atop a basket of French fries.

            I really enjoyed my little Crabby Patties. They were delicious and perfectly cooked and had more crab in them than filler with a nice blend of seasoning and spices. The remoulade sauce was also very good with just a little bite to it. For some reason, Alex did not care for my Crabby Patties but he and I both loved his scallops.  They were fatty and juicy and fried just enough to keep the moister in. My Crabby Patties were great but the scallops were perfect!

            The Crab Dump has a horrible name and no ambiance at all but the food was pretty dang good and at least for lunch was extremely reasonably priced. You might not want to take a girl here on a first date but if you find yourself in Chester craving a cheap and tasty seafood lunch skip Captain D’s and head straight to The Crab Dump.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Wendy’s Flatbread Grilled Chicken Sandwich

        Slathered in sauce with large chunks of what I assume was some sort of "grilled" chicken.  The chicken may have been "grilled" but the flatbread was it. it was cold and limp.  The tomato and greens on the sandwich were practically non-existant and any flavor that they may have had was totally overwelmed by the globs of sauce.

         There were no redeeming qualities to this sandwich other than the fact that I had a free coupon for it.  I suugest getting a $1 McChicken from McDonalds before you think about getting this.  I honestly like Wendy's, but this flatbread monstrousity was the worst.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tasty Treat

658 N County Dr  
Wakefield, VA 23888


               On Rt. 460, right as you enter Wakefield is one of the best food secrets of Central Virginia. While everyone else traveling up and down 460 stops at Virginia Diner, (which by the way if you do go there, order the stewed tomatoes and carrot soufflé. You’re welcome!) the ones in the know stop at Tasty Treat for the one and only Fatback Burger. 

            Tasty Treat is by no means hidden nor do people not eat that, it’s just that the vast majority of people only know Wakefield for Virginia Diner. But if they would stop at Tasty Treat just a quarter of a mile earlier, they might add a new reason to talk about Wakefield.  Unlike Virginia Diner, you have to order at the window at Tasty Treat and the only place to sit is at picnic tables under a large tent out front. Even though it doesn’t have wait staff and air conditioning, Tasty Treat has one thing that nowhere else has… The Fatback Burger! 2 1/3 lb all beef patties, topped with Swiss cheese, chili, bacon, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, mustard, and jalapenos. The jalapenos are the only optional item.

            This burger is amazing. The 2 1/3 lb patties are well seasoned and extremely thick and juicy. The rest of the condiments only add to the deliciousness of the burger. They also flow perfectly together with no one item over powering the others. One would originally think that Swiss is a weird choice of cheese but it goes perfectly and goes to show the amount of thought that went into creating this crowning achievement of taste.

Once you figure out a way to fit the burger into your mouth you then have to keep at least a dozen napkins handy to clean your face as the on slot of delicious juices run down your chin. But incredibly, the burger usually stays intact until the last couple of bites which is in and of itself a marvel of engineering. With this being said, DO NOT EAT THE FATBACK WHILE TRYING TO DRIVE!  It is impossible without getting your clothes and the entire driver’s side of the car filthy and very possibly causing you to crash on this already treacherous road.

I will not waste your time reviewing anything else on the menu because unless you are a woman or a child there is no reason in the world to even considered ordering anything other than the Fatback Burger.

So the next time you’re on your way to the beach or Suffolk, stop by Tasty Treat and order a Fatback Burger, You (but not your waist line) will thank me.

Oh ya, by the way, they also have clean restrooms!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Croaker’s Spot

39 River St
Petersburg, VA 23803

            The much anticipated Croaker’s Spot finally opened in Downtown Petersburg a couple of month ago.

Located on a cobblestone street, Croaker’s Spot is situated on the bottom floor of a newly renovated apartment building. Inside, it is dark, rustic, and beautiful. Just about everything is wood with old timey decorations and pictures on the walls that truly appreciates and utilizes Petersburg’s rich heritage and history.

Because it is usually packed to the rafters (for good reason), we went for an early dinner on a Wednesday.  As we walked in, we were warmly greeted and quickly seated.  Our waitress showed up immediately to take a drink orders. As we awaited our drinks, we browsed the expansive menu. While I am usually leery of a large menu, Croaker’s Spot’s menu stayed focused on southern soul food with an emphasis on seafood. Everything on the menu sounded amazing, from the seafood chili and oyster po’ boy to the crab cakes and fried fish but I stuck to my favorite dish in the whole world, Shrimp and Grits.

            It was not long after we ordered that our very generous portions of food arrived all served with a brick of corn bread.  My shrimp and grits were delicious, large plump shrimp on top of ranch grits and topped in a creamy sauce. The flavors blended perfectly and the sweet but not too sweet corn bread brought the meal full circle. Amanda’s fried fish with peppers and their secret sauce was also delicious and perfectly cooked. The peppers and sauce added a flavor that I’ve never experienced with fried fish and it was awesome.
            Croaker’s Spot is now unarguably the best restaurant in Downtown Petersburg and it will hopefully be a game changer for Petersburg. Bringing people into the city and revitalizing the once magnificent Cockade City.  The food is impeccable, probably the best in the Tri-Cities area, the prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is great.
            I strongly recommend checking out Croaker’s Spot and actually all of the other restaurants in Petersburg. From Italian and Greek to Soul Food and Barbecue, Petersburg now has something for everyone.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hiram Haines’ Coffee and Ale House

Hiram Haines’ Coffee and Ale House
12 W Bank St
Petersburg, VA 23803

                Hiram Haines’ is probably the best kept secret in all of Petersburg. Just across Longstreet’s on Bank Street, Hiram Haines’ is an unassuming bookstore and restoration shop that actually serves amazing food and drinks.
                Its claim to fame is that Edgar Allen Poe stayed in the building on his honeymoon with his cousin/wife.  It is decorated in a macabre/ Poe theme with vintage books from floor to ceiling. On weekends, there is often live music.  The menu is quite limited but delicious; consisting of a few different sandwiches and a rotating selection of deserts, coffees and beer.
                Amanda and I ate at Hiram Haines’ on the night before my birthday.  We were the only people in the place except for the owner and our waitress.  Our waitress warmly greeted us and quickly brought us some menus and took our drink order.  I ordered a Crabby’s alcoholic ginger beer and the Poe Panini. Amanda ordered a glass of wine and the meatloaf sandwich. 
                Our drinks were promptly brought out and Crabby’s is now one of my favorite beers. Served over ice with a slice of lemon or lime, it tastes just like ginger ale.  After about 15 minutes of talking our food was ready.  My Panini was delicious, simple but good.  It was made with fresh, quality ingredients with a hot and crispy outside and a warm and soft inside.  While my Panini was good, Amanda’s meat loaf sandwich was amazing. A nice thick slice of homemade meatloaf served between two slices of sourdough bread and topped with pickles.  It was out of this world.          Since it was my birthday weekend, we split a piece of lemon marzipan cake.  I can’t sweat that it was homemade but it was fresh and tasted great. Neither overly tart nor overly sweet.
                The food at Hiram’s is great but the best part is honestly the atmosphere and the experience.  I’ve never been anywhere that has the same feel as Hiram’s. It is small and quite with a spooky macabeness that is very fun.  If you want a nice simple dinner with a great atmosphere check out Hiram’s for dinner.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Andrew’s Grill

6 W Washington Street
Petersburg, VA 23803


            Andrew’s Grill is nestled in between two pawn shops on the corner of Washington  and Sycamore in downtown Petersburg.  Only open for breakfast and lunch, you will often see a line of people out front grabbing lunch at the outdoor pickup window.  Inside there is a lunch counter with half a dozen chairs and about the same number of booths in the back.  The menu is very simple lunch counter fare; a couple of different breakfast items, hot dogs, hamburgers, bbq and fries.
            Amanda and I sat at the counter and both ordered 2 chili dogs with slaw;  split a large fry and a drink. In a couple of minutes we each had two hot dogs in front of us and a large plate of fries between us.   The hot dogs were not huge but they were not skimpy either. Andrew’s uses large red hot dogs and a typical chili dog comes topped with mustard, onions and chili and for about 50 cents extra we had ours additionally topped with slaw.  The hot dogs were delicious, juicy and flavorful. The chili was not spicy and also not too watery.  The cole slaw was thick and creamy.   I was very impressed with the chili dogs; they were what Quick Lunch in Hopewell’s used to be before it changed ownership. 
            The fries are your typical crinkle cut variety but they came directly out of the fryer so they were hot and crispy.  We asked for a side of mayonnaise which our waitress graciously gave us.  My only complaint at all was that the large drink with one refill was the size of the kids drink at any other restaurant but with that being said it was the perfect amount for Amanda and I. I guess that just goes to show you how ridiculous the sizes at fast food places have become.
            Overall, Andrew’s Grill was great and a perfect snap shot of vintage Petersburg.   The food was great and the service was excellent.  I strongly recommend  stopping by Andrew’s Grill and grabbing a chili dog or even a chili cheese burger for lunch.  Some times the simple things are the most delicious.