Farouk’s House of India…continuing the South’s love affair with curry.

According to several food historians (see my food book reviews), the South has a long standing love affair with curry brought to us compliments of 16th and 17th century pirates and sailors.

Farouk’ previous owners hailed from Bangladesh, and served the Carytown community for 40 years before selling to new owners who continue to serve up delicious northern Indian cuisine.  One of my favorite things about being American is that I live in a melting pot of cultures.  Our country is made up of immigrants from every corner of the world who bring their food and share it with their new neighbors.

Happily, I have a lunch buddy: fellow foodie- friend who loves trying new restaurants as much as I do.  We decided to give Farouk’s a try.  I say to our host:  Chhinda Sandhu, thank you.  Well done.  I’ll be back.

This time we enjoyed the free papadum with complementary onion relish, Vegetable Korma, Aloo Baingan and Garlic Naan.  My Korma was medium spice which struck the right balance of heat without frying the tastebuds.  The Aloo Baingan was a lovely flavorful curry of eggplant and potatoes. Of course the naan was the perfect tool to mop up the delicious sauces of our dishes.

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Little Sister…LuLu’s

Anyone driving through downtown Richmond can’t help but notice the rampant renovation of our parks, roads, buildings, bus stops that makes it difficult to frequent many of our favorite businesses.  Let me say that LuLu’s on 17th Street is worth the effort.  Eventually, the 17th Street Farmer’s Market will emerge as a beautiful park like oasis nestled between charming restaurants, cafes, diners and small businesses, flanked by the historic Main Street train station.  But for now, it looks like your teenager’s bedroom.

That said, my husband and I searched open table for a nearby brunch spot that would take reservations.  We love Millie’s, but they don’t take reservations for weekend brunch.  We didn’t want to get up early to be at the head of the line, or wait an hour in the rain. As many times as I have walked past or down 17th street, I have not noticed LuLu’s. This was our first foray into this little cozy neighborhood hideaway.  Our waitress described it as Millie’s little sister.  It opened not long after Millie’s and welcomed  big sister’s overflow. Not surprising, since both serve hearty fare with elegance and imagination.  However, Little Sister takes reservations which is a beautiful thing for those of us who like to plan ahead and avoid a long wait. I love how LuLu’s incorporates artwork of the Main Street train station and mirrors the industrial feel of the train station and old neighborhood warehouses in Shockoe Bottoms. lulusrichmond.com

Enough about landscape.  Let’s talk food. This time we chose the Pomegranate Mule, good strong coffee, green tea, Shockoe Florentine, Huevos Rancheros, and the Red Velvet Shortcake…all full of flavor and flare.

The Mule was the perfect brunch cocktail: tasty, but not too boozy.  The Shockoe Florentine offered a perfectly poached egg:tender white and the yolk, when broken cascaded it’s lovely yellow goodness over the potatoes, English muffin laden with Serrano ham, and spinach, mixing with the creamy pimento cheese sauce. So delicious!

My husband enjoyed his Huevos Rancheros and strong black coffee.  I could not resist the Red Velvet waffle shortcake.  I am glad I gave into temptation.  The waffle was fluffy and tender, yet able to hold up to the rich cream cheese filling and strawberries, sauce and whipped cream topping without becoming soggy.

We will definitely return to try more of the brunch offerings and give dinner a try as well.

 

 

Ya Ya’s Cookbook…the best bite before or after a movie

Soon after I began this blog, I decided that I would only share the places I enjoyed.  Ratatouille’s dreaded food critic, Anton Ego I am not.   I am more of a food enthusiast.  It’s been a couple of months since I felt enthusiastic about one of the Richmond eateries we’ve explored, but Ya Ya’s Cookbook is definitely worthy of enthusiasm.

My mom and I decided to catch the last matinee at the Short Pump Regal movie theater, but we got the time wrong and came about an hour early.  We didn’t want to indulge in the usual movie fare of popcorn, soda and candy.  Two Guys Pizza is good, but we weren’t feeling that.  Johnny Rocket’s burgers, shakes and fries, while delicious, too heavy for late afternoon.  But then, cue the angel choir, we noticed a new place beside the movie theater!  The outdoor chalkboards lured us in.

The atmosphere, like the menu, is eclectic Asian.  After living in China and traveling in Thailand and Vietnam, I have an appreciation for Asian street food and Ya Ya’s offers variety without overwhelming with too many choices. The glass top tables, artwork, bicycle tables, industrial decor give a nod to several Asian cultures in a whimsical way.

The avocado rolls and fried spring rolls were the perfect before the show snack.

avocado rolls, fried spring rollsNext time, I’m saving my ticket stub for half priced apps. after the show!

DINAMO…hidden treasure

On 821 West Cary Street, nestled between homes, small businesses and the VCU campus you’ll find a hidden treasure of homemade pasta…DINAMO.  dinamorichmond.com Dinamo is a tiny spot that seats maybe 30 people at once, so if you want to eat there, better make reservations complements of opentable.com.

Accompanied by a fellow foodie friend, I enjoyed the sleek but still charming atmoshphere and superb homemade pasta dishes.

The menu offered a bounty of fabulous choices, making choosing difficult.

Wedding Soup:bread

I opted to begin my meal with the traditional Wedding Soup served with fresh baked bread…divine. My friend chose the tagliatelle with eggplant and I chose the calamari & shrimp with squid ink fettuccine.  Both excellent choices.  The generous portions provided enough for a second meal via our take home boxes.

Now, I must confess, that we both felt duty bound to indulge in at least two of Dinamo’s dessert  options.  I mean, in the interest of thorough investigation an all.   Tiramisu and Limoncello Tart…worth every calorie.

 

It’s Been A While…

Wow! It’s been a while since my last blog.  Transitions are exciting, energizing and exhuasting all at once.  Our eldest daughter moved Minneapolis for her first official post graduate professional job, and naturally, we helped her make the move.  Our youngest daughter is now a high school senior…pictures, college applications, “lasts” in choir, field hockey, school dances, homecomings… you get the picture.  Not much time for new dining experiences.

However, a good breakfast is a great way to begin a school day, so my youngest daughter introduced me to one of her favorite breakfast haunts:  Pit and Peel on Cary St.  I can see why she loves meeting her friends there for a pre-school breakfast.  The Acai bowl is her personal favorite, but I am an eggs for breakfast person myself, so I chose the Popeye breakfast sandwich. Both are beautiful and delicious!

The Jefferson Hotel: Virginian Elegance

The Jefferson Hotel is a classic example of Richmond’s brand of Virginian elegance. The lobby hosts a regal likeness of its namesake in an atmosphere that honors both Jefferson’s love of all things French and his native home.

The hotel offers two restaurants of equal elegance. TJ’s offers more casual dining fare in an atmosphere of understated elegance.  Lemaire offers classic French cuisine in an atmosphere of formal elegance.

Both offer the perfect setting for celebrations.  TJ’s is the only place I found in Richmond that offers eggs Benedict on its daily breakfast menu.  Since eggs Benedict is our eldest daughter’s favorite breakfast, it seemed a fitting start to our day of shopping to prepare for her launch into her first adult professional post in Minneapolis.  She chose the vegetarian version of eggs Benedict and I opted for the Rivah omelette which includes one of Virginia’s best ingredients: crab.

Later that week we chose the Lemaire to celebrate my and my husband’s birthdays.  The pickled watermelon salad, heirloom tomato salad and crab cake opened the meal with summer’s bounty. The plates were beautiful, full of enticing texture and flavor combinations and just the right size to wake the appetite.

Our main courses, cooked to perfection, were equally beautiful, delicious and satisfying.  Beef tenderloin with duck fat potatoes, asparagus, crispy shallot, watercress, dijon Demi-glace; thyme roasted cobia with parsnips, garlic confit, tuscan kale, Surry county sausage and carrot butter; organic free-range chick breast with Yukon gold potatoes, shiitake, grilled scallion, chicken leg confit and parmesan cream; and open lasagna with vegetable ratatouille of beech mushrooms, marinated olives and ricotta salata with squash coulis were our choices.

No birthday celebration is complete without a sweet ending. Our finale consisted of  a cheese and fruit plate; lemon/raspberry tart; flourless chocolate cake/caramel mousse and a  creme brûlée’.

Lemaire successfully reminded us that food truly is edible art.

MIJAS…Carlos Londono’s tribute to his daughters

Richmond Restauranteur, Carlos Longdono’s newest offering of Central American cuisine is Mijas Mexican Kitchen and Cantina.  Located in Shockhoe Slip in the former La Grotta location of 1218 E. Cary St., Mijas is upscale without being stuffy.  I loved the white linen tablecloths, chandeliers, and Mexican artwork.

Service is attentive and friendly, but not intrusive.  We started with drinks and Mejas Mexi Rolls.  My husband had a couple Dos XX Lagers and I had the divine Pina Colada.  The Pina Colada was so delicious that I saved it for dessert.  The Mexi Rolls were a tasty spin on a traditionally Asian appetizer.  The cilantro sauce truly made them exceptional.  We leisurely enjoyed our drinks, appetizers and chips/salsa without being rushed into the main course.  We appreciated that our waiter held the entree order until we finished our appetizer, honoring our request to let us take our time.

I was tempted by the delicious laditos (sides), but I am glad that I resisted this time because our platos portions were generous.

My husband chose the grilled pibil (pork cooked in banana leaves) tacos and I chose the pibil entree’.  The fried plantains were especially delicious and the pickled onions atop the rich pork and rice provided just the right touch of bright acidity.  I will say that I took more than half of the plate home to share the next day with our daughter.

Next time, I think we will share an entree and try some of the those tempting laditos, and maybe leave room for Flan, Tres Leches, or Pots de Creme.