Teachers get a lot of flack for our wonderful breaks. I try to remind those that laud this over me that yes, it’s nice, but that I literally pay for it. I have a Masters degree plus about 40 extra graduate credit hours and am currently working toward another Masters degree which will allow me to make a lateral move. That’s a $14,000 degree for NO EXTRA MONEY! Does that happen when people get MBA’s? No? I didn’t think so.
And, that will be the only and last bitterness you see about me and my real career. I love what I do and that is why this brilliant brain stays in a tiny salary trying to make a difference in the world- it’s love, connection, passion. But, the rant explains that when other people don’t invite me/ pay for my travel and lodging, well, it’s Staycation time.
So, this week, Spring Break- Richmond, you’re on tap for some new places and good eats.
Monday– Dairy Bar
Reportedly around since 1946, I’ve never been nor even heard people discuss this place. It’s in a part of Richmond called Scott’s Addition which is seeing a boom of resurgence. If had the money (ahem, teacher) I would have bought property over here a few years ago and done something awesome like The Urban Farmhouse or convert a warehouse into a living, working, baking space. Investors? Investors? Bueller?
My massive breakfast was delicious and exactly what I needed as I walked in hungry. I ordered “Buy The Farm” hurriedly as it was 10:25 and breakfast stops at 10:30. I didn’t fully read the description and just saw “three eggs, sausage, side of silver dollar pancakes.” I kinda knew I was in trouble when the waitress ask me about “grits, apples, hash browns” then “toast or biscuit.” I didn’t ask and simply thought these things were replacing the pancakes and I let it go.
Then this arrived.
I ate it all. As I said, I walked in hungry.
Tuesday– Breakfast=Early Bird Biscuit Company
This place is a favorite and so it isn’t new, but I’ve never written about it and it deserves write-ups galore. Welcome to biscuit paradise. I have a staple order, Biscuits and Crazy. Next to my dad’s, this is the best sausage gravy around. It’s super pepper ladened which warms my heart a great deal. I think I could drink pepper.
This place is the new age old school. The furniture and decor call to the 1920s and 30s with hand cranked butter churners and an ice box, yet most, if not all, of the wait staff and owner are heavily tattooed. The neon butter sign is my favorite thing here. It beckons you so simply yet so seductively. Butter.
The biscuits here are almost too perfect. It’s as if they are paid to rise to perfection with a crunch on the outside and pillowy, billowy, cotton ball insides. While the recipe for these are in the 804ork vol. 2 cookbook, mine never turn out like this. And it’s a consistent bake in the store. I’ve never seen the biscuits look different, never have those browned spots been imperfectly placed across the rise of the square biscuit. Early bird has perfected the rise, the browning, and the texture. This is biscuit heaven.
Lunch= Akido in the Fan
After an awesome trip to Marshall’s where I snagged this pined over light up sign, I was hungry again. Shocker! But, two meals out is a lot for me. I eat at home 99.9% of the time. While I’ll be trying some tasty places this week, I certainly am not trying to do it for every meal. Still, all I could think was sushi.
I haven’t been to Akido in years. It’s great, simple sushi made to order and in my neighborhood. There really is no reason I don’t eat here weekly. It think I may need to start.
I got this lunch to go to eat at home with my dog sniffing and begging beside me. She loves seafood, but let’s just say that seafood doesn’t love her. She also ran off my porch while I was shooting this little set up. She keeps me on my toes.
That miso tho!
Dinner- Shields Market
Richmond has an amazing district called The Fan. I live near it, yet it seems a world away sometimes. The streets make the shape of a fan, hence the name, and there are row houses upon row houses upon row houses. And they are all gorge. Nestled among the houses are high end restaurants, bars, and neighborhood stores, our version of the NYC bodega. I rarely frequent these as they are super expensive, but it’s nice to shop local from time to time. I dropped in to Shields Market on my way home from an Instagram shindig at Boketto Wellness.
Richmond can be the best kind of food palace that satisfies the biggest food conosieur. I mean, what corner store has on tap olive oil and kombucha? It’s times like these I wish I had a different paycheck.
My haul included a greek salad for dinner, local bacon which I’ve never seen before (with no nitrites!), shallots for an Ottolenghi recipe I’ve been craving, and some of that local black raspberry kombucha. You know, typical corner store fare.
Wednesday– Lunch-= Sen Organic
After a decadent day of eating through my city yesterday, I had decided to stay home and cook and bake all day. Then a college friend and fellow teacher asked if I wanted try a new restaurant in Carytown. What’s my answer? Always- yes!
Sen Orgranic is self described as Vietnamese/ French fusion. I order a Banh Mi with pork belly sausage. It was delicious dipped into the sauce leftover from a shared appetizer called a Golden Roll, also delicious. The best part about the Banh Mi was the roll. It was crispy and tender and perfect. The best thing about the Golden Roll was that the traditional way to eat it is to wrap it in lettuce and mint. Awesome!
My one critique is that the menu repeated the word, “organic” over and over. It’s in the name of the restaurant and uttered by the waiter as you’re seated. We don’t need to have it litter the ingredient list when perusing the menu. Tiny nuisance. Also, I couldn’t find where the french is fused.
Lunch Desert= Bev’s Ice Cream
It’s a Carytown staple and recently reopened after a fire. On a warm spring day when you’re walking to and from your lunch stop and your home, well, you indulge. Behold Carrot Cake ice cream in a sugar cone. When carrots re in your ice cream, it’s basically a vegetable serving.
Home Delivery= Dominion Harvest
I’ve subscribed to this service for a few years. It’s exciting to get locally grown, organic, fresh veggies, eggs, and cheese delivered to your door. I get a biweekly delivery. This was today’s haul. Time to get back in the kitchen.
Thursday- Pre-Breakfast= Red Cap Patisserie
John, who helped me at the counter, is possibly the sweetest patisserie person I’ve ever met. Well, considering this is RVA’s first patisserie, he might be the only one I’ve met. This spanking new bakery is right smack dab across the sweet from Sauer’s Spices. You know, the home of Duke’s mayonnaise. Did you know when they are bottling the vanilla, you can smell it in the air as you drive by? It’s kinda magical.
The official grand opening is April 15, but they are doing a few days of a soft opening. John confessed that they’re happy they are having a trial run as they’ve already learned a ton.
I grab an almond croissant that has just come out of the oven. They are warm, billowy, and gorgeous. John confesses they are his current favorite. Then I get a hand pie with pork, plum, and pear. Again, John confirms this is his favorite as well. This makes me think I have exceptional taste. Don’t I, though?
This was a pre-breakfast stop so these treats will wait for small tastings later and as you’ll see below- much, much later. Update- TO DIE FOR! The almond croissant thing is life. I need to move closer to this place. Or work there.
Breakfast= The Fancy Biscuit
The mason jars for drinks, the impossibly fluffy biscuits, caramel sauce paired with salty ham- all these things may mean that the fancy biscuit is my biscuit spirit animal.
Why, you are asking yourself did you, Anna, order three HUGE signature biscuits when you are eating alone. Well, I’ll tell you. First, I eat. Like CHOWdown eat. Second, I was peering at a table with two young, skinny women who had six plates in front of them. I wandered over and asked what they had ordered and what they liked best. They impressed upon me that I must get everything especially since it was buy 2, get 1 signature biscuit day. How could I disagree with such youth and beauty? I willfully complied.
Oh heaven. The caramel and salty ham. I. Just. Can’t. Even. Describe. It. For some reason I was thinking the caramel sauce was like a glaze or a syrup. Nope, people this is the caramel sauce that Shyndigz uses on their ever so sweet cakes. Put some southern salty ham with that and a pillowy biscuit and well, just die. DIE!
The sausage gravy had to be tried as well because, as I mentioned, I eat and I’m southern, and sausage gravy. Really, there is no explanation for this order. Again, delicious with a slightly sweet maple flavor that hides under all the butter and milk of the gravy. I have a feeling it’s maple in the sausage they use.
That fired chicken on a biscuit. You. GUYS! I’ve now found my local version of my cousin owned Charleston eatery, Boxcar Betty’s. I’m a sucker for some thick, crunchy, well-fried chicken. Put that on a fluffy biscuit with some tart, sweet pickles and course dijon and I’m sold!
I’m sold on the Fancy Biscuit. The citrus flavored water self-serving stations alone are enough to win me over, but then the decor and the biscuits and the fancy and well, I swoon. Baby, shine me up, slap a dress on me, and let’s make our biscuits fancy!
Dinner= The Hardshell Bellgrade
Old teacher friends and seafood go together like sharpened pencils and and a just printed worksheet. Ha.
Raw oysters are a favorite of mine and yet I eat them about once every year. While Richmond boasts some great raw bars and great access to really good oysters, I just never think about splurging on this ocean sent delicacy. But, Spring Break calls for decadence and after biscuits and pastry today, there needed to be no carbs in my evening meal. These oysters were great, but could have done with better cleaning as there was grit in more than one bite.
Then, a salad, for health and balance after that morning gluttony.
Friday– Dinner= The Union Market
Richmond is peppered with amazing neighborhoods. The history hear is steep and sometimes raucous. Church Hill is been on the path of resurgence for more than a decade, but Union Market may be the evidence that the complete turn is nearing and nearing sooner and sooner.
Church Hill holds the church where Patrick Henry gave his famous freedom speech. The row houses hear are grand and some have the best views the city can offer. In fact, Church Hill is the only spot that truly looks down Richmond and it’s downtown skyline. We are a pretty flat city.
Union Market is a gathering place for the posh. It’s a corner market for those who’ve run out of the Meyer’s dish soap. It sells high end kim-chi and Nightingale’s ice cream amongst other Richmond based small business luscious treats. The kitchen makes sandwiches served with a small house salad, but even the Tarragon Chicken on ciabatta has avocado and a slather or sweet fig jam. It’s like the tarragon was so 1990’s that sweet jam was invited to the party.
Union Market has a strong Instagram game which I drool over on a weekly basis. Today, they beckoned me with this cheese dip that was everything I had hoped. Served with crostini, the gooey goodness had bits of jalopeno. I loved it so much that I ran out of dip before I ran out of crostini.
Luckily, this impossibly cute mini pom was graced with a few leftover crostini nibbles.
Saturday- Breakfast= South of the James Farmer’s Market- The Kitchenette
Nearly every Saturday, I take my dog and go to the farmer’s market There is nothing in this world like a fresh tomato and farmer’s markets are the best place to find them. We’re months away from those juicy red orbs making my life sing, but South of the James is open year round and they have sausage biscuits and the BEST doughnuts in the WORLD. But, this morning, I did not get either of those.
I waited in a semi-short line for a bagel that I have eyed for years from the cutest little food truck around, The Kictchenette. The line is usually double what it was this morning and even though this was the most packed I’ve seen the market in weeks, it only took 30 minutes for this cream cheese laden concoction to reach my hands.
It’s the micro greens. The micro greens are what I’ve been eyeing for so long. The is the Works Bagel, but you can customize it a bit. I choose a pumpernickel bagel and smoked salmon and scallion cream cheese, the capers and the rest are standard fare.
And it was delicious. A tad salty, but the bagel was smooth, soft, and crunchy in the right places and despite a lot of topping, I could taste the smoked salmon. A well made beauty, as you can see.
Snack= Red Cap Patisserie
I went back for the grand opening. I mean, those almond croissants were just too much. This time, I was given a cinnamon stick as I walked in, an grand opening gift. Flaky, tender, crunchy, cinnamon-y, and sweet perfection. So good.
Lunch= Home Sweet Home
Another last minute friend request for grilled cheese. My answer- Always, YES!
This place calls itself a grilled cheese pub. Who. Wouldn’t. Adore. This? Each grilled cheese comes with a side of housemate tomato soup. Call your childhood cafeteria lunch, it’s got a grownup version.
My friend ordered a grilled pimento cheese on white bread. Plain Jane, I like to call her. My grill had tasso ham, green tomatoes, fontina, and an over easy egg. The bread was perfectly buttered and browned. The soup was like campbell’s with an upgrade. I ate mine and my friends, she’s a picky eater and didn’t even try it. She’s missing out on so much.