The snow is still on the ground in DC – and the roads that are cleared are full of potholes. Run away to Richmond! That’s what we did and what a perfect solution. Once one gets through the Interstate 95 traffic (try going at weird times such as 10 a.m. on Monday and noon on Sunday and make certain you have an EZ Pass so you can take the fast lanes), it is worth the time in the car. (Our worst case was two and a half hours, our best was one and a half.)
There are multiple museums to see but a MUST is the VMFA – the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. At the moment, there is a fascinating Rodin exhibit that will be there until March and is definitely worth the trip. A permanent exhibit there is one that is a must if one loves horses – Paul Mellon’s British Sporting paintings and statues. It was a magical exhibit.
The place to stay is The Jefferson Hotel. It was recently refurbished and the rooms are wonderful with high ceilings, large dressing area and a modern and spacious bathroom. The service is exquisite and gracious. The bar, LeMaire, is a hot spot on Friday nights especially during happy hour – order the special Cosmos. T.J’s, which is open for breakfast every day, holds a massive and excellent Champagne Brunch on Sunday in what was the original Palm Court where alligators used to live in the pool. (The last one died in 1948 and his statue reclines in the front circular drive.) The first reservation is for 10:30 which one should take and then plan to stay for several hours and move from brunch to lunch. The choices are mind-blowing.
Richmond also is a town of wall murals. It seemed as if every block had a building with a beautiful or whimsical mural painted or chalked on the wall. It never stopped and they were fascinating. It’s worth another trip there to document them.
Although we ate at Edo’s Squid for lunch which is a second story dive type restaurant with big wooden tables and Blues music playing, but it has good food, and decent Italian wine by the glass and is a local hangout near VCU so it makes it fun. The portions are mammoth though so be prepared to split or take leftovers home. The fried squid and the oyster stew were very good.
The REAL FIND in Richmond is L’OPOSSUM, an amazing restaurant owned by David Shannon who is also the chef. David worked at Inn at Little Washington for eight years and then went on to a series of excellent culinary places such as the Ashby Inn before landing in Richmond and opening Dogwood Grille and now L’OPOSSUM. The atmosphere is whimsical and one feels as if they’ve stepped onto a movie set from Moulin Rouge. Cozy and warm even on a cold night, it is a packed house including standing room at the bar. A reservation is a must – and only dinner is served. There were six of us and no one had anything less than perfect. The first courses were: seared foie gras, grilled Caesar salad (the best I have ever had), Polyamorous Hippie Three-Way which is a black-eyed pea hummus with popadoms, and Les escargots with a ham biscuit. For the main we had Coq Au Morocco, a special pork chop, Swanky Mac and Cheese which has lobster in it, and Swellington which is David’s version of beef Wellington. It would be hard to pick the best but if one follows the theory that chicken is the true test of a chef, then David surpassed himself since the Coq Au Morocco was perfectly cooked and spiced and paired with Israeli couscous.
We will travel back to Richmond just to enjoy his food – again and again!