Lovin’ Local – Two Richmond Restaurants I Recommend

by on August 27, 2011

I like to cook, which means I tend to do it often. I almost never buy breakfast out, unless I’m traveling. I eat lunch at home almost everyday. And dinners are usually at home as well. It saves money and we typically eat healthier meals than we would if were to eat out. This isn’t to say I don’t like going to restaurants and enjoying good food, because i definitely do. When we do go out to eat we like to make it special. We skip the chain restaurants and go to local places that have good service and quality food that tastes delicious.

This past week was different from the norm (not just because we had an earthquake and are now enduring a hurricane!) but because I ended up eating dinner out almost every night:

  • Whole Foods cooking demo on Monday
  • Dinner date with new friend on Tuesday
  • Dinner with friends that are moving to Boston on Thursday
  • Out to dinner with Isaac on Friday

Not so great for my wallet or waistline, but it was definitely a fun week. All the places I ate at were local and the meals I had on Monday, Thursday and Friday made up for the lackluster meal I had on Tuesday. <– I’m not even going to go into it.

Without further ado, here’s two lovely restaurants in Richmond that I would recommend:

The first is Mezzanine. The owners partner with local farmers and fisherman to bring fresh ingredients into their kitchen everyday. Their innovative menu changes seasonally so there’s always something new to try. The menu is posted on a few chalkboards at their restaurant and also listed on the Mezzanine FB page.

Isaac and I have been to Mezzanine once before for our anniversary almost 3 years ago so we were excited to try it again. On Thursday night we dined with a group of friends and everyone thoroughly enjoyed their meals. The lighting wasn’t so great but I snapped a few photos of what I ate.

The gazpacho soup with crab:

gazpacho with crab.JPG

The soup was cool and refreshing but had a nice bite of heat from the spices. I’d never had crab meat in gazpacho but it was actually really good!

For my entree, I ordered the Green Curry Quinoa Cake small plate. I was a little worried that the portion would we tiny but as it turns out, it was a good amount of food and I ended up having to take a portion home with me.

green curry quinoa cake 1.JPG

I’ve made quinoa cakes before so I was pretty sure I was going to love this. It did not disappoint!

green curry quinoa cake.JPG

I loved the spiciness of the green curry used to flavor the quinoa and the cake was cooked to perfection – both dense and crispy. The sweet chili glaze and sauteed broccolini, carrots and oyster mushrooms tied the dish together beautifully. Just writing this makes me want to go order this for dinner again. :)

Moving on to Friday night, I got off work and wasn’t in the mood to cook so we decided to try out a newly opened Greek restaurant called Stella’s. It’s actually not a brand new restaurant as Stella’s was once a beloved restaurant on Main St. in downtown Richmond that closed in 2005 when Stella retired. I never had a chance to eat at the original Stella’s but after hearing buzz about how amazing the food was, I knew I needed to try the new restaurant, which was opened just this month by Stella’s daughter, Katrina.

stellas richmond.JPG

The new Stella’s is located in a quaint little space off of Lafayette St. and it was packed last night. Luckily, we got there relatively early for dinner and didn’t have to wait for a table.

stellas table.JPG

stellas dinner menu.JPG

Everything on the extensive menu looked delicious and I was pleasantly surprised to see a few vegan choices.

To start Isaac and I shared a bowl of the lentil soup.

lentil soup.JPG

Definitely the best lentil soup I have ever tasted. It was more tomato based than most lentil soups, which I really liked. You could tell it had been cooking for hours based on the way the large pieces of garlic melted in your mouth.

For my entree, I had the black kale salad. It included organic black tuscan kale, kasseri cheese, almond slices, fresh lemon, a champagne dijon dressing and dusting of kefalograviera, a sheep’s milk cheese.

black kale salad.JPG

Overall, I really enjoyed the salad. Although I will admit I had salad envy when the table next to us received their Greek salad packed with veggies. It looked amazing and mine was heavy on the cheese. I think I would have liked it a tiny more if there was less cheese and some other veggies included.

black kale salad.JPG

Isaac was going to get the traditional moussaka with ground beef but was a sweetie and got the artichoke moussaka so I could try it. :) Layers of artichoke heart, potato, fennel, caramelized onion & sauteed eggplant, baked with bechamel, topped with grated cheese.

moussaka.JPG

The veggies were cooked to perfection and the bechamel made it rich, creamy and a little sweet. Isaac and I both really enjoyed it!

With dinner Isaac had a Stella Artois, which is the only beer Stella’s has on tap, and I had a glass of red wine. I hadn’t planned on drinking but an EBF reader was in the restaurant and offered to buy me a drink. I couldn’t turn down an offer that generous so I ordered a glass of Pinor Noir and enjoyed every sip. (Thanks Roy!)

red wine.JPG

Overall, we’ve had some great dining experiences at local restaurants this week and I’ll definitely be visiting both Mezzanine and Stella’s again soon! If you’re local, definitely check them out.

Do you like eating out at local restaurants or do you stick with chain restaurants so that you know what you’re going to get?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Cara August 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Wow that food looks amazing. I also prefer to eat in for every meal. I feel so much grosser when I eat out often. At least it makes me crave veggies more the next day?

Reply

Gina @ Running to the kitchen August 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I’m the same way, hardly ever eat out unless I’m traveling, which I do a lot for work. I refuse to eat at chain restaurants unless absolutely necessary. My coworkers know I’m crazy like that and usually comply :) The crab in that gazpacho is such a good idea!

Reply

Don August 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Great suggestions! Thanks and I can’t wait to take my wife to both places – we love Greek cuisine. And, as a recommendation, have you tried Havana 59? Great atmosphere, excellent food, and some of the best service I’ve ever experienced.

Reply

Eating Bird Food August 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I have been to Havana, but only for drinks. I’ll have to check out the food next time I go! Thanks for the recommendation.

Reply

Marianne August 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I love going out to eat at unique restaurants around the city. I do have some local chain restaurants that I also frequent, as they have higher quality food and great atmosphere. Most of them are considered “casual fine dining”, and it’s a very popular restaurant style on the west coast – probably due to our laid back attitude. If somewhere has good food, good prices, and is fun to visit, I’ll go regardless of whether they are a chain or not. And fortunately Vancouver has plenty of restaurants that fit the bill :)

Reply

Corey @ Learning Patience August 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm

Never eat at chain places…unless there are no other choices! Love the local, cute places.. xoxo from Trinidad

Reply

Lauren @ What Lauren Likes August 27, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I love eating at local joints! They always have something new and interesting to offer! THese places sound great :)

Reply

Megan@eatmybeets August 28, 2011 at 8:20 am

I’ve bee to mezzanine once and loved it as well! But I’ve actually never heard o stella’s. I’ll have to look into that…

Reply

Nicole August 28, 2011 at 9:27 am

I usually try to avoid chain restaurants so that I can eat at local ones. Their food is usuually a ton better!

Reply

Ashley August 28, 2011 at 11:08 am

I always to go to local restaurants cause the food is usually tastier and healthier but sometimes I just have to get me some Chipotle. :)

Reply

Courtney August 31, 2011 at 8:57 am

We tried Mezzanine a year or so ago and were unimpressed, but maybe we should give it another try.

Luckily, we live literally one block from Stella’s and just got around to trying it last week. I got the stuffed grape leaves and the hummus/tabbouli plate, and my husband got some lamb dish. Mine was excellent, his was so-so (according to him, since I didn’t taste his). However, the baklava for dessert was to die for! Best I have had since I moved to Richmond. Oh, and they allow corkage which was a huge plus for us so we’ll definitely be going back again.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: