1 North Belmont

Valerie is zonked out in bed, but I can’t go to be right after a big meal, so I don’t feel bad staying up to write this post on Valentine’s Day.

Tonight Val and I had an 8:30 reservation for dinner at 1 North Belmont in the Museum District of Richmond. WOW.

This was one of the best dining experiences I’ve yet had in my short quarter century, and as I really do mean “experience” I’ll start with the service. One word sums up the staff, and that is attentive. I felt as if my wife and I were guests of the whole crew, each of whom made sure we were not without cocktail, bread, or water. The timing was perfect, neither rushing us through courses nor waiting too long to check on us. One gentleman in particular, Terry, was absolutely friendly without being intrusive while the bar tender was a master of his craft, personally delivering his alcoholic alchemy to our table.

And the drinks! We didn’t have many, but each of Val’s two Cosmos (with Grey Goose) was consistently perfect, while my Tanquaray No. Ten and Tonic was expertly mixed.

But we didn’t choose this restaurant for the service and mixology. Chef/proprietor Frits Huntjens crafts a frequently changing selection of impressive appetizers and entrées. Valerie and I both started out with the Bisque aux Fruits de Mer – seafood bisque. Our bowls were brought to our tables nearly empty at first. In each was placed a piece of jumbo lump crab meat, a shelled and deveined shrimp, fresh chopped tarragon, a drizzle of cream, and a small piece of cheese, I believe. A waiter then came to our table with a serving dish full of the bisque and ladled two generous scoops into each of our bowls. A few drizzles of Pernod were added to each bowl, and what a difference it made! I’ve had my share of bisque, but the liqueur really set off the expertly blended flavors of the lobster, shrimp, and crab.

Next came the beautifully presented main courses. Valerie chose the bacon-wrapped beef tenderloin which included a potato croquette and some wonderfully decorative and culinarily complimentary vegetables. I ordered the tuna.

Pardon me while I gush.

My amazing dinner consisted of pan-seared sashimi-grade Ahi tuna split by an asiago cheese crostini (what essentially looked like a rough-edged potato chip, but all broiled cheese) and served on a bed of creamy saffron risotto. To the side were some delicious roasted string beans and young carrots. Surrounding the fish was what really made my dinner, however – a ginger-infused beurre blanc sauce. Oh my. The tuna was fine on it’s own, but almost demanded to be dipped into this perfect creamy compliment. It’s easy to have too strong a ginger flavor present, but the balance was expert. Rarely has tuna tasted so incredible.

I could not, however, stop at dinner. I needed dessert. Valerie was mostly full at this point, but tasted some of my chocolate mouse. The dish was served in an edible chocolate cylinder with raspberry coulis drizzled across the plate. Amazingly fresh berries and freshly whipped cream joined the confection on the plate.

Were I a richer man, I would surely be a regular of this fine establishment rather than a once-a-year special occasion diner. I’m always tempted to experiment with the more adventurous luxury foods such as fois gras or sweetbreads, but at these prices my proletarian paycheck forces me to stick to the foods I’m confident I’ll enjoy. But oh my, did I enjoy this.

Cheers, and Happy Valentine’s Day, two minutes before midnight!

4 thoughts on “1 North Belmont

  1. You should be a food critic. If there has been one constant passion I’ve seen in you, is your love of food…although the not liking vegetables thing might not go over too well.

  2. Dude, I like vegetables. I’m just not fond of the common salad veggies like lettuce, onions, tomatoes, etc. And even then, I don’t mind certain veggies in preparation, like tomato sauce.I love the following veggies:green beans, string beans, peas, snow peas, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, corn, spinach, arugula, to name a bunch 🙂

  3. You hooker, you inspired me to go last night for my “valentines date”. It was very good, and yes Terry was a trip. While very good, I would say I have had better. The presentation and service were very good, and because of the team way in which they serve it was difficult to tell who our waiter was. I had the steak in applewood bacon, the bisque, but no desert. I was impressed but I don’t know if I’d spend that much money for it again. Than again, I’m insatiable.

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