I decided it was finally time to try out a restaurant located on the corner of Park and Meadow (it’s like, the fifth since I’ve been in Richmond), and it was absolutely worth our time. We showed up around 12:44 and sat down at the counter in what was so far a half-full restaurant. The barstools are comfortable, but there’s presently no rail under the counter to rest your feet, so your shoes dangle as if you were a little kid. I was assured they’re planning to install a standard chrome wrap-around rail in the very near future.
The general decor was just right – everything felt carefully but not obsessively selected, with wall-hangings that included various decorative plates, posters, and what I believe was an illustration of jazz singer Nina Simone. Bead board covered eight feet of the height of the walls and the lighting was just enough to supplement the ample natural light coming in through the windows. I got a similar impression here as I did when Cafe Gutenberg was new years ago, and when I first walked in to Can Can – there’s a serious attention to detail here that can often bode well for the food itself.
And the food did not disappoint. Valerie ate the chicken salad sandwich with potato salad on the side and I had a croque madame. Valerie’s potato salad included (what I believe was) a homemade pickle slice. My croque madame had Black Forest ham and gruyere on tasty and crusty Italian bread with – get this – Mornay sauce instead of the simpler béchamel. This meant the addition of cheddar, gruyere, and Parmesan. We both ordered their “lemonade” which consisted of the juice of lemons squeezed right before our eyes, mint-infused simply syrup, and club soda. Wow! Refreshing and delicious.
By the time we finished our sandwiches, Garnett’s had filled up to capacity and some folks were standing by the door waiting to be seated – at 1:40 in the afternoon! We weren’t finished with our meal yet, so we ordered dessert. Valerie tried a slice of the Hummingbird Cake – a banana and pineapple cake with cream cheese frosting. It tasted like a well crafted banana bread with extra goodness from the pineapple. I ordered a slice of apple pie and they were kind enough to indulge this New Jersey boy’s request for a slice of cheddar cheese on top. The pie had clearly been cooked in a straight-sided pan, but this made for some fantastically thick, tender, and delicious crust at the corner. And it was a good sharp cheddar on top, too. I washed down the rest of my meal with a Boylan’s root beer.
Now for the interesting side details: I actually ordered a croque monsieur (no fried egg on top), and Valerie had actually ordered the smoked salmon sandwich, and we both received the wrong orders. Neither of us were the slightest upset about this because I didn’t mind a bonus fried egg, and Valerie loves chicken salad anyway. But when we were ready to pay and leave, the gentleman who was serving us insisted that we would not be charged for our meal. The whole thing. Even the stuff that had no mistakes. I felt bad about this – this was only their third day open, and I understand it can be difficult for new restaurants to become financially stable. And I really like this place! I want them to do well, so I wanted to pay for our meal (especially since we both really liked everything we ate). But he insisted with this condition: “Just come back.”
We will. And we’ll rave about it to everybody we know.