Keeping with the times, some more cheap eats....
Yearning for some "real" Lebanese food after some trips to Azizas on Main (recently a bit unsatisfactory but more on that later), made me think of yet another place that I feel is a bit of a hidden gem in RVA. More of a grocery store than a restaurant, it nonetheless has some of the simplest and tasty mediterranean (area) food around. The eponymous deli on meadow street just off broad street has long been a good place to get halal meat and well priced olives, dolmades, pickled vegetables and flat bread. But the deli is suprisingly good and strangely off the radar. No atmosphere to speak of (although they usually have a melodious muezzin on their speakers) and just a handful of chairs and tables but after trying some of the offerings here, I think its a terrific place to stop and get a quick bite of some authentic middle eastern food. I guess the best part of the falafel sandwich and the shawarmas has been the wonderful garlic sauce ! Very garlicky but not too overwhelming. And everything is well under $10...
A favorite is the freshly made 'pita chips'. Why waste money on processed factory varieties such as Stacy's Pita chips (which arent really bad :)) when one can get the wonderful packets of homemade chips for a dollar. A bit oily perhaps but crisp, fragrant, lightly spiced and just like home!! And a perfect accompaniment to fattoush...
There appears to be another place with the same name out in the west end (which seems to be more of a restaurant) but for now, this one is closer !
Monday, February 23, 2009
Keeping with the times, some more cheap eats....
Sunday, February 15, 2009
High on the list of frequented places in the VCU area is Elephant Thai. I might even venture to half-say that it is one of the better Thai places I've been to in Richmond so far among the half dozen or so places tried. Surprisingly it doesnt come up often in discussions of the same, playing second fiddle to Mom's Siam, Thai Diner (too), Beauregards and the like. I think ET is actually quite good...(admittedly, several 'other' factors are playing into this observation - price, convenience etc). but it is a very decent eat. A sparse, simple decor, no frills food, low prices, an authentic taste etc... Now, countless visits in (99% for lunch), I finally get around to writing about it.
Oddly enough, despite a previous post about soups deciding my ratings for Thai places, I have only tried the soups here once (the Tom Yum - decent). I guess I just havent been trying soups on mostly hurried lunches. Most of the curries and chicken/beef dishes are very generic and quite good (safe) choices. The chicken basil and cashew nut have been standouts. I've also liked the Vegetarian Fried Rice (which is a good meal just by itself). Similarly, the noodles - pad see ew and the pad thai. I've always made it a point to ask for extra lemon/lime with my pad thai which they do and it does help jazz up the rather standard pad thai. I'm still searching for that elusive stellar pad thai !
Of course, all the dishes havent been quite great. For one, the pepper steak was terrible and quite tasteless. The jasmine rice does tend to be a bit dry at times. Also the shrimp options have been far less satisfying than the chicken and beef.
An option that I found useful several times was to get the spice rack on the side with a mild order. That has saved quite a few dishes for me which have otherwise tended to be rather overwhelming (drunken noodle jae - a culprit). The (rather sweet) Thai Iced tea can be an added savior on occasions such as these.
Most lunch entrees are less than $8 and a typical checks have been around $10-12 pp (with t&t)...ET is always packed at lunchtime and service can be a little spotty. Two of the wait staff who know me by name now (and there are a lot of lunch regulars) have been a bit more efficient :)....
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Times today had an interesting article about formerly snooty places finally shedding some of that attitude in these tough times:
I doubt that the diners at Masa or Per Se are making the shift the local diner anytime soon though.
I wonder what the situation is like in Richmond in general. Having a rather small sample size of the 'upper crust' of rva restaurants recently, I dont feel equipped to offer an informed opinion (I venture to say warily - the couple of such places I've been to in the last month have been a mixed bag - one good, one not so good !!). For one, I guess that while purchasing power has dropped, either in real terms or due to discretion, food prices dont seem to have followed suit (which in itself makes for an interesting multivariate economics problem).
Addendum: I found it rather amusing/ironic that on the day I mused about recession dining, I see my first Lamborghini in Richmond parked outside one of the 'fine dining' places in my neighborhood.