I still think it’s hard to believe that Virginia is considered “the South”, but upon my recent trip to Richmond for work, I saw that the local accent and cuisine definitely leans toward the confederates than with the yankees. The first dinner we had was pretty unimpressive and forgettable, but our last dinner at The Roosevelt was actually quite good. The restaurant has an early 20th century, prohibition-era vibe in spite of its extensive looking collection of hard liquor and the prominence of the bar as you enter the restaurant. It’s worth noting even though we were in South, the restaurant was filled with a group of hipster looking workers that you would expect to find in a San Francisco eatery.
The menu had some distinctly Southern dishes but there were some more modern touches and unexpected appearances that made for quite an intriguing menu.
The crispy polenta cake was topped with a mix of chorizo and squid in a tomato-based sauce. The flavors leaned Italian which I really enjoyed, and I particularly liked the tenderness of the squid rings.
I suppose this was a Southern take on a Canadian classic dish of french fries topped with a meaty gravy. Although the dish overall was a little bit on the salty side, I really liked the taste of the sausage gravy and found myself continually going back for more.
I was thoroughly disappointed by the mac and cheese from the previous night’s dinner, so I was left hungering for some more. This version redeemed southern Mac ‘n Cheese for me even if it was a pretty non-traditional version using orrechiette pasta, gruyere cheese and surry sausage. It was definitely more creamy than cheesy.
The cornbread, in spite of being a South staple, turned out to be the absolute worst part of the meal. Each piece was hard as a rock with absolute zero flavor. The butter was supposedly maple bourbon flavored, but I could barely taste anything. A real disappointment.
I ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich and it was absolutely delicious. The chicken was moist, crispy and was perfectly balanced with a tangy slaw. I only ended up eating 1/4 of it though because it was so huge.
I had to try the Foie Gras Pound Cake, but it turned out to taste a lot less adventurous than it sounded. It tasted exactly like a pound cake would with a very subtle bit of savoriness. The salted caramel gelato turned out to be just what the dessert needed and I probably enjoyed that the most.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the food. After reading about some of the awards and recognition it has received, I suppose it shouldn’t be that surprising but you never know. It’s not like Richmond, VA is widely accepted as a dining destination, but I think that great food can be found in any city, you just have to know where to look. So if anyone happens to find themself in this part of the country, I would definitely recommend checking this place out. You may not be wow-ed, but you shouldn’t be disappointed.
623 N 25th St.
Richmond, VA 23223
PAFO Ratings for The Roosevelt:
Ambiance 3½ stars
Food 3½ stars
Overall rating 3½ stars