After my fabululously hosted cocktail hour, my mom, her friends, and I went to dinner at one of my favorite Richmond restaurants: Julep's
This is my third or fourth time dining at Julep's and it rarely disappoints. Their menu is chocked full of classic Southern dishes updated with modern flavors and local ingredients. I considered Julep's to be located in the Shockoe Bottom area of Richmond, but their website puts them in the River District. Either way, the beautifully restored building that Julep's calls home is small but inviting. Make sure to get a table upstairs to fully appreciate the quirky art, rustic beamed ceiling, and warm fireplace.
We went during Restaurant Week so the menu was limited but still offered plenty of drool-worthy options. I regret to say that I completely forgot to take pictures during dinner. I just got so caught up in eating that I couldn't help it! Plus, I think it's a bit distracting to pause to take pictures of your food when you're sitting at a table with four other people. But luckily, I brought home leftovers so I can still give you a glimpse of what my main course looked like, along with the not-finished bottle of wine they corked for me to bring home (Lots of restaurants will do this for you; you just have to ask!).
We arrived on time for our 7:45 reservation but weren't seated before 8:00. If I haven't already made it clear, one of my pet peeves is having to wait more than 10 minutes to be seated, after going to the trouble of making a reservation. Not a good first impression. Pre-dinner cocktails also took a little while to arrive, pushing back our meal time even more, but once our orders were in, our food arrived quickly and was well paced.
For my first course I ordered a mixed greens salad which was great. It was nicely balanced with some deliciously funky "black and blue" cheese, sweet roasted red peppers, slightly bitter lettuce, and a light roasted shallot vinaigrette.
I had a hard time deciding between flank steak and macaroni and cheese for my main course but ultimately went with the latter. Described as Chipotle Mac and Cheese with asparagus and greens, this dish did not disappoint. Although it was very heavy on the garlic, and not so much on the chipotle, I was still in love.
I absolutely adore garlic and could smell it as soon as the plate was set in front of me. The dish was not spicy, and although I like spice, I'm not really a fan of chipotle flavor, so I really didn't miss it. Even though this could have been a really heavy dish, the touches of green throughout really lightened it up. The cheese sauce was also well balanced, I'm guessing with a blend of cheddar and gruyere.
Overall, my dinner was warm and satisfying, and I was thrilled to be able to bring home leftovers to enjoy again. My mom ordered the flank steak I was eyeing, which gave me a chance to try it as well. It was flavorful and well spiced, served over creamy mashed potatoes and, I think, asparagus. The always expected Shrimp and Grits were also enjoyed by the other diners at our table.
Now, about dessert. Why does dessert always get the shaft during restaurant week?? Ok, so this isn't always the case but come on, chocolate cheesecake, bread pudding, or raspberry sorbet? Tell me you can do better than that. Other than my mother, who ordered the sorbet (and made note of it's good flavor), we all chose the Cinnamon Bun White Chocolate Bread Pudding. Sounds good, right? Well it was a big disappointment. It was dry, overbaked, lacked flavor, and was served just a little too cold. The best part was probably the "Bourbon Brown Sugar Sabayon" that was pooled under the well-sized portion of bread pudding, which was sweet and light, although I doubt it was a true sabayon which must be made immediately prior to serving.
Although our meal may have started and ended with some low points, I'd still rank it an overall success thanks to the delicious first and second courses, good wine, warm atmosphere, and lovely company. It remains one of my favorite places to bring visitors when they come to town.