A continuation of parents weekend…
I have been dying to go to Julep’s for the longest time. It has won the best shrimp and grits in Virginia for the last 7 years in a row and the whole menu looked awesome. It was a clear decision what my first choice restaurant was going to be for parents weekend.
I called a few times about reservation changes; the time, amount of people, and I even made most of these calls the day of our reservation since our plans kept changing. They could not have been more accommodating and helpful and the great service continued throughout the dinner as well. Our waiter, Randy, what a great guy, had good advice and opinions on all of the dishes and has clearly been a server here for a long time which is always a sign of a good restaurant to me.
Julep’s is located in Richmond’s historic River District just a few blocks from the Main Street train station and just a block away from a UR favorite…Tiki Bob’s. It’s not in an extremely populated area but there are plenty of things happening in the area, which keeps the restaurant calm and private but not isolated. This is a white tablecloth restaurant but it still felt very homey and intimate.
When you sit down they bring everyone a piece of corn bread and tell you that it is so good it tastes like a cupcake – wow. If this was any indicator of how good the food was going to be I knew we made a good decision coming here. I may have eaten more than my fair share of these bread/muffin/cupcakes. They also complemented the southern style meal very well (if you could hold off to eat it until our food came, that is).
We pretty much ordered solely off of our waiter’s suggestions. For appetizers we had an entrée sized portion of the shrimp and grits and we could all see why it is so highly regarded. We also ordered the fried green tomatoes that are served with pimento cheese and a peppadew slaw, fried oysters with Tasso ham rémoulade and a salad with baby heirloom tomatoes, squash, zucchini, smoked eggplant, and pea shoots with a basil vinaigrette. I always like to take my parents to a southern food restaurant when they visit so as you can see, we went all out. Everything was fantastic and although it was a lot of heavy dishes they were made right and well portioned so none of us felt greasy afterwards.
For entrees my friend and I split the bourbon-molasses glazed short ribs that are served with Wade’s Mills grits, local Romano beans, greens and a BBQ jus. It was incredibly delicious and I am very glad I did not order it for myself because I would have finished the whole thing and had to stay home due to a major food coma that night. One of my other friends ordered the dry aged NY strip steak. Being from right outside New York I am never tempted to order it but I tried a bite and was happy that I did. A dry aged NY strip steak is delectable when done right, Julep did a great job. It was served with horseradish mashed potato and seasonal greens with a bourbon-bacon demi-glace and herb butter.
A couple of people at the table ordered the crab cakes which were served with creamed corn, new potato and mixed baby squash with heirloom tomato relish. The crab cakes were almost completely jumbo crabmeat and just enough breading to hold them together and were simply delightful. My other friend ordered the seasonal fish, which was a type of fish I had never heard of Wahoo and had a mild flavor with the texture of swordfish and was served with new potato, baby leeks and greens with soft herbs in a roasted bone nage (broth). It was the simplest dish on the table but still flavorful and very good. Finally my dad ordered the rack of wild boar, the most outlandish thing we had all night, and was served with Virginia oyster mushrooms, sweet potato, wilted ruby chard, and whole grain mustard pan gravy. The rack of wild boar was similar to a rack of lamb and not nearly as gamey as you would expect. The meet was tender and the whole dish was excellent.
While eating our meal many people around us were eating dessert and many of them seemed to be ordering the same thing. The waiters would come to each table and flambé bananas (cook while drenching them in liquor to light them on fire) right in front of you to put on your dish. Obviously all of our inner children came out and before even knowing what the dish was we knew we had to order it. It turned out to be the banana foster served tableside for two: bananas sautéed in butter, brown sugar, and spiced rum served with pound cake and vanilla ice cream. Then we ordered the chocolate hazelnut torte espresso mousse with chocolate-port wine sauce. And lastly we ordered the chocolate bourbon pecan tart with pecan butter caramel and cinnamon ice cream. The tart was our favorite but they were all fantastic.
We left the restaurant full but not too full to hit the bars at Shockoe Bottom. It was the perfect way to top off the perfect family weekend. Thank you Julep for your hospitality and delicious meal—see you soon.
1719-21 East Franklin St.
Richmond, Virginia 23223
Innovativeness: 3 1/2 stars
Authenticity: 4 1/2 stars
Quality: 5 stars
Atmosphere: 4 stars
Uniqueness: 4 1/2 stars
On campus: Buffalo chicken wrap from Tyler’s. So reliable and delicious. What a classic.
Off campus: Belmont Pizza is the only truly NY style pizza I have found in Richmond and unbelievable. The slices are huge—a quarter of a pie each. Tastes like home.
Bacon Cheddar Waffles: There is a famous waffle house in southern California I’ve been to a couple of times that is amazing and has some interesting combinations on their menu. One of the things that was on the menu (and absolutely amazing) was a bacon and cheddar waffle.
So I figured out how to make it at D-hall: during breakfast or brunch, take a couple of pieces of bacon from the Spider Grill (grill section) and some shredded cheddar cheese from the section in between the Indian bar and the vegetarian bar. Cut the bacon into little pieces and mix the bacon and cheese into a cup of waffle batter. Pour the batter onto the waffle maker and follow the instructions to cook the waffle. When it is finished (and has an awesome spider imprint on it) you can top it with either hot sauce or maple syrup.
Contact reporter Sarah Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org