Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tarrant's Cafe

Tarrant's Cafe, One West Broad Street, Richmond
Brunch Menu

Karisa: Marin is back! Marin is back! Well, Marin was back... and just for the weekend... but Marin was back, and it was fabulous! We picked Tarrant's for brunch earlier in the week, and  it proved to be an excellent post-night-out-dancing spot. From cute waiters (that knew it!) to cinnamon rolls to mini-bottle mimosas, it was wonderful. I've recently started leaning more vegetarian than pescetarian, so I passed over the crab cakes benedict for my new old friend, the Huevos Rancheros. From the extreme yellowness, I was concerned the yolks were undercooked, but they were actually a bit overcooked, go figure. Aside from that, the dish was good, with a variety of flavors and textures. The menu said it was served in a "taco shell" which I think was a bit misleading, but that didn't take away from the taste. Really though, I think we would have been happy and giggly wherever we were; Marin was back!

Andrea: Tarrant's Cafe had serious "5" potential. On a different day, Tarrant's may have received our ultimate rating, but on this occasion, the service bumped the overall experience down a notch. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed my meal here and will definitely be returning! Any meal that begins with fresh cinnamon rolls is a fabulous one. They were just the right amount of sweet and hit the spot, as we were all famished. I ordered the Eggs Florentine - poached eggs and creamed spinach on English muffins with a side of potatoes and fresh fruit. Unlike some other brunching locations, the fresh fruit was a nice mix of many varieties (not just cantaloupe and honeydew). I was initially very happy with the coffee, but the next cup was bitter, and my efforts to get refills only made things worse (on retrospect, I should have just asked for another cup). I loved the ambiance and enjoyed seeing a diversity of patrons - everyone from hipsters to long-time neighborhood residents. The overall brunch experience was further heightened by a new guest bruncher and the return of dear Marin. Tarrant's is a definite bright spot on the brunch scene.

KathyI've been to Tarrant's Cafe for dinner a few times, and always felt a bit underwhelmed by my food and the overall dining experience. The brunch, however, did not disappoint. The atmosphere is fancy-ish, which is fun, but still manages to be laid back at the same time. It's not stuffy, so basically it's fancy-lite. The pleasant surroundings include some of the most attractive waitstaff I've ever seen, and who doesn't like eye candy while brunching? I arrived before our group and was pleased that they seated me promptly, and didn't make me wait for our full party to arrive (a pet peeve of mine). The brunch menu had quite a few good, and varied, options. In theory I like that they also offered their regular full size lunch menu as well, but let's get real. This is brunch and one should not be ordering lunch items. I ordered tea, of course, and enjoyed the wide selection. They did not charge for taking multiples. In fact, the waiter encouraged me to take a few tea bags. I instantly became jealous of the mini champagne bottles served with mimosas, but did not order one for myself. We waited a while for our food, but it was worth it, and our waiter was attentive while the kitchen took their time. The cinnamon buns - oh my god are my only words, except to also say that they were perfect. I ordered the cheesy grits with fried eggs, bacon, and broccoli for my meal. The plate came with sausage rather than bacon, but I did not mind because the sausage was quite good, and well spiced. The grits, something I've never had before moving to the south (so perhaps there are more expert grits connoisseurs than I), were delicious, with tiny bits of broccoli and not too much or too little cheese. I prefer my eggs very well done, and these were cooked perfectly for me, though not too dry.

Marshall, Guest Bruncher and all around awesome dude: I had heard of the legendary "Brunchin' Bitches", read their blog, and knew of many of the places they had visited--but I had never had the opportunity to dine with them. That all changed when I was invited to brunch with them at Tarrant's one Sunday afternoon. 

Now, I've been to Tarrant's before and am generally quite a fan. I am ashamed to admit, however, that I typically don't enjoy many of the items typically found on a brunch menu. (I know, I know, it's horribly un-American and somewhere I'm sure a bald eagle just cried out in agony as it committed suicide. Anyway...) The fantastic thing about Tarrant's is that they have an extensive menu with plenty of options. I settled on a Caesar salad wrap and also ordered a seemingly pricey mimosa. The mimosa arrived soon after I placed the order and along with it came a plate of amazing cinnamon rolls that the table quickly devoured. They were almost as good as the garlic butter knots that I have had with previous meals. The mimosa was amazing and totally worth the price. They serve good quality OJ and a sweet little mini bottle of champagne so that you can top off your beverage as you drink it. The result? You're sipping on almost pure champagne by the time you finish the drink. 

That's not really an issue unless it takes a while for your meal to arrive, which is exactly what happened in my case. I can't blame our server, though. The restaurant was packed and the way the servers were assigned to tables had them running all over the place. When my food did finally come out, it was yummy (as has always been my experience) and definitely hit the spot. The wrap and fries were exactly what they should be--nothing fancy but something that you can always count on when you are in the mood for something simple.

Overall, I'd go back to Tarrant's time and time again because they gave what I like in a restaurant. A not-too-fancy but still classy setting, good food, and always dependable. And of course, I would go back out to eat with the Brunchin' Bitches in a heartbeat. As long as they can accept that I might not always order the most "brunchy" items on the menu.

Rating: 4
Food -  Good. Cinnamon rolls and garlic bread to start was delicious, although one of the pieces of garlic bread was rather burnt. We were impressed with the quality of the fruit on the side. The menu was expansive with copious amounts of both traditional brunch and lunch options as well as several specials. Note that diners on a budget may be somewhat limited, as the benedicts, omelettes, and drinks were a bit more expensive than the average brunch destinations we've visited.
Service  Fair. To our server's credit, he was new, and the restaurant was crowded. However, he seemed to be running back and forth to tables that were far away from each other, which suggested to us that the management could have done a better job at assigning the tables. Marin was given the wrong kind of waffle and Kathy got the wrong kind of breakfast meat with her dish. Also, the waiters offered lots of fun eye candy.
Atmosphere Good. In a phrase: rustic chic. Beautiful chandeliers. White painted walls and pictures of old Broad Street gave the space a historic feel. Fancy yet laid back. Major drawback is that it's rather cramped.
Coffee/Tea -  Good. The first cup was amazing, but subsequent cups were a bit bitter. The small cups meant that servers came around frequently to freshen our drinks, which was much appreciated. Kathy appreciated the wide tea selection.
Mimosa Very Good. Served in champagne flutes, which made Kathy happy. Although the drink cost $7.50, the orange juice was high quality and the sparkling wine came in an individual bottle - so adorable!
Bloody Mary -  Not rated. No Michele :(

Tarrants Cafe on Urbanspoon

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