Chez Foushee, 203 N. Foushee Street, Richmond
Karisa: Chez Foushee is one of those rare places that is both fancy and laid back, where it doesn't feel forced and the atmosphere is natural. I was afraid that a French spot with white table cloths would feel stuffy, but we happily laughed the brunch away without any glares from other diners. In fact, we fit right in!
We all seemed to be starving this week, so we started off with a pimento cheese appetizer. Now I may not be a fried chicken eating Southerner, but after spending a good bit of time in South Carolina, I know my pimento cheese! My was this good pimento cheese. Tons of cheese, a hint of spice, and just enough mayo to hold it together. My only complaint is that we didn't have more crackers. For my meal, I ordered an omelette with manchego, mushrooms, and grilled zucchini. Unfortunately, for a dish containing many of my favorite foods, this was just okay. The potatoes however were great, and I loved the little ketchup dish. I'm a sucker for tiny single-purpose dishes.
Overall, I think Michele put it best: "Good job, ladies, we ate a lot of food today. Kathy may have eaten the most."
Andrea: This was my first time at Chez Foushee and I was definitely a fan of the food and ambiance, but the service and subpar coffee bumped the overall experience down a notch. Heads up to future brunchers - the restaurant has a free parking lot about half a block away. I struggled to find street parking for several minutes because I wasn't in-the-know. I wasn't feeling super hungry so I split the brussels sprout salad with Kathy and ate half a fish sandwich. The brussels sprouts were wonnnnderful and were accompanied by bacon, blue cheese, red onion, and candied walnuts. A touch of mint added a bright finish to the dish. The beer battered tilapia sandwich had a crunchy crust and while I enjoyed the housemade tartar sauce, I found it to be a bit too greasy. I passed on the alcohol this week and attempted to wake up with lots and lots of coffee; unfortunately it wasn't as tasty as I was hoping for. Also, our server was slow on the refills and the food was slow to arrive as well. Despite a few little snafus, the meal was quite enjoyable and the ambiance of the restaurant suits a wide variety of brunching personalities, from long-time Richmond residents to young ladies looking to share stories about last night's adventures.
Michele: I had never been to Chez Foushee before brunch this week. I often forget about the great restaurants in the art gallery / First Friday area of town. Chez Foushee has great curb appeal. It looks pretty fancy from the outside looking in. I felt a little underdressed in jeans and flats, but as we got situated at the table, I quickly realized that this place is not as pretentious as it looks. The other patrons seemed to be having as much fun as we were, laughing and carrying on.
My first cup off coffee was not very good, but the subsequent cups were better. The cups were very small, so it felt like we were always asking for refills. My Bloody Mary was sufficiently spicy for my taste. It was pretty small as well.
These ladies were pretty hungry this Sunday morning. I ordered the pimento cheese appetizer for the table. The plate arrived with a giant ice cream scoop of housemade pimento cheese and crackers. The spread was heavy on the cheese and light on the mayo, always a winner in my book. There weren't very many crackers on the plate, and even though we were loading up each cracker with huge dollops of the spread, we still had some leftover. We nearly chopped off our poor waiter's hand when he tried to take the extra pimento cheese from the table. "We'll figure out a way to finish this cheese," we resolved.
For my main course I decided on the pork grillades with poached eggs over grits. I was expecting pork chops for some reason. I didn't really know what grillades are, but to me it sounds like a grilled piece of meat. I was pleasantly surprised to be brought out a plate of slow cooked pork! That is so much easier to eat than a pork chop. The meat was fall apart tender, and the sauce it was cooked in tasted tomatoey. The poached eggs were perfectly cooked. The yolks mixed together nicely with the meat stew. The grits in my dish were to die for. Cheddar cheese and green chilis were mixed in with the grits, adding a nice kick to each bite. Thankfully, a piece of garlic bread came with my plate. That bread and Andrea's French fries were used to polish off the pimento cheese.
I had a fantastic experience at Chez Foushee. I would love to come back for dinner and drinks. This place has great food and an enjoyable atmosphere, overall a fantastic dining experience.
Kathy: The best way I can describe Chez Foushee is that it's solid, though I don't know why I've transported to 1970s speak. I went there once before, for lunch, and this time around confirmed my sense that Chez Foushee is a dependable go-to. At that lunch and this brunch my food was delicious, though funnily not in a way that stands out in my mind weeks later like Aziza's does as a mind-altering borderline mystical experience. Don't get me wrong though, I really, really did enjoy my food. I started with tea, of course, and was delighted to be presented with a large bowl of tea options (left on the table for my constant refills) and a giant carafe of hot water (the downside being the carafe cooled faster than I would have liked). They had a variety of lovely cocktail options, and I chose one of the two mimosas offered - a Citron mimosa. It came over ice in a wine glass, but I'll make an exception to bitching about the ice because it was quite pretty and the citron did add something special. I thought the OJ was quality, though there was little of it (though I am certainly not complaining about the OJ to alcohol ratio). I'm not too pleased with the mimosa's price - $9 felt steep. I started my meal by splitting the brussels sprouts salad with Andrea. With bacon, red onion, blue cheese, and candied walnuts, it combined so many delicious items that left me wanting to lick the plate. The portion size was perfect for sharing as a starter. I then moved to a bacon, cheddar, and fennel quiche with a side of green chili grits and a side of oven roasted bacon. There was also a small salad of mixed greens along with the quiche. Now is not the time nor venue to extol the virtues of oven roasting bacon, but I will say Chez Foushee does it perfectly. The quiche was incredibly good - moist and flakey, and the crust was neither too salty nor too hard (a common complaint of mine about crusts in general). The green chili grits were to die for, simply put. We ordered so much food as a group that our waiter told us (in a nice and hilarious way) to call ahead next time and we can get the big table to hold everything. I take our inability to contain all the delicious food options as a sure sign of a good experience!
Sidebar - there's free parking in a lot on Grace St, between First and Foushee (it's available for Tarrant's customers too) so Chez Foushee gets a plus for convenient parking.
Food - Very Good. Brussels sprout salad was amazing. Pimento cheese starter was super yum. Menu favorable to meat eaters and people interested in a sandwich. The french fries were sub-optimal but otherwise, the meal had very few missteps
Service - Fair. Although there was no wait to sit, there was much waiting later in the meal for refills of drinks and for the food itself. Our server was friendly enough, but we often felt neglected. The bills also were incorrect at the end of the meal.
Atmosphere - Very Good. Fancy vibe, but not stuffy. Bright space with lots of natural light. Decorations were classic; for example, framed paintings of different types of fish hung on the wall above the restrooms.
Coffee/Tea - Good. Kathy was impressed with the variety of teas and the large carafe of hot water she received. The rest of us found the coffee (from Carytown Coffee) to be a bit lacking in flavor. The coffee cups were tiny, which was good for keeping the coffee warm, but not great because the refills on the coffee (and the creamer) were slow.
Mimosa - Good. Good. Variety of special sparkling wine cocktails to choose from, as well as a traditional mimosa and a mimosa with Citron vodka option. The drink came in a nice glass but had a large amount of ice. Perks were the high sparkling wine-to-orange juice ratio and the presentation (traditional variety came with a twist), but the drink was expensive ($9) for its size.
Bloody Mary - Good. Perfectly spiced to Michele's tastes. A bit small for the price, no olives.