Rappahannock Restaurant, 320 East Grace St., Richmond
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Karisa: When Kathy suggested Rappahannock for brunch I was more than a little hesitant. An oyster place? Really? A whole brunch centered around oysters? I know some people adore them, good job to them... but to me (and it doesn't help that I'm mostly vegetarian) they are slimy and unappealing. More for you, oyster lovers!
I'd read that this spot is super busy, so Kathy and I made reservations to avoid an exceptionally long wait. It turns out this was totally unnecessary; the restaurant was only moderately busy at SBT (standard brunching time.) We got so wrapped up in trying to pick out cocktails (we both settled on the poinsettia) that both of us totally forgot to order our typical hot brunch drinks (coffee for me, tea for Kathy) - oops! We did however order ceviche for an appetizer. It was FANTASTIC. I'm not a ceviche connoisseur but this was hands down the best I've ever had. Pomegranate, grapefruit, blood orange (?), fish, and spices served with crusty bread. What could be better? Practically nothing. I'm pretty sure we both wanted to stick our faces in the bowl and lick it clean.
My obsession with the food ended with our drink and appetizers. With an (understandably) un-vegetarian friendly menu, my options were quite limited. Add in that the brunch menu isn't very stereotypically brunchy, and I had a hard time figuring out what to order. The server told us brunch is the only time they serve fried oysters, so I decided to do as the oyster-eaters do, and go with the Hangtown Fry which consisted of scrabbled eggs with the oysters and Benton's bacon. Once again I broke my own don't-change-the-written-menu-item rule and asked for the bacon on the side for Kathy. This was a good choice, as I think Kathy wanted to make a life with the bacon. The rest of the dish was a bit underwhelming for me. The oysters still didn't win me over to the oyster side, even in fried form, and the eggs weren't even the best I had that day. The salad was just a salad.
I'd like to return to Rappahannock soon, but probably not for brunch. The cocktail menu left me wanting more, and the bartender seemed to be incredibly knowledgeable. Plus, they have that ceviche...
Kathy: A friend from New York recommended Rappahannock Restaurant to me, and I knew that if a Richmond establishment could attract the attention of a New York food snob (a category I count myself in), it would not disappoint. We made reservations, expecting the place to be crowded, but it was surprisingly not, creating a quiet vibe. While the subdued atmosphere did not lend itself to gossipy conversations, and I expect if we had our full group of four we would have been annoyingly loud, the setting overall was quite pleasant. I enjoyed the rustic chic vibe, the gorgeous bar, and the wall of windows made for great people watching, including a car crash (nobody was hurt). The hostess seated me right away as I waited for Karisa (a pet peeve of mine is places that make you wait for your whole party to arrive). The drinks were incredibly expensive - up to $12 - but the bartender sounded very knowledgeable and my poinsettia mimosa was unique and delicious. The menu was incredibly limited, and not at all brunch-y, but I have not stopped raving about our ceviche appetizer to anyone who will listen.
I also had the salad and the oyster chowder, which were huge portions and incredibly tasty. Let us pause for a moment of silence for their bacon. Holy mother of the food gods, that was good bacon. While I don't think I'll go back here regularly, as it's quite expensive, Rappahannock sated the grumpy New Yorker in me who regularly can't stop bitching about food in Richmond, and that's no small feat.
Food - Very Good. The ceviche was absolutely to die for, and everything else was really good. All of our dishes had great portion size. The menu wasn't very brunchy, which can be a positive or a negative, depending on what you're looking for.
Service - Very Good. Our server was great at helping us navigate the menu. She gave good suggestions for Karisa's mostly-vegetarianism, and thouroghly explained each dish.
Atmosphere - Very Good. Wonderfully bright open windows with a predomentant and very attractive bar. We enjoyed the people watching, and even got to be witnesses to a car crash!
Coffee/Tea - Not rated. Oops! Somehow neither of us ordered the third of our brunch-drink trifecta.
Mimosa (Poinsettia actually) - Good. We would have given this a very good, except for the high price of $9. The other cocktails on the menu were also enticing, and we're both looking forward to trying out more of them!
Bloody Mary - Not rated, no Michele.