EAT by pescados china street, 626 China Street, Richmond
Karisa: I can't seem to read any Richmond-based magazine/website/newspaper these days without seeing something about EAT Oregon Hill (or is it EAT by pescados china street? I'm still not sure...) With this amount of hype, I worried it would fail my expectations miserably. Luckily this seems to be one spot that deserves to be the talk of the town. First of all, the mimosa is quite possibly the best I've ever had. It had great orange pulp and flavor, but still packed a bubbly punch. Plus, it came with a clementine fascinator! Yes, my mimosa had a fancy tiny hat. My only complaint is that I didn't know about the $12 pitcher option.
Secondly, there were a good portion of Karisa-friendly (vege-/pescetarian) options on the menu. Some of the fish options seemed better suited to non-brunch meals, so I planned to order the intriguing Lime and Coconut French toast. However, as I'll take savory over sweet any day, the mention of a Huevos Rancheros special was a game changer. Our server didn't mention the avocado when describing it, but fortunately some sort of special avocado element made its way onto the dish anyway. It was delicious. The tortilla was appropriately crispy, with the beans, cheese, eggs, salsa, avocado-ness, and onions adding layers of flavor and texture. It was one of those dishes that made me sad to get full. Alas, I did get full. Now I just need another opportunity to go back to EAT and get full on more of the menu.
Andrea: If you're looking for a brunch spot with great, pleasant service, and a come-as-you-are vibe, EAT Oregon Hill is the place for you. I had been impressed by the food there when it was still Pescado's at China Street and the new name hasn't affected the quality of the dining experience at all. I ordered the seasonal sangria (with blueberries, red wine, pomegranate juice, and clementines) and the chicken and waffles. Can I just say "WOW"? The drink's flavors married together brilliantly and the overall finish wasn't too sweet. My only complaint/note there was that it was a bit more expensive than I was anticipating ($9). The chicken and waffles were again a surprising and successful combination of flavors - uber-delicious boneless fried chicken thighs (the best I can remember having ever), sweet potato waffle with a hint of chipotle heat in the batter, and a refreshing cream with an accent of citrus on top. Add in a few other spices that I couldn't readily identify, and you have a winner! Beautifully plated and sizeable. I ate all my chicken but only made it through about 2/3 of the waffle. Also really enjoyed the nibbles of the shrimp and grits and the pastrami and eggs from my friends' plates. Our server was super friendly and attentive. The major thing that prevented EAT Oregon Hill from our ultimate "5" rating was its ambiance...ultimately just a little too casual for the caliber (and price) of the food. Other than that, we were all really pleased and I hope to be coming back to try some other interesting flavor combinations!
Michele: I had never even heard of EAT before Kathy suggested it for this week. I haven’t even been to Oregon Hill that much. For me it was a fun morning with lots of new experiences – new neighborhood, new restaurant, new friends, and new favorite egg style!
I was first to arrive at the restaurant. Our server came over and took my drink order immediately. When I asked for a Bloody Mary, she countered with two more questions – how spicy on a scale of 1 to 10, and would I like salt on the rim. How intriguing! I responded, “6 and yes.” When my drink arrived, our server warned that the spice would kick in after a few seconds. Man, she was right. The initial sip wasn’t terribly spicy, but the drink packed a powerful punch on the way down, as in burning my throat. The drink had the potential to be very good. However, for my personal taste, the drink lacked texture. I believe this drink was seasoned primarily with hot sauces rather than with ground spices, and I prefer the latter. This particular drink also had something sweet going on in the flavor that I couldn’t quite place. Interesting, but not my taste.
For my meal this week I selected the Pastrami and Deep Fried Eggs. I got pretty excited about the deep fried poached eggs. This is my second new egg style in two months (Keep track with me loyal readers, slow cooked eggs at the Roosevelt in January, now deep fried poached eggs in February). My internet research revealed that deep fried poached eggs are created by first poaching your eggs, then dipping them IN beaten egg and bread crumbs, and finally deep frying them. The yolks of my eggs were firm, like a medium boiled egg, and I’m going to cut the folks at EAT some slack for it. I would imagine that it’s nearly impossible to cook an egg twice and maintain a runny yolk. However, I found pictures on the web of deep fried eggs with yolk running out, proof that it can be done. In any case, cooked yolk or not, a deep fried egg is pretty cool. I now have a new favorite style of egg. The rest of the dish was a hash of pastrami, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions. All of the bits in the hash were chopped very finely. The whole thing was super tasty. The pieces of pastrami were larger, although some of them were a little chewy. Overall I really enjoyed this plate and ate as much of it as I could.
EAT is a cool little spot in Oregon Hill. The decor inside is interesting and fun. Everything is painted in bright colors, but there are also some weird things on the walls, like Bob Marley’s head on an octopus’s body. We brunched a little earlier than SBT this past week. The restaurant was not busy when we arrived at 11:30am, but as the morning progressed, things picked up in there. The staff was very accommodating for our large group of 6 this week, and they have room for even bigger groups. I’m excited to come back to EAT soon to try out their dinner menu and some of their fun cocktails.
Kathy: I'd been to EAT under the old name and scheme, when it was Pescado's China Street. At the time I'd gone for dinner and the seafood was incredible. I was pleased to see that the new menu continued offering a lot of seafood options, and my shrimp and grits were some of the best I've ever had. The shrimp was tasty, served with a flavorful sauce, and the tiny chunks of chorizo mixed in sealed my affection for the dish. If I had one complaint it would be that there could have been a bit more chorizo, but the meal was so delicious I really didn't mind at all. The creamy grits are nearly indescribable. Michele remarked that they almost had as much goat cheese (I think that's what made them so creamy? Or else it was magic.) as grits, and that's not at all a slight. They were phenomenal and probably ruined all other grits for me for all of time. I also ordered a side of bacon, and it came thick cut and cooked perfectly. I was very pleased with the mimosa - served in a tall glass, but no ice, with an adorable clementine slice. The OJ seemed fresh squeezed. Plus, it was only $6, which I thought very reasonable. While my tea cup was small, the waitress promptly refilled my cup without my asking and left a good assortment of teas on the table. I could do without the crazy painting/mural on the walls of the restaurant, and it was a bit cold near the door, but overall EAT is going on the top of my list.
Liz, guest bruncher from iheartvegetables: [Actually, this is Karisa] We were so excited to have Liz join us for brunch! Read her review (and see more yummy food photos) on her blog.
Food - Very Good. Guest bruncher Liz (yay I Heart Vegetables!) was really impressed that there was a vegan breakfast option and that the cauliflower was so flavorful. Nice selection on the menu, and it was obvious that the chef took some chances when putting the dishes together - lots of twists on familiar dishes. Some of us felt like there could have been a few changes to enhance the food, such as avocado on the huevos rancheros, or a few more eggy dishes on the menu, but otherwise, delish!
Service - Good. Our server was friendly, personable, and checked in on us often, bringing prompt refills of our hot beverages. Michele arrived first and was happy that the hostess took her jacket and was ushered to our table right away. However, our party didn't get our drink orders very filled very promptly. Further, because several of us ordered mimosas, we felt like we should have been alerted to the option to order a pitcher, but we weren't.
Atmosphere - Good. Not fancy or pretentious, but cute. Mix of booths and kitchenette-style chairs (surprisingly comfy!). Bright colors suited the Caribbean flavors that often are infused in the dishes. However, we found the wall paintings (e.g., a Bob Marley octopus - we called him Bobtopus) to be a bit weird. The overall look to the restaurant didn't quite match the food quality or price. We were sat at the table closest to the door, so it was rather cold and drafty.
Coffee/Tea - Very Good (C)/Good (T). They serve Blanchard's coffee. The java drinkers in our group were super thirsty and the caffeine was readily flowing! The tea refills were prompt but guest bruncher Rina wanted a larger selection of flavors to choose from.
Mimosa - Very Good. Traditional mimosa had delicious freshly squeezed orange flavor and a hat of a clementine slice on top.
Bloody Mary - Good. Appreciated that it is customizable, but not quite to Michele's taste. Great spice to the drink, but also a weird sweet flavor in there.