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Richmond, Virginia downtown

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Feb 9th, 2011, 06:59 AM
  #1
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Richmond, Virginia downtown

The week after Easter I'll be driving from Florida to New Jersey with a friend. The first night we will stay in Savannah. The second day we'll drive to Richmond I think. I have a couple free nights at Marriott, so am thinking of staying at the Marriott downtown (Broad and Fifth). We'll be getting there late afternoon or early evening and leaving the next morning, but it seems a better option than staying out on the highway somewhere and eating at a chain restaurant.

I have a little place tagged -- Bistro 27 --which is nearby. Better option for dinner?

Is this a good plan -- just to take a nice walk stretching our legs -- seeing the capital --having a drink or two somewhere -- what else?
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Feb 9th, 2011, 09:53 AM
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Hi Patrick. I think your choice of restaurant is really good. Have only been once for lunch but I would absolutely return. Reviews on this place are quite good.

Overall I don't really think of downtown Richmond as great walking city at night. Much of it empties after work, some it is urban dumpy, including part of West Broad St. you'd be walking through en route to Bistro 27. If I recall correctly your hotel is on East Broad close to the convention center.

The section of West Broad St. where Bistro 27 is located is an enclave of galleries & restaurants that sponsors a sweet First Friday's Art Walk which, sadly, you'll be missing. It's fun.

A drink at the Jefferson Hotel (on West Franklin) after dinner might be in order. It's a beautiful hotel, circa 1890s.

Another option would be Carytown or the Fan areas that are more lively at night. JanetKMR knows a lot about Richmond dining. Hopefully she'll see this.
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Feb 9th, 2011, 10:43 AM
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If you're at all interested in the Civil War, the Museum of the Confederacy is quite interesting-

http://www.moc.org/site/PageServer
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Feb 9th, 2011, 11:47 AM
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It is a good place to stay, and you have made a good dinner choice. There are others (Comfort, for example) with New Southern food along Broad and adjacent streets.

The gallery area is an emerging/evolving area as you would expect if galleries can afford to be located there! The area between your hotel and the gallery area has yet, to be kind, emerge. I would drive to the restaurant. On the other hand, Richmond's prime cultural venue is just behind your hotel, and it is perfectly safe to walk there if there is a concert, opera, or play you would enjoy in your brief stay.

The Jefferson Hotel is spectacular, and its restaurant, LeMaitre, is by many accounts the best in the city, and they have a bistro restaurant as well. OBXgirl's suggestion of a drink is a nice idea, since it is clear we can all pile up more things for you to do than you could do in a week.

For one of these, you might look at my recent review (on here)of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (on Boulevard, not really very far away) and its new addition. Well worth a visit if you have a bit of time on your way out of town. Blessedly free.
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Feb 9th, 2011, 12:49 PM
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Ackislander, The new wing took ***forever*** but was worth the wait. I agree with your review.

The Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris exhibit will be showing when Patrick and his friend are planning to visit. Are you a fan? This one, not surprisingly, isn't free.
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Feb 9th, 2011, 05:13 PM
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Interesting. The same friend used to work for MOMA in NYC and just gave me some tickets for the Picasso exhibit there during May. And we're renting an apartment near the Picasso Museum in Barcelona in August. How much Picasso should I do? LOL

But since I doubt we'd get to Richmond before about 5, I don't see any museum visits likely.

The Jefferson! I forgot about that beautiful place-- I did walk through the lobby once years ago. An after dinner drink would be in order.

Drive to dinner? Six blocks straight down Broad Street? (Or an I wrong?) Is it really that scary downtown?
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Feb 10th, 2011, 03:42 AM
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I honestly can't tell you.

We are here four months out of the year (the winter months we used to spend in Naples) because our grandchildren are here.

Locals are a bit paranoid about many areas in the city, but I don't know the local signals enough to tell you whether an area is really scary the way I could in Boston or Paris. The section of West Broad in question has a lot of closed stores until you get to the gallery area. But one of my favorite restaurants (Black Sheep) is on a street that scares some of my visitors, and I never feel unsafe there. It will also be light later then, so you can make a decision on the spot.
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Feb 10th, 2011, 06:18 AM
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I have not dined at Bistro 27, so no vote there. Comfort on Broad is very good (I took MomDDtravel there when she was here years ago)Southern food and Lemaire is a must for a drink and they have great bar food (and regular dinner food..hehe) as well.

For a very "Richmond" dinner, I also recommend Millie's Diner (they are closed on Mondays) or their sister restaurant Lulu's.

I also recommend Black Sheep for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

You could also venture to Carytown and have a cocktail at CanCan and dinner at Bonvenu or Secco (Secco is a great place for a glass of wine as well).

Places people may recommend but best avoided: Tobacco Company, Bookbinders, Stronghill Dining.
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Feb 10th, 2011, 06:20 AM
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Oh, and I walk in that area of Broad Street without any problem. My brother lives on Franklin just a couple of block from The Jefferson and walks all the time.
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Feb 10th, 2011, 07:46 AM
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I've walked the stretch of Broad from the convention center to the block where Bistro 27 lives during the day without issue. The part between the Marriott and the restaurant is government (I think) office buildings and businesses that shut at 5 on weekdays. Some of it's pretty dumpy. Not the part Richmond I'd send visitors to when they want get out and stretch their legs. I would probably be uneasy walking there after dark mostly b/c it's so deserted. But Patrick you and your friend will be there so you can obviously judge for yourself. As you say, it's only six blocks.

After dinner, you could do a walk by of the Landmark Theater en route to the Jefferson Hotel. It's a gorgeous 1920s moorish revival building that used to be called The Mosque. Walk up Grace Street (parallels Broad) which has some nice older homes on your way. Probably take 30 minutes to cover that territory.

And it does seem that Patrick has got Picasso covered in the coming year!
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Feb 10th, 2011, 09:10 AM
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Save the "free nights" and use them at some Marriott that is a LOT more memorable and stay IN the Jefferson rather than just walking through it.
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Feb 11th, 2011, 04:48 AM
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I agree with Dukey. We are local and stay at The Jefferson a few nights a year as a local getaway. It's a great place and last time we were upgraded to the Governor's Suite, which was great.
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Feb 11th, 2011, 06:27 AM
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Dukey, free nights with Marriott are only good through Category 4 -- pretty much Fairfields, Courtyards, etc. I was surprised that the downtown Marriott was a category 4, not many actual Marriotts are.

Spend over $300 for a one night's sleep (counting taxes and parking), with a late arrival and an early morning departure -- just a place to sleep? No thanks. I think I'd get more benefit just by having a drink in the posh public area and spending nothing for an actual place to sleep.

And Black Sheep could be fun for breakfast before taking off for our third day of driving.
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Feb 11th, 2011, 07:09 AM
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ooops. Forget that last comment. After printing off the menu and directions, I realize Black Sheep doesn't open for breakfast till 9 -- we plan to be long gone by then!

Or should we consider it for dinner instead of Bistro 27? More fun, more "local flavor"?
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Feb 11th, 2011, 07:24 AM
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I would go to Black Sheep or Comfort or Lemaire before Bistro 27, but I have not been to Bistro 27 because when we venture downtown there are other places we love, but it has gotten good press.
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Feb 18th, 2011, 11:27 PM
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Bistro 27 is fine. I wasn't wowed, but neither would I recommend against it. I've heard good things about comfort.

Walking around that area at night... Probably fine. Its not as sketchy as it looks. If you want to walk, though, you'll enjoy the Fan and Museum District/carytown more. That's the real "heart" of downtown Richmond, the actual downtown is more an office district.

Black sheep is superb, and I'd have no hesitation walking around there any time.
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Feb 19th, 2011, 05:39 AM
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I second going to Black Sheep. walking around Carytown and Picasso at VMFA.
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Feb 19th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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I like the food at Black Sheep a lot and have taken a lot of out-of-towners there, but I have two issues.

The service is slow, real slow, and the holdup is not with the waitstaff. It is somewhere in the kitchen. Since Black Sheep doesn't take reservations, if you get there at the wrong time, it can be quite a wait, and you have to do it standing in the middle of the restaurant or out on the street, since there is no bar.

My other beef is with their remoulade sauce, but it applies to every other remoulade sauce I have eaten in Richmond. Maybe all the chefs started their careers in the same restaurant: the remoulade is violently vinegary and acidic. I lived for seven years with regular access to New Orleans food, and it was never like that in NO, whether at a joint or a grand restaurant. It was pretty much mayonnaise, creole mustard, onion, herbs and capers. It was nothing like tartar sauce, and it added to the food rather than hiding it behind pickle juice and vinegar. Rant over.
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Feb 19th, 2011, 07:53 AM
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Oh Neo, go for drinks at the Jefferson Hotel. You should not go through Rickmond without seeing the lovely lobby and statue and the staircase in that hotel. And the bar is great at happy hr.

Also the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a nice manageable museum, open some evenings, and they can have nice exhibits. The Picasso exhibit from Paris will be there whiel you are in town., and VA Mus. of Fine Arts is the only east coast venue for that exhibit. I saw a fantastic Tiffany exhibit there last yr.
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Feb 18th, 2012, 05:56 PM
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