A disturbing number of my clients, go to work, stop at Kroger for milk, go home and hunker down with Netflix. I know I’m guilty of getting caught on the hamster wheel of work-home-work-home. But, for many of my clients, it may be time to shake off the dust and have a new experience. I want you to taste and experience something ordinary, but in a new way right here in your own backyard. Here are a few places to get started.
Rostov’s Coffee & Tea, 1618 W. Main Str, Richmond, VA 23220. Go and smell the open-air coffee baskets, and order 1 lb of whatever variety smells good to you. It’s like betting on horses, just go with a name. The folks there will grind it while you wait. What to do while you’re waiting? Go to the back of Rostov’s and order a medium Vanilla Chai Tea Latte—there are other choices on the menu, but trust me, order the chai. There’s free parking in the back of the building.
Subrosa Bakery, 620 N 25th St, Richmond, VA 23223. This place is spiritual. They have a quiet diligence to their craft that’s inspiring. You walk into this European bakery, and immediately your eye goes to the giant brick oven in the back. A man with a wooden paddle spoons out croissants dangerously close to wood fire embers. Beach season is over. Eat the carbs. Again, trust me on this, order the croissant with chocolate inside, and almonds. Then order a pottery mug of Illy coffee, and read your newspaper. A real one, ideally the Wall Street Journal Saturday edition (you bought that on the way, right?). Look across the street on your way out, notice “The Roosevelt” restaurant across the street? Go out one night and order a cocktail there. People all over the country are talking about that place, it’s in your own backyard—live a little.
Belle Isle Pedestrian Foot Bridge, Richmond, VA 23219. The river is why we are here. It ran over rocks with such force that wheels could turn and make things, grind things into being. It powered the start of industry here. Walk over the bridge and admire the skyline and the old bridge trestles below. Consider bringing a book to read on a rock along the river, once over the bridge you will find yourself on an island, head west up the island and look for a rock on the right to perch with a blanket and book. May I suggest one? I’ll start with its great ending lines, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.” ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories. On your way back, you’ll need to use the restroom, use the Civil War Center restroom at Tredegar, as you walk into the museum gates, go into the building on your left, it’s free, take the elevator to the bathroom on the second floor. The building you’re now in made artillery during the Civil War.
Time to wet your whistle. So many good places, but if it were me, I’d either go to Penny Lane Pub, 421 E Franklin St, Richmond, VA 23219, for a pint of beer or Havana 59, 16 N 17th St, Richmond, VA 23219 and order the Mojito, if you’re there on a Thursday night, go to the second floor and salsa dance on the terrace after dinner. I know, you don’t know how to salsa, but after 2-3 mojitos, magically you will likely not care.
Your life will improve by reading better books. Did you know that? It really can. It’s OK to start a book and stop and move on, just try a few. Try it. Browsing for books in a real store, not Amazon, is a simple joy that is worth returning to. Black Swan Books, 2601 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220, Libbie Books, 411 Libbie Ave, Richmond, VA 23226, Book People, 536 Granite Ave, Richmond, VA 23226. The Book People store is for sale right now—ever wanted to own a bookstore? You can buy the whole shooting match and run it for $50,000.00. I’ll help keep you in the black.
Visit my church. First Baptist Church, 2709 Monument Ave, Richmond, VA 23220, come to the 11AM service. Wave to your friends, as you’ll be on television! You get in free with or without my newsletter. Come up to me and say hello. I’ll be the guy with the red hair trying to figure out what page of the hymnal we’re now on.
Van’s wife Katie, says, "...but Van, you also love the following places!": Mom’s Siam; Beauregard’s Thai Room, Outdoor Patio; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, (except for the “modern” squiggly line stuff); Buzz & Ned’s Barbecue; Stroll down Monument Avenue; Creery Custom Shirts; Ellwood Thompson’s, Hot Bar.
Final point. I’m going to blow your mind on this one. The best Italian in all of Richmond is in Chester, Virginia at Sapori, 3513 Festival Park Plaza, Chester, VA 23831. You don’t believe me. Go, order the veal saltimbocca. I know you don’t like veal, have never liked veal . . . try it one more time.