Richmond’s Greatest Hits

by Angela on March 16, 2012 · 6 comments

The Hollicks’ Top Ten in Richmond, VA

Can a city still be a blur and memorable at the same time? Yes, Richmond, yes!

Who knew you’d be so kid-friendly, Richmond? Who knew you’d have so many delicious places to dine? And what’s up with your zany, schizophrenic weather patterns? It would snow one day, then hit 80 degrees three days later. Richmond, you impetuous tease, you!

Without further ado, since we’ve just arrived in New Orleans and already racked up so many favorites after three days. Ladies and gentlemen, our Richmond best!

10. Sticky Rice. On this particular Monday night off for Mike, we turned down free tickets to the VCU-Drexel CAA Championship Game so we could dine out and relax as a family. I was yearning for Asian cuisine. Dubious as I was after seeing so much cream cheese in some of their roll creations on their website menu, we gave Sticky Rice a try on the recommendation of Sherry over at Young House Love. We walked in and surveyed the landscape: laid-back hipster vibe, the VCU-Drexel game on all the screens, the smell of stale beer and old wood from the bar-bar, and the sight of two Joe-College types behind the sushi bar. This, all to a Modest Mouse soundtrack trickling from the speakers. Interesting…

Food-wise, we were pleasantly surprised. The quality of the fish itself was solid. The tuna and salmon sushi were melt-in-your-mouth. We had a special hamachi poke app on wonton chips that set us up real nice. My highlight? The “Sticky Wings” with spicy Szechuan sauce. Max seemed completely in his element there, danced around like a maniac (a harbinger of things to come?) and flirted mercilessly with anyone who’d catch his eye. Oh lordy.

9. Maymont Estate. This is about 100 acres of gorgeousness.

These private estate grounds are so kid-friendly that on the spring-like day we went, the trails played host to stroller-derby. There’s a sweet petting zoo, sprawling hills leading through a bird rehab sanctuary and bear preserve, and a Japanese garden with a pond full of monstrous carp. And it’s free. Wheeee! Max went a little ape and started running on one of the trails, only to meet the ground face-first tripping over his own toddler feet. Yes, a bloody nose is not a fun way to start a day but luckily Max moved on from it when he saw the ram!

8. The Jefferson Hotel. Though Mike may not readily admit it, we are suckers for some afternoon tea. While we didn’t get a chance to partake in it at The Jefferson, we did get some late night classic cocktails with our friend Lisa Swift and marveled at the grandiose, ornate beauty of the building, both inside and out. Mike describes it as “magnificent on the scale of Vegas casinos, except real.” Check out the rotunda!

7. Metro Richmond Zoo. We had posted about our excursion with some rather forward giraffes, which remain the best thing about the zoo. The preserve-like feel of the zoo made the visit mellow, enjoyable for toddlers, and not overwhelming. Below, Rashada (Shenzi the Hyena) gets a mouthful. The Richmond Zoo is a must-visit!

6. The Boathouse. I’ll admit that when we walked into this restaurant, I felt like I should be there with my parents after a school graduation — it was that family-fancy. But that’s not to take away from its design. Its ultra-modern interior beautifully blended with the organic shape and flow of the river below. There was a raucous happy-hour bar area that somehow wasn’t distracting to the rest of the dinner diners, given the openness of the whole restaurant. The terrace had an amazing view, and we were bowled over by our server. She was one of the best we’ve ever met: attentive, fun, easy to talk to. The food was on the pricey side, but still delicious: crab cakes, oysters on the half shell, a spicy tuna roll (an American seafood bistro that does maki right!) and a rather salty sauteed spinach side. The cooks made Max a “kid-size” thin-crust pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms which Mike helped him demolish, and although we dashed out of there before dessert was had, we had a really nice experience, beginning to end.

5. Cartwheels & Coffee. We became quite a fixture at this unique toddler playland/cafe on Cary Street. In fact, Mike was a guest storyteller there and packed the house! It was a fun, clean and convenient spot for Max to play and a chance to socialize with other parents over some java. We’d love to put this place in our pocket and take it with us on the road!

4. Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream. We stopped at this Carytown shoppe on the way out of town, and perhaps it was a good thing. The mint chip and cookies ‘n cream ice cream was some of the best we’ve ever tasted! Had we found it earlier in our stay, we would have eaten it every single day and gotten nice and large. (Note: Max won’t touch ice cream. He doesn’t like the coldness! What a weird kid. Oh well, more for Mama and Dada.)

3. Millie’s Diner. Mike and Mark David Kaplan (he plays Zazu in The Lion King) had a wonderfully decadent lunch at this upscale retro diner on East Main Street, and its style was anything but prosaic. Millie’s had a hip, rustic vibe, with little mini-jukeboxes at each table. It felt cozy, intimate and approachable — the cook was literally in the front window, preening for all to see. He’d greet everyone as they walked in, like a real neighborhood institution. They started with an addictive saffron, crab and cauliflower soup. Mark then had a fried oyster salad with blue cheese, dried apricots, candied pecans and a white balsamic vineagrette. Mike had a pan-seared salmon over a potato-leek hash with a lemon mustard buerre blanc — “The single best piece of salmon I’ve ever had!” he proclaimed in pure Hollick fashion.

2. Can Can Brasserie. We spent our Valentines’ Day here, reunited after over one month apart. The menu was delectable and the service was extremely kid-friendly considering the “holiday”!

1. Richmond Children’s Museum. What would we have done without this gem? Our cousins Amy & Albert gifted us one of the most thoughtful road activities for Max — a reciprocal membership to all American Children’s Museums around the country. Amazing! Our first city proved totally worthwhile, as Max got to go five times in Richmond. Every time the car would turn into the museum’s parking lot, Max would start yelping, “Wow, wow, wow!”

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

John Watson March 17, 2012 at 3:05 am

Your blog makes Richmond seem like a real vacation.


Mike March 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm

It was a great place to start out tour life as a family — plenty of things to do, but relaxing and easy as well. Thanks for checking in John!


Ann J. March 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm

This is agreat list! I will be visiting some old friends in Richmond with my two little ones and I’ll be sure to hit some of these places on your list. Thank you Hollicks!


Mike March 19, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Glad we could help with our top ten list Ann!


steve mccarthy March 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Thank you for making our hometown seem so fun. it is a good place to raise a family, and my kids really enjoyed the Lion King when you were here. next time you are here be sure to dine at The Black Sheep which is in your Carver neighborhood. their “battleship” sandwiches will destroy you, haha!


Mike March 19, 2012 at 9:31 pm

We actually did go to The Black Sheep Steve! They are not kidding around with their Battleships. A half order is huge!!


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