February 11, 2010


I was saving this review for a professional article, but that doesn't appear to be happening, so here it is.

A few weeks ago, I was itching to get out and have dinner. I had made plans to meet a friend at Tarrant's, one of my standbys, but he cancelled at the last minute as I was driving there, so I bravely went by myself. There are only a few places in town that I feel comfortable going alone and eating at the bar and it was a Sunday night, so I figured it would be fairly empty. I felt very much like Karen over at I Could Go On and On.

I sat at the first part of the L-shaped bar, right near the door. It was a cold, rainy, windy night when I arrived around 6:15 pm. While I was there, several parties of 6 or more came in, and the extended space next door definitely expanded their clientele. The phone rang steadily. There were 2-3 guys at the other end of the bar, who the cute, friendly red-headed bartender seemed to know. I enjoyed listening to their conversations.

An older gentleman came to the front of the restaurant and asked me if I'd mind if he talked on his cell phone. It was such a thoughtful gesture since I was sitting right there.

I got a glass of $6.50 Pinot Noir and settled in with my newspaper. I saw that a vegetable tart was on special ($8.95). It said it was layered with mushroom, goat cheese, olives, garlic, asparagus, and tomato, which I eagerly ordered. While I was waiting for my food, the bartender brought me a garlic bread "taco." Now normally I can't eat garlic because I can never get the taste/smell out of my system, but I figured I wasn't going to be making out with anyone that night, so I ate it.

I was hugely disappointed when my food came to find out that the vegetable tart I was promised was actually a flatbread pizza with veggies on it and a side salad. I know Tarrant's has recently gotten into the pizza business, but I did NOT order pizza. Tart implies something sophisticated, fluffy, layers, mostly vegetable. I love pizza, and it tasted good, but when you expect to get one thing, and something else comes out, well that's just frustrating.

My second wine pour was quite generous. After reading in Style Weekly that the 3rd Street Diner was thinking about starting a strip club in their upstairs (WTF?!), I shared this with the bartender, who had heard that news too. She mentioned she'd been there recently at 3AM and had a very pregnant server with her ta tas practically hanging out. Neither of us dared to imagine if she'd be one of the new "dancers" if the strip club opens.

The bartender and waitstaff alternated as front of house/hostess seamlessly. There was a good mix of old and young patrons, newbies and regulars. They offer free parking at Jim's parking lot on Grace & Foushee, but that's across the street from the lot where my friend Kevin got car-jacked at gunpoint a few years ago at First Fridays. Since then, I only park on well-lit streets.

Ellen turned out to be the bartenders name, and one of the guys at the bar was her roommate. He noted that one of her friends had frequently tried to take him home, and another staff member, possibly the owner, Ted Santarella, remarked that perhaps that friend could get a job as a stripper at the new 3rd Street. Ellen and I exchanged knowing smiles.
Tarrant's Cafe
1 W Broad St
Richmond, VA 23220-4212
(804) 225-0035

Red Wines are $6-$7.50 a glass. Bottles are $20-$85 with most in the $20 range
White Wines are $6-$7 a glass. Bottles $20-$59.
$9.50 martinis, and champagne, port, and spiked coffee offerings as well.
Beer bottles are $3.50-$4.75 but fancy ones go up to $8.
Drafts $5ish

1 comment:

  1. I've never been to Tarrant's but have heard good things about it. I want to go!