Richmond Restaurant Review

Richmond Restaurant Review A no nonsense guide to the truth.

Operating as usual


Candelas Midlothian

I’m completely torn on this review. First there is the slow service, may I add, legendary slow service. The slow service that you would get when your grandmother who on the verge of Alzheimer’s attempts to do more than two things at once and then pulls out ninja smoke and disappears for 10-15 minutes. Your worried, but then you see her giving menus out to another table, the whole time while your attempting everything shy of smoke signals to get her attention.
Okay, so there the slow service. Done. Doesn’t ever get any better. I’ll drop it.
Next: salad bar. Hmmm. I’m too young to remember what mid-seventies salad bars looked like, but I do remember mid-eighties salad bars, and this, was worse than that. Canned three bean salad in it’s own canning juice just begs to be outdone.....and it is......canned beets! I’m sure that not only does this salad bar emulate the early to mid eighties, but is solely marketed for that age group. Potato salad, randomly sized cucumber discs, and tomato slices (of all culinary cuts) which I can only imagine are just over prepped from the kitchens sub business. Do I have anything positive about the salad bar? Beyond no additional salad bar topping like croutons or bacon bits...the dressings (minus the 1.5 oz. packages) were good.
So what was good you ask? Pizza. Delicious. Crust superb. Sauce on point. We ate half in hope that I could relive that moment, just the pizza moment, one more time at home. Ahhhh, take out!!
My apologies for the quickie, but time is short, and I needed to vent! Cheers!!




Short Commentary on Cocktailing

Okay, let’s start with the eye rolling bartender, they are called mixologist. Sporting only the latest fashion trends of size 28 skinny flat front pants adorned with high fashion suspenders, the always visible partial sleeve tattoo, smartly trimmed lumberjack beard, and a 1950’s James Dean hair part. He knows mixology. He is mixology. He is one with mixology, goddamn hand carved ice cubes and all. The dare to request a domestic beer or even a rail highball will release a scowl that screams at you like your uncle Trump deported his grandmother.
This modern bartender forages the forests before his shift for earthly ingredients. Lavenders. Honey. Roots and berries. Artistic combinations of flavors highlight his ever changing drink menu. While this task to remain on the cutting edge of “bar trend” sounds daunting….. it is. The spotlight of RVA bar stardom comes with a cost, not just a mere monetary cost, but a hospitality cost. Patrons wait eagerly as the cocktail surgeon crafts his overly thought out elixir, all the time you stand there hoping for a nod to be the next sheep served, but it doesn’t come. Five, eight, ten minutes? Just when you think your luck has come, the sly tender begins his subtle bragging on his vast knowledge of small batch syrups to the cooing 20 something blonde who inhales his cocktail charisma fully. Then alas, my turn has come and I realized how fortunate I was just to be served by this master craftsman. “What can I get you”, he asked, spinning a shaker in one hand while magically dealing a bev nap that landed perfectly in front of me, logo present. “Do you have Miller Lite?”
So the questions are posed: Where did the hospitality go in the hospitality industry? Who said it was a bartender job to inform his guests on the genetic makeup of dandelion bitters? How many languages do I need to know to decipher your cocktail menu? Where is the approachability? Did you make up words to describe that drink?
As Billy Ray once said, “We need less bar chefs, and more Sam Malones.”


Last stand of the Marlboro Man:
Three South of the River Smoking Establishments

While I chose to use the word establishment, my initial intention was to opt for the word “bar”. This more accurately describes most of these locations. “We are a restaurant first”, I can hear them say. Okay. The one thing they all have in common is sweet tobacco……and a fish bowl seating area for any unaccustomed non-smoker who may trespass.


The Forest. Located on Forest Hill Avenue, this is one of two places oddly situated very close to one another. The Forest is a strange beast. It garners from all walks of life. Retired contractors, or contractors who should be retired to women of the day, ready for a long shift, you will see anyone in here. This dive bar (it did win Style Weekly’s best dive bar a few years back) offers a few memorable menu items. First the Big Richard: A menu mainstay that will turn an 18” pizza into a 5 ½ pound mountain of Italian love. This pie has it all, broccoli, tomato, meats, cheeses etc. etc. I say good luck not indulging on a slice before leaving if getting it to go. Secondly, lunch: the daily specials which run at $5.50 are the bargain that bargain hunters seek out. I had a brick of meatloaf, smothered in rich onion gravy, mashed potatoes and a choice of another side from an option of too many. Why did I ruin my afternoon my eating it all? Because that s**t was real good. Now I feel as though I must address the initial choice of the word “bar” before moving onward. Webster’s defines it as a counter in which alcoholic beverages are served, more or less. This counter is well versed at serving alcoholic beverages. The highballs are high, and the beer is iced. The jukebox is loud, and the bathrooms are outside. Match these conditions with the patrons, and the plethora of ashtrays and boom, you have the Holy Grail of Dive Bars. I must warn, even with the two smoke eaters operating at 110% you will not be cloaking the smell of smoke on your clothes in this place.

On down the road to Hull Street and to Taylor’s at Market Square. Oddly enough, this bar and the Forest were once owned by the same gentleman years back. While this may be the first of coincidences, the second and only second is: Smoking. Taylor’s ups the game in the area of ambiance and comfort, and the smoke eaters work. Taylors has a patio, it is a big patio to where in the summer months, covered dining and drinking can be enjoyed while watching people with a lot of drinks, attempt to play co****le. Fun for all. In all seriousness though, one great patio. The inside brings cold beer, great service and great food. The beer box gets the bottle selection down to about 38F. Perfect. Taylors offers happy hour specials that rival most competitors and the service does as well. Always amply staffed, we never had to wait for anything. Food. While I would like to write about menu options and highlights, I’m drawn to one item: Nachos. These were the best that I have had in the RVA in a long time. Piled high, chunky spiced beef chili and real cheeses make this monster plate a happy hour blessing. This may be the Crowned Prince of sports food. Obligated to mention at least on more menu item, I must go with the Fried Tilapia Sandwich. I had this a few weeks back and my question is: how is this sandwich so consistently good? The tomatoes appeared fresh out of summer and the fish was cooked as perfectly as it was seasoned. Bravo. And to be able to enjoy a fine cigarette afterward is just the icing on the cake.

Finally back to Forest Hill Avenue to the small door with the small sign that holds a small bar.
The Locker Room.
For those who get banned from the Forest can usually be found in this dive. This U shaped bar is semi filled during the day by the same faces who consume the same drinks at the same time, all while consuming ci******es that make the shareholders of Altria smile. I will add that this place possesses an imbalance, not just in customer IQ’s but in the fact that you can leave without smelling like smoke. I attribute that to the complete lack of air circulation. The smoke literally goes up, and collects on the ni****ne ceiling. Convenient.
We have good and bad here. As I mentioned a bit of the bad based on the daytime customers, there is some good happens at night. The evening crowd is surprisingly versatile and let me ask, how does this bar attain a “real” bartender? This guy, we will call him “Austin”, mastered his bar. Full bar, two deep, no waiting, all accuracy. Impressive. Now we will attempt to go onto food. And while that attempt was made, I was scared. Scared by the circa 1973 sign hanging on the wall with the mismatched font, block letters that say BLT. Too abashed to take a picture with my smart phone for evidence, I did partake in a bag of chips that were happily in date, clipped to a rusty stand near the said menu board.
I will express my disappointment in the less than positive review for the culinary endeavors of this bar, and also for the lack of understanding I have for the patrons that glare at new faces in “their bar” like they carry the Ebola virus.

In closing, there are more options for those who smoke. These are three. All have sealed rooms with separate HVAC in which patrons can make side wagers on how long the non-smokers will last. Usually, they don’t even last for the menu.
Times are still changing and I will soon be disappointed when these last smoking options go by the way side.

“Then she declared loudly, “Smoke break!” and everyone’s eyes came to us, some of them shocked seeing as these days you could light up a joint and no one would blink but if you lit up a cigarette, you courted being publicly stoned to death.”
― Kristen Ashley, Wild Man


We just started this page a week ago. We are here to provide a honest, culinary based reviews on RVA restaurants. So sit back, relax, and get ready!


What happened to Southbound?
JV squad? Holiday weekend? Kitchen hangovers?
My inaugural visit was a joy. My wife and I were treated to great service, and great food. What more could you ask for? Ahh, fast forward two months and that question becomes loaded.
Our party started off by playing musical chairs. The girls who were seated with a great view of the dining room and kitchen were forced to move due to a 20 degree drop in temperature next to the uninsulated strip mall window. While I tend to pack on some winter weight, I too was unprepared for the chill of this “window” seat.
Our server was polite and soon became attentive after our initial drink order took uncomfortably long. A fancy microbrew draft, glass of red, bourbon and ginger and a Makers neat. This portion of our evening only had two missteps: 1. not sure of the intended flavor that the brewer of the “beer” was going for but I’m sure Ralphie from a Christmas Story could relate with the soap in the mouth. I too felt his physical punishment. I attempted at the time of this writing to remember the name of this soapy liquid in hopes of warning others, but the website was not updated. 2. I assume that neat is the vernacular to describe a drink sans ice? Nope.
Food. The reason we are here and they are here.
Fried clam strips. First visit: perfect. This visit: refer to opening questions. A mass of fried clams that were forgotten in the fryer. Crispy on the outside and warm batter on the inside. 50% yummy.
Entrees: My first visit I was awarded a perfectly cooked, flavorful beef teres major, or petite shoulder tender. Wanting my comrade to indulge in my previous enjoyment, I opted for the pork steak as an alternative. Curses. Even with my culinary background, I could not determine what cut it was or how it was destroyed. The accompaniments (which was missing the BBQ cabbage but subbed black eyed peas) luckily staved my appetite while the overly crispy meat screamed for liquid. I looked to my right for some menu redemption but found his beef ordered rare, somehow cooked itself to a perfect medium: refer to question two or four in the beginning of this writing.
The ladies opted for fish. A nightly special of rockfish was succulent, crispy skinned and perfectly cooked, A+. The fried catfish again was cooked perfectly for the flavorless fish. Swai comes to mind. That inexpensive, Vietnamese, heavily cultivated white fish that many use in place of catfish. Now I’m not making a claim that Southbound would ever use Swai, but just that it came to mind. Regardless, the plate was simply bad.
Hazelnut Candy Bar: Delicious, plated perfect, accurate components and utterly satisfying. While our hopes were high that this little gem could be the redeemer, it was not to be. A few too many missteps and miscues had foiled the evening. While these were all simple fixes, they occurred, and were the topic of conversation for the remainder of the evening.
I’m hoping that Southbound gets back on the horse and shows me the happiness that I once discovered and I know can still exist.


25 E Broad St
Richmond, VA

Opening Hours

Monday 11am - 10pm
Tuesday 11am - 10pm
Wednesday 11am - 10pm
Thursday 11am - 10pm
Friday 11am - 11pm
Saturday 11am - 11pm
Sunday 11am - 10pm


Be the first to know and let us send you an email when Richmond Restaurant Review posts news and promotions. Your email address will not be used for any other purpose, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Nearby restaurants

Other Dessert Shops in Richmond

Show All