Lemaire at The Jefferson: A Review

Where: Lemaire at The Jefferson, 101 W. Franklin St.

What: Dinner, Dessert and Wine

Number of people: 2

Total Cost: $110

Overall Rating: 5 of 5 stars

For our anniversary/Valentine’s Day Adam decided to splurge with some extra spending money and go to one of the best fine dining restaurants in Richmond, Lemaire, located in the famous Jefferson Hotel. I had been to The Jefferson for a cotillion-like event in college and Adam had never been but you don’t have to live in Richmond long to know that if it’s at The Jefferson it’s going to be good. The meal was delicious and certainly high quality with excellent presentation, although with small portions (part of the early bird special we used). The staff, especially our waitress, were very hospitable and the atmosphere was sophisticated and Southern, yet with a modern flair. The alligator is the “mascot” of Lemaire and it was entertaining to see the giant statues everywhere. The restaurant specializes and certainly prides itself on using local foods that are prepared fresh.

Adam learned from the Web site that Lemaire had an early bird special (5 pm – 6 pm) with a fixed menu of appetizer, entree and dessert for $30 per person, as well as three glasses of wine for an extra $15. There were two appetizer selections, a soup and a salad; three entree options of steak, salmon or vegetarian; and two dessert options. Adam and I both chose the Cream of Sunchoke Bisque as an appetizer and the Buckhead Petite Filet as an entree. Adam got the Butterscotch Creme Brulee and I got the Southern Pecan Tart for dessert.

Neither Adam nor I knew what a sunchoke was but decided we wanted bisque as opposed to the salad option. It was served elegantly with the locally grown oyster mushrooms and herbed roasted tomatoes in the center of the bowl and the bisque poured around when it was brought to the table. Apparently a sunchoke is known as a Jerusalem Artichoke and is a type of sunflower. The taste was wonderful. The bisque was hearty yet with a muted flavor. When you bit into the tomatoes they had an intense acidic flavor that complimented the sunchoke well and the mushrooms were incredibly buttery and added a great texture. When our waitress came to take the bowls she sarcastically commented on how much we didn’t like the bisque.

Since we were getting a deal and wanted to take advantage of it, we both went for the filet. As I said before the portions were small (although the bisque was a “normal” size) so the filet was only about two ounces. It came with a bourbon mustard demi-glaze, Sage Mashed Potatoes and Brown Butter Cabbage. The filet was excellent. The glaze was not as flavorful as I expected and it was difficult to taste the mustard, but the filet did not really need it. The glaze did give a mustard hint, but not as much as I would have liked. The mashed potatoes were perfectly flavored and a good consistency. The cabbage was also a great addition.

And of course the desserts were amazing. The creme brulee was very sweet and had a nice crunchy top. The tart was very Southern with a nice twist with added chocolate and Cinnamon Latte Ice Cream, as well as a strawberry and blackberry that were great with the Honey Cinnamon Caramel. I wanted to give an Italian kiss when we were done.

With the meal we ordered the wine deal (three 3 oz pours) to share. The waitress chose the wines because as she said, they are all professional wine drinkers there. For the appetizer she brought us a chardonnay. I don’t have the specific names since we were celebrating and not “working”. It was light and paired well with the bisque. For the filet she brought us a California cabernet that was incredibly smooth while being bold enough to stand up to the red meat. I am not a fan of intense or dry wines but this cabernet was delicious. Dessert was paired with an Italian dessert wine that was almost like a syrup. It was perfect and could only be taken in small sips.

The meal was amazing and we felt like we had spent our money, well Adam’s money, well. It was a wonderful, romantic evening at one of the premier attractions in Richmond. I will have the return the favor some day soon and treat Adam to a night at Lemaire. Well, maybe lunch.

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