Richmond Dishcrawl

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Long gone are the days of bar crawls, where I would happily (meaning drunkenly) meander from one bar to the next. That void in my life has now been filled with the Dishcrawl, where I eat plate after plate of ridiculously good food from some of the best restaurants in town.

The “crawl” concept makes total sense – why limit yourself to just one restaurant when you can experience so much more? Social norms dictate that a person shouldn't crawl alone, since eating at multiple restaurants in one night might come off as gluttonous. However, when you get a group of pumped-up diners together and a string of chefs on board, you've got yourself a bonafide food adventure.

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The Dishcrawl is no small movement. It’s a dining event that takes place in 250 cities in the United States and Canada. Passionate food lovers organize the crawls, and they are attended by those who want a unique experience.

I attended my first Dishcrawl last Tuesday and had a blast. The night was filled with surprise stops, meet-and-greets with the chefs, and great conversations with like-minded eaters. I even met some fellow food bloggers who felt like old friends.

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We started off at Heritage, which has received nothing but praise since opening in 2012. Mattias Hagglund, the mastermind behind the much-loved drink menu, was hard at work producing cocktails for both happy hour customers and our Dishcrawl group of 30. I ordered the Bramble, a gin and blackberry cocktail served over crushed ice. It was truly delicious. Once seated, we were promptly served house-made pasta with pork belly sausage, beet and arugula salad with horseradish crème, and a pimento cheese croquette. I enjoyed everything on the plate, particularly the perfectly al dente pasta. 

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On route to the next restaurant we made a surprise stop at the Visual Arts Center. The center offers a variety of community art classes, and I was surprised to learn it also has a free gallery. We admired the beautiful art of Tom Condon before heading on our way.

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Rowland was our second dining destination and the coziest spot of the night. The soft lighting and tasteful Valentine’s Day décor instantly warmed me from the chill outside.  

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Chef Bruce Rowland prepared a southwestern inspired plate of ravioli with cilantro and caper sauce, spring rolls with carnitas, and a black bean cake topped with a fried egg and pico de gallo. The chef graciously made his rounds and greeted all the diners. 

 Chef Rowland at work

Chef Rowland at work

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Just a couple blocks away was the third and most casual restaurant on our tour, Lady Nawlins. My pants were feeling quite tight at this point, but that didn’t stop me from diving into the next dish head on. 

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It was my favorite plate of the night. Its hardiness and bold Cajun flavors hit just the right spot on the bitterly cold night. We ate oysters rockefeller, shrimp and grits with creamy gravy, fried green tomatoes with blackened shrimp and mustard sauce, and a wedge of cornbread.

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The final stop was Mint Gastopub where we enjoyed brioche bread pudding with Don Julio Dolce leche sauce and vanilla ice cream. I loved the dessert and was very impressed by Chef Malcolm Mitchell’s presentation to the group.  It was clear that he was comfortable in front of a crowd after being a contestant on the Next Food Network Star. I got to chat with Chef Malcolm about the show and our mutual love for bone marrow. 

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Before we said our good-byes, we all received a small bag of Blanchard’s, locally roasted coffee, to take home with us. It was a memorable night where I met some great folks and ate myself into a food coma, which is always a good thing.