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Richmond, VA


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And now we have also been to ZZQ.  We were driving south on I-95 and bet on getting quick enough service to reach our destination on time.  There was no line on Friday at around 1:45.  The service was friendly and efficient.  We ordered pork ribs, brisket (mix of fatty and lean), hab sausage, hot guts, pulled pork, pastrami, small buttermilk potato salad, small jalapeno mac and cheese, 2 pickled jalapeno, and banana pudding.  The order also came with a health stash of pickles and pickled onions.

Overall we're really impressed.  All the meats were moist, perfectly textured, and deeply flavorful.  The least of the batch is probably the pastrami, which was a little saltier and tougher than I'd like it (yeah, I know it's pastrami).  I think I still like my dry rubbed ribs better but the ZZQ pork ribs were delicious and perfectly cooked.  The rest were all amongst or are the best of their kind I've ever had.  The pickles and provided sauces went really well with the meats.

Of the sides/desserts, we liked the potato salad the best.  The mac and cheese and banana pudding were good specimens for their kind, but we felt they were not worth sacrificing the space that could be otherwise allocated to more meat.

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My friend had to travel down to Richmond to get his Covid vaccination.  The first time down he sent me sad photos from McDonalds...the second time down I was like, dude, go to ZZQ.  I then sent him an order to bring back.

Even after traveling back from Richmond and then sitting in my fridge overnight, this is some mighty fine bbq.

The pulled pork was succulent with smoke and great peppery bite.  The beef hot gut sausage was also very tasty.  This is a fairly coursely ground sausage with great flavor and a tingle of heat.  Their slaw is just ok, esp. by itself, but it was pretty good when add to the pork in sandwich form.

Overall, great success. 

Photo is a bbq plate I made at home.  Pickles not included.

ZZQ BBQ.jpg

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When I made the reservation for Longoven last week I didn't realize the restaurant would be on the front page of the Times Dispatch a few days in a row for being the first in the area to require proof of vaccination to dine, which seemed to cause quite the dust up.  We ate lunch at a restaurant that didn't require, ate dinner at a restaurant that did - both were fine meals.

The price at Longoven is currently $110 for 6 true courses, plus a 'snack' and a petit fours/candy final.  I've found tasting menus in late summer can run into tomato overload, which Longoven avoided.  Dishes were seasonal while being varied and inventive.  Highlights were the Shrimp, Avocado, Daikon, Bell Pepper (shrimp, avocado, tomato, daikon radish, fermented bell pepper sauce) and my wife's Grilled Leek course, which she subbed in from the vegetarian menu so I don't have the full details.  Low point was Maitake, Egg, Miso, Furikake (marinated and grilled maitake mushroom,  egg yolk, furikake, miso, yuzu).  All dishes currently have asian accents - being our first visit, unsure if this is the norm or just the chef's preference this season.  My biggest feedback was that each dish was a little too salty, and after 6 courses I was on salt overload.

Wine pairings were $85, and while they were interesting and well-chosen, the pours were small to the point of not having enough wine to pair with each course, and seemed out of balance compared to the price of the menu (and bigger pours may have smoothed some of the rougher edges of the menu).  Service was excellent, and the menu does require a 22% service charge.

Avoiding more specific dish critiques, overall we enjoyed our meal.  Clocking in at 90 minutes and $110, this is an approachable tasting menu, though I would forego the pairings and just order by the glass/bottle if a future seasonal menu was attractive.

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The dining scene in Short Pump is not good.  A lot of sub-optimal chains - I find myself eating Cheesecake Factory more often than I'd like to admit because they have something for everyone and that poorly-named Skinnylicious menu.  West End Provisions can be good, but it can also be an expensive disappointment.

In my opinion, Yaya's Cookbook is the diamond in the rough.  Pan asian may be the best description, but this place doesn't claim to be authentic to any cuisine - Peter Chang's is across the street for those seeking that.  But Yaya's is a heck of a lot more fun with great cocktails, good atmosphere (think more party than serene) and satisfying food.  

I usually get the Miss Me Mexico (Mezcal, Smoky honey-pineapple 3 spiced, limes, Hell fire bitter, Ground nutmeg, $10) but the drink menu is almost as long as the food menu.  The Surf and Turf roll (Shrimp tempura, crab stick, pickle, onion inside and top with torched fillet mignon garlic butter sauce, scallion and tobiko, $19) will make any sushi purist cringe, but is delicious nonetheless.  The curry bowls, fried rice and noodle dishes we've tried have all been above average for Thai takeout in the area.

Side note - Yaya's often closes for Carry Out on Friday and Saturday nights to avoid their kitchen from becoming overwhelmed.

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We (my husband, my 7-year-old, and I) just decided to go to Virginia Beach next weekend. (Thanks, Yom Kippur and a day off from school in MoCo.) I haven't been to Virginia Beach in 20 years (!) and I don't think my husband has ever been.

We'll be driving from Silver Spring and I'm thinking we'll break up the drive by stopping for lunch in the Richmond area (but probably not in Richmond itself -- I'm well aware of ZZQ, but that's probably not happening this time). Looks like we'll be getting on 295 from 95 and then getting on 64 around Richmond. I'm sure it's mostly chain central in terms of restaurants in that area, but any chance anyone knows of any decent choices not too far off the highway?

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