We love traveling. If that means a long planned and saved for trip to Europe, a once a year anniversary jaunt to the Outer Banks or just an impromptu visit to a part of Richmond we’ve never spent any time in, it’s all appealing to us. While you never get away from phones anymore, we love that feeling of freedom and unconnectedness that comes from being GONE. No laundry, no raking, nothing to look at that says, “You need to deal with this”.
I love spending time with Mr. Kim. I know I talk his ears off. And I’m sure sometimes after an hour or so alone with me he WISHES they were off. I am the original Jabberjaws. I can prattle on about anything. But we DO enjoy our escapes. We had a lovely surprise one on Tuesday. Mr. Kim has been off work for a few days and had really not done anything fun. We just lazed around the house getting a few things done (NOT taking down any Christmas decorations – they are all still up). He had oral surgery today and goes back to work on Tuesday next week, so I wanted him to have some time out of the house. We discussed a few different things and he finally decided on some antiquing (yes, I married a man who enjoys wandering around antique shops – mass envy from all my girlfriends, I know) in Lakeside. We had a lovely time poking around the shops, not buying, but searching for some cordial glasses (our good friends, the Burrs, introduced us to Stone’s Original Ginger wine. It makes a lovely aperitif. We had to borrow appropriate glasses and were looking for some of our own. Every pattern we liked had 3, 4 or 5, but not 6. We want six. So we had a good time looking.
After the stores closed, at 5pm, we were ready to eat. We’ve been wanting to try a place near there that I’ve heard good things about – hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, bologna burgers, nightly dinner specials like spaghetti, meatloaf and BBQ. Just our kind of place. Unfortunately they were closed for their Christmas holiday. So we just hit Route 301 North, going nowhere in particular.
It was still light, so the drive was lovely. I am always for taking the state route over the interstate and the country road over the state route. More jibber-jabber from me (poor Mr. Kim) and a little desultory conversation about where we might eat. Ashland was mentioned, as was Pope’s Creek for crabs. But we felt like going farther than Ashland and it was just too damn cold for crabs. So we settled on Fredericksburg. Specifically The Bavarian Chef in Fredericksburg.
A little backstory: When Mr. Kim was in grad school at UVA, we discovered The Bavarian Chef on Route 29 in Madison. It was a little steep for grad students, but was the perfect place for parents to take us to when visiting (insert sly smile). We all fell madly in love with this place. Very friendly family running it, incredibly good German food (can’t say whether it is authentic or not, but delicious) and HUGE portions. A really cool thing that they did was to put only the protein portion of your meal on a plate and then bring a bunch of bowls full of side dishes – very family style. It’s the kind of place that induces food comas, but in a good way.
When we ended up back in Richmond, we went back a few times and loved it still. Mr. Kim’s parents have gone back over the years – even staying in a hotel so they wouldn’t have to drive back in a coma (about a one hour drive!). We were very excited to hear that they had opened a location in Fredericksburg – just an hour north of us and a delightful place to visit. With one thing and another, we hadn’t made it there, but Momma and I did meet some family from Northern Virginia there for a mini-reunion lunch this fall. It is a lovely setting. They’ve put it in the old railroad station:
Momma and I were happy to find that the food was just as good as we remembered.
So that’s where we decided to head on Tuesday. It was early, so we got a table by the fireplace with no trouble and this location has just as nice folks as the original. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so welcome at a restaurant. Our waiter, Lance, was perfect. Friendly and knowledgeable, but not overly chatty. This is the kind of place that still brings a real bread basket to the table before you even order:
From 12 o’clock: rye bread, lovely herb butter, tender yeast roll, tiny pumpernickel roll and caraway bread sticks. Every single piece was perfect.
We started with what is probably my favorite dish on the planet:
Snails in beer batter Provencal. These are basically snail fritters – crisp and tender all at once, drenched in garlic butter. I am a snail freak and will order them if they are on a menu. I’ve probably missed a hundred wonderful dishes because I can’t pass them up, but I’ve never had anything this good. They were the only thing on the table that got finished, I think.
Mr. Kim’s main dish was Jager Schnitzel:
Prime veal medallions covered with a blend of mushrooms, bacon and fresh cream. It doesn’t look terribly appetizing, but it was delicious. I loved my bite, after I shooed all those pesky fungal things away.
I had sauerbraten with a sweet and sour raisin sauce:
I know that it looks like a plate of baked beans, but those are plumped up raisins and FOUR enormous slices of meat. Wonderful and still delicious heated up the next day (very important for me). Here are the sides that I mentioned (a table of two gets FOUR choices):
Creamed corn, potato dumplings, green beans with tomatoes and red cabbage. I have no idea how they manage to have such incredible corn in January. The beans are either fresh or house canned and the red cabbage is the only one I’ve ever tasted that was better than mine. When we got back, I put the leftovers in two of those meal-sized plastic divided dishes:
See what I mean? It’s Friday and I still haven’t finished them!
After dinner, we drove around the neighborhood that surrounds the train station. It’s a beautiful old town area, with gorgeous old houses and cool shops and antique stores. Many of the homes and businesses were still decorated for Christmas, so it was especially lovely. In fact, it was so lovely that we decided on the spot to forgo our usual Outer Banks anniversary trip and go to Fredericksburg instead with our celebratory dinner at The Bavarian Chef and a good wander around for a couple of days. Plenty of history for Mr. Kim and lots of architectural eye-candy for both of us!
It truly was a stolen day and we had a wonderful time. And we are always up for a return visit, so anyone who wants to go there sometime, just ask and you’ll have enthusiastic dinner partners!