Kelly the Culinarian: Food find: The Downtown Grill in Charlottesville

Monday, December 3, 2007

Food find: The Downtown Grill in Charlottesville

I went out to Charlottesville for the first time in at least six years during the weekend. It's lovely time to go out there -- the leaves are changing, University of Virginia is full energy and the roads aren't yet obscured by snow. It's about a 2-and-a-half-hour drive from Washington, D.C., but I hear there's a commuter train that makes its way out there.

On Saturday, we first went out to The Downtown Grille with two of my aunts, an uncle and their four boys. The eatery is on Charlottesville's historic downtown mall. It's home to many eateries, businesses, a theater and children's museum that we used to visit when we came to see my grandparents.

Anyhow, this classy establishment touts itself as the finest purveyor of beef from the Midwest (the taste of home!) and seafood. The interior is moderately lit and has a nice bar decorated with mahogany wood and black leather-type seats to match the interior of the rest of the place. I didn't take any photos, but the Grille's Web site is nicely done.

First, our table got a healthy serving of freshly-made herbed rolls hot from the oven. They were quite tasty and had a good combination of herbs without being overpowering. Most dishes come with a salad made of a generous wedge of iceberg lettuce and topped with either a thick balsamic vinagrette or roquefort dressing, which I found very cheesy-tasting.

I ordered the small filet mignon. It must be an American thing that "small" is an eight-ounce filet, even though a single serving of protein is four ounces. Either way, it was pretty tasty. One side of my filet was peppered a bit too much for my taste, but the meat was very tender and cooked to a satisfactory medium doneness. My cousin Kieran got the Neptune angel hair pasta with shrimp, scallops and crab meat over pasta finished with a basil cream sauce. It looked delicious and the seafood was skillfully presented. My other cousin Patrick is very particular with food and decided to go for a carb fest -- he ordered side dishes of French fries, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. These side dishes are more like sharable family portions -- the mashed potatoes were really tasty and must have had sour cream in them. The mac and cheese was a bit tasteless, but the crunch on the top of the casserole-style dish was interesting. My other cousin Brendan got a surf and turf of a steak with a crab cake and he said the crab cake was delicious. My youngest cousin Griffin got an herbed chicken dish with bacon and cheddar -- he seemed to be a big fan. I can't remember much else that was on the table, but we all walked away stuffed and happy with our meal.

Next up for the night was attending the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra's family holiday concert at Old Cabell Hall at UVa. It was a lovely concert and had a great mix of recognizable, modern Christmas songs as well as more classical instrumental pieces. The show featured the orchestra as well as choir and was quite impressive. There was even a sing along, but I think the crowd favorite was a musical interpretation of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas in which the orchestra played along as a local actor read the poem.

If you ever make it to UVa, try to catch a musical performance there. They really know how to capture a crowd.


Dagny said...

It's been nearly 10 years since I have been in Charlottesville. But I vaguely remember lots of good food. And your post? Has me wishing it was dinnertime around here.

Cynthia said...

I enjoyed your review.

daphne said...

wow..that's a detailed review there! NIce!

KC said...

Mashed potatoes, french fries and mac & cheese? That's funny.

Thanks for the review