As I tend to be when I get to pick the time for brunch, I was the first customer of the day at The Speakeasy Grill last week. It was a cold and rainy Sunday, the type that make me want to do nothing more than curl up in a big blanket and watch enough Netflix that I can periodically yell at the TV, "Yes, I'm still watching, please stop with your judgement."
The one thing that can get me rolling on mornings like that is brunch, especially brunch at participating locations for Richmond Brunch Weekend.
I parked around the corner from The Speakeasy Grill and was immediately taken with the quaint house that The Speakeasy Grill is in. I knew it was associated with the Hippodrome Theater, which I assumed would make it a very different ambiance than it was. I was expecting something less quaint.
I follow in a musician. Am I about to be blown out of the room with really loud music? I wondered as I head up the stairs.
When I walked in, I was immediately sat in a spacious, fluffy booth. I am warmed by the ambiance. There are deep colors, a huge chandelier and indoor stainless glass art illuminated on the walls. I couldn't get a good picture of them, so that teaser will just be another reason to visit.
The waitress was quick to bring me a cup of coffee and water while I waited for my friend to arrive. Upon my friend's arrival, she offered us some advice on what to order. The chicken and waffles are ranked by Food + Wine among the best chicken and waffles in the country, so if you're a brunch blogger, that means you absolutely have to order them.
We also got the gumbo and the special waffle of the day, which was apple and caramel. And some $3 mimosas, because rain.
The gumbo came out quickly and had a great, rich flavor with just the right about of spice. My one gripe about the gumbo was that there was only one shrimp, which made splitting it almost laughable. However, I assume we're likely in the minority when it comes to attempting to split soup.
When the waffles came out, I was blown away by the presentation of our sweet waffle. The drizzle was healthy yet well-designed, and they were generous with the apples. However, that was dessert to me, so let's start with the award-winning chicken and waffles.
I divvied up our waffle, and then dug in. I'm fairly confident the chicken is the reason they won the award. The breading was crispy and flavorful, and the meat was thick and juicy. The waffle was sweet and crisp. It was a very well-done waffle dish.
The sweet waffle truly surprised me. I'm typically more of a savory bruncher, yet I loved this waffle. Without the chicken, the waffle truly stood out. It had a beautiful vanilla flavor, brought out with the powdered sugar and drizzle.
Weirdly, I want to talk a lot about the potatoes. They had a delicious curry spice on them and were cooked to perfection. They were the perfect consistency with tender insides and flavored to perfection. I know they're a side dish, but they stole a piece of my heart.
As we were paying, I was telling my friend about writing brunch reviews (fingers crossed he guest writes for us), and he said, "So you'd write about the so-smooth jazz music, right?"
Absolutely. The musician that I followed in was a part of a three-piece (this might need to be fact-checked, I'm not confident I'm right on how many people were in the band), and they serenaded us with light jazz.
I watched a movie where people were time traveling back and forth to their favorite time periods. One guy went to the 1920's when it was raining and was considering staying.
The Speakeasy Grill captures the reasons why that would be enticing.