Curious how the other half lived, as we had only dim recollections after our acquaintance with luxury, Paul and I set off to enjoy breakfast with the people. Like Jacob Riis before us, we decided to visit the dirtiest, most squalid conditions we could think of—i.e. Waffle House.
Richmond defied expectations by having a Waffle House located on a crowded city street with a cavernous interior. Much like a millionaire politician on the campaign trail, we settled into our “just folks” skins comfortably, kissing babies, shaking hands, and pounding double waffles and the All-Star Breakfast (something that would have probably won Hillary the election, just sayin’). Convinced we’d landed the optics just right, much like the 16-million dollar man, Uncle Joe, we headed back to our gilded palace.
Back at the hotel, we explored the beautiful indoor pool complete with skylight, many large windows, and super comfortable loungers. We worked off our Waffle House breakfast by swimming laps (lazily floating), enjoying the distinctive smooth jazz covers of popular songs humming in the background. The best part? We had the pool completely to ourselves!
After our lazy swim we explored more of the hotel, taking in the grand lobby, gift shop, and salon. We continued our heavy schedule of relaxing by spending a few pleasant hours reading.
Having frittered away our morning in idle pursuits, like our fellow moneyed brethren, we had our driver (his name is Uber) take us to Buskey Cider. Buskey proved to be one of the best parts of the trip. They had red, white, and blue flights of cider (the blue was their classic RVA died with spirulina) and free hot dogs. People decked out for the fourth sat on rustic wooden benches, playing board games, and sipping delicious All-American apple cider. One tiny Jack Russell even sported a festive red RVA bandana. If we were politicians on the election trail, this was exactly the kind of spot we’d have chosen for our Independence Day photo-op. Our flight included nearly all the ciders on offer, excluding truly gag-inducing sounding offerings like pizza or duck sauce. We gravitated toward the watermelon rosemary and the traditional RVA.
A few hours later, we walked the short distance to Blue Bee Cidery, barely avoiding the rapidly approaching thunderstorm. We sought shelter in their tasting room. The flight of 10 or so ciders didn’t blow us away (with the exception of their extra-strong, sweet ginger-inspired Firecracker cider), but excited to try their 4th of July frosé special, we decided to stick around. Short on tables, we shared with a group of friends—two of whom had just moved to Richmond. The rest worked in the food service industry—chefs and baristas—the perfect people for our food-and-travel obsessed small talk. Just when we decided to walk to dinner, the sky erupted in jagged lightning, crashing thunder, and sheets of rain. Though we had only one block to walk, the water rushing down the sidewalk tempted us to stay and have another drink. Or three.
Finally, when our stomachs couldn’t take any more, we braved the storm and walked the block to Lunch.Supper! Crowded, cramped, and dark, Lunch.Supper! looked like the kind of place I usually run from. But we’d read the food was top-notch, so we bellied up to the obscenely crowded bar, snagged a drink, and stood with our backs to the bar, hoping to wiggle and squirm and suck in our stomachs, so waiters and customers could get by in the narrow walkway.
Before long we were seated and thus began one of the best meals of Paul’s life. I leave the details to him in his longer restaurant review. But I will say that the Moscow-mule style beverage I had with Belle Isle grapefruit moonshine delighted the tongue and it’s hard to find a more perfect bite than their pimento cheese and Tasso ham.
In the true American spirit, our day of sloth, drinking, and heavy Southern cuisine caught up to us and we returned to the hotel to pass out.