I awoke with my brain beating a tattoo “…salami and cheese, salami and cheese, salami and cheese…” till it reached crescendo “…croissant!” In part, we decided to go to Richmond to experience Sub Rosa Bakery’s much touted local ground grains lovingly formed into flaky layered French pastry. We’d read about it in Bon Appetit, in Eater, and now this was the morning we’d finally experience it for ourselves.
Like nearly every establishment we visited in Richmond, Sub Rosa had charming staff in Bohemian hipster clothes, ethically sourced products, and nods to sustainability like reusable cups and plates. Paul and I diverged in our opinion of Sub Rosa. Paul maintains that the Sub Rosa pastry lacked the fermented tang of French butter and flour, while I enjoyed their distinct savory quality. We both agreed that a bite didn’t yield the explosion of crackly, wafer thin layers exploding on your tongue and then rapidly disappearing into flaky nothingness, the way a well-made French croissant would. Our impressions didn’t stop us from making our way through croissants, ham and cheese croissants, and a salami and cheese croissant. The ham and cheese proved especially delicious with its smoky ham, creamy cheese, and the dough in slightly thick striations, a cross between a croissant and a yeasty buttery brioche.
We returned to the hotel for our noon couple’s massage. On a recent Caribbean cruise we enjoyed a 20 minute beach massage as part of our all-inclusive day resort day trip and thought we’d perhaps like to experience an hour long massage, with hot stones. In the one real wrinkle we experienced the entire trip, the hotel lost our reservation and I, unaccustomed to disappointment on this trip, spent many hours lamenting our bad luck. We filled the time before our afternoon tea with a trip to the gift shop and reading in the lobby.
Afternoon tea at the Jefferson is something of a Richmond tradition, so we knew we had to try it. They served tea under the beautiful Tiffany dome in the check-in lobby. Each table was appointed with individual silver teapots, featuring your brew of choice. Neither of us drinks tea typically, but we were pleasantly surprised by the flavorful offerings and the range of accoutrements. With a sliver of lemon wedge and a few lumps of sugar, Paul pronounced his Earl Grey delicious and I enjoyed my vanilla tea with honey and a little cream.
The three tiered-tea tray held finger sandwiches on the bottom (ham and cheese, chicken and tarragon, and cucumber and cream cheese), scones and cake on the second tier, and an assortment of small tarts, macarons, and chocolate dipped fruit on top. Paul loved the tiny lemon tarts and I thought the marshmallow and chocolate scones managed to be sweet without being cloying. We perched on the edge of our plush seats, sipping tea, feeling quite civilized.
The weather the entire trip was muggy and hot, but we decided to brave a few blocks walk to Steady Sounds Record Store and were rewarded with some prime albums. We knew we had luck on our side when we found Rush’s Permanent Waves, a record we’d lost, after only looking for 10 seconds. We walked back to the hotel weighted down with classic rock selections, including Yes, Tom Petty, and Bob Seger.
Convinced a walk to Carytown would result in us melting, we took an Uber to another record shop where we found Paul’s long-sought after Rhythm of the Saints by Paul Simon. Triumphant, we decided to have an early cocktail (or four) at The Jasper and we found the vibe much more laidback at 5:30 pm than we had at 8:30 pm. We sipped on some truly memorable cocktails, including The Credible Hulk, a fruity, Midori-laden gem, but the real treat was the old-fashioned Quoit Club Punch with its Jamaican rum, brandy, rainwater madeira, lemon, sugar, and boulder of an ice cube. The balance of sweet and acid made it one of the best cocktails in our memory. We walked the cute Carytown streets, stopping to grab more taffy, and to buy a meal for a homeless woman, June, we’d met in our travels.
Feeling hunger pangs of our own, we returned to the Can Can Brasserie for more cocktails and appetizers, namely mac and cheese, frites, and manchego and ham fritters. While the food was good, the faux Parisian atmosphere was even better. We vowed to return for a proper meal on our next trip.
We walked to the rooftop bar at the Q hotel, but beat a hasty retreat when we saw the crowds and felt the suffocating heat. We returned to our properly air-conditioned hotel bar to enjoy some more cocktails and appetizers. Paul’s cocktail made with bourbon and blood orange juice rivaled the Quoit Punch and it was perfectly complemented by the chunky pimento cheese and confit garlic cloves. Though the fried deviled eggs definitely fit the adage “too much of a good thing,” we enjoyed eating its side of country ham with the pimento cheese.
Full, tipsy, and ready for bed, we returned to our plush hotel room, another great Richmond day in the books.