Not that we want to encourage emotional eating on a regular basis, but sometimes a slice of cake or a hot casserole can ease the pain, even if the daily financial news has you reeling. After all, Campbell Soup was the only stock that finished higher on the S&P 500 on Sept. 29 — the date of the massive selloff. We hope you'll throw a little support the way of local restaurants, which offer the ultimate in comfort: heartwarming soups (Note: These appear regularly on menus, as opposed to occasional "soups of the day"), thick sandwiches, cozy atmospheres, gooey desserts and hot drinks. Also, we sent five brave taste-testers to figure out the best in chocolate cake, macaroni and cheese, and braised meat. Tough job, but someone's gotta do it. By Kate Andrews, Susan Early, Bethany Emerson, Harry Kollatz Jr., Melissa Minetola Leddy, Hollister Lindley, Megan Marconyak, Sarah K. McDonald, Gail Plante and Paul Spicer
AMBIANCE | SOUPS | DESSERTS | DRINKS | SANDWICHES
Richmond Summer Breeze Tea
Cuppa Tea Company, 1 N. Morris St., 254-8322
Cuppa Tea Company's Richmond Summer Breeze tea provides a momentary trip to the warm tropics no matter what time of year you sip it. Black tea combines with papaya, peach and marigold for a fruity flavor that's tropical but not overly sweet. You can try it in the English tearoom with teacakes or take a bag home to brew.
Liberty Valance , 7017 Forest Hill Ave., 320-4276
If you want all eyes at the table on your order, ask for a hot chocolate from Liberty Valance. Served in a tall, clear-glass mug and topped with a frothy blob of whipped cream, this sweet beverage definitely commands attention. The flavor holds up to the impressive presentation, especially if you stir in whipped cream for an extra dose of milky decadence.
Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
309 N. Laurel St., 225-5544
One taste of this piquant mixture of chai and bourbon will dull the winter blues as it warms its way down to your stomach. If you have a sweet tooth, don't forget to stir your toddy, because the honey settles at the bottom. Whether enjoyed as an aperitif or in lieu of dessert to wash down all the spicy food you've just consumed, this drink is sweet, spicy and sinful.
Box of Candy
Patina Grill, 3416 Lauderdale Drive, 360-8217
The Box of Candy coffee drink at Patina Grill is a sugary, creamy surprise. While one might think a mix of coffee, Kahlua, Godiva liquor and cherry brandy topped with whipped cream and drizzled with Baileys would be cloyingly sweet, all these flavors are skillfully blended, producing a velvety, indulgent beverage with aftertastes of chocolate and cherry. This concoction is finished off with the ultimate indulgent treat: a chocolate-covered maraschino cherry.
Beth Furgurson photo
Bear Creek Coffee, 1541 N. Parham Road, 282-8422
On a wall at Bear Creek Coffee is a chalkboard with a long list of specialty lattes — you can choose from Kit Kat, Snickers and French Vanilla, among many others — but we picked the Campfire, a concoction of fresh-brewed coffee, milk (sure, give us the 2 percent), and toasted-marshmallow and chocolate flavoring. The drink is subtly sweet; the only thing it needs is a graham cracker for dunking.