Historic Powhatan Courthouse is a delightful village that Route 288 has brought closer to Richmond. There are antique shops, historic buildings, and, since April, a fabulous little café.
Erin's Village Eatery is housed in an old filling station that has been redone with a large back room, historic photos on the wall and surprisingly good food. The menu is not overly complex, featuring soups, salads and sandwiches. But the little things, such as made-from-scratch salad dressings, add up to a great experience. When I visited, the servers were hustling, so it looks like the locals have already discovered this gem.
My girlfriend ordered a chicken Caesar salad. It came with beautiful romaine tossed with a garlicky, tart salad dressing, topped with grilled chicken breast and then frosted with large shavings of a good Parmesan. Once the chicken was immersed in the dressing, I could barely steal a bite. That's the kind of dressing you used to have made tableside at fancy steakhouses. We split the special side of the day, a broccoli salad with raisins and a fresh dressing — tangy and quickly gone. I had the Erin's Double Dare: half a sandwich and a cup of soup. I chose the pastrami-and-Swiss, with a cup of the house-made Brunswick stew. The sandwich was crispy, tasty and just right. But that Brunswick stew! That was worth the 30-mile drive. Full of flavor and great texture, it's a winner.
But we saved the best for last. I had a house-made ice-cream sandwich with chocolate-chip cookies (shown), and my friend ordered the special: bread pudding made from croissants. It was custardy, vanilla-infused, creamy, sinful and just-out-of-the-oven hot — one of the best desserts ever. We thought licking the bowl would not have been ladylike, but we came close to doing it. Open seven days a week, Erin's is worth a short road trip. So put the top down on the convertible, visit a couple of antique shops and enjoy this winning café.
3844 Old Buckingham Road, 598-5999
Prices: Soup, sandwiches, salads and quiche $3.50 to $8; children's meals $4.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.