1 of 3
Bacon-wrapped shrimp atop a bacon-corn griddle cake withcinnamon-chipotle drizzle photo by Beth Furgurson
2 of 3
photo by Beth Furgurson
3 of 3
The Scott's Addition sandwich features a chicken breast topped with pulled pork, American cheese, slaw and barbecue sauce.photo by Beth Furgurson
You've eaten here before. A lonely crossroad while traveling through a rural, yet slightly hip, wilderness. It might have been near the artist colony in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., or on a country road outside Charlottesville — anyplace where you find a concentration of urban escapees. Not wanting to wait the hour or so to get to a major highway, you look for someplace to eat now. What you find is a small, cramped space where you are separated by inches from the kitchen and are offered a daylong menu of home-style comfort cuisine using local ingredients and the latest trends in cooking and, while you sit there, a steady stream of locals flows through, picking up the "usual" breakfast, lunch, or dinner dishes to-go or sitting down to chat amicably with the staff or whomever catches their eye. OK, you've been there, but have you been to Lunch in Scott's Addition?
Opened by Rick Lyons, formerly of The Republic, Lunch is the type of eatery where you can get all your meals, from morning to night, and still be able to pay the rent, and, it seems, many people do this. Sitting at the bar in the morning, the phone will ring with customers calling in orders and popping by to pick up their breakfast sandwiches. These made-to-order treats, filled with eggs, choices of meat and/or cheeses, are a popular and great way to start the day — the whole-wheat biscuits are good, but the flatbread is really the way to go. If you've got time to sit, they do serve a full breakfast or a really nice biscuit and gravy. (Be warned: This is a meatless gravy and, to some, a bit watery, but it has the pepper-milk taste you're looking for and none of that sticky flour taste that you're looking to avoid.)
At midday, the sandwiches are inventive and tasty. From grilled cheese on Texas toast with real Tillamook cheddar to albacore tuna salad on multi-grain bread, these are hearty sandwiches that appeal to blue collar and foodie alike. For me, the Lyons Den, with hand-sliced roast beef and caramelized onions on challah, was a treat — tender, juicy and served with an au jus that tasted of beef and onion, not the greasy bowl of sodium that you find so often.
Dinner makes use of seasonal and local ingredients with dishes like the trottole pasta with slices of fresh squash and zucchini and just enough pesto to add flavor but without overpowering the fresh vegetables. Sure, you could add meat for a couple of bucks, but it really isn't necessary.
If you want strong, meaty flavors, go for the Southern Griddle Cakes. This amazing, layered pile of goodness has a bacon-corn cake base and a pulled pork center, and it's topped off with lightly dressed slaw. Astringent vinegar in the sweet barbecue sauce merges beautifully for a taste and texture extravaganza — and this is from someone who is only a marginal fan of barbecue. Another regional dish would be the Summit Crab Cakes. Firm and flavorful, not moist and mushy, they're served on johnny cakes with a little crisp bacon and a spicy brushing of Sriracha sauce along the edge of the plate to add some heat.
I like shrimp and grits but rarely order it. Not being a Southerner, I'm not a huge fan of grits, especially for dinner. But friends raved about the Monument Shrimp and Grits served here, and I acquiesced. I'm glad I did. Wrapping the shrimp in bacon gives it that extra nudge of flavor and just enough fat to really add the depth this dish deserves. It's one of the best versions that I've had.
Have you noticed a theme? Yes, it's bacon. From breakfast to lunch and through dinner, bacon, specifically pecan wood-smoked bacon, appears in dish after dish, and it's also a staple in the specials. You can even find it in a dessert. A house-made brownie that comes with a side scoop of ice cream, drizzled chocolate and caramel sauces, and dabs of whipped cream is sprinkled with … crispy bacon pieces. Is it over the top? Perhaps. Does it have to be shared? Most likely. Is it a gimmick? Kind of. Does it work? Yes.
There is something special about the blue-collar, homey breakfast scene here in Richmond. Lunch takes this concept and raises the ante in quality and innovation while retaining affordability, then kicks it up a notch by being there well into the evening for supper. No, it's not fine dining. It is where you go when you don't have the time to cook, can't afford an expensive meal and have grown tired of chain fast food. Plus, if you go there often enough, you may be greeted with a single query: "The usual?"
1213 Summit Ave., 353-0111
Prices: Breakfast dishes, $2 to $11; lunch menu, $4 to $9; supper, $8 to $13.
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday, 8 a.m. to
10 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday.