Cask Café & Market (Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys)
For a native Near West Ender, Robinson is a street where some things change, but more remains the same. A church here, a hospital there, new construction alongside historic properties and a terminus at the Science Museum of Virginia are every so often jazzed up by eateries such as Cask Café & Market. I’m old enough to remember when the city docked its buses directly across from this spot and young enough to appreciate plans for the neighborhood’s vibrant future dotted with restaurants like these.
With a garage-door facade, Cask features exposed brick, cozy seating and an extended room with an overexposed view of the kitchen and meat case, while window seats are most coveted to enjoy passersby. An extensive list of continental beers and wines lines chalkboards, while a tavern-keep with an accent imported from the U.K. is happy to match your preferences with available bottles or taps. The menu is stacked with snacks: cheese plates, hot dogs, Billy Bread sandwiches and Sausage Craft meats topped with sauerkraut, or my preferred rotkraut: red cabbage — and fragrant fennel seeds, spicy mustard and miniature pickles. Unfortunately, Cask was out of ham on one visit, so a three-cheese panini grilled to perfection sufficed. We received excellent service from our bartender — a feat, as he both managed the bar and seated customers attentively. This area of town is notoriously short on parking; be happy if you find a spot in the adjacent lot, but be prepared to park on the street: a small price to pay for Cask’s feel-good vibe.
The Cask Café & Market
206 S. Robinson Street, 355-2402
Hours: Sunday-Wednesday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday-Saturday: 11 a.m. to midnight