Photo by Elizabeth Humphreys
Were The Rogue Gentlemen a mythological figure, it would be the all-seeing Janus of Jackson Ward: It acknowledges Prohibition and the speakeasy movement as it looks to the past, while also facing toward a bright future in the culinary world.
Neither luxe nor splashy, it’s filled with floor-to-ceiling windows and Victorian touches such as antiqued mirrors and elegant stemware.
The drink menu, a lengthy travelogue-style booklet, features ingredients craft cocktail bars are known to futz with: egg whites, special syrups, capsaicin and citrus, while quippy anecdotes for drinks like the rose-hued “It’s Rogue not [Club] Rouge” add context and interest.
Richmond now has a craft cocktail bar that does not neglect great food. With selections including wild boar and fried chicken skins, Executive Chef Will Longoria’s limited yet adventurous menu pushes you out of your comfort zone. An unforgettably complex South-by-Southeast Asia dish blends cubed sweet potatoes slathered in piquant Thai curry with jasmine rice, ham, olives and salted lime. Hanger steak — not cut on the bias — mimics tenderloin medallions, and perches atop farro — a wheat grain not quite rice or barley — with a malted jus.
The knowledgeable staff serves the corporate, the hip and the epicures with equal delight; Bar Manager Ethan Craig gingerly spouts history lessons about each cocktail ordered. You may even find owner John Maher mixing the drinks, often staff collaborations that rotate each season. While a playlist I would call “Archivists and Alchemists” blares selections from Wu-Tang to Ray Charles, cocktail shakers rattle like cabasas in this culinary nook you’ll be happy you found time to enjoy.
Four out of four forks
618 N. First St. 477-3456
Hours: Tuesday to Saturday: 4 p.m. to midnight; Sunday: 5:30 p.m. to midnight
Prices: $5 to $30, handicapped accessible