Late Friday evening found me out with a friend wandering around the Farmer's Market/17th street area of downtown Richmond. Otherwise known as "The Bottom." We hadn't yet decided on a destination for dinner and meandered by a few promising, hopping joints. One of which was LuLu's, which happened to be packed to the gills. It being 8:30 and all, we weren't digging a wait. Thus, we ended up around the corner at Cafe Gutenberg. In my 4 years in Richmond, I had yet to visit the 'berg and was excited to find myself there.
The dinner menu and specials posted outside were enticing, as was the lack of wait. So, we helped ourselves onto the patio on a semi-chilly May evening. I ordered the passion fruit tea (delicious) and my friend ordered a spanish white (of which I can not remember the name). The wine was crisp, but a little dry for my taste. The wine menu itself presented a nice array of choices.
For dinner, my friend ordered the pulled pork french dip. I had the tortellini w/spring veggies. Both were passable, but alas, not noteworthy. The pork was way to sweet for both of our tastes and I'm unsure of the aioli that was gracing the baguette it came on. The sauce on my tortellini was buttery, flavorful & smooth; a nice compliment to the crisp asparagus, spinach, tomato, spring onion and mushrooms that came with it. Alas, I found the tortellini lacking in flavor and substance.
I liked the atmosphere, the place is very appealing overall. Service was kind, helpful and timely. But, I feel like it best serves the breakfast/brunch/lunch crowd. Dinner seems a bit of a stretch ($17 for tortellini-- I'm sure the rent is high, but $17? Really?) I will def. go back for a coffee, some quiche and a salad.
Post-meal, we mosied over to Havana, just across the Farmer's Market. Again, a first for me. I was immediately charmed by the interior and the complete vibe of the place. Stuccoed, "aged" columns with warm colors and palm trees "growing" out of the bar. I mean, who doesn't like that?
We seated ourselves at the top of the bar next to the open windows. Well, if you can call them windows. Technically, I think they are garage doors? We quickly found out why those seats were so easily available to us as the bar behind us on the street in the window filled up with enthusiastic cigar smokers. It is a Cuban restaurant/bar after all, cigars do make sense. But........P.U.!
I'd love to go back for a bite to see if the food can live up to the presence of the place. Two thumbs up as a fun joint to take out of towners.