American in Richmond
- Perfect for
- Casual Weeknight Dinner
- Date Night
- Drinks & A Light Bite
You don’t move to a neighborhood for food - even the most die-hard burrito fanatic isn’t packing up and moving to the Mission for better access to flour tortillas and carne asada, no matter how “transcendent” they claim it is. You move to a neighborhood because of things like rent, and how far it is from your tech company’s wifi-enabled, mobile office pickup spot. But part of the fun of choosing a neighborhood is exploring it to see what kind of food you have easy access to, and if you end up in the Richmond, that means everything from Burmese and French to dumplings. Amongst all of that, though, is Violet’s - a nice neighborhood spot with good cocktails and better food that anyone should be happy to wind up living around the corner from.
It’s almost sneaky how good the food is here because if you heard about this place based on looks alone, it would be a story you’ve heard a million times. It’s a small spot trying to blur the line between between being a neighborhood restaurant and somewhere that takes a month to get a table. Everyone from grandmas having a ladies’ night and families with middle school-aged kids are in the mix with the 20 and 30-something couples here on midweek dates. No one is overdressed and everyone is relaxed - it gives you the feeling that the people here live close by and that coming to Violet’s is a good way to mix things up in the middle of the week.
As for the food itself, the menu is a little odd and full of borderline throwbacks, like baked oysters, devils on horseback, broccoli gratin, and a dinosaur of a Shrimp Louie roll that we thought only still existed at places like Swan Oyster Depot. But none of the food feels like it’s here just for novelty’s sake (maybe the shrimp roll) - it all fits in, from the burger you could see yourself eating alone at the bar to that broccoli gratin that you’ll have no choice but to share with two people.
You could also come here with someone to just split a few small plates over cocktails and you’d leave happy because the small plates aren’t just an on-ramp to the bigger dishes, they’re just as good. When you eat the house chips and dips, you’ll keep going back and forth between the onion dip and the pate trying to decide which you like more, you’ll keep staring at your friend’s last bit of clam toast they haven’t eaten yet for some reason, and if the poisoned dates in Raiders of the Lost Ark were their devils on horseback, Indy would’ve happily eaten them anyway.
For the large plates, the burger is solid with a house-spicy sauce and a poppy seed bun, and the scallops are perfectly cooked. But the thing you need to pay attention to here is the pork chop. This is what a pork chop should be, perfectly grilled and with a lot of black pepper. There will be zero shame in you heart when you pick up the bone and gnaw at it once all the meat is gone. That’s how it is with nearly everything here - from the panzanella to the key lime pie, you won’t want to leave anything behind.
At a lot of neighborhood restaurants, you trade some quality for convenience, but at Violet’s that trade off is minimal. Really the worst that can happen to you here is that you end up waiting for a table, both because it’s small and because it’s good enough to be packed on a random Monday. But they take reservations, so if you plan ahead you’ll be fine. If you don’t live in the Richmond and don’t want to make the trip out here, you’ll just be making the wait times shorter for the people who do, and they’ll silently thank you as they have a cocktail with their pork chops, happy that they live nearby.
House Chips & Dips
Fresh potato chips with roasted onion dip and duck liver pate. The pate can be a little salty sometimes, especially when you eat it with a salty chip, but it’s still really good pate. As for the onion dip, Ruffles doesn’t stand a chance.
Devils On Horseback
These are dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with blue cheese. They’re small, but the blue cheese has a big kick and they should be on your table.
This is their burrata dish. The cheese is essentially the creamy inside to the burrata without the mozarella outside, and it comes with toasted bread, delicata squash, and persimmon. Pull out your phone’s timer and see how long this lasts.
Marinated clams with lemon aioli on thick slabs of bread. Really good, but not super vital.
You’ll pray for a cold or rainy day so you can justifiably eat this cheesy, nostalgic casserole from 1963.
A little cold, but they’re good Southern biscuits, and the cultured butter and honey they’re served with save them.
A solid burger with house-spicy sauce and crispy fries. If you’re in the mood for a burger, no one’s stopping you.
The setup on this dish changes, but the scallops are always great. The pesto white beans and tomato version is a complete winner.
This is a pork chop.
Key Lime Pie
Some key lime pie is so sour that your face sucks itself inside out. This one is not that. It’s not too sweet, not too sour, and way better than that freezer-burned Ben and Jerry’s back at your place.