Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

A couple of great eats in Richmond

We found a couple of new great places to eat in Richmond, Va. — Patrick Henry’s Pub and Grille on East Broad Street and Alamo BBQ on Jefferson Avenue.

We ate out on the patio at Patrick Henry’s on a brisk Tuesday evening. Lucky for Chris, Tuesday’s special is burgers. He got a medium rare patty with swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard. He paired it with Yuengling and great onion rings. That’s high praise coming from me. I’m not a big fan of onion rings because they’re usually greasy. That wasn’t a problem with these. I’d get them as a side if we ever eat there again.

I settled on a blackened salmon sandwich, though I thought it tasted more like the fish was coated in paprika and not a mixture of seasonings and didn’t appear “blackened.” It was delicious, nonetheless, and included roasted red peppers (one of my favorites!), red pepper aioli and spinach. I also ordered a side Cesar salad and chardonnay.

I would love to live somewhere on Grace Street so we could walk to Patrick Henry’s on a regular basis. The service and atmosphere were great and the food was even better.

The Alamo is a walk up and order joint. Besides pork and chicken barbecues, the restaurant also offers vegetarian options, such as a portobello barbecue sandwich or taco. I couldn’t pass up the pork, so I got a pulled pork sandwich and a side of rice and black beans. Chris got a chicken sandwich and sweet potatoes.

It was really cool outside and there was only outdoor seating. So we quickly ate and headed back to the car. The food was good, so I hated to eat and run instead of savoring it. During colder days, plan to order to go.



Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

At the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, we started at the visitor center, which is housed in an old courthouse. The park also has many wayside exhibits along the main road.

Visitor Center

Visitor Center

From there, we stopped at Meeks store, an old general store. Inside, behind glass, a display of coffee and other merchandise were set up behind a counter.

Meeks Store

Meeks Store

At the McLean’s House, we saw the parlor where General Lee surrendered to General Grant. The house is three stories. The first floor has a warming kitchen and dining area, the second floor is where the master bedroom and parlor are, and the third floor has two bedrooms where the children slept. Behind the house is the kitchen and “servants” quarters.

McLean House, where Lee surrendered to Grant.

McLean House, where Lee surrendered to Grant.

Parlor where Lee surrendered to Grant.

Parlor where Lee surrendered to Grant.

McLean bedroom

McLean house

McLean slave quarters

A “servant’s” quarters behind the McLean home.

We visited the Clover Hill Tavern, Guesthouse and Kitchen. The kitchen now houses the park’s bookstore.

Clover Hill Tavern

The county jail was a short tour. It has rooms on the bottom floor that appear to have served as the jailer’s bedroom and office/kitchen. Upstairs were two rooms that served as jail cells.

Appomattox Jail

There was a school group at the park. The kids divided into two groups — Union and Confederate soldiers. The interpreters taught the kids how to march and lay down their arms (toy rifles).

Tour guides

There were three interpretive guides — two Union soldiers and one Confederate. One guide was portraying an actual Union soldier, Cpl. Fields, who was stationed at the village in Sept. 20, 1865. He had been there since 1861. Fields, who was from Pennsylvania, was stationed along with 60 other soldiers, at Appomattox to keep marshall law.

Union soldiers

Cpl. Fields in on the left.

While eating lunch, we watched two red-bellied woodpeckers fly back and forth across the fields of the park. After eating, we walked around the village with Sidney before heading back to camp.

Appomattox, Va.

The next morning, we went to the Town of Appomattox to eat breakfast and use the WiFi at the local McDonald’s. After catching up on work and other email, we headed to the Historic Downtown of Appomattox to walk around. The historic area features galleries, gift shops and hardware stores.

First stop was an old courthouse that is now a theater. There were also war memorials, cannons and a couple of other buildings in the same lot. A building to the right and behind the old courthouse housed the county historical museum. There weren’t any signs explaining what it used to be and the museum wasn’t open. It looks like it is undergoing renovations and there was a construction permit in the window.

Appomattox courthouse

Appomattox courthouse.

A few blocks up, we stopped at a multiple-home yard sale. From one woman, I bought a 50 cent Tupperware sandwich container and a cute change purse she had made out of a metal tape measurer and quilting fabric. The fabric is pink and gray with cupcakes on the front of it. It’ll make a cute Christmas gift.

I went in to check out Hanny’s Sew’n Basket, which is a tiny quilting and notion shop. It is at the corner of Atwood and Church. It featured a lot of Christmas fabrics and gifts the owners had made, including Kleenex package covers and placemats.


On our way back to the car, we checked out Appomattox Arts and Crafts, which features 36 artisans from across the state. There were all kinds of handmade gifts, from soaps and crocheted blankets to sewn purses and toys. One adorable item was a Burglar Bear. He had on a black eye mask and shirt. One toboggan looked like a wig of red hair with braided pigtails.

Appomattox Arts and Crafts

Next was Baines Books and Coffee. It is the best locally-owned book store I’ve seen in a while. Up front was a sitting area with checkers, Sorry and other board games. Upstairs were more books and an area used for performances with a podium and several tables. Here, we bought three books: children’s book Frederick by Leo Lionni, Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and Stones into Schools by Greg Mortenson, a follow up to Three Cups of Tea. The guy behind the counter said the book store will celebrate its 10th year.

Baines Books

Baines Books and Coffee

Baines Books and Coffee

A sitting area in the front section of Baines Books and Coffee.

Appomattox is a quaint town and a nice stop along 460.

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Holliday Lake State Park, Appomattox, Va.

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Holliday Lake State Park in Appomattox, Va. We were the only campers in the Red Bud Campground the first night.  We had our pick of prime real estate. It sounded like a woodpecker had a nest over our tent. We heard his or her call throughout our trip, especially late in the evening and at dawn.

Holliday Lake campsite

In the park the first day, there were two other RVs and the camp host just up the road in the Laurel Ridge Campground, a fisherman at the beach and two state employees. Later in the evening, two more people in a RV picked a site not too far from our camp in Red Bud.

After setting up camp and buying ice and firewood, we walked the 0.1-mile Sanders Creek Trail to the Lakeshore Trail, which is 6.3 miles around the lake. We only walked a portion of the Lakeshore Trail and all of the 0.7-mile Dogwood Ridge Trail. The walk on the Lakeshore Trail brought us to the beach and a couple of picnic areas.

Holliday Lake beach

Holliday Lake flowers

As always, we didn’t think to bring bug spray. We’re used to not having mosquitos where we live so we don’t think of bug spray when packing for trips.

The bathhouse at the Red Bud Campground has three stalls and two showers. Since the campground is for both tents and pop-up campers, the few number of showers may not be a problem. I took a shower in the evening so I was able to avoid the early morning rush on the bath house (and wet towels from the morning dew).

After a trip to Appomattox the next day, we walked on another portion of the Lake Shore Trail and a portion of the Carter Taylor Trail. We saw turkeys, a kingfisher at an overlook and several spiders with their webs across the trails. One bright red spider had a body that was more than an inch long.

On the second night, at least a dozen people had joined us at the park. It was definitely not as quiet as the night before.

Whestone Ridge Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway

We stopped at Whetstone Ridge Visitor Center off the Blue Ridge Parkway for a break during our drive from D.C. and Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge.

At Afton Mountain, we got off I-64 and turned south on the parkway and drove to milepost 29, where the visitor center is located. Afton is where Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway meet.

We walked a little ways on the Whetstone Ridge Trail. It is a rocky trail and runs through a forest of oaks, pines, tulip poplar and mountain laurel. I thought it was a pleasant trail, though I thought, since the description of the trail said it follows the ridge, there would be more views. Chris didn’t think the trail offered a lot of variety.

A man we met who was leaving the trail as we were starting it said the first 4 miles are very easy going. He didn’t describe the remaining 7 miles, but he had 2 hiking poles, so maybe they’re a little strenuous. The visitor center’s description of the trail says 8 miles follow along a ridge and the remaining 3 miles go down the mountain.

There are two picnic tables at the center, so this could make a really good trip for a picnic and a hike.

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Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge

At Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge, we first hiked on the Woodland Trail. We saw kingfishers, a pileated woodpecker and egrets flying at Eagle Point Overlook. We also think we saw a couple of warblers, though we aren’t too sure. One was black with a white underbelly and a white spot on its wing. The mate was light green or yellow green. They have a soft “peep-peep” call and they fly like a flycatcher. We saw them hanging around an understory tree in woods.

Microanthra spiders had built lots of big webs across the trails. We had to tear down several to make our way through the woods.

We next went to the Great Marsh Trail, which is .75 miles long. It is paved, so is handicapped accessible. At the end of the trail is a sitting area with a telescope. We heard frogs, saw some egrets at a distance and saw some seagulls.

It would be good to take along some bug spray if you plan to spend a lot of time at the sitting area. It won’t be necessary, I don’t think, if you visit in cooler months.

We took a rest and discussed our next stop on our way home.

Sweet Water Tavern, Falls Church, Va.

Sweet Water Tavern was where we spent our evening on a recent Friday. It turned into an early birthday meal, which was a great choice. (My birthday was the next day.)

I had a glass of pinot grigio to go with a mahi mahi, cheesy polenta and vegetables.

My meal

Chris had a salad, mashed potatoes and a 12 oz. ribeye.

Chris' meal

Dessert was a white chocolate bread pudding with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream (Chris) and a chocolate waffle (which chocolate sauce in between the two halves) and vanilla ice cream and whipped cream (me).

Chris' dessert

My dessert

I almost finished this before remembering to snap a photo for you. Oops! It was that good.

Great atmosphere and food. Lots of people were there with their kids. The place was busy, so it appears to be a favorite among the Falls Church residents.

The waiter, Kunal, was also celebrating a birthday in August. He and the staff made me a birthday card, which I though was really sweet.

Happy birthday!

Hope you had a good one, too, Kunal!