"If you’ve stepped foot in the South Side gem Laura Lees for good grubbin’ then you’ve likely met manager Michael Smith. When not running around tending to folks, the fuzzy-faced charmer is a fixture at the host stand greeting diners with an infectious burst of cheer. Smith sets the vibe for good times and conversations guaranteed to induce sidesplitting laughs"
"Lightly pan sauteed, the two soft-shells have a stellar supporting cast in crispy fried potato cubes, colorful chopped kale, fat little squares of bacon and assorted mushrooms, all tied together with a curry aioli that announces itself subtly but unmistakably."
"Good news from Laura Lee’s for lovers of that magical meal that is neither lunch or breakfast. Starting this weekend you can wake up Saturday or Sunday and get a delicious meal and perhaps a cocktail before facing the day. I mean seriously look at that fried chicken platter above."
"I love bourbon, but that has little to do with why I'm a smitten kitten when it comes to this libation. For me, it's all about the intoxicating balance of sweet and sour in this beauty. You get some glorious tartness up front thanks to lime juice and a ton of Angostura bitters, but the finish is smooth and semi-sweet thanks to some simple syrup chilling in the background with Four Roses."
Over at Laura Lee's, which just turned out a delightfully potent frozen Negroni, Ben Nelson uses a refractometer to get things just right. "It's a pretty special piece of equipment that I wouldn't think is necessary, but the sugar content has to be in this narrow window," he says. "It's not like baking: You can't just scale up and expect it to taste the same."
"Michael Smith's face should be familiar to anyone who follows Richmond dining. A lifelong restaurant person, Smith has run the front-of-house for restaurants all over town, including The Roosevelt on Church Hill and Amuse inside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts."
"Although Lewis hails from Danville, Virginia, the menu does not hold tightly to Southern cuisine and incorporates some Asian flavors. Crispy chicken wings are tempered with ranch dressing and General Tso’s Sauce; the double cheeseburger is topped with American cheese, as well as kimchi mayo; and steamed mussels are fortified with pork belly, corn, jalapeños, and gochujang."
"Everything comes back around, even fern bars — aka the ‘70s and ‘80s hangouts festooned with greenery and tchotchke. The adorable Laura Lee’s is a fern bar revival, featuring playful dishes like chicken wings glazed in Cheerwine-based sauce."
"With bread crumbs subbing for bread, it’s essentially a banh mi without the baguette — pork belly, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrot, radishes, and jalapeños. The combination delivers a fiery yet fresh-tasting new take on the classic Vietnamese sandwich."
"Lewis playfully hits the mark for a neighborhood restaurant, with a menu including a fried chicken sandwich with homemade Polynesian sauce, pork shank with with hominy cheese grits and braised greens, steamed mussels with cider and sausage, and a decadent take on “loaded potato skins.”
“I really loved the space and I love the neighborhood, and I love neighborhood places," Feather says. "That appeals to me more than anything. All of us who live in the city know the value of our neighborhood place and what it means to you.”