"Tucked south on the river in Richmond’s Forest Hill, neighborhood favorite Laura Lee’s features contemporary American dishes in a playful, plant-filled space [...] a modern spin on traditional Southern classics like confit chicken thighs with cheddar hominy grits and smoked pork ribs with a spicy honey glaze and Virginia peanuts."
"Take your favorites to-go from this Southside neighborhood haunt, with a fun, affordable cocktail and wine list and considerate kids’ menu, like an oasis for tired parents everywhere. Try Laura Lee’s signature cocktail, the bourbon-based Tiger’s Eye, mercifully served two per jar. "
"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."
"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."
"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.”