Real Richmond Food Tours: Church Hill: From Spice to Pies

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Richmond Virginia

Real Richmond Food Tours co-founder Maureen Egan, who wrote “Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, VA” and teamed with Richmond Magazine editor Susan Winiecki on their expert-driven company, led us on a May 4 tour of Church Hill, Richmond’s oldest neighborhood. We explored “From Spices to Pies” at five culinary establishments: Dutch & Company, WPA Bakery, Proper Pie Co., Alamo BBQ and Sub Rosa Bakery. Church Hill’s changing. As Egan said, “We couldn’t do this a year ago. There weren’t enough places that were worthy.”

Now, it’s possible to eat well without leaving Church Hill while learning about the history of complex patriots like Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. We even got views of a Faerie Garden and the James River, which drops 105 feet in 7 miles, creating pockets of Class V rapids. I was happy to stay on the hill and admire the river’s power from afar, though, if given more time, it would be fun to navigate an 11-mile loop of James River Park trails.

Restaurateurs Richmond
Caleb Shriver, Phillip Perrow, and Michelle Peake partnered on Dutch & Company, a seasonal restaurant in a former Church Hill laundromat.

Food Richmond
Chefs Shriver and Perrow dress mackerel with olive oil, gooseberries, rhubarb, arugula, hibiscus gelee, sorrel, and lovage.

Restaurant Richmond
Dutch & Company sourced a collection of honey pots from local thrift stores to fill with their signature dessert.

Dessert Richmond
Dutch & Company’s signature dessert fills a honey pot with wildflower honey pudding, hibiscus ice flavored with lavender and rose water, sliced plums macerated with lime juice and cardamom, and a viola garnish.

Bakery Richmond
WPA Bakery is a reference to FDR’s New Deal stimulus program, from Kendra Feather, who owns three restaurants in town, and longtime baker David Rohrer, who moved from Loudon County to Richmond to attend VCU art school.

Bakery Richmond
Rohrer and Feather’s husband John Murden were both behind the counter.

Bakery Richmond
WPA Bakery featured faux New Deal posters on the walls, including “More Courtesy” and “Save Your Eyes Use Your Pie Bottles,” plus decorative rolling pins.

Baked Good Richmond
WPA Bakery sells playful riffs on classic desserts, including PB&J profiteroles, buttermilk pie with blueberries sautéed with sugar, coconut milk panna cotta, and canelés.

Baked Good Richmond
Blackberry coconut paquettes (packages) filled a pedestal, as did spinach & feta versions. In April, they launched Sunday donut day, which runs from 7 am – 2 pm.

Garden Richmond
We passed by the Faerie Garden, a tiny tree based community by 2800 Grace Street.

Richmond’s history is synonymous with the Confederacy, and many monuments to industry remain, including a Lucky Strike factory along the James River.

Bakery Richmond
Proper Pie Co. specializes in savory hand pies and towering sweet pies.

Bakery Richmond
Neil Smith, who hails from Whagarei, New Zealand, a coastal town two hours north of Auckland, previously worked for a London based caterer who supplied stars like Britney Spears and Jay-Z. He and wife Nikki Price opened Proper Pie Co. in an old ice cream shop.

Pie Richmond
Proper Pie’s Pie-dentification Chart divides savory pies into three categories: Vegetarian, White Meat and Red Meat. No, kiwi wasn’t on the menu.

Pie Richmond
Chicken & Kumara ($5.50) incorporates a mild New Zealand sweet potato varietal.

Pie Richmond
Curried Lentil & Spinach ($5) touts a spicy pop, and features a flaky crust studded with mustard seeds and an 80/20 ratio of, butter/shortening.

Pie Richmond
A pie tower rests next to the savory case against a map of the world.

Pie Richmond
I didn’t get to try any sweet pies, but Proper sells options like Treacle Tart and Shoofly pie, plus Lamingtons, cakes coated in chocolate and coconut.

Pie Richmond
Sausage Roll ($4.25) cradles a light, mild Sausagecraft organic sausage that contains sweet onion strands.

House Richmond
Houses on Church Hill are some of the nicest in Richmond, and several have decorative wrought iron.

Church Richmond
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death” at St. John’s Church. Down the street: Patrick Henry’s Bar & Grille is a dark cave of a bar that “honors” his memory.

Barbecue Richmond
Alamo BBQ is ostensibly a Texas style BBQ spot with a tented patio and red picnic tables. Chris Davis originally partnered with Paul Hubbard and now remains the sole owner.

Barbecue Richmond
A smoker around back yields hickory buffeted meats.

Barbecue Richmond
Alamo BBQ specializes in beef brisket and pork ribs, both brushed with spicy, tangy sauce, though Portobello and blackened tilapia tacos are also popular options.

Barbecue Richmond
Alamo BBQ sells a panoply of side dishes, including jalapeno mac & cheese, cowboy beans, Texas caviar, potato salad, and sweet potatoes.

Bakery Richmond
Sub Rosa Bakery, the passion project from Evin Dogu and brother Evrim, burned in a fire. The community rallied together to raise $16,000 to rebuild.

Bakery Richmond
At a building in back, the Dogus have a pine mill that grinds whole wheat or sifted flour between thin stones.

Bakery Richmond
Evrim Dogu is working with Virginia farmers to grow Turkey Red wheat to help feed their impressive wood burning brick oven.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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[…] Los Angeles-based FoodGPS has a short write up and a set of photos from a Church Hill food tour from a few weeks back: Real Richmond Food Tours co-founder Maureen Egan, who wrote “Insiders’ Guide to Richmond, […]

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