Maybe it's because I'm getting along in years, but my dining experience at the Madison Gardens was not the most pleasurable I have had lately. We went with some of our neighbors who raved about the place, but honestly I didn't see anything unique other than the patio seating. Even in the area without smoking it still clogged the air and since I have asthma I was concentrated more on breathing than eating. The atmosphere was very hectic and noisy and seemed to be geared toward the college crowd than to those of us wishing to have a good meal. The cleanliness aspect also bothered me, but maybe I'm just a little overbearing on that subject.
Favorite Dish: I ordered a pasta dish and found it very over-priced and over-cooked. There was nothing substantially great about it and my house salad was a little wilted. My boyfriend ordered shrimp and he fared a little better. It had a nice flavor to it and the only drawback was that there wasn't enough of it. He also ordered a beer (bottle) and it was nearly $4. He should have looked at the cost on the menu before ordering two. I will probably return there for lunch one day soon, and perhaps my review will change once I have eaten there again.
Taylor's Pool Hall & Billiards: Support Downtown-Taylor's
So everybody knows that Taylor’s has good burgers, fries, and other made to order fast food. BUT, a little known fact is that it inspired author Walter Tevis to write the book “The Hustler” which was later turned into a movie and starred Paul Newman. The author himself in buried in the Richmond Cemetery. Taylor’s is basically a little hole in the wall, but the burgers really are good. If you’re sensitive to smoke, however, it can get a little stuffy. When we go downtown to the bars we typically make a stop at Taylor’s before we do any drinking. The food can fill you up.
Note: photo taken by me
Bob Evans or Cracker Barrell…choices, choices. I like Bob Evans’ biscuits, but I like Cracker Barrell’s potato casserole and fried apples. Well, we have both here in Richmond. Bother are also right off the interstate so they stay pretty crowded. Still, if you’re in the mood for breakfast at 6:00 pm or have a hankering for biscuits and gravy then this is the place to be. The service is average but the food quality is consistent. I like their chicken fruit salad that they have in the spring and summer. It comes with chicken salad, but also has huge pieces of watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, pineapples, and strawberries. Their apple bread is also very good. Once again, after Sunday church services this is another place that can get crowded.
Note: Photo taken by me
I’m not so sure that I can do an unbiased review of Ryan’s since I have a phobia of buffets. I’m sure there are other people out there like me. Or maybe not. But anyway, I am very very picky about cleanliness and even though I know logically that when I order something and the person at the next table orders the same thing it’s going to come out of the same dish, I just don’t want to actually see the dish. Then I have to worry about if people are washing their hands, does the sneeze guard really work, etc.
However, if I was going to eat at a buffet then Ryan’s is definitely the best. You can also order off the menu but I think they probably get it from the buffet so there’s no point. It’s all country soul food so you’ll find green beans, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, fried chicken, and so on. The quality of the food is really good and it’s reasonably priced if you’re a big eater. If you only get one plateful of food, like I usually do, it doesn’t quite work out to be a bargain. Also note that on Sunday afternoon after church it can get really crowded.
Bananas on the River
This is not to be confused with the other Bananas on the bypass in Richmond. This one is far more superior to that one and they have very little in common. Bananas on the River is quieter than Halls and doesn’t get the same recognition despite having good food, great views, attentive staff, and a fun environment. Their bar is well stocked and they also have live music on occasion. There are many things on the menu that I like, including their beer cheese, shrimp, and cheeseburgers. (Although generally not all at the same time.) They have a good selection of seafood, home-style food, and steaks so there’s something for everybody. For dessert they have an array of pies and cakes.
Halls on the River
Although technically not in Richmond but in Winchester, this restaurant is right over the county line on the other side of the river. It’s been around for a long time. I used to think that I was a jinx to it because every time I ate there something bad would happen to it the next day-it got flooded, caught on fire…Anyway, it has a nice location on the Kentucky River (hence the name) and you can get good views of it from the terrace and certain windows.
Halls is famous for their beer cheese although I think Bananas on the River down the road has better. The shrimp has always been good and they have great baked potatoes. (I judge restaurants on the quality and size of baked potatoes. Is that weird?) We've also tried the snowcrab legs and they were tasty as well.
They have places for dining al fresco if you’re into that (we are) and they have a room where you can listen to bands on the weekend. In the basement there’s a good size room that you can reserve for meetings, birthdays, reunions, or whatever you need it for. In the summertime on the weekends it can get packed and you can actually have a long wait so it pays to call ahead. I was down there the other night and I think the wait was over an hour.
Red Lobster was a welcomed addition to Richmond when it was first built. It is still the only place within the city limits to get good seafood. A part of me always wants to rebel because it’s a chain, but it’s still one of the better places to eat in town. It can get really crowded on Friday and Saturday nights and at graduation time it’s almost impossible to get a seat. They have managed to keep the food quality consistent, though, and the service has always been good.
Favorite Dish: My favorite things to eat are the lobster fondue, the stuffed mushrooms, and the lobster feast. I also like the really big margarita’s. If you’re not familiar with Red Lobster, the rolls are garlicky and cheesy and really good. The meals (especially the feasts) can sometimes be split between two people.
Note: Say hello to my cousin Lucas if you get him as a waiter!
Of course, most people are familar with Applebees. I only add it because there aren't that many restaurants to begin with in Richmond and since this is one of the most popular it needed to be included. I very rarely eat here because I'm not hugely impressed on the quality of Applebees food in general and at night it can be taken over by large groups of college students. Read: loud. When I do go, I tend to go after 10:00 pm when the appetizers are half priced. That way, you're paying about what the quality of food is worth. They do, however, have some good drinks such as the mudslide and grasshopper. We tend to eat here only if nothing else sounds better and it wins by default. But, at least the food is consistent.
My friend Jose owns this restaurant that has only been open for a couple of weeks. He used to have another restaurant called Pranza Dimorare that served both Mexican and Italian, but they moved to another (better) location and now serve only Italian. The new place is better because since it is located on the Bypass it gets more traffic and is busier. It is also not on the dry part of town so he is able to serve wine and beer.
Favorite Dish: Jose makes his own pasta so right away it's a little different from your average Olive Garden. He mostly only has spaghetti, unless you order the lasagne or ravioli. I reccommend the lasagne myself. The homemade marinara sauce is wonderful with just the slightest hint of sugar. (The Italians yell at him for the sugar bit, but it takes too long to make it without it.) For $3.95 you can get lasagne, a salad, and a piece of homemade bread. If you want to order off of the lunch menu for dinner (the portions are smaller) they will add $1 extra to the tab.
His dessert menu has expanded considerably and includes chocolate and cheese chimichangas, as well as Banana Alaska and other light fares.
I always hate it that O'Charleys is touted as "Irish food" when it resembles nothing close to what I have eaten at in Ireland. I rank it a little bit above Applebees, although it is still never my first choice. The best times to eat here are Sunday morning when they do their Sunday morning brunch and on Thursdays when they have chicken harvest soup as their soup of the day. It really is good. This is one of those places that I tend to eat at when I don't want anything heavy because I can always get a bowl of soup and a basket of bread and be satisified.
Favorite Dish: Definitely the chicken harvest soup. For dessert, the caramel chocolate chip pie is pretty decent, too.
Woody's: Support Downtown-Woody's
Woody's is a nice little place located right on Main Street. It's small and intimate and fairly romantic. Depending on what time of the week you go, they sometimes have live music. It can be anything from bluegrass to classical. It's a good place to go when you have a special occasion, and also has a nice bar where you can order a variety of cosmopolitan drinks. Unique variety menu with daily lunch and dinner specials. Accepts most major credit cards.
Favorite Dish: I always like to try their daily specials. They usually have great pasta dishes. And, of course, their desserts are always good! You don't need reservations, although it can get a little crowded on Thursday nights, and if there's something special going on.
Hall's On the River - Home of Hall's Beer Cheese: Hall's on the River in Winchester/Richmond
Hall's has always been a favorite of mine. It's located on the Kentucky River and actually looks out over it. It's kind of hidden, technically located in Winchester, but worth the find. It's also very near Boonesborough State Park so not a bad place for lunch or dinner after spending some time there at the fort or swimming or putt-putt golfing at the park. It's got alot of personality and the feel of an old tavern. I read that it is actually built on the site of a tavern that was there in the 1700's.
Great ambience with wood walls and 2 levels. There's an outside deck and a bar with live music on many nights. Hall's is also the home of Hall's Beer Cheese. Absolutely yummy! I've learned since moving from Kentucky that Beer Cheese isn't a well-known product. Who knew. You can buy it at the grocery stores in Kentucky.
They do some delicious food from seafood, steaks, and chicken, to a good ole' country hot brown. Their Fried Banana Peppers are also delicious as an appetizer!
It's a good place for groups, and they do take reservations.
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