Country Cooking 

With a little tweaking, The White House could lure city dwellers out to the country.

Pearson and Shinko have created a relaxed restaurant with hearty, homey food. With a year under their belts, they have a rhythm down and should look to some places where a little bit of polish is warranted. If they do, this little country getaway out east could become a destination spot for Richmonders.

Located about 30 minutes east of Richmond in Providence Forge, The White House has a good location to cater to those folks who are looking for a good meal after playing the links at Brickshire or the ponies at Colonial Downs. The Sunday Brunch ($16.95) is served buffet style and offers the traditional eggs, bacon, ham, fruit, pastries, waffles and omelet and carving stations. If you're not interested in serving yourself, there are seven entrees available, ranging from french toast ($6.95) to crab cakes ($16.95). I enjoyed a rich beef stroganoff from the buffet immensely and was given plenty of time to read my paper and nurse my coffee. Pearson works the floor herself, and the whole place exudes hospitality. The banter between the staff and the clientele suggests that regulars are treated like royalty. Dinner entrées range from $15 to $28 dollars. The Filet Chesapeake ($24.95) features a back-fin crab cake paired with a filet mignon topped with a mushroom demi-glace. I'm not a big fan of back-fin meat, but the cake was just about all crab and pan-fried. The filet was thick and excellently prepared. I was expecting a bit more fluid with the demi — it seemed more like just sautéed mushrooms. The Oysters Weyanoke appetizer ($6.75) is a recommended selection and I was very pleased with it. Smithfield ham and lightly breaded oysters are layered over a corncake and finished with an oyster cream sauce. It's a filling appetizer, but I was left yearning for more. The same dish is offered as an entrée ($9.75) for brunch. The roasted New Zealand Lamb Chops ($27.95) were tasty but didn't warrant the price. If you're going to fork out that much money you shouldn't be left thinking, "I could do just as well at home." I'm all for country cooking, but it's got to offer a little zing that draws you out. Beyond that, the quality of my food was consistently above average.

The White House can make the greatest strides in the area of service and ambience. It is a comfortable and hospitable atmosphere. But it's bright. A little mood lighting would go a long way. The wine list is surprisingly well thought out and reasonably priced, but I thought it was inappropriate when Pearson came to our table and walked our waitress through the proper way to open and serve a bottle of wine. This should be covered in the back room, the bar, or during off-hours in the dining room. The bar is well-stocked with some top-shelf items, but the wait staff doesn't know what they are. Some fine-tuning of these "little things" would add an impressive bit of grace to an already gracious staff. It could also pack the dining room with folks out for a weekend in the country. S

Randall Stamper worked in restaurants in Boston, New Orleans and Indiana for seven years and worked as everything from dishwasher to general manager. All his visits are anonymous and paid for by Style.

The White House ($$$)

3560 N. Courthouse Road

Providence Forge

(804) 966-9700

Dinner: Tuesday - Thursday, Sunday 5 p.m.-8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

Brunch: Sunday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.


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