I've eaten at many places like Anthony and George's throughout the years, and I love each one of them for exactly the same reason: They offered me food, a beer and quiet respite while I was on the way from somewhere to somewhere else.
This family restaurant is located next door to the Amtrak station on the northwest side of town. During my evening there, I observed a few families, and several people dining alone. These solo patrons spoke on cell phones or read the paper or just stared out the window, caught up in their own thoughts. Travelers, no doubt about it.
The menu is extensive, covering several steaks, pastas, salads and sandwiches. With many of the entrees running in the $8 to $10 range, you and a guest can get out with a couple of beers and a full gut for less than $40. If you're solo, go for one of the nightly "all-you-can-eat" pasta specials for $5.95 and you can get halfway across the country without a worry. I was pleased with a hearty bean soup, a whopping fried seafood platter and a 16-ounce New York strip cooked perfectly to medium rare with a baked potato on the side. The cooking is right. It isn't fancy. It isn't flashy. It's comfortable and reliable road/rail food. The waitresses were cheerful and on top of things. Everything seemed a little out of sync but totally in hand.
I believe restaurants soak up a little something from every patron who sits at a table or booth. I think you leave something behind when you walk out the door. I also believe that when you travel, you transmit more of yourself in a way. The anxiety, excitement and expectation of traveling are palpable and settle into the space around you. Anthony and George's has no doubt soaked up a lot of this energy. It reminds me of the setting of a play like "Bus Stop," or the station in "The Hustler" where Paul Newman meets Tuesday Weld. There's a romance of transience that appeals to me. For Richmonders, Anthony and George's is a wonderful place to get your grub on for a few dollars and imagine that you're on the way. The feeling is infectious. If you're in the area and have the restless need for some late-evening victuals and people watching, you could do a lot worse.
Anthony and George's is an honest restaurant full of loyal regulars and appreciative transients. It's got an energy that I'm a real sucker for.
I haven't yet made it out for breakfast, but I will go soon. Early Saturday or Sunday with a plate full of cakes and a cup of coffee, I'll sit and dream of boarding the train for points west. I'm getting restless just thinking about it. S
Randall Stamper worked in restaurants in Boston, New Orleans and Indiana for seven years with jobs ranging from dish washer to general manager. All his visits are anonymous, unannounced and paid for by Style.
Anthony and George's Steakhouse ($$)
7505 Staples Mill Road
Lunch and dinner Monday - Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner Saturday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
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