Farm Focused 

Food Review: Lucy’s feeds the meat and vegetable lover with gusto.

click to enlarge Cheddar meets roast beef on a sandwich called the downtown at Lucy’s in Jackson Ward.

Scott Elmquist

Cheddar meets roast beef on a sandwich called the downtown at Lucy’s in Jackson Ward.

Look up Monrovia Farm online (monroviafarm.com) and note its location, once part of fifth president James Monroe's estate — hence the name — in Colonial Beach. Marvel at its length of operation, 100 years, its excellent cattle-farming ideals, grass-fed and grain-finished. Curiosity piqued, head to Lucy's.

Rustically refinished with warm wood, brick walls and living plant art, Lucy's is part of the Jackson Ward renaissance in location and feel. It's simple to get lost in its vibe: easygoing, laid-back, farmlike. Menus are paper. Specials are pithily chalked on a small board above the back communal table. A wine list is relegated to an adorable scrapbook. Cocktails and beer are listed on another chalkboard in front of the beautifully heavy bar, everything neat and tidy.

Lucy's charcuterie, loosely termed, features a hunk of Monrovia beef skirt steak paired with an unassuming cheddar on one visit, and a spicy mustard-seed-studded Red Dragon cheese on another. Both combinations are well appropriated though small in portion. But by adding one more cheese a guest might get more balance and bang for the buck. The cheese fondue is delectable. A soup bowl filled with whipped boursin and blue cheeses ($8) plows through the dipping of two lightly fried cauliflower slices, a few pieces of apple and a little pile of croutons. Why doesn't everyone dunk buttery croutons in airy cheese? Hankering for more of this excellent mixture we use dinner bread to dunk every last smidge. The meat pastry ($7) is akin to an open-faced pot pie. Crisp dough is filled with shredded beef, sweet onion and topped with a carrot purée and crumbled goat cheese for a little added oomph.

The downtown cheddar ($9) is a hefty sandwich heavy with rich Monrovia Farm roast beef and sharp cheddar. Zippy horseradish mayonnaise adds flavor and plays an excellent supporting role with Billy Bread. Baxter's beef is less daunting from an appetite standpoint, and features slow-braised beef with acidic and spicy house pickles. House-made mesa chips are a great side but even better are the hand-cut fries ($1), served hot and suitably salty.

A rib-eye special is marbled, full-flavored, good-naturedly gamey and clearly cooked by someone who knows his cattle. A dish called bowl of comfort ($16) is appropriately full of potatoes and slow-roasted beef, evoking a farm meal after a long workday but with more flavor and fewer chores.

It isn't all meat at Lucy's, though if you dig beef, this is definitely the way to go. Nonspaghetti and meatballs ($16), an amalgamation of artichoke, spinach and avocado, is a hearty vegetarian alternative to the beef-focused menu. Settled over light yellow spaghetti squash and pomodoro sauce, the meatballs make an interesting matchup with the vegetable spaghetti. Lots of licorice overtones in bright tomato sauce on highly al dente squash threaten to overthrow the thickset rounds. A little more salt would lift the "pasta," but the fresh-from-the-farm zeal is fully apparent.

Get in for brunch, when its relaxing and welcome nature is palpable. Cavender beef pie ($9), a loose interpretation of shepherd's pie but with fewer peas and a poached egg, brings a Sunday all the way to satisfying effortlessly.

Not a dessert person? At Lucy's, you'll miss out. Peanut butter cheesecake ($5) melds childhood memory with adult luxury. Tart blackberry sauce evokes a PB&J. The two do a pleasant balancing act on smooth, dense cheesecake.

Many establishments are known for creativity, others for comfort. Lucy's sensibly harmonizes both, literally connecting the dots and virtually creating an urban pasture. S

404 N. Second St.
Tuesday-Saturday: Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m, dinner 5-10 p.m.
Sunday: Brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m.


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