Richmond has always been a town for foodies. When we moved here in the 90s and I worked downtown, I loved all the varied and excellent dining choices. After town expanded out more toward Short Pump even more new restaurants started up, especially chains that were new to Richmond. So many good choices!
Last month Metro Diner opened its first location in Short Pump. A second Metro Diner will be coming to Carytown. I was hosted for a meal, though not otherwise compensated. This is my honest review.
Metro Diner is located in a shopping center at Brook Road and Pump Road. While you can see the location from the street, it’s a few turns to get there. Parking is limited, but sufficient.
Entering the restaurant, the staff was friendly and welcoming. We went on a Friday night at 6 and the place was mostly full and buzzing with energy.
Our waiter was wonderful. An experienced staff member from one of the Florida locations, he walked us through the menu, making recommendations and letting us know about the Metro Diner specialties.
You may have heard of Metro Diner from Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The original restaurant is in Jacksonville, Florida, though it’s expanded in that state and now is expanding across the country, including an upcoming place in Las Vegas.
Metro Diner serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with breakfast served all day. Portions are so huge you can order half-plates. See the Metro Diner menu for Richmond here.
I was interested in the cheese grits offered as a breakfast side and ordered some as an appetizer. Tennessee born and raised, I’m a little snobby about grits. It’s not like I eat them often, but when I do they need to be as good as my mama’s. At Metro Diner, they cook the grits in full-fat dairy instead of water for an amazing creaminess. Also, cheddar cheese isn’t just broiled on top, but also tucked into the bottom of the cup. These were five-star grits.
Since I ordered grits as an appetizer, my husband ordered a small green salad. Side salads are usually pretty forgettable, but this one was larger than expected, packed full of beautiful fresh ingredients, and served with a house-made dressing.
For entrees, I considered the house specialties: fried chicken and waffles topped with a dollop of strawberry-butter; Yo Hala on the Square, a stuffed challah french toast; or the Bold City Burger, which has Provel cheese (a blend of cheddar, Swiss, and provolone cheeses), caramelized onions, bacon, sausage, fried jalapenos and garlic aioli on a brioche bun.
I settled on one of my favorite things in the whole world: Eggs Benedict. I’m a firm believer in ordering things in a restaurant that are too complicated to make at home. Hollandaise sauce is fickle, so it always calls to me from a menu.
And Metro Diner has six Benedict variations! I selected the crab cake Benedict, which comes with a side of hash browns, something else better prepared on a commercial grill that in my kitchen.
My husband was fully into the Metro Diner’s comfort food vibe and ordered the meat loaf plate. That’s served with mashed red skin potatoes, fresh vegetables, grilled squash and zucchini in this case, and a baguette. I was surprised at how everything was freshly house-made. Metro Diner even chops fresh vegetables each day. I’d forgotten what that was like, since so many casual dining restaurants use prepped frozen vegetables now.
My eggs Benedict was really good. Muffin: toasted. Eggs: perfectly poached. Crab cake: well-seasoned, lots of lump crab, no filler. Hollandaise: creamy perfection.
I wished I’d saved room for dessert, but even half of my meal and appetizer filled me up. I had the other half of my meal packed up, because we just had to try dessert. The dessert menu consists of Key Lime Pie and Salted Caramel Brownie a la Mode. Yes, we tried both. Again, most restaurants outsource a lot, especially desserts. The Metro Diner makes these desserts in house. I was really surprised. The Key Lime Pie was perfectly tart, and yellow–as it should be! The brownie was similarly perfect. I mean, chocolate, caramel, and really good ice cream.
Since the restaurant knew we were coming, I knew we’d get top service. However, I watched the other tables and saw them getting the same service. The restaurant was full of couples and families. It seemed like a place for a family meal and also a casual date night. Frankly, I’d go there three times a day if I could.
While the menu is full of diner comfort food, it’s done extremely well. I really couldn’t get over so much being fresh and house-made. Despite the delicious abundance of red meat and fried food, there are still multiple healthy choices on the menu. Also, the staff was very accommodating of our food allergies and restrictions. I’m not sure of their gluten-free options past what’s obvious on the menu: salads, fresh fruit, grilled vegetables, grilled meat and fish.
My husband and I plan on going back often. I still have to try that chicken and waffles!