If you have reason to be in Richmond, the stately Jefferson Hotel which opened in 1895 in a historic Beaux Arts building is the most desirable place to stay. It is an oasis of refinement that is well-matched with Lemaire, the hotel's restaurant named after Etienne Lemaire, the maître d'hotel to Thomas Jefferson from 1794 until the conclusion of his presidency. Several years ago, Lemaire underwent a renovation and emerged more contemporary, "in an accessible format without the pretense, formality or expense!" Personally, we miss the pretense and formality (if not the expense), but Chef Walter Bundy's contemporary New American cuisine inspired by the agricultural and coastal traditions of Virginia is likely to have few detractors.
The restaurant's décor is still elegant, with a mahogany and granite bar and a muted color palette of golds, tans and creams, but far less impressive than before. Thankfully, the glorious glass-enclosed veranda has been retained. There are scattered alligator motifs throughout the restaurant, including on servers' ties, an allusion to the alligators that once famously swam in the marble pools of the hotel's Palm Court lobby.
Call us traditionalists, but we are dismayed by the restaurant's metamorphosis: the Jefferson Hotel is a place of luxury and refinement, and Lemaire was once the city's sole bastion of grand, formal dining. It appears to have gotten with the times, but we are just not just quite ready to yet.
101 West Franklin Street
(804) 649-4629 Mon-Fri, 4pm-11pm; Sat, 7am-11am, 4pm-11pm; Sun, 7am-noon, 4pm-11pm
- Walter Bundy, Chef
- American (Nouveau)
- Best Bars
- Best Decor
RECOMMENDED DISHES See All
- autumn apple and smoked salmon "indian candy" - frisee / candied pecans / brie di meaux / highland county maple vinaigrette
- cinnamon scented butternut squash bisque - slab bacon / jumbo lump blue crab / sage brown butter
- tidewater jumbo lump blue crab cake - celery root-apple slaw / country mustard potatoes / baby mache / lemon-parsley buerre blanc
- grilled black angus beef tenderloin - fingerling potatoes / antoni's house cured bacon / d'anjou pears / crumbled blue cheese / swiss chard / port wine demi-glace'
- the lemaire house ground "barnyard" burger - pig bacon / sunny side up chicken egg / farmhouse cow cheddar / creamy mac-n-cheese / duck foie gras sauce
- pumpkin seed crusted loch duart scottish salmon - butternut squash / brussels sprouts / applewood bacon / coarse ground polenta / apple cider jus