Graham and I took my mom out to lunch at the Secret Sandwich Society (Menu) and Stoplight Gelato Cafe for her birthday over the weekend. We’ve had Secret Sandwich Society on our restaurant to-do list since before it even opened and I was glad we finally made it there.

We had the option of waiting about fifteen minutes to eat or immediate seating outside. The restaurant is located on the corner of Grace and 5th Streets in Richmond which provided a really nice view.  There wasn’t much traffic and we weren’t pestered by homeless people (the folks at a neighboring table weren’t quite so lucky, though.)

The food was awesome.

We started out with a plate of pimento cheese fries. Simple enough. The fries seemed like they were probably of the frozen variety, but they did have some seasoning added, probably just some seasoned salt. They could’ve been a tad more generous with the pimento cheese, but at $7 for a large portion (enough for 3-4 people) they were quite satisfying. The appetizer came out quickly, too, beating our soft drinks to the table by a couple of minutes.

Graham, the lone vegetarian in the group, got the Churchill, which is Swiss, provolone, and white cheddar cheeses with spinach and oven dried tomatoes on toasted sourdough bread. Anything with cheese is a win in his book, and he approved!

My mom's birthday photo. She said she's going to use this for her Facebook profile picture since it doesn't show her face.
My mom's birthday photo. She said she's going to use this for her Facebook profile picture since it doesn't show her face.

My mom opted for the Truman, which is turkey, peach jam, blue cheese spread, and crispy onions on a toasted baguette. She seemed very happy with it. Sounds amazing.

I went with the Quincy, which is seared roast beef, balsamic onions, roasted garlic mayonnaise, and pepper jack cheese on a toasted baguette. At first I thought the consistency (and light gray color) of the roast beef was a bit weird. It seemed to be finely chopped and had more the consistency of a Philly chicken sub. That aside, the flavor was amazing.

All of the sandwiches came with homemade seasoned potato chips.Secret Sandwich Society earns 4.25 flushes. Great location, adequate service, and a creative menu full of delicious flavor. We’ll definitely be coming back.

We skipped dessert at Secret Sandwich Society, instead going to Stoplight Gelato over on Brook Rd. Stoplight Gelato is run by 83 year old Barbara Given. Graham and I have visited Stoplight a few times and it’s always an enjoyable experience. For some background, the ice cream shop was her son’s idea but he passed away before he could open the shop. Barbara carried out his dream and opened the doors in July 2016.

The first thing you need to know is Barbara is almost always there, and she really, really wants you to try all of the flavors.  Oh, and she wants you to eat them out of a glass instead her paper to-go cups.  She explained to my mom that she has a bias for eating the gelato out of glass because she thinks “it just tastes better.”  She will come to your table and talk to you, maybe sit with you for a while as you eat.  We love Barbara.

I honestly don’t remember what flavors we got. Stoplight offers a different variety of flavors every time we go. They range from conventional and lactose-free flavors like strawberry and vanilla to creative options like cereal milk (think Fruity Pebbles). There are usually some weirder ones, too. I remember trying lavender during this visit (I ended up getting the strawberry and lime flavors). There was some sort of bourbon wasabi flavor that Graham tried, and I’ve seen both charcoal and smoke flavors among the stranger varieties on offer. I hear both are quite good.

Stoplight Gelato is at 405 Brook Road, a block or two from Broad Street. Go see Barbara. Make sure you sample everything (and close the door behind you!). A variety of sandwiches and coffee are also available, though we haven’t tried those yet. They always earn a perfect 5.25 flushes, and I’ll admit at least one of those flushes is because Barbara’s there.

This was a great way to spend the day with my mom for her 34th 29th birthday.

Graham and I have long kept a list of restaurants we want to try. Richmond has such a huge assortment of very good restaurants that we often see new places to add to the list. We’ve decided to start including my mom in some of these to get her out of the boring strip mall restaurant experiences she gets out in the suburbs.

Quick access to so many amazing restaurants has turned out to be one of my favorite parts of living in the city. It’s easy to forget the traffic, construction, crowds, litter, crime, and all of Richmond’s other problems when you’re eating fancy ice cream from a place like Stoplight.