A jewel in the crown of Richmond, VA’s recently restored Jefferson Hotel, now restored to its original glory, Lemaire, reopened with a more casual feel and a modern American menu.
Richmond native (and French Laundry alum) Walter Bundy’s farm-to-table approach celebrates the bounty of the region with large and small selections such as fried green tomatoes with smoked sausage, blue cheese vinaigrette and sunflower shoots; chilled Virginia jumbo lump crabmeat with Belgian endive, cantaloupe and lemon-oil; or herb-roasted Chesapeake Bay rockfish with root vegetable puree, garlic rapini and a red beet emulsion. Small plates start at $5; entrees top out at $30. The locavore ethos extends to the cocktail list, which updates pre-prohibition classics using local ingredients.
The historic structure of the space was retained, but to create a more casual feel Lemaire was updated with a new bar, lounge, lighting and flooring. Bare wood tables and new wood flooring add warmth, as does a palate incorporating golds, tans and creams and burnt orange accents.
John Mariani was so taken by the changes at Lemaire that he included it on Esquire’s best new restaurants list recently, despite the fact that the place has been around since 1986.