The River and Rail is a new restaurant in the Crystal Spring neighborhood of South Roanoke. It is located in the old Lipes Pharmacy building along one of Roanoke’s most beautiful and quaint streets. The restaurant features outdoor seating, a cozy dining area, and a lively bar, all beautifully decorated and classy looking. Everything about the décor gives the impression that a great deal of planning and thought went into putting this restaurant together, and that feeling continues when looking at the menu.
We decided to sit outside because it was a beautiful day and it was fun to see people coming by on their Sunday morning walks. The menu featured a number of items that looked very appetizing and I was torn between the Grass Fed Beef Burger or the Carolina Smoked Shrimp & Grits. Even though I’d heard great things about the burger, I ordered the shrimp & grits because it felt more appropriate for a brunch setting. My wife decided to try the Hanger Steak & Eggs.
Our food came out and we both agreed that it looked incredible. My shrimp and grits were served in a large bowl and were topped with wild mushrooms, scallions, & a poached egg. The wild mushrooms were outstanding and offered such a different flavor than the typical mushrooms you get at the store or in most restaurants – so much more hearty, robust, and flavorful. The large shrimp were cooked perfectly and the grits (which I believe were rice grits) were also very good. And the poached egg added a rich, creamy flavor when I mixed it in with the shrimp and grits. Everything about my dish was excellent and I could say the same for my wife's. Her hanger steak had terrific flavor and was tender and juicy. I also really liked the sweet potato wedges and homemade ketchup that were served as one of her sides.
The prices for The River & Rail weren’t cheap, but this was a different experience than what we are typically used to in Roanoke. These dishes are being created using local ingredients and they are really featuring the great flavors of the ingredients – like the wild mushrooms in my dish. We paid $40 for brunch (including tip) but I would say it was $40 well spent. The service was good, the atmosphere was perfect, and the food had us telling everyone we knew about how good it was. It’s exactly what we were hoping for on our Sunday brunch date.
The River & Rail is the sort of place you’d expect to find on Highland Avenue in Atlanta or in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, and the type of restaurant that will make people want to visit Roanoke.