Most modern cuisine is a continuation of classic dishes, just as a computer is a slightly modified typewriter and a washing machine is a river in a box. Revel in palatable progress with today's Groupon: for $15, you get $30 worth of dinner fare at Helen's Restaurant.
Helen's Restaurant's chefs forage for organic and local ingredients whenever possible, then use their training in European cuisine to build a seasonal menu that fuses American comfort fare with international arabesques. An opening musical number of synchronized Prince Edward Island mussels swimming through a pernod broth laced with provencal herbs ($7–$13) sets the mood for a grilled new york strip steak entouraged by mashed potatoes, sweet corn relish, and roasted red-pepper coulees ($25). Otherwise, study roasted wild-caught shrimp in its relocated habitat of smoked-gouda Byrd Mill grits doused with southern gravy ($19), or avoid offending a cow blind date by ordering the vegetarian byaldi, a delicately baked gratin of eggplant, squash, herbs, tomatoes, garlic, and peppers ($15).
If one desaturated Helen's chartreuse walls and vintage oak booths to a silvery black-and-white, the restaurant would look much as it did when it opened in 1935, right down to the tiered lights and photos of Herbert Hoover doing the Charleston across the English Channel. The cozy confines allow you to rub elbows with a more eclectic crowd than is found at most mannequin factories.
The culinary savants at Helen's Restaurant have been loading plates with international comfort fare since the restaurant first opened its doors in 1935. Today, much of the original décor has survived Earth's upgrade from black and white to technicolor, creating a retro ambiance in which waiters serve meals often made with organic and local ingredients. Chefs draw from a blend of American and European influences to craft the menu's seafood, pork, and steak items, which diners can nibble in vintage wood booths or at intimate tables beneath the soft glow of a neon sign. Throughout meals, bartenders top glasses with a rotating selection of potables.
2527 W Main St.
Richmond, Virginia 23220