This Friday evening I traveled to Charlottesville for some good food and a great hike in the beautiful surroundings of Autumn in Central Virginia. Kyle and I soaked up the beautiful weather while visiting family and we made some great stops along the way.
I met Kyle in Charlottesville, just over an hour’s drive from Richmond. On Friday night, we visited with family members and then grabbed a bite to eat at our favorite pizza place in Virginia. Our Cville adventure started around 7:00 PM with cold beers and hot pizza.
The Mellow Mushroom (website)
We had a medium Mega Veggie pizza to share. The piping hot pie was loaded with delicious veggies and it was perfect as the night was getting colder. I had waited too long for dinner and was starving for that perfect crispy-doughy crust. And their pizza sauce is unbelievable; the combination of crust and sauce is what makes this pizza special.
We washed it all down with a few cold beers, including a new one that we had not seen before: Midnight Project #3, Oxymoron. The Midnight Projects are a series of collaboration beers created by Terrapin (GA) and Left Hand Brewing (CO). As the third installment in the series, Oxymoron was a highly anticipated beer that made its debut this Fall. Kyle and I were BIG fans of Midnight Project #2, Depth Charge, which was an espresso milk stout that was released in the Fall of 2009. Oxymoron is an India Pale Lager, which appealed to us because Kyle is really into IPAs and I love a good lager. It was very interesting and I think we will try it again when we are more focused on tasting beer and less focused on tasting pizza.
The service was excellent from the hostess and the wait staff. At the end of our meal, the owner/manager stopped by our table to make sure we were having a good time. We were very impressed that he stopped to check on us, especially on a busy Friday night. The Mellow Mushroom, as usual, did not disappoint these hungry travelers. It remains one of our favorite places to visit while in Charlottesville.
On Saturday morning, we got up bright and early to make the 30 minute drive to Afton and hike up to the Humpback Rocks Overlook. We did a longer version of the same hike 6 months ago, and this time we just climbed up and right back down because we were pressed for time. It was about a 1.5 hour hike that we completed while the sun was rising over the mountain. I had to stop to catch my breath several times on the ascent, but the view from the top was worth the climb.
The views were spectacular and we wanted to stay all day at the top of those rocks. But our stomachs were growling and we had a tight schedule so we had to hike back down. On our endorphin highs, Kyle and I brainstormed how we could fit more hiking into our schedules. I hope we get at least one more good one in while the leaves are still changing.
We got back to our hotel with 25 minutes to shower, pack, and check out of the room. I made it out with wet hair, a crumpled mess of clothing stuffed into my overnight bag, and a fistful of cosmetic products in my hand to hide my dark circles during the car ride back to downtown. Kyle drove towards UVA with the single goal of calorie replacement.
Boylan Heights (website)
We had been meaning to visit this “gourmet burger bar” at the Corner in Charlottesville for awhile. Our timing was perfect as we ducked in for an early lunch. The place filled up with students in the hour that we were there; the crowd grew from two tables to twenty and we were glad we got out orders in when we did.
I must have had 40 ounces of water while we were there because I was so thirsty after our hike. We both ordered veggie burgers, and the patties were unlike any others I’ve ever had. They were homemade patties formed from a mixture of quinoa, black beans, and fresh vegetables and then deep fried so that the outside was crispy while the inside was soft.
The taste of the burger was great, and my only complaint was the consistency. It fell apart while I ate it, and I think the burger could be made better by either the addition of lentils or more mashed beans to the mix, or a reduction in the size of the veggie pieces. The recipe includes white beans but they don’t stick the patty together very well. I just like my burger to stay on my bun while I’m eating it. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t eat every last errant crumb with my fork after the bun was history. I was not crazy about the fries on the side, but I will be back for that burger again. I even caught myself daydreaming about it earlier today.
Another note on Boylan Heights: I really liked the concept of the restaurant and the prep-school theme was integrated throughout the experience in a creative way. I was also impressed by the branding, which was done very well with a clean and academic looking logo emblazoned on every inch of the restaurant space, from the menus to the napkin dispensers to the toothpicks that poked out of the tops of our burger buns. The folks at Boylan Heights know a lot about burgers, but they also know a thing or two about marketing, which helps them stand out.
Home Sweet Home
After about 18 hours in Charlottesville, we drove back home to get some other weekend chore stuff out of the way. Again we took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked to dinner in the Fan. The excitement of our quick trip woke up the travel bug in us and caused us to talk about vacations, school, our careers, and the future. It was a great conversation and as we walked the streets of our own beautiful neighborhood, we reminisced about exploring Richmond when it was new to me (Kyle grew up here), and we dreamed about exploring other cities too. Although after a healthy meal and a stroll back home, with the comforting smell of freshly baked cookies wafting over from our tiny oven in our little apartment kitchen, in that moment we were happy to be right where we are.