Richie’s opened last week. If you remember, we talked about it a few weeks ago when construction was still underway. Occupying a very small building on the corner of Amherst Street and Elmwood Avenue, Richie’s Place offers American and Caribbean cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.
When Rich called to tell me of the opening, I zipped an email over to reader Willie1 to see if he was interested in meeting for lunch. He’s pretty invested in the neighborhood as a home owner and member of the Grant-Amherst Association. He and his neighbors were happy to see new life in the tiny space; a sign that a new restaurant was on its way. He agreed to meet Queenseyes and me for lunch today.
The interior of the space hasn’t changed a lot, but it’s neat and well taken care of. Art and a large mirror have been hung on the walls; it has a coziness that its previous incarnation lacked. When we arrived we removed our coats and were immediately approached by the friendly waitress. Queenseyes needed coffee badly, and upon the advice of the waitress I happily selected a Jamaican grape soda from the beverage cooler. Further exploration revealed a wide assortment of imported beverages along with typical sodas and fruit juice. Queenseyes selected a peanut flavor drink as a curiosity. If you choose to follow suit, make sure to note the instructions and shake well before opening. It was thick, sweet and creamy. To me it tasted like a PayDay candy bar. Maybe it would be better at home with a little vodka. Either way, it’s always fun to try something new. My grape soda was great.
The menu offers traditional American breakfasts—omelets, pancakes and waffles. There’s even a breakfast sandwich, so if you’re one of the many cars that speeds past this restaurant in the morning, skip the drive-thru muffin and grab eggs with bacon, sausage or ham on a roll for $2.99. If you’re up for a little adventure, jump into the Richie’s “Hurt Me Mon” Plate. For only $6.99 you’ll find yourself struggling to finish 3 pancakes or a Belgian waffle, home fries, two eggs and two links of sausage or slices of bacon.
But we were here for lunch. We started with two classics, samplings of both the Caribbean style patties and the pastelitos. We chose to try patties in both chicken and spicy beef, and for the pastelitos we went for the chicken and beef with cheese. The dough that encompassed the patties was light and flaky, the interior warm and soft. The chicken was curried, the spicy beef hot and flavorful without needing to reach for a drink. The pastelitos were delicious. The crust blistered from the hot oil, the interior melty and smooth. Each of these treats was only $1.75 each. Along with Queenseyes’ order of creamy, sweet pineapple coleslaw the combination of offerings from the “sides” portion of the menu was a good meal in itself.
As soon as we finished our “appetizer”, our lunch orders arrived. Queenseyes jerk seasoned chicken breast was served with brightly colored mango salsa and a creamy honey mustard spread. After rdominguez’s comment on our first story about Richie’s I opted for the Cubano chicken sandwich. A thick chicken breast was served with two rashers of crisp bacon, chopped sweet pickle and swiss cheese. Both Queenseyes and I enjoyed our sandwiches with fries ($6.99), though the rolls were a little dry. I think that toasted slices of bread would also be really nice in this application. If neither of these sandwiches appeals to you, there’s also a sandwich made with a jerked pork chop ($6.99) and another that features turkey, lettuce, tomato, onion and dill pickle ($4.99).
Willie1 went straight for the entrée, which from the small sample I had, was a smart choice. Two pieces of spicy, juicy chicken were served with a side of rice and Rich’s own recipe for mixed greens made with (callaloo). The jerk here is spicy and tasty, but Rich told us that he’s careful not to serve anything too hot. Meatloaf and fried chicken dinners are also available ($7.99), along with more ethnically inspired cuisine like West Indian fish cakes with curry sauce ($7.99), Jamaican style mackerel fillets simmered in spicy tomato sauce ($7.99) and beef, chicken, pork and goat curry ($8.99 – $10.99). Rich mentioned that he’s recently added head-on red snapper to Friday’s menu, sometimes fried, sometimes grilled, other times braised.
Richie’s Place is a great addition to the neighborhood, and I look forward to many more meals here. I’m especially glad that I can bring my kids. Each item on the kids menu includes a drink and a scoop of ice cream. Macaroni and cheese with fruit salad or applesauce, a burger with sweet potato fries, a small order of silver dollar pancakes and every kid’s favorite, the classic peanut butter and banana sandwich served with honey and a side of carrots or applesauce are all nice to see on the menu. ($4.99 – $5.99)
Richie’s keeps long hours, so there’s no reason why you can’t stop by. If you can’t make it in, consider the fact that they have speedy and friendly delivery service. It’s important to support a new restaurant right out of the gate, even if they’re working the kinks out. We had a great meal and a nice time. Rich and his staff are pleasant and the food is tasty and a good value.
1595 Elmwood Avenue, 14207
Monday – Tuesday 8AM – 8PM
Wednesday and Thursday 8AM – 10PM
Friday and Saturday 8AM – 1AM