In an effort to experience Richmond’s vibrant food scene, I discovered Conch Republic Rocketts for an evening meal on a warm October night. Joined by my sister Catherine (‘24) and our family friend Erin Martin, I ventured deep into Richmond to find a meal that would suit our palates.
Conch Republic Rocketts is located in Rocketts Village, “an urban community located on the banks of the James River in Richmond, Virginia”. After surviving the drive through downtown Richmond, I parked across from the restaurant. Conch Republic Rocketts faces the James River and is next to the Virginia Capital Trail,
a biking and walking path that connects Richmond and Williamsburg. While dining at Conch Republic Rocketts, it is common to see fleets of runners and bikers racing on the path below. While this was Catherine’s and my first experience at Conch Republic Rocketts, family friend Erin had visited the restaurant many times and observed the evolution of the surrounding area. She remarked that, “when [she] first moved to Richmond in 2003 to attend VCU, [she] witnessed the growth of Rocketts Landing when [she] was a member of the VCU crew team.”
Dining at Conch Republic is a very casual and family-friendly affair. While the interior is clean and comfortable, most attendees flock to the balcony and patio to admire the James River and view of the Richmond skyline. Dining in the late afternoon and evening requires sunglasses, as when the sun sets, the rays are almost blinding. My party chose to dine on the balcony that had a direct view of the setting sun and the water. Lights strung across the balcony produce a soft glow, as the natural light from the sun becomes darker. Attendees must appreciate acoustic rock, as it is the restaurant’s background music of choice, which adds to the casual and relaxed atmosphere.
The three of us ordered crab cake sandwiches as our main course. While the menu at Conch Republic Rocketts mainly consists of seafood, they do serve various salads, soups, and sandwiches to satisfy other palates. The portions sizes were enormous, which justified hefty price of $13.95.
As I bit into the kaiser-style bun, I thoroughly appreciated how the crab cake had a healthy medium between crunchy and soft. The crab cake also had a nice balance of the ratio of bread crumb to crab. However, I was disappointed with how the lime tartar sauce dampened the flavor of the crab. I feel that lime should be taken out of the tartar sauce to
not distract the consumer. The crab cake sandwich was heavily spiced, which can be overwhelming for some (like myself) but others, like my sister, thought it was “well-seasoned.” Even though I was not a fan of the tartar sauce, I overall thought that it was a solid crab cake.
While we all ordered the same main course, we each selected different sides. I ordered the French fries, my sister ordered jalapeno cornbread, and Erin ordered coleslaw. The fries were topped with a cajun-like seasoning, but I observed that the fries were very soggy and bland. My sister noted that for her side of jalapeno cornbread that she was pleasantly surprised by the combination of bread and jalapeno. She said that she “never thought the flavors would mix succesfully, but they did!” Erin noted that her coleslaw tasted just like coleslaw you could imagine.
We all chose to skip dessert due to barely having finished our enormous crabcakes; however, we did decide to each order a specialty drink off of Conch Republic’s drink menu. The three of us each ordered (virgin) piña coladas. I found my drink full of flavor and well-blended. Catherine and Erin concurred.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Conch Republic Rocketts. I fully recommend visiting this restaurant (especially in the evening) to admire and dine along the view of the James River and Rocketts Landing.
All photos by Duncan Owen.