Aside from family, the Positive Vibe Café's wait staff is made up of professionals from other Richmond restaurants waiters and waitresses who volunteer a few nights a week to serve in exchange for tips. The food they serve is quite good, better than you might expect at a family-run joint but then, they've had a little help in that department.
Many prominent local chefs have contributed signature dishes to the Vibe's menu. The emphasis is on big flavors. (Entrées range from $9.95 to $19.95.) From Chef Jay Frank come jumbo-lump crab cakes with red pepper sauce. From longtime Richmond restaurateur and partner Bob DeCapri comes a fantastic seafood potpie with shrimp, crab, salmon and scallops broiled in a rich béchamel and topped with puff pastry. From Chef Rob Hamlin comes a truly authentic jambalaya featuring andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp paired with dirty rice and enhanced by the deepest brown roux I've tasted in a while. For the vegetarian, Chef John Maxwell, who has helped train the kitchen staff, offers a delightfully tasty alternative: griddled white bean and sweet potato cakes with avocado and corn salsa.
But the biggest flavor of all comes in the Vibe's own signature entrée: buffalo. Whether you try the burger, the dog, the stew, the sirloin, or Chef Jim Stevenson's buffalo meatloaf, you will notice the difference that free-range, grass-fed organics can make. This is meat that tastes like meat, and in the capable hands of the Vibe's kitchen staff, that's a good thing.
The bold flavors don't end there. The homemade cornbread pyramids are moist and paired with a scrumptious honey butter. The steamed shrimp, available in a half and full pound, are nicely spiced and of a good size. The most interesting appetizer, however, is something called Dippity Do Dah, a choice of various chips and dips, everything from tortillas and salsa to hummus and pita and a rich crab dip. Available in various sizes, it makes a good grab-all appetizer for groups.
There's an adage in the food world if you can't master subtle, go big. That's successfully at play at the Vibe. From the beach-themed menu, to the fresh-squeezed lemon-, lime- and orangeade, to the constant crash of surf on a flat-screen beach above the bar, to the tang and sparkle of each plate, Positive Vibe Café promises big appeal for Richmonders. Family night out? It's kid friendly. Date? Impress 'em with your sensitive side. Foodie? Try it. How often can you chow down and clean your karma? S
Positive Vibe Café ($-$$)
2825 Hathaway Road
Stratford Hills Shopping Center off Forest Hill Avenue
Tuesday-Friday: lunch, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.; dinner, 5 - 10 p.m. Saturday: noon - midnight. Sunday: brunch, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.; dinner, 4 - 9 p.m.
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