Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

The Great Escape

Fresh produce, local ingredients and a lake make Sundays a great summer escape.


As an offshoot of Sundays Park and Garden Pavilion, Sundays Restaurant is located within the Brandermill subdivision and has been in business since 1988. The spotlight here, along with a casual American menu and plenty of frosty cool beverages, is the view. It's spectacular, and the outdoor design offers a waterfront panorama from just about any table, including the cabana-style waterfront bar. Dine here, and you'll soon forget that you're anywhere near the city of Richmond.

Prices are more than reasonable in terms of portion and quality. Starters such as the homemade potato chips with truly addictive chipotle cheese, salsa verde and ranch dipping sauces are $5, while a lump crabmeat bruschetta melt runs the higher end at $9.50. There's also an array of sandwiches and salads in the $6 to $10 range, while entrees fall into the $13 to $22 price bracket for a half-rack of ribs and the beef tenderloin platter, respectively. All entrees are served with two sides and a basket of homemade ciabatta bread.

It's clear this kitchen values freshness. Local Virginia produce and products are featured in dishes such as a chicken sandwich with roasted tomatoes, spinach and provolone. The chicken breast is delivered from George's Farm in Harrisonburg. Fresh salad greens hail from Manakintown Growers out of Powhatan and can be found in the Sunday's Original Cajun Chicken Salad, an odd concoction of fried chicken strips, bacon and french fries topped with melted cheese and served over mixed lettuces. It's an unusual combination that somehow works.

Even the club sandwich takes an interesting turn with the addition of fresh herb mayo, pancetta ham instead of bacon and homemade sandwich bread from Rose's Breads in Midlothian. Fresh pastas come from Mainly Pasta, while Richmond's own Legend beer is on tap, along with wines from Rapidan River.

You can truly taste the difference here between mass-produced foods and locally grown products that have been carefully chosen for their exceptional quality. And ironically, Sundays' prices are the same or below the cost of similar mass-marketed fare. The mixed grill — of a fall-off-the-bone tender pork osso bucco (versus the usual veal), a small perfectly cooked medium-rare beef tenderloin topped with tangy porcini cream and lightly seared scallops — is value priced at $19. Throw in some crispy, Parmesan-dusted fries and a bowl of creamy spinach and you have yourself a real tasty bargain.

This is a restaurant with a magnificent view and dependable food at great prices. Sundays is pretty darn close to culinary paradise, yet one facet still needs fixing: the service. Servers are very young (many were high-schoolers), which is fine as long as they fully comprehend the extensive wine list as well as the menu. A diner's paradise is lost when the server continually erupts into uncontrolled giggling and frequently utters the phrase, "Um, I'm not really sure."

But gazing out at the crystal waters lapping against the sand 100 feet from your table makes the giddy server fade away. And this is what Sundays is really about — a truly dazzling outdoor dining experience. Escape the views of strip-mall parking lots and bustling main streets and — even if for just one evening — take a mini-vacation, Chesterfield style. S

Sundays Waterfront Restaurant
4602 Millridge Parkway
Brandermill subdivision
Lunch and dinner: Monday -Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. Brunch and dinner: Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

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