The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Charlottesville: Day 1 (Tired and Semi-Hungry)

[This entry took place on December 28th. Once again, I'm way behind.]

I don't mind driving when it's dark, as long as "dark" implies night. But when I left my house at 6:15 AM to make the 6-7 hour trip down to Charlottesville, dark implied, "It's really friggin' early and you're really tired and jesus, why are all these people out at such an early time, are they insane, and whatever you do, don't fall asleep, or else you'll die, and don't turn on this ramp, the robotic woman trapped into the GPS is telling you that the entrance to Route 17 South is still another 0.2 miles away, and whatever you do, don't die."


last rest stop in NJ
Last rest stop in NJ

I was relieved when I made it to the end of New Jersey without causing long lasting damage to any living thing. Besides the environment—I mean, that's unavoidable. The only snafu I ran into, if you could call it that, was that the gas station attendant didn't twist the gas cap in tightly enough, meaning that while I was zooming (because I don't drive—I zoom) over the Delaware Memorial Bridge it rattled against the side of the car with an, "I'm going to fly right off, weee!" kind of force. The whole time that I could see the cap bouncing in my side view mirror I pretty much just though, "Fuck fuck fuck," until I was able to pull over at a rest stop and screw it back in.

After my GPS took me on some mildly god-awful (albeit scenic) long-winding roads, I arrived at Tristan's apartment in Charlottesville around 1:15 PM. I hadn't eaten breakfast, but I wasn't hungry for lunch either. I was just glad and pleasantly surprised that I managed to drive for 7 hours—the longest I've ever willingly strapped myself in the driver's seat sans passengers/victims—without doing anything that would require taking advantage of my car or health insurance.


It was a good thing that I wasn't very hungry. Since Tristan was only on his lunch break from working at Hedge when he met up with me, we didn't really have time to eat anyway. I watched him scrape a few spoonfuls of cold leftover lentils straight out of a pot into his mouth until we had to go back to Hedge.

Revolutionary Soup
Revolutionary Soup

After helping Tristan and his roommate/coworker/BFF Ryan deliver some flowers to a wedding, we went to Revolutionary Soup to kill some time and possibly pick up some grub. The presence of my New England Clam Chowder on the menu, which is full of vegan and vegetarian-friendly options and uses products from Polyface Farms (the farm featured in The Omnivore's Dilemma), was very tempting...oh so tempting (it's my favorite soup)...but my stomach was still in a semi-dormant mode and I thought it would be best to save my appetite for dinner. Later I will have wished that I went for the soup. Euh.

tristan's lights lamp and books and stuff Tristan's dj thing Tristan's wall Atop Tristan's dresser thingy popping out of the wall turntables
Tristan's room

I went back to the apartment while Tristan and Ryan went out to deliver more flowers for the wedding. My initial intention was to take a nap since by that point my brain was running on almost nothing enhanced by a handful of cough drops, but I mostly surfed the Internet and took photos around Tristan's room. You'll see more photos of the apartment, nicknamed the Reichstag, in subsequent entries. It's kind of...the coolest apartment I've ever seen.

After Tristan and Ryan came back from what ended up being a stressful, totally fuxored wedding reception, we hung out until Dan, Ryan's friend from Cornell, arrived at the apartment, and later went out for dinner. But it was too late. Because by the time 9 PM rolls around, people in Charlottesville don't want to eat anymore. They just...I don't know, sleep? Sit at home? Chew on their fingers? I'm sure there were a number of places open at that hour, just not the restaurants we most wanted to eat at. Tristan's two favorite restaurants were closed: Korean House (I suppose because of the holiday weekend, otherwise it's usually open) and Aqui Es Mexico. Our failure was made even more depressing by being pelted by the cold drizzling rain.

We eventually settled on Lee's Grill, which touted low fat, no msg, low carb "International Cuisine." International cuisine? After looking at the menu, it turned out to be a somewhat apt description. How many restaurants offer cold sesame noodles, onion rings, Greek salad, Philly cheese steak, teriyaki chicken, baklava, and pad thai in one menu? The menu isn't even necessarily very large—it just takes a bit from a bunch of different cuisines (although mostly Chinese), curated to include a diverse but compact selection of foods most desired by hungry, possibly hungover college students from UVA. I can't imagine that many people would go for the Philly Cheese Steak, but if you're hobbling around W. Main Street after 9PM and the craving hits, now you know where to get one.

sweet potato fries with cinnamon and sugar!
The craving hit

I like sweet potatoes. And I like fried things. So I had to get...sweet potato fries. Lee's lightly seasoned the eeever so slightly crisp potato sticks (do sweet potato fries tend to be mushier than normal fries?) with cinnamon and sugar, which made them much more exciting than plain, unseasoned sweet potato fries.

dan dan mein
dan dan mein

My dan dan mein, a soup-less noodle dish of egg noodles covered in a spicy peanut and sesame sauce with raw cucumber and mung bean, came in a bowl the size of a small bucket. Or at least the portion was larger than what I was expecting for $5.25. The noodles were much thicker than what I was used to—a little under udon-fatness—and I would've liked a slightly more mouth-searing sauce, but it was satisfyingly belly-busting after having eaten almost nothing for the entire day.

pad thai
pad thai

Tristan went for pad thai. He practically inhaled it, I suppose from a combination of it tasting good and starting with a mostly empty stomach. He was the only one who managed to finish his whole dish; Ryan, Dan and I all had leftovers. FAIL.

And then it was back to the Reichstag for a long night of talking and not getting enough sleep.

Day 2 = Washington DC. Oh yeah.


Revolutionary Soup
108 2nd St SW
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Lee's Grill
1395 W Main St
Charlottesville, VA 22903


Kay / January 6, 2008 8:39 PM

I found out at an all-you-can-eat that yam fries are good with gravy. The fat and salt emulsifying the fries... mmmm! =D

As for the dan dan mein ("dan dan" I'm assuming is egg) I always thought that the thicker the mein is the better quality it is - but I'm not sure. I myself like mein when they are either cruchy, chewy or really smooth in soup.

Anyways love your blog, try to get some real sleep in soon!

Kathy / January 6, 2008 11:00 PM

Post - woohoo!! :)
hehe, I like that variety at Lee's Grill...I guess sometimes nothing hits the spot more than dan dan mein + cinnamon sweet potato fries! o_O

roboppy / January 7, 2008 2:26 AM

Kay: EGG NOODLES! ...Is that what "dan dan" refers to? I just realized that they were egg noodles when you mentioned that. And I have no idea how thick the noodles are "supposed" to be (probably doesn't matter?), but I think I like it better when the noodles aren't thick so that there's more sauce-to-noodle. :)

My favorite noodles are rice noodles! OH GLORIOUS RICE.

And I failed on the "getting sleep" thing seeing as it's about 2:30 AM right now! :(

Kathy: WOOHOO I need to write about 5 more posts now.

I wouldn't mind living near a place like Lee's Grill. I'd want to try everything on the menu just for the hell of it.

Julie / January 7, 2008 11:02 AM

I saw my first sweet potato fries about a year and a half ago and wondered why they weren't more popular. They've slowly become more visible out here. I read that they're healthier than regular potatoes (though being fried and salted makes "healthy" relevant). In my opinion, they have the distinct advantage of tasting pretty good even if they're not totally crispy. I wonder how purple yam french fries taste ...

It's really amazing how good everything looks and tastes when you're hungry. Now I want noodles. I'd even eat Ramen.

Geggie / January 7, 2008 12:22 PM

Revolutionary Soup is yummy! I'm in C'ville once a month for work and there are so many fun little tasties to be had. Looking forward to more on your list.

Tina / January 7, 2008 1:07 PM

Yay! A post!

Restaurants close at 9?! Wuh?! That's so early. But then again, what do I know? I normally don't eat past 8 pm.

Ya know, I never had sweet potato fries before. It sounds yummy.

Mikey / January 7, 2008 5:36 PM

Yay for not dying in a car crash!

I wonder what the chef of Lee's is like. Maybe there is no chef and it's a robot! How else would you explain such a diverse menu?

Also: cold lentils? Tristan must have been really hungry or really in a hurry.

roboppy / January 8, 2008 1:04 AM

Mahar: It turned out like this:

Crispy Pata


Julie: I agree that there should be more sweet potato fry-ness in this world.

And ramen is awesome! I mean, good ramen. I've eaten too much Cup Noodles in my life to want that anymore. ...But it is good if you're really hungry...and need sodium.

Geggie: I gotta try it next time! I'm not sure I'll be able to point out anything new to you...but we'll see after I finish all my entries. -__-

Tina: I think people eat dinner AT 9PM in Europe. Haha. Charlottesville closes down early? ;) Or some places.

If you get the chance, try sweet potato fries! From...I dunno where! Maybe search on menupages, ooh.

Mikey: Yay me! Maybe God does love me after all!

Maybe the chef just knows how to cook everything in the world. Because he's a magic chef! MAGIC.

I think it was a combination of hunger and lack of time. ;)

cVillain's Thor / January 8, 2008 10:14 AM

I love your blog. You may have found some more creative places to eat later on at night if you read cVillain's Charlottesville restaurant reviews.

We do an honest look at all things Charlotesville. Our pictures aren't nearly as good as yours, but we do have a pretty good touch on the whole Charlottesville dining thing.

Places that were open at 9 that you should check out next time:

Continental Divide
Little Johns

Enjoy! Thanks for visiting Charlottesville!

Julie / January 8, 2008 10:42 AM

Agreed. Cup o Noodles is way too bland ... the noodles seem to take on the taste of the styro cup.

I saw all your Filipino food photos and commented on some of them. Oh man, I miss ma's cooking!

girlie / January 8, 2008 1:32 PM

First of all, blogging December 28th on January 6th is NOT that far behind - you're making me feel bad! Looks like you had a lot of fun in Charlottesville. Congratulations on completing the drive!

roboppy / January 8, 2008 4:41 PM

Thor: Thanks for the link! I'll consult cVillian next time i head down there. :) We had considered Mas, but it was too expensive. Ten was on my list (ish) but it was also...a bit out of our price range. We did consider Little John though, and I didn't know about Continental Divide, which sounds pretty good.


Julie: Bland flavor and weird dehydrated vegetable nubblings, yeah!

I wish my mom's cooking was so good that I could miss it. -__-

girlie: Oh, I forget things after, say, a week of not blogging about something. If you can remember stuff for a long time, that's awesome! MY BRAIN HAS FAIL!

Cindy / January 9, 2008 12:41 PM

Too bad that you missed The Korean House. The food is great from visit a few years ago. The owners there must have an interesting story behind them to have a place way outside of town in the South; cannot miss the taxodermy & mini-zoo in the back !!!

janet / January 9, 2008 4:25 PM

Whaaaa? taxodermy and mini-zoo??

Reichstag is so much cooler than.... euh. my mom's house! i need to mooooove

roboppy / January 10, 2008 12:29 AM

Cindy: ...Wait, MINI-ZOO? WTF, I MISSED THAT?! I hope I get to go back someday.

Janet: Yeah, my reaction. Right thar.

And most def cooler than my condo. I'm afraid to pain the walls so I painted on vellum and taped a big sheet of that to my wall, but it's not the same. I should've just painted on my walls and paint over it when I move out. Doesn't take that much effort! :[

Ida / June 13, 2011 8:04 AM

RevSoup is my favorite place in the winter/when I'm sick! The tomato basil bisque + buttered roll (unlimited butter YESSSS) is the most delicious thing my cold-muddled taste buds have ever tasted. But the salads and sandwiches are kind of amazing as well. Not to mention the fun poetry memorizing discounts they have!

Next time you're in Cville, hit up Mas Tapas - I've heard great things, never actually been though D:

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