Edo’s Squid, The Fan, Richmond, VA

Driving down to Richmond for the weekend, we were finally going to meet Buz Grossberg (of Buz & Ned’s Real Barbecue) on Saturday for dinner at his famed barbecue hut. On Friday, however, I was clueless about where to eat – it’s really too bad we don’t have a Richmond version of dcdining.com. 🙂

Fretting on the drive, I was struck by the obvious: why not just pick up the phone and call Buz? Nobody knows more about good food in Richmond than he.

So I did, and he immediately recommended Edo’s Squid. “I’ll meet you there!” he said.

“We’re looking for something downscale, with good food.”

“Trust me, I’ll meet you there.” He got a 5:30 reservation.

So we met the Buz! I’ve been close friends with his brother Jim for about ten years, but I’d never met the FlaySlayer – it turns out he’s friends with Ed Vasaio, the owner of Edo’s Squid (hence the name “Ed”o), and here I thought it was going to be some Japanese thing.

Nope! And if the name “Vasaio” sounds familiar to you, it’s because Ed’s family owned the legendary A.V. restaurant on New York Avenue (A.V. stands for Augusto Vasaio, Ed’s father, who founded the restaurant in 1949).

Edo’s Squid is like no restaurant that we have in Washington, DC. It’s upstairs in a row house, not far from VCU. From the outside, it’s easy to walk right on by, and once you walk up the stairs, you’re immediately struck by how informal it is – there are people having dinner there in shorts.

Ed came over to the table and chatted with Buz while I perused the wine list which is extremely short – only about six whites and six reds – but bordering on outstanding given the prices, most of which are in the $20s (and yes, my fellow Washingtonians, that would be by the bottle, not the glass!)

We’ve reached the point where this can no longer be considered a “review,” because Ed offered to send some dishes out – there were a couple “must haves,” but other than that, we turned ourselves over to the kitchen.

The printed menu here is tiny, but the copious daily specials are written on a chalkboard (which is why you can’t find any reliable copies of their menu on the internet). Take note of how many offerings are from the sea, and use that as your guide to ordering here: an armada of plates started arriving, and the very best dishes were:

Squid (surprise) which is offered in several preparations, and is flat-out sensational (really now, when’s the last time you had sensational squid?)  On the way out I mentioned this to Ed, and he takes great pride in getting fresh squid. Get a squid dish here.

If you want to choose between the Oyster Stew and Cod Chowder, I’d go with the chowder which may have been my favorite dish of the night. It was an incredible chowder, really as good as any you’ll find, and it’s loaded with fish and potatoes so it’s an ample dish.

The Scungili Insalata (conch with olive oil, lemon, and garlic) was equal in quality to the squid, and now that I’m typing this, I’m remembering I liked it at least as much as the chowder.

There were many other things, all in enormous portions (they serve family style here) – a wonderful, refreshing salad with cubes of tuna and ample amounts of baby squid, a veal shank, pasta, cuttlefish, rockfish – although only three of us were eating, there was enough food brought out for ten people. Even after we were stuffed, plates kept arriving – we had to wave the white flag and surrender. (We were actually full after the squid, conch, and cuttlefish courses, so imagine a giant pasta dish and a massive veal shank arriving after that).

As we’d waited for Buz to arrive, we had a San Pelligrino Limonata, I had a Bombay Gin and Tonic, and during the meal, we had two bottles of 2009 Matteocorreggia Roero Arneis (get this wine if they have it – it’s inexpensive and good). When the check came, we were billed for drinks only, so I left a 100% tip, picked up the check, and told Buz he could treat us the next night. Again, take this “review” for what it’s worth – this was free food – but I would urge anyone going to Richmond to try this wonderful, surprisingly informal restaurant (and get the cod chowder, a salad with squid in it (you want the squid at room temperature), and the conch (and I can only hope yours is as good as ours was)).

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