A new addition to our areas selection of local food featuring spots is Amuse restaurant on the third floor of the VMFA wing. My husband and I checked out the museum including the Tiffany exhibit, and then popped up to the third floor (via the glass elevator) to see if we could get a table. We were arriving just at 5:30 as the first seating for dinner was starting. They were booked, and the bar was full, but the staff was very apologetic and offered to seat us in the auxiliary space. We were famished so we automatically agreed to check it out.
It was an auxiliary room. The space has the same basic decor, and same large windows with terrace.
The service was great. The staff was friendly and easygoing, but professional. The wine list is two pages of by the bottle options, and a short list of wines by the glass. However, I really liked the list of wines by the glass, which actually come in 8 ounce carafes suitable for sharing. Two of the wines on this list are the Michael Shaps Merlot for $15, and the White Hall Viognier for $11. As soon as we had our drinks and placed our order a complementary treat of one cucumber slice with a smoked trout mousse(?) was placed before each of us. One waitress described it as a sort of "hello" from the chef.
To start I tried the roasted beets with Marcona almond cream and a Maytag blue cheese bomboloni. It was served warm and quite delicious. The blue cheese filled bomboloni, a filled, fried Italian doughnut was fun. Matt had the Manakintowne greens with pecans, sun dried cherries and goat cheese in a champagne vinaigrette. His salad was large, and even my beets were quite a lot for me. Either could have been shared as small starter. For our entree I got the chicken from Ayrshire Farms served over wild rice with brussel sprouts in a saffron broth. The meal was okay. The rice had a pleasant flavor, and the chicken was tender and juicy, but with a nice crispy skin. Matt got the pork belly special. It was a good sized piece of meat served over rice with bok choy, baby carrots, and southeast Asian seasons. He was somewhat disappointed in the overall flavor, but felt everything was generally prepared well.
In the end we felt the food was decent. We had a really nice time. If I go there again I probably would do more sharing. I would have been happy with half of the petite carafe of wine, as well as half of an appetizer. I was only able to eat about half of my entree before feeling overly full. Keep in mind that you may not be able to take any leftovers with you since you have to walk through the museum to leave.
Amuse serves up their dinner menu on Thursday's from 5:30-9pm. (They will start extended Friday hours in early July.)Lunch: 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, Tea: 2:30 – 4:00 pm, You can also have cocktails and small plates in their lounge daily, 11:30 am – 5 pm & Thursdays, 11:30 am – 9 pm.