Capital Ale House
Taps: 48 / Bottles: 200
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: Y
Ratings: 90 | Reviews: 83 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by Zraly:
4.03/5 rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
I've been visiting Capital Ale House in downtown since I interviewed for my PhD at VCU a few years back. It was actually a "positive" when I was rating my preferences for graduate school! Granted, it was a secondary factor...but a factor nonetheless. "Can I get good beer here and have a reasonable place to chill?"
And for those purposes...CAH is great. It has decent food (the sandwiches & frittes pose as great pub food), a great selection of beer on tap, and the atmosphere, in general, is pleasant.
I go to CAH at least a few times a month. With my class demands decreasing, and my reading & writing demands increasing, I might haunt this place more often in the coming years. My last visit, this past Thursday, I had a Corsendonk Christmas ale (on tap) and my girlfriend had a Stone Smoked Porter (on tap). Both were very tasty and were served in the appropriate glasses.
I find the beer selection to be appropriate and of high quality. There is always a nice mix of import and American micros on tap. Sundays are a great day to try some of the American micros on tap; a pint of any American micro is only $2. "Steal the glass" night occurs on Wednesdays. For the most part, this is a respectful, beer-positive atmosphere that has good spirit in supporting beer appreciation.
As for the food, I've had the opportunity to sample most of the sandwiches on the menu and I can attest that they are good portions and are of good quality. When I am feeling "meat", the Cuban is rather satisfying. Also, for you veggies, the black bean burger is great (although quite messy). I've also had a few of the dinner entrees. The Waterzooi mer du Nord is quite tasty, as is the fish and greens. The fish for the fish and greens selection is typically something along the lines of salmon or talapia.
A few small caveats about CAH:
1. The service has odds of being hit or miss. There are a few servers who have been there since I can remember and they are great. They are conversant on beer and beer style. They are prompt and courteous. I always enjoy myself whenever I have one of the "seasoned veterans" as my server. However, it is the restaurant business and there is always employee turnover. It's inevitable. And often times the newbies do a fine job, considering. On occassion, though, I expect to be ignored and for my service to be shoddy. So again, this is an acknowledgment that, like other restaurants, CAH suffers from some staffing issues and it sometimes shows in the service received by patrons.
2. The list of available bottles is really just a list of bottled beer that CAH had in stock at some point in the recent past. I tend to avoid the bottle list most of the time. There is usually plenty of good stuff on tap to hold my interest. My girlfriend sometimes orders off of the bottle list and is usually disappointed. This past visit she asked for a Bell's Cherry Stout. They were, of course, out.
3. In general, the atmosphere is cozy and inviting. Sometimes, though, tables near the bar can get a bit smokey. This is Virginia, afterall.
The downtown location is expanding. They are adding a Beer Garden that is projected, I think, to open later next year. There is now plenty parking in the parking garage that is connected to CAH. No more searching for a spot in downtown.
I think that CAH is a quality restaurant/beer bar. There is some room for improvement, but nothing that should dissuade a person from paying a visit to this establishment. Come for the good beer and decent atmosphere. You'll hopefully find some delicious beer to make your visit worth the trip.
12-29-2006 14:34:31 | More by Zraly
More User Reviews:
4.38/5 rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.5 | $$
Since I reviewed Mekong and Legend, it's only fair I review Cap Ale...
They have a rustic meets modern beer hall theme that fits well with the downtown location, and the city of Richmond as whole. The atmosphere does get a bit confused during the concerts in the adjacent concert hall room - it's odd to hear a metal band through the wall while the house PA is playing their lighter mix.
Unless it's burger night (Monday), you can expect good service by a usually knowledgeable staff that enjoys the beer they're serving. Most of the waitstaff also are able to offer pairing suggestions as well - a big plus for me.
The beer selection is fairly large, though split - they offer the lesser rotating drafts and their bottle selection upstairs, they stick the more rotating taps downstairs in the gameroom/beer garden. The only drawback I've seen is that when they kick a keg, sometimes they forget to tell the servers they're out (since the menus are printed for the month, it'd be hard to change them regularly) until after an order is placed.
The food is your standard American gastropub menu with burgers being the featured item. On regular nights, they cook them to your specifications, and throw down with some frites and one of their 4 flavored mayos. Also, the Bavarian pretzel is definitely worth a trip by itself.
Burger night is unto itself - usually there's a large rush of people during normal dinner hours, and the kitchen is cooking to order instead of specifications to get them out. However, servers generally still give good service.
Big plus of this place is the gameroom/beer garden - it has a few dartboards with the proper spacing and scorekeeping setup, plus a pooltable and some other games too. The outdoor beer garden is awesome if you like being outside and having a nice space in a city to hang out with your friends and have a few beers.
10-06-2013 20:54:09 | More by CraftBeerMe
4.06/5 rDev -6.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4 | $$$
I've been here so many times for lunch; no complaints. The problem is the downtown set up and overcrowding factor and extremely slow to almost non existent service. But, it's almost understandable because of the atmosphere. If I were to give this place an honest review for dinner drinking time, it would be very low. But, this will be a lunch review.
Easy to get a table or bar seats for miles and miles. Good food...great black bean burger, great fish n chips, decent beef burgers. Service is good at lunch. Ordered a GKnight can and it's always great when the servers immediately know and compliment your selection (not too many people reference GKnight here in VA). Plenty on tap...plenty plenty...and oh so so much bottled. They still had some 120 min, but prices on "those beers" are a bit high.
Either way, the downtown location is great for lunch and the south-side location is, so I hear, great whenever.
PS...had a great value on a local brewery's release of an ipa that same day with snifters and a growler, but that was at dinner and the overall experience was not good.
This is strictly a lunch review only.
06-29-2013 01:26:34 | More by tabascosigned
Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA
96 out of 100 based on 90 ratings.