Every town needs a really good steakhouse and Charlottesville’s is The Downtown Grille, located in the heart of the Downtown Pedestrian Mall. Serving Midwestern corn-fed beef and fresh seafood in an elegant setting, the restaurant also boasts a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
In what appears to be an old bank building with soaring ceilings and arched doorways and windows, the dining room is anchored at one end by an open kitchen. Tables are set with white tablecloths and gleaming tableware. Waiters are dressed in white shirts, black pants and tie and aprons.
There is a 10 seat bar at the front of the restaurant with an excellent cocktail menu, and the outside patio is a dining option in nicer weather.
Start with an order of their Candied Bacon; Crispy Pork Belly, Maple Brown Sugar BBQ Glaze, Apple Slaw or the surprisingly good (this far from the sea) Steamer Clams: White Wine Scampi Broth, Shallots, Baby Heirloom Tomato, Toasted Baguette. Strange as it seems, it is possible to screw up a good steak, but not here. My 12oz. NY Strip (very fairly priced at $34) was perfectly seasoned and cooked exactly to medium (just pink!). One of the best steaks I have had in some time. Crispy fries and a wonderful AERena cab made for a delicious dinner.
There are some big dogs on the wine list (Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $1,295) but also some good wines at good prices; Priest Ranch Cab at $68, Phillippe Milan & Fils Pommard $70 and Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel at $55.