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“An old favorite, always excellent”
Review of C & O Restaurant

C & O Restaurant
Ranked #23 of 566 Restaurants in Charlottesville
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $0 - $20
Cuisines: American, International
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Reservations
Reviewed September 22, 2013

We first discovered the C&O in the early 1980s, when its end of town by the old C&O train station was pretty lonely and beat up. I remember there were still baggage carts rusting on the platform across the street from the restaurant, left years before after the last passenger train had rumbled through.
Back then it was hard to find the C&O because it was not identified by any sign on the 19th century brick facade or doorway of the old commercial building in which it is located. You had to know it was there.
Back then, C&O mashed potatoes were a marvel: very garlicky, intentionally lumpy with a green leafy ingredient (parsley? I forget ....) mixed in. This was all kind of revolutionary at the time, amazingly enough, and I believe the recipe was requested by a reader and appeared in Gourmet magazine. (RIP.) We had it at home regularly and always thought fondly of enjoying it first at the C&O.
The restaurant appears to have transitioned from that trendy insider's hot spot to something of a fine and reliable stalwart among C'Ville's top restaurants. But it has not gotten stale. The rabbit special I had the other night was memorable and different and delicious: lightly breaded and rolled with mushrooms with a light fondu sauce. I started with a tomato (including a green one) chevre tart that was excellent. My wife was in the mood for a light meal and had a side of spicy corn (which I erroneously listed for her in my recent review of nearby Fleurie .. sorry; can't go back and edit these things) and fettucini with just butter and cheese instead of the listed pasta entree.
All excellent.
Service was top notch, with a knowledgeable, efficient and courteous server. We ate in the bistro, or downstairs barroom, and found it lively and fun, with a small group of young people at the bar and a lighted fish tank on one end and a Dutch door onto the street off the other end.
In recent years we've been seated in what they call the mezzanine and felt a little left out ... it's a sort of brick hallway off the main entrance. It was fine but not what we remembered fondly about the C&O, where years ago we were always seated in a pleasantly clean, neat and spartan upstairs room with large old windows. Not sure they still use that room. There's also outdoor seating in a kind of backyard enclosure.
We asked to be seated somewhere other than the mezzanine, only because we've eaten there our last two trips to C'Ville. It appears to have been totally redone since our last visit in 2012 and looked a lot more inviting and a lot less like a brick-lined shoebox.
A restaurant can't last this long unless it's got a lot going for it and its owners and chef know how to adapt as the years go by. We're very happy to know they are so smart and that the C&O is there for us whenever we visit wonderful old C'Ville.

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Thank Peter B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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205 - 209 of 332 reviews

Reviewed September 18, 2013

C&O pepsi sign outside would not lead you to suspect that a great restaurant lurked inside. However we were recommended to go -so ventured inside to a great welcome and a table in the downstairs bar area. It was noisy with people conversing at the bar etc. But people come and go and it is a great atmosphere. we had a very knowledgeable and pleasant waitress. We chose the yellow fin tuna. It was superb -followed by the best sticky toffee pudding ever. It was the most expensive meal of the holiday but also the best on what was our last night. So go on treat yourself.

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Thank worldwideflyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 5, 2013

This is without question one of my favorite restaurants, and has been around for a long time (I started going there around 1985). This latest visit was to celebrate an anniversary, and my wife and I were not disappointed. From the ambiance (which is wonderful - looks like shabby chic on outside, and dark beautiful bistro on the inside - especially check out the bar) the place oozes character. This is a great restaurant with well-educated servers and sommoliers, who love food and will make the effort to make your meal amazing. It doesn't come cheap - and it is not the place to come whilst on a diet, but if you have an open mind to great food and communicate will with the staff, you will have a fantastic meal. Plan on appetizers, and selections "for the table" such as the pork bellies, which were phenomenal. They have a fabulous cellar. Amazing deserts. To paraphrase Dr. Johnson - if you are tired of the food at the C&O, you are tired of life.

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1  Thank rpdc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 1, 2013 via mobile

We were suggested to try this restaurant for its ambiance. This was our main disappointment: the bar has a really good vibe, but very few dining tables. We ate in a regular, dull, old room without any ambiance. The food was good, but not exceptional. Service was slow, and the price too high for the overall experience.

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1  Thank MauMauMauMau
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

My husband and I were in Charlottesville over the weekend and we were drawn to the C&O by some favorabe reviews on Tripadvisor and a recommendation from the desk clerk at our hotel.

Pros: Great atmosphere. We ate outside in the court yard, very quaint. The service was very good, servers were friendly and efficient.

Cons: The food was presented well but the taste left something to be desired. I ordered the $34 lamp chops and was very disappointed. The chops were only slightly warm when they arrived and the side dish just didn't work well with the dish. I let the server know and she was happy to try to make it right. I ended up having the same entree as my husband, pork loin, which was just okay - not worth the $27. I also agree with a previous posterr in that the bread was bland and chewy.

I did overhear another couple asking the server as they left whether the restaurant was under new mgt and they said it was. Perhaps that plays a part in change of the quality of food.

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3  Thank WheelsUpNorthernVA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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