For most people out and about past a certain hour in the evening, the inevitable late-night snack attack hits. The Corner does a fair job of catering to the ravenous college set, what with Christian’s special hours at its 14th Street and West Main location. But what are the options for good food downtown after 9 o’clock, especially in settings where more fun — and alcohol — are still to be had?
The C&O, one of Charlottesville’s most venerable fine dining restaurants, offers a fairly extensive late-night menu to meet almost any bargoer’s cravings. Especially gourmet ones – pizza and burgers do not make the cut here, folks, so revisit the Corner if necessary. C&O’s menu includes paninis, cheese and charcuterie plates, comforting small plates, and desserts. Their drink menu is, as ever, extensive and inventive. My boyfriend and I went on a Wednesday night for a late dinner and a couple drinks. He ordered a trusty draft beer favorite. I ordered the Goosehound, which was rocket fuel-strong and pulpy with fresh-squeezed grapefruit.
I had difficulty choosing between the relatively famous mac & cheese plate and the equally loved vegetable soup, but chose a cup of the latter while my boyfriend ordered a pastrami and swiss panini, served with a small salad. After the first sip, I completely understood what all the fuss was about. The seemingly straightforward vegetable soup revealed itself to be brothy and deeply-hued, with generous chunks of carrots, celery, mushrooms, and tomatoes. The mushrooms added a meaty richness, while the flecks of herbs enhanced the vegetal favor. The soup was served with the requisite Albemarle Baking Company baton, perfect for sopping up any leftover broth.
One could only imagine how perfect the pastrami panini, plus that soup, would taste on a cool fall night. Thinly-sliced pastrami, combined with an oozing horseradish aioli that brought out the melted creaminess of the Swiss, was sandwiched between two buttered and pressed slices of grilled bread. The accompanying salad was a bit dry. While the Pommery mustard dressing was flavorful and bright, I found the lettuce in need of a better coating.
The only real let-down of our meal was the peach cobbler. The cakey rather than biscuity topping was appealing and different, but its cloying sweetness and the relative lack of peaches made for an overly saccharine and sticky finish to an otherwise delicious meal.
The C&O’s first-floor bar area, with its wood beams and cozy lighting, is a warm, comforting spot for a late-night drink or meal. Be on the watch for rowdy crowds or slightly less stellar presentation than one would receive at the same restaurant during normal dinner hours. Otherwise, the menu and the space itself offer one heck of a late night experience.
Jed says: “No matter how many new kids there are on the block, C&O is an old favorite, especially for the occasional drink and bite downstairs.”
Pros: Delicious, comforting late-night food at more reasonable prices, great atmosphere, excellent drink menu.
Cons: Potential for less well-crafted food, still fairly expensive for a late-night snack.
Price: $4 for a cup of soup to $15 for the charcuterie board; most plates $8-12.
Parking: Spots usually in the C&O-designated parking lot directly across from the restaurant.
Late Night Menu can be found here.
Sunday-Thursday: 5:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Sunday-Thursday: 10:00 pm – 1:00 am
Friday & Saturday: 11:00 pm – 1:00 am