Thanks to all who gave advice on this meal out, my anniversary dinner out with my wife, and one of our few shots at "kid free time" away from our 18 month old.
After careful considration, as well as checking on flooding potential (somewhat of a consideration here in Richmond lately, trust me) and considering the menus, we decided to try Flemings. (I might also add my wife has decided to boycott Bookbinders because of a lost reservation a few years back - or we might have tried there.)
The interior is reminiscent of a bistro, the kitchen is open, with a copper panneling in the kitchen that castes a warm glow over everyone in the area near the kitchen. While the layout is not exactly cozy, it isn't as non-inatmate as some places we have eaten at, for example we had a much more intimate dining experience at Flemings than we did at say Antoines (French Quarter in New Orleans), or at the now defunct Frog and Redneck in Richmond. The sense of intmacy was definately enhanced though by going a bit early, when it was quieter and less densly populated. The music choice did little to lend to this sense though - basically current rock/pop artists like Lenny Kravtiz, then some country at the end of the meal.. a bit disconcerting, would have suspected it might be a little more "classy"... but going in we had already made the decision to sacrifice intimacy for the menu, as well as not worrying about parking (or flooding). I mean after all, the place is at a mall, even if a decidely upscale one.
One of the attractions of Flemings to us was the number of wines by the glass. So we started off with a couple of glasses of the Gloria Ferrer sparking wine, and the breaded brie. The champagne was dry with a bit of a light and fruity nose,with small bubbles throughout. My wife desribed the breaded brie as being sort of like mozerella sticks made out of brie, but that would be a diservice to them. The breading had hints of apple and nutty bits, and all in all it was just marvelous, especially with the jalapeno jelly.
We went on to each have the shrimp bisque - for my taste a bit too "tomatoey" but still very rich and tasty. I only ate half of it as it was so rich and filling.
We skipped the salad course and went on to the main course, with a decent pause in between, enough time to relax without feeling rushed, but not to start to feel hungry. of course, as nearly always haoppenes with me I was quite satisfied with just the appeatizer, wine and soup, and could barely eat any of the mammoth 22 oz bone in ribeye, which was seared to perfection exactly as I ordered it. Though I did make myself try some of my wife's Prime Rib (served on Sundays). It was well crusted and a perfect medium rare. We ordered 3 sides to compliment the meat were a wonderful mashed potato with celery root, asparagus accompanied by an entirely uninspiring hollandiase sauce, and mushrooms. The sauteed mushrooms were just awesome, they tasted better than the steaks at many restaurants. My wine with the meat was a nice Domaine LaFiete Rothschild Cab, it held up perfectly to the meat.
We decided to linger for coffee and desert, though no coffee for me, and we waited for my desert to be prepared - the chocolate lava cake was rich and delicious while at the same time light, even when accompanied by the fresh ice cream covered with pistachios. My wife said the decaf was rich and full bodied, but tepid - it was disappointing not to get a hot cup. Still, a minor quibble, next time we will ask our server for a hot cup ahead of time. They comped us a creme brule since it was our anniversary, and gave us a card, a nice touch.
So other than the music choice, the lackluster hollandaise and the cold coffee, we were quite satisfied. The service hit the right notes with us all evening, and the food was top rate, of course at the (large) price I couldn't exactly call it a great value, but it was a wonderful night out with wonderful food and service. The hostess even laughed at my stupid joke about "the most money I have ever spent at the mall food court", as if she hadn't heard that one before.