Burton's Grill - Charlottesville
Disclaimer: We usually try to eat local, but sometimes you want a bar right down the street.
The problem with the Emmett Street/29 corridor is that you are surrounded by chain hell. Chilis, Applebees, Cheeseburger in Paradise (thankfully now closed) and Outback were the only options with bars. So when we were in the mood to grab a beer and a burger/snack/happy hour, we would have to either drive downtown or up 29 to Timberwood with just ok food. We still do that, but it is nice to have a different option closer to home.
Burton's has good food. They cook their burgers to the proper temperature, their apps are good, and pretty much everything we've eaten there has been tasty. It might be a little more than we like to pay for happy hour (sandwiches start at $12, entrees are $22 and up) but their drinks are half price 3-6pm and you don't have to order a meal if people are sharing apps.
We also really like the people and service. Each bartender we've encountered has been friendly and attentive and knows how to pour a drink. They also quickly remembered us and greet us by name, already asking if we want the usual. The managers always stop by to check in. Overall we are very glad to have Burton's in an otherwise desolate food and drink desert.
Note that though Burton's is a chain, they actually locally source much of their food, and unlike most chains a lot of their menu is seasonal. And they are a pretty small chain at that, which I think helps.
I haven't been to the one in C-ville yet, but have been to the one in virginia beach one night when our other plans fell through, and I remembered they had an extensive kid's menu. It was pretty good, and we will definitely be back.
We love the happy hour, and the beer and wine selection, but twice now, the food has tasted like those new frozen bags of 'gourmet' Italian you find in the frozen food aisle... except for the fries which were good. We have not tried the burgers.
Finally got to the one in Charlottesville. We picked it because the kids menu is great for both our mini foodie and also our picky eater. The one was able to get his choice of potatoes,a choice of protein (he chose the salmon), a vegetable, a kiddie cocktail, and frozen yogurt. He enjoyed having multiple choices in each category. The other was able to get his spaghetti , that is basically all he eats when we go out .
For me the standout of the night was my pistachio crusted rack of lamb. It was prepared about medium rare, maybe a touch more at most, but tasted perfect.
We could not get reservations because they will only reserve about half of the place. I can understand that, but it was a little annoying. Parking was plentiful, though, and while the restaurant was full when we got there (not surprising for 5:40 on a Friday night ) we were able to be seated right away if we chose the patio.
The patio was pleasant to sit on. They have a firepit but it was warm enough early evening that we didn't suffer for not sitting near the pit.
The service was very good, and knowledgeable about all the food and drinks that we asked about.
We aren't in Charlottesville that often, but we will probably stop back again if we get a chance, especially because it works for both the kids and for us as well.