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Mar 1, 2013 10:50 AM

Assemble, Richmond

As part of a work-related function, I was treated to an amazing buffet lunch at Assemble (formerly the Boilerhouse) at Ford Point in Richmond yesterday. A Chinese chicken salad, rockfish Provençale, beef tenderloin, mushroom streudel, eggplant panini, sautéed green breans with sesame seeds, were among some of the items I sampled, followed by an outstanding butterscotch parfait topped with pecans. All of it was delicious and what a setting on a sunny day! Located right on the Bay Trail, you can do some walking or biking to get there, work up an appetite, and end up dining at a lovely east bayside oasis.

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  1. Are they open to the public yet, or just for catered events? Still no response when I phoned.

    3 Replies
    1. re: karinbur

      I just called because I wondered the same thing. They are only opened for lunch from 11:30-2 daily. They should be opened for dinner later this month.

      I had a friend who went to the soft opening last Friday and said he was pleasantly surprised by the food.

      Hope to check it out this weekend!

      1. re: calalilly

        Great! I'll stop by there in the next couple of weeks as well.

        1. re: karinbur

          Finally made it to Assemble this weekend. I agree with the others that the new layout is nicer than the previous Broilerhouse. I like the bar right in the front where people can hang out and not necessarily have a full meal.

          Two of us went for lunch and ordered the following:

          Cup of Clam Chowder (good flavor, not too thick, lots of clams)
          Cup of Soup of the Day - Ginger Carrot (the waiter didn't mention there was curry in it, which was a surprise but still pretty good)
          Cesar Salad - nothing extraordinary but good
          Tuna Salad Sandwich - fancy tuna with tapenade

          Overall the food was good, nothing special but solid and much better than it was before. Service was excellent, which The Broilerhouse was lacking. I had a sip of my other half's Bloody Mary and it was a nice spin, more clam juice than a normal Bloody and nice and spicy.

          My ownly slight issue was the price. I know the ingredients are fresh and the food was good, but we were both still surprised that the total came out to over $50 for lunch, without tip. Though, I'd still go back but probably not for a casual lunch. Maybe for dinner which they start serving next this week I believe.

    2. We stopped in yesterday for a late lunch. Wow, what a nice change from the previous restaurant. As The Boilerhouse it really left me wanting, but in the short time as Assemble, it has really come together. They've rearranged the space so the bar is toward the front where you enter and a beverage staging area where the bar used to be. There is a huge flat-screen TV mounted high on the south wall (fortunately it was not turned on) so unless you are sitting directly beneath the screen, just about every seat in the restaurant and has perfect viewing point if there is something worth watching.

      Hubby ordered a cup of clam chowder and the fish & chips. The chowder had chunks of potato, clams meat, red bell pepper, onion, celery and corn that filled the bowl and was very well seasoned. Slightly reminiscent of a white Boston clam chowder, but not as thick. I stole a couple of bites - it had a slight kick to it thanks to a bit of pepper - cayenne, perhaps? Absolutely delicious.

      Fish & chips. Okay, I picked at this too - so sue me. Three good sized pieces of battered rock cod were deep fried to perfection. The fish was white, flaky and perfectly cooked, the batter crisp and crunchy, but a tad salty for my taste. The chips were thick cut wedges, similar to the papas fritas served at Cesar's (Gourmet Ghetto). The potatoes were fluffy inside and nice and crisp outside, but I thought they were baked rather than fried. However, I didn't confirm so I can't answer for sure. Their cole slaw is okay, a little to heavy on the celery salt. A small cup of tartar sauce and a bottle of malt vinegar rounded out the condiments.

      I ordered their five-bean vegetarian chili. Black beans. Pinto beans. White Beans. Red beans. Garbanzo beans. It was accompanied with two side cups filled with diced red onion and jalapeno so you can adjust to your liking. A garnish of cilantro and a bit cheddar cheese finished it off. It was one of the best I've had (outside of my own). It came with a wedge of corn bread that was delicious, but a touch dry. To be fair, my personal experience with baking cornbread is that it becomes "stale" within an hour or so of coming out of the oven.

      Dessert was offered but we were quite full, so we passed. Hoping to give them a try next time.

      Service was excellent, staff was friendly and efficient. Dinner service is coming soon (Wednesday through Saturday to start) as is Sunday brunch. The owners have fun plans for the future - outdoor seating, barbeque patio, a "dining stage" in the Craneway Pavilion (the ultimate in bay views!) and a vegetable garden.

      Don't forget to take a short walk along the waterfront before heading back to you car!

      1. Silly point and hardly relevant, but I just don't like the name "Assemble." Sounds like a factory-floor version of "Gather."

        2 Replies
        1. re: MagicMarkR

          It's a reference to the building, which was originally the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Oh. Well, ok, so it does sound "factory-floor" by design. Did not know that. Thanks for the clarification. +1 for cleverness at least.

        2. I suggested lunch here today because my MIL's big on Rosie the Riveter, but I'm sorry to say that I found the food weird. Sort of hipster ironic maybe? I like the space, though I thought it would be directly on the water, and it isn't. Instead, we had a view of an outdoor sink. I liked the music, too. Mostly Ella and some Harry Connick Jr. The host is sweet, too, and the service was good. But the food...

          I had the triple decker sandwich -- a fried egg, tasteless turkey and a tiny bit of bacon,with out of season tomato and iceberg-type lettuce. Impossible to eat on hard, toasted "sour"dough. To be fair, the coleslaw was quite good, with lots of carrots as well as cabbage.

          My MIL had the tuna melt. She seemed to like it, but it was tiny! Put your index finger and thumb together. That's how big each of the two halves was.

          My husband had the cheese steak sandwich, which he says had cheesewhiz on it. That may be authentic, but he wasn't thrilled. He also didn't care for the huge, tasteless steak fries.

          Maybe this just isn't our thing, but I can't recommend it. However, the bar is attractive and has an oblique view of the water, so that might be a nice place for a drink at night.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Glencora

            I had dinner there a week or so back. I agree with you on the space and music. I too wasn't impressed with the food. Lots of comfort food options: chicken pot pie, vegetable pot pie, cobb salad, fried chicken, beef stew, gumbo... I felt the menu lacked diversity. Proteins were chicken, shrimp or beef in nearly every single dish that contained meat.

            By the end I wasn't interested in dessert but from what I saw on other tables, they may have been the thing to order and skip the rest of the menu.

            1. re: Glencora

              I believe the "Cheezwhiz" is house made.