Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Short Order

Are you ready for conch fritters on the James?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 19, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Three hundred neighbors showed up for gator bites the first night Conch Republic Rocketts opened. Now that the deck is open and furnished, the place is a new player on the view-with-a-brew circuit. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Three hundred neighbors showed up for gator bites the first night Conch Republic Rocketts opened. Now that the deck is open and furnished, the place is a new player on the view-with-a-brew circuit.

Key South

Best ways to arrive at Conch Republic Rocketts, now open on the James River at Rocketts Landing: by boat, moored in one of the adjacent slips, or by bicycle fresh off the Capital Trail. The deck-with-a-restaurant project of Key West-loving owner Bob Cox (Metro Grill, Curbside) doubles the number of dining options in that neighborhood. It's downriver from the Boathouse, aiming for a more casual crowd with a taste for sunsets and drinking.

Grits and grillades, coconut grouper, gator wraps, and naturally, conch fritters, are menu ballast, with nightly dinner and bar hours now, and by next month, lunch and brunch service. With a deck that holds 80 and an experienced operator doing his dream gig, expect this one to be a party scene. 226-6242.

Ejay Rin: Chefs Bill Foster and Andy Howell are partnering in a noodle shop coming to the former Lunch Porter-Savor space in Manchester's Corrugated Box Building by early July. The name, Ejay Rin, honors Foster's grandmother and also denotes power; the concept is modeled on New York City's hugely profitable Momofuku. Pork buns, noodles in broth with meats and vegetables, and other Asian dishes will get Foster's kitchen going; Howell is choosing beer and wine to enhance the flavors. They'll make some decorative changes in the mod space and put extra emphasis on outdoor dining. Expect immediate hotness.

Asian Galaxy: In a surprisingly complete redo of the former Planet Wings at 7048 Forest Hill Ave., this full-service restaurant sells sushi, Chinese, Thai and Japanese food for lunch and dinner daily. Wood walls accent a bar and casual dining room with televisions. An extensive menu, nearly all in the $10-$13 range, includes maki rolls, fried rice and noodles, teriyaki to bean curd and lo mein; the mango salad's a winner at $6.95. Lunch and dinner specials, desserts, friendly service and a quest to prove that independents beat chains. 323-8116.

The Roosevelt: Chef Lee Gregory (Six Burner) is the driving force behind a new Southern pub fare menu at this Church Hill project with co-owner Kendra Feather (Ipanema Cafe and Garnett's). The two have redesigned the former Que Pasa restaurant at 623 N. 25th St. "This restaurant will be a continuation of my interest in Southern food," Feather writes. "I'm very enamored with the Southern Foodways Alliance and with cooks like Edna Lewis. Lee is already a natural at this type of cuisine. Being a Carolina boy, he already knows Southern and low-country food by heart." Feather, who says she's "fallen madly for Eleanor Roosevelt," has been reading biographies and learning about the first lady's WPA food programs and other outreach. To reflect the public-house spirit, the Roosevelt will wear a '30s and '40s look with new chairs and lights, new paint and a good phone number: 300-3030. Watch for progress reports on Facebook and eventually at rooseveltrva.com. Expect a boatload of neighbors on opening night, delayed until July, when Feather hopes to "knock this one out of the ballpark for them. I want Church Hill to be proud to call us their neighborhood joint."

Zen Asian Bistro: In the Shoppes at Bellgrade, Zen Asian Bistro abruptly closed last week and informed customers that its owners are opening a new place, Sceneasia, at Hull Street and Courthouse Road in Midlothian later this month. A sign on the door says a new Chinese restaurant is coming to the former Zen space.

Closed: The Ugly Biscuit on Midlothian Turnpike.

Last toast: The Lunch Porter, previously known as Savor, the cafe that's about to transform into Ejay Rin at 201 W. Seventh St., holds its final wine dinners April 22 and 23. Both begin at 6:30 p.m., cost $45 per person, and offer five Indonesian courses from chef Ellie Basch, paired with wines chosen by sommelier Carol Colby. This celebration of three years in business is by reservation at 527-2867.

More RRW: Aline Reitzer and team Richmond Restaurant Week are doubling their efforts; a second week of this event (three-course dinner for $25.11, with $2.11 going to Feed More) comes to 30 top-rated restaurants April 25- May 1. Details at richmondrestaurantweek.com.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Short Order

Tuffy Stone discusses "The Ultimate Barbecue Showdown".

Posted By on Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Tuffy Stone didn't catch the Rams games but was close enough to send the smoky smells of Richmond barbecue their way at Reliant Stadium in Houston earlier this month. Stone makes an appearance on a different CBS competition show next month. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Tuffy Stone didn't catch the Rams games but was close enough to send the smoky smells of Richmond barbecue their way at Reliant Stadium in Houston earlier this month. Stone makes an appearance on a different CBS competition show next month.

Tuffy Stone might need an agent. The pit master of champion barbecue team Cool Smoke and owner of Q Barbeque and A Sharper Palate just finished an eight-day filming session for a program set to air on CBS next month. It's called "The Ultimate Barbecue Showdown," and puts Stone against Neil Strawder from Bigmista's Barbecue, Bubba Latimer of Bub-Ba-Q, and Myron Mixon of Jack's Old South. This follows last year's TLC channel pit master series, which helped drive up Stone's screen cred while his barbecue was winning awards on the highly competitive circuit.

Filming took place just outside Reliant Stadium in Houston during the Final Four basketball championship, although Stone didn't get to see the Virginia Commonwealth University Rams play. He can't disclose what he cooked or how he competed, but acknowledges, "They had to pat my cowlick down," before he faced the cameras. "Just let me light my fire and get some food on, that's what brings me peace," the accidental star says.

Now Serving

Marshall Street Café and Jazz Bistro Reopened Jackson Ward hideaway with salmon, pork chops, spring rolls, pasta, fish and desserts in vintage setting with bar. Networking happy hours, live music, dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Sunday jazz brunch by reservation only. 23 W. Marshall St. 269-3537. marshallstreetcafe.com.

Parkside Café Tamales, meatloaf, daily steak, pasta, veg options, specialty desserts in cozy new cafe. Lunch and dinner daily, weekend brunch. 3514 Forest Hill Ave. 864-8888.

Franklin Inn Burgers, crab cakes, barbecue, steaks, sandwiches, salads and soup at renovated corner cafe with bar. Lunch and dinner daily. 800 N. Cleveland St. 358-5590.

The Mill on MacArthur All-day breakfast biscuits, burgers, thin-crust pizzas, sandwiches, salads, sweets in small cafe with beer, wine and delivery. Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 4023 MacArthur Ave. 716-1196. themillrva.com.

Chicken Mania Peruvian rotisserie chicken, seviche, sandwiches, yucca fries, pasta and desserts in casual dining room. Lunch and dinner daily. 7524 Forest Hill Ave. 267-3340.

Crust & Cream Gyros, subs, halal meats, ice creams, desserts in small, counter-service cafe. Lunch and dinner daily, open till 11 p.m. except Sundays till 9 p.m. 4610 Forest Hill Ave. 230-5555.

Ettamae's Cafe Tasty, seasonal comfort foods and select wines and beers in small, two-level row house with balcony. Retro feel, friendly service. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, weekend brunch. 522 N. 2nd St. 888-8058. ettamaescafe.com.

Buffington & Wine's Pies, Fries and Franks Specialty pizzas, onion rings and fries, beer-battered franks, fried Twinkies in corner, neighborhood spot. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 2824 E. Broad St. 864-2835.

The show airs May 28, and will be the first time competition barbecue is featured on major network television. Next up, expansion plans for Stone's businesses and a return to Memphis, Tenn., for another championship. "I could work 18 hours a day and never be caught up," he says, speaking by phone on the hunt for a crayfish lunch in the bayous of Louisiana.

Food in Petersburg: One of Petersburg's most-anticipated food events takes place April 16 from 1-4 p.m. when the sixth annual International Food Tasting and silent auction return to the Petersburg Regional Art Center, 132 N. Sycamore St. The women's committee for the Petersburg Symphony Orchestra stages the event, which includes local restaurant fare, live music and a gathering of symphony supporters. Tickets are $30, available at Palmore Decorating Center or the Globe, both on Sycamore Street.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Short Order

The much-anticipated Parkside Cafe's soft launch sets diners abuzz.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 5, 2011 at 4:00 AM

A broad menu with global influences makes Parkside Cafe a talked-about new dining spot south of the James. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • A broad menu with global influences makes Parkside Cafe a talked-about new dining spot south of the James.

When some of Richmond's best chefs started showing up at Parkside Cafe last week, it was an indicator of their affection for chefs and owners Brian Munford and Travis Milton and their desire to see what all the chatter is about. The two-room cafe, in the former Seven Hills Market space at 3514 Forest Hill Ave., had a long build out that sparked curiosity among neighbors clamoring for a new dining option south of the river.

During its soft opening, diners swarmed in to check out the handcrafted cypress décor, the familiar staff and the surprisingly varied menu. Chicken and chickpea tamales, house-made papardelle with bacon and peas, shaved catfish with mint remoulade, pork chilaquiles, tandoori chicken, tofu with bok choy, seared meatloaf, samosas and other entrees fall in the $15 range. Sides, including a creamy cauliflower mash and spicy collards, are $3, and salads and vegetarian options are plentiful.

Desserts are catching an unexpected level of interest, Milton says, and banana beignets with crème fraîche ice cream, or apple dumplings with bacon ice cream are flying from the kitchen at $7 a pop. Munford remains at Patina Grill but assists with operations; Milton runs the kitchen and his wife Katie Milton handles the front of house with gracious efficiency. The neighborhood's embrace is mostly enthusiastic, and local food cognoscenti are expressing their approval with return visits for a taste of something different. Open daily for lunch and dinner, with weekend brunch. ABC license pending. 864-8888.

Changing hands: Cafe Rustica, one of downtown's best little restaurants, now has owners Michelle Turner and Sam George at the helm; chef and owner Andy Howell sold the business to his longtime colleagues and is overseeing a transition that's been in the works for several months. 414 E. Main St. 225-8811. caferusticarva.com.

Celebrity Room returns: After an ownership dispute, the generations-old Richmond pizza business returns in a partnership with Padow's Hams & Deli and is offering franchise rights with "minimal investment required" for new locations. Lunch and dinner hours feature stone-fired pizzas, Italian entrees and the family recipes from former owner Gus Serafim. 9864 W. Broad St. 965-6262. celebrityroom.net.

NOW SERVING

The Mill on MacArthur All-day breakfast biscuits, burgers, thin-crust pizzas, sandwiches, salads, sweets in small cafe with beer, wine and delivery. Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 4023 MacArthur Ave. 716-1196. themillrva.com.

Chicken Mania Peruvian rotisserie chicken, seviche, sandwiches, yucca fries, pastas, desserts in casual dining room. Lunch and dinner daily. 7524 Forest Hill Ave. 267-3340.

Crust & Cream Gyros, subs, halal meats, ice creams, desserts in small counter-service cafe. Lunch and dinner daily, open till 11 p.m. except Sundays till 9 p.m. 4610 Forest Hill Ave. 230-5555.

Ettamae's Café Tasty, seasonal comfort foods and select wines and beers in small, two-level row house with balcony. Retro feel, friendly service. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, weekend brunch. 522 N. Second St. 888-8058. ettamaescafe.com.

Boom Boom Burgers Local-foods spot for burgers and seasonal sides. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Credit or debit cards only. 1703 E. Franklin St. 555-1234. boom-booms.com.

Buffington & Wine's Pies, Fries and Franks Specialty pizzas, onion rings and fries, beer-battered franks, fried Twinkies in corner neighborhood spot. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 2824 E. Broad St. 864-2835.

Capital Ale House This beer Mecca no longer serves Sunday brunch, and its famous Monday burger night is now $2 — still a value. Lunch and dinner daily at four locations, live music and patio dining.capitalalehouse.com.

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