Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Short Order

A new lease on life for Byram's Lobster House.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Lobster is still the main draw at the newly reopened Byram’s on West Broad Street. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Lobster is still the main draw at the newly reopened Byram’s on West Broad Street.

Jeff Kelso knew he wanted to return to the restaurant business, so when the retired computer consultant looked for the next chapter, he and his Romanian and Italian bride, Corina, went through a few possibilities. First he tried to buy the White Dog, and then Davis and Main, but both prospects got away. In June he negotiated a great deal on a nearly 70-year-old local landmark, Byram’s Lobster House, and reopened it two weeks ago.

The building at 3215 W. Broad St. has new paint, décor and kitchen equipment, a new staff and a significantly streamlined menu. Gone are the 90-plus items in the previous version. Chef Danny Klubowicz, a culinary grad with years of fine-dining and corporate experience, says he prefers a more focused approach: “I’d rather have 30 good items on there, and my biggest thing is being knowledgeable about what you sell. Where’s it from, what’s its growing style? If I can’t get it fresh I’m not using it.”

He’s doing northern Italian-style whole sea bass, gnocchi with red rock shrimp ($20), house-made soups and sauces, a lightly spiced lobster roll ($20 for dinner, $14 at lunch) and a seasonal lineup that “will never be frozen,” Kelso promises. “We’ve brought it back. I say it’s the new-old Byram’s,” where prom dates, rehearsal and business dinners called for Rat Pack music, a bar that seats only six, and white tablecloths. “We have a definite love for food here,” Kelso says, “and we have high standards that we plan to keep.”

Repairs to the blinking lobster sign out front are on the agenda, and Kelso hopes Richmonders with photos of their special-occasion dinners at Byram’s will add them to the collection on display. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. 355-9193. byrams.com.

NOW SERVING

Jerusalem Restaurant Extensive Middle Eastern menu in Arabic and English; lunch and dinner. 106 N. Seventh St. 771-1665.

Ironfish Seafood, chicken, steaks, salads; comfy neighborhood spot with local foods, cocktails, full bar, veg and family options. Dinner Tuesday-Saturday. 3061 Lauderdale Drive. 249-4515. ironfishrva.com.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Short Order

Who's up and gone at LuLu's? And when can we expect the Fat Tire?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Chef Neil Smith has left LuLu’s; chef Joe Sparatta is now heading the kitchen at the Shockoe Bottom business. - SCOTT ELMQUIST/FILE
  • Scott Elmquist/File
  • Chef Neil Smith has left LuLu’s; chef Joe Sparatta is now heading the kitchen at the Shockoe Bottom business.

LuLu’s in Shockoe Bottom has another chef change. Former rock-star caterer Neil Smith no longer runs the LuLu’s kitchen after parting ways with owner Paul Keevil last week. Smith, reported to be returning to music-circuit catering, took over when original partner Steve Jurina left last year. Both chefs earned solid reviews; Smith just got a “best new chef” nod from Richmond magazine. Keevil says chef Joe Sparatta is introducing new menu items as the kitchen reboots. Sparatta and his wife, Emilia, general manager at LuLu’s, formerly ran a restaurant in Princeton, N.J., and have been here for several months. 21 N. 17th St. 343-9771. lulusrichmond.com.

Former restaurateur Kenny Bendheim got one of those guest-list challenges that could be a caterer’s nightmare at Tredegar Ironworks last week. The response count jumped from 100 to more than 500 overnight as New Belgium Brewery rolled out a lineup of craft beers for an audience of food and bar professionals. They scarfed savory shrimp chowder, fried Rappahannock oysters, brats and sliders — food that Bendheim picked to pair with the Fat Tire and other beers, all eagerly consumed to the tune of jazzmen the New Belgians. Customers can expect to see the new-to-Virginia ales on local restaurant menus this fall.

Portico Restaurant: Look for a September opening of this fully reimagined countryside dining spot at 12506 River Road. Chef Paolo Randazzo says he’s thrilled to be coming full circle in returning to Goochland; hiring is in progress and an official announcement will come after Labor Day. Meanwhile, Randazzo’s downtown project, Sensi Italian Chop House, continues to serve dinner and cocktails at 2222 E. Cary St.

Citizen calling: The phone number for Citizen, the new cafe downtown, is 780-9038. We reported it incorrectly and regret the error.

NOW SERVING

La Parisienne: Crepes, cassoulet, soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts in quick-service bistro with Euro finesse from chef Cedric Payne; breakfast and lunch until 6:30 p.m. weekdays, live jazz and wines Thursdays until 9 p.m. 200 S. 10th St. in the Williams Mullen building. 225-0225.

Station 2: Big burger menu, local food for casual pub grub in renovated firehouse. Craft beer, patio. Monday-Thursday, 3:30 p.m.-2 a.m.; Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m. 2016 E. Main St. 249-4702. station2richmond.com.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fat Tire Frenzy

More about the Colorodo brew's RVA launch. Plus, three questions with the distributor.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Richmond’s Fat Tire beer fans are marking their calendars for Monday, Aug. 22. I emailed three questions to Robb MacDonald, general manager of Specialty Beverage, who responded via Droid while on vacation:

I emailed three questions about the rollout to Robb MacDonald, general manager of Specialty Beverage, who answered from his Droid while on vacation:

1) Fat Tire seems to have rabid fans. When and where will they be able to put their hands on it first?

Fat Tire as well as several other styles of beer from the New Belgium Brewery will be available for purchase in many Richmond area restaurants, bars, bottle shops, supermarkets and convenience stores as of Monday, Aug. 22. … Whole Foods, Total Wine, Ellwood Thompson's, Mekong, Capital Ale House and many others!

2) How does Fat Tire fit into your line of beers? What others are coming to town, and when?

The New Belgium Brewery is the third largest craft brewery in the U.S. Their extensive and unique portfolio of products, led by its flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale, will fit in nicely with Specialty Beverage’s offering of hand crafted local, regional and international offerings. As far as other “coming attractions” with regard to craft beers, we have a few things in the works. Stay tuned!

3) How would you describe the taste of Fat Tire?

Brewed in the Belgian style, Fat Tire has a beautiful amber color. The perfect balance of malt and hops makes this smooth-drinking beer a flavorful, refreshing and aromatic experience.

MacDonald adds that the website GreatBrewers.com offers a beer finder, which directs you to where certain beers are carried locally. There’s also a mobile app called Beer Cloud for iOS and Android.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Short Order

Bowl in hand at the new Ejay Rin.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Pork ramen at Manchester’s new Ejay Rin blends pulled pork, pork belly, poached egg, fishball nori, scallion, pickled vegetables and pork broth; lunch portion is $8; dinner is $12. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Pork ramen at Manchester’s new Ejay Rin blends pulled pork, pork belly, poached egg, fishball nori, scallion, pickled vegetables and pork broth; lunch portion is $8; dinner is $12.

During lunch service last week, Bill Foster couldn’t seem to stay in the kitchen — he was out front at his new project, Ejay Rin, seeing who the customers were, what they thought and what they were ordering. It was a mixed bag in the Manchester noodle bar, a red and black retooling of the former Savor Café and a pet concept for chefs Foster and co-owner Andy Howell. Their clientele shifted from office workers to neighbors, students, a well-jeweled woman, romancers and food bloggers on a weekday shortly after they opened; nights were just starting to get busy with a hipster and artist crowd.

Ejay Rin’s menu is small and serviceable, with a longer wine and beer list and a flexible arrangement of wood bar, tables and patio. The walls shine with giant crustacean sculptures made from recycled food containers; the room’s bones suit the straightforwardness of the menu. Plum vinegar drink at $2.50 can wash down steamed buns (pulled pork and kimchi; mushroom and apple; Korean fried chicken with slaw and sausage; pork belly with pickled cucumber and radish), all $8. Warm brothy ramen bowls hold pork, mushrooms, poached eggs or pickled shrimp; rice bowls with pork belly or vegetables are $10.

It’s a comfort-food formula that Foster hopes to stimulate with an increasingly fizzy flavor profile as guests want to get spicier — a new walk-in unit will allow him to age ingredients for more complex tastes. Then, because this is Richmond, the chefs counter with a deconstructed Snickers bar for dessert, or the lifted-from-Chang-playbook panna cotta and rice pudding. Foster cooks days; Howell nights. The latter’s disinterest in sake keeps those options limited to two; better the blond Belgian Bockor Omer beer ($7.50) or a glass of sparkling wine ($6-$9) to pair with the tuna sashimi ($9) or shellfish on seaweed salad.

Lunch, dinner and bar Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 201 W. Seventh St. in the Corrugated Box Building. 745-6488. ejayrin.com.

Dixie Again After a nine-month absence or thereabouts, the Dixie Restaurant is up and running, “a lunch counter where a construction worker sits next to a judge,” says co-owner Frannie Rawlings, a 20-year Petersburg resident who reopened the landmark diner there with her husband, Charlie. “We’ve been overwhelmed and overjoyed with the response we’ve gotten,” she says. “It’s like a homecoming for a lot of people.” Longtimers will know the names of the kitchen and service teams, and the food’s familiar — “a hot breakfast or a ham sandwich, nothing fancy,” Frannie says. The big seller is a $1.65 Dixie dog with chili sauce created there in the ’40s. Meatloaf or chicken and dumplings specials, scratch-made pimento cheese, coleslaw, potato and chicken salads — all are traditional Southern recipes served in a refurbished, 65-seat, circa-1939 space. The patio holds 16 and is the one thing that lasted from the cafe’s most recent incarnation as a karaoke bar. Now it’s closer in intent to the original, and the last old-time link in that city’s diverse food scene. Open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. 250 N. Sycamore St. 732-7425.

Now Serving:

Stella’s: Greek cuisine in casual neighborhood newcomer, family tables, longtime Richmond chef Stella Dikos, family-run. Beer and wine. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 5-10 p.m., brunch hours coming in September. 1012 Lafayette St. 358-2011. stellasrichmond.com.

The Magpie: Urban gastro-pub with game, fish, pasta, specials. Select wines, beers, cocktails in charming Carver corner cafe. Chef Owen Lane, top service. Dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturday, 4-11 p.m. 1301 W. Leigh St. 269-0023. themagpierva.com.

The Roosevelt: Casual reincarnation of Church Hill beauty with seafood, meats, desserts, adventurous and familiar foods, chef Lee Gregory, expert service, full bar, local wines. Dinner and drinks Tuesday-Saturday. 623 N. 25th St. 658-1935. rooseveltrva.com.

The Blue Goat: Relaxed Euro-inspired dining, charcuterie, paté, seafood, nose-to-tail cooking; cocktails, patio in new Westhampton landmark from chef Kevin LaCivita. Dinner and bar Monday-Saturday. 5710 Grove Ave. 288-8875. bluegoatva.com.

M Bistro & Wine Bar: French-meets-Southern cuisine from chef Michael Hall; breakfast to dinner specialties; seafood and sides; lamb burgers for lunch; wines and gourmet items, house-baked breads and pastries, coffee. Summer hours: Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 652-2300. mbistro-rocketts.com.

Selba: Health-aware casual dining with garden room, separate smoking lounge, piano, full bar. Seasonal, local foods and wines. Dinner and bar Tuesday-Sunday, weekend brunch. Closed Mondays. 2416 W. Cary St. 358-2229. selbarichmond.com.

Benny’s BBQ: Ribs, brisket, burgers, salads, onion rings, platters and Southern sides. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar, friendly service. 3044 Stony Point Road. 320-7447. bennysbbqonline.com.

Citizen: Chef-prepared weekday breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, salads, house-made sauces and dressings, meat and veg options. Small lower-level space in the Mutual Building. 909 E. Main St. 804-780-9038.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Short Order

This Week: A Magpie dinner party and an Iron Fish switch-up.

Posted on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Fried soft shell crab on gnocchi with escargot, bok choy and tomato-saffron broth is one of The Magpie’s fish of the day specials. - ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel
  • Fried soft shell crab on gnocchi with escargot, bok choy and tomato-saffron broth is one of The Magpie’s fish of the day specials.

Dinner Party

Satisfaction comes in many forms, but one of the sweetest is when a nine-month project brings a couple even closer together, and culminates in shared tears of joy. It isn’t exactly a baby, but the Magpie, a neo-Victorian treasure box of a gastro-pub in Carver, has all the attributes of a long-awaited birth. “I had a vision,” co-owner Tiffany Gellner says. “We really wanted it to be a place like we are having a dinner party at our house — comfortable, where people are enjoying themselves, where they can relax and have a glass of wine or two. Owen and I are very interactive with our customers.”

Owen Lane, a chef who’s worked toward this goal for years, acknowledges that it was an ass-busting construction process to turn a low-key bar and grill into a personalized statement as unique and intimate as possible. “We knew that if we opened something in Richmond,” he says, “it would have to be unusual.”

The menu shows it: seared antelope with rosemary grits, collards and blackberry sauce, grilled baby octopus with smoked Vidalia onions and sweet corn cream, corn dog-style lobster tail on a stick with tomato-coconut and horseradish-mango sauces, and the inspired conversation starter — heirloom tomato salad with basil and fresh mozzarella ice cream. Duck breast, house-made fettuccini, fish of the day with gnocchi and escargot, rib-eye, braised pork, veal sweetbreads and other delicacies round out a sophisticated selection of small plates ($7-$12) and entrees ($19-$29).

The 30-seat space is outfitted with old-fashioned light fixtures, hand-painted surfaces, a scrolling red banquette, a stuffed magpie and enough visual details to linger over. Select wines and beers, signature cocktails and creativity in the kitchen show the extreme focus of a chef and his front-of-house fiancee who know exactly what they want. They’ve been busy every night since opening in late July. Dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturday, 4-11 p.m. 1301 W. Leigh St. 269-0023.

White Anchovie out, Iron Fish in

In one of the fastest switch-ups in Richmond restaurant history, a new identity, menu and kitchen staff have turned the not quite three-month old White Anchovie into the Iron Fish, at 3061 Lauderdale Drive.

Chef and partner Todd Manley introduced a new menu at the Henrico restaurant last week, with dishes such as curried blue crab mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, pan-seared barramundi and other small and entree-sized plates ranging from $6 – 25. The new restaurant’s motto is “fresh fish and local farms by Pescados” and emphasizes colorful, accessible food that is a response to customer requests, Manley says. “I feel pretty confident” about the retooling, he adds, acknowledging that recent lukewarm reviews of the White Anchovie were a factor, but not the deciding point, in the changes. Chef Matthew Tlusty, a former partner in the venture, is developing another project.

Iron Fish is serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday as it makes the transition.

Taste Alert

A Summer Tasting Menu comes to the Positive Vibe Café courtesy of guest chefs Walter Bundy and Aaron Cross of Lemaire on Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. This is an occasion to support the Vibe’s training program for people with disabilities, while experiencing the cafe’s unique warmth and the work of some of Richmond’s finest chefs.

With each course matched to a Rodney Strong Vineyards wine, the menu pulls from local purveyors. Yellow squash bisque, chilled tomato salad, herb-roasted wild rockfish with Bundy’s special V-10 broth, black Angus strip loin with roasted Vidalia onions and grits, and black mission figs with ice cream demonstrate the chefs’ enthusiasm for summer flavors and their support of the cafe’s mission. $100 per person. Reservations at 560-9622. 2825 Hathaway Road. positivevibecafe.com.

Now Serving

The Roosevelt: Casual reincarnation of Church Hill beauty with seafood, meats, desserts, adventurous and familiar foods, top chef, expert service, full bar. Dinner and drinks Tuesday-Saturday. 623 N. 25th St. 658-1935. rooseveltrva.com.

The Blue Goat: Relaxed, Euro-inspired dining, charcuterie, paté, seafood, nose-to-tail cooking; cocktails, patio in new Westhampton landmark. Dinner and bar Monday-Saturday. 5710 Grove Ave. 288-8875. bluegoatva.com.

Ejay Rin Noodle Bar: Pork buns, rice bowls, soups and small plates; wine and beer, patio, chef-owned contemporary Asian cafe. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 201 W. Seventh St. in the Corrugated Box Building. 745-6488. ejayrin.com.

M Bistro & Wine Bar: French-meets-Southern cuisine from chef Michael Hall; breakfast to dinner specialties; wines and gourmet items, house-baked breads and pastries, coffee. Summer hours: Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 652-2300. mbistro-rocketts.com.

Selba: Health-aware casual dining with garden room, separate smoking lounge, piano, full bar. Seasonal, local foods and wines. Dinner and bar Tuesday-Sunday, weekend brunch. Closed Monday. 2416 W. Cary St. 358-2229. selbarichmond.com.

Benny’s BBQ: Ribs, brisket, burgers, salads, onion rings, platters and Southern sides. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar, friendly service. 3044 Stony Point Road. 320-7447. bennysbbqonline.com.

Citizen: Chef-prepared weekday breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, salads, house-made sauces and dressings, meat and veg options. Small lower-level space in Mutual Building. 909 E. Main St. 804-780-9038.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

White Anchovie out, Iron Fish in

Posted By on Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 2:50 PM

In one of the fastest switch-ups in Richmond restaurant history, a new identity, menu and kitchen staff are turning the not quite three-month old White Anchovie into the Iron Fish, at 3061 Lauderdale Drive.

Chef-partner Todd Manley debuts a new menu at the Henrico restaurant tonight, with dishes such as curried blue crab mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, pan-seared barramundi and other small and entrée-sized plates ranging from $6 – 25. The new restaurant’s motto is “fresh fish and local farms by Pescados” and emphasizes colorful, accessible food that is a response to customer requests, Manley says. “I feel pretty confident” about the retooling, he adds, acknowledging that recent lukewarm reviews of the White Anchovie were a factor, but not the deciding point, in the changes. Chef Matthew Tlusty, a former partner in the venture, is developing another project.

Iron Fish will serve dinner Tuesday through Saturday as it makes the transition from one concept to another.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Short Order

Exploring RVA's Martini of the Moment: Lychee. Plus, new restaurant listings.

Posted By on Tue, Aug 2, 2011 at 4:00 AM

About lychee: Native to China, India and many parts of Southeast Asia, the lychee can look more like a Muppet than a fruit. Bright red and hairy on the outside and fleshy and white on the inside, the lychee is small, moist and sweet. The vitamin C-packed fruit grows on trees where summers are long and humid; canned versions are found at Asian specialty grocers.

Find it, drink it: Two good local versions of the lychee martini are those at Made in Asia in Chesterfield (7302 Hancock Village Drive) or Lehja at Short Pump Town Center, shown here.

Or make your own:
Ingredients
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
3 1/2 ounces gin or vodka
2 ounces lychee syrup (from canned fruit)
1 or 2 whole lychees for garnish (rinsed and drained)
2 ounces crushed ice
Splash of lime juice (optional)
Splash of champagne (optional)

Directions

1. Pour can of lychee fruit into strainer. Reserve two whole lychees plus 2 ounces of lychee syrup.

2. In shaker add crushed ice, vermouth, vodka, lychee syrup and lime juice (if using). Shake well.

3. Pour mixture into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with one or two whole lychees. Add splash of champagne if desired. Enjoy.

— Elizabeth Jewett

NOW SERVING

Stella’s: Greek cuisine in casual neighborhood newcomer, family tables, bar, longtime Richmond chef and owners. Beer and wine. Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., Sunday 5 - 10 p.m., brunch hours coming in September. 1012 Lafayette St. 358-2011. stellasrichmond.com.

The Blue Goat: Relaxed, Euro-inspired dining, charcuterie, pate, seafood, nose-to-tail cooking; cocktails, patio in new Westhampton landmark. Dinner and bar Monday-Saturday. 5710 Grove Ave. 288-8875. bluegoatva.com.

Ejay Rin Noodle Bar: Pork buns, rice bowls, soups and small plates; wine and beer, patio, chef-owned contemporary Asian cafe. Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 201 W. Seventh St., Corrugated Box Building. 745-6488. ejayrin.com.

M Bistro and Wine Bar: French-meets-Southern cuisine from chef Michael Hall; breakfast to dinner specialties; wines and gourmet items, house-baked breads and pastries, coffee. Summer hours: Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 652-2300. mbistro-rocketts.com.

Selba: Health-aware casual dining with garden room, separate smoking lounge, piano, full bar. Seasonal, local foods and wines. Dinner and bar Tuesday-Sunday, weekend brunch. Closed Monday. 2416 W. Cary St. 358-2229. selbarichmond.com.

Benny’s BBQ: Ribs, brisket, burgers, salads, onion rings, platters and Southern sides. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar, friendly service. 3044 Stony Point Road. 320-7447. bennysbbqonline.com.

Citizen: Chef-prepared weekday breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, salads, house-made sauces and dressings, meat and veg options. Small lower-level space in the Mutual Building. 909 E. Main St. 804-780-9038.

Upcoming: Kenn-Tico Cuban Bar and Grill is expanding its downtown space while neighboring businesses (Cedars, Louisiana Flair) are ending their runs. Lunch, dinner and bar Monday through Saturday. 204 E. Grace St. 225-9216. kennticocubanbargrill.com.

Closed: Jimmy’s in west Henrico.

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