Score one for Short Pump. The city’s first fast-casual Indian food counter is up and running in West Broad Village, and it’s an appealing option for a no-frills, well-spiced meal. Kebab & Biryani looks like a typical American franchise, with spare decoration save some umber-colored wall paint and a few photographs of India. Food comes to the table cooked to order; customers fetch their own plates, drinks and utensils, often working through their meals accompanied by tablets and smart phones. The cafe’s steady walk-in traffic seems to indicate the food is a worthy and convenient distraction.
Kebabs, mostly less than $8, are marinated and grilled in the tandoor oven. Entrees ($9-$10) are a value at lunch, served in combos with a basket of butter naan straight from the oven and a generous appetizer and small dessert. Chicken tikka masala, lamb curry and malai kofta are popular. Snacks include frankies (paneer, chicken or lamb wraps) for $5-$6, dosas and samosas. Desserts, lassi drinks and party trays show the concept’s versatility.
The neighborhood has two well-regarded Indian restaurants, Anokha Cuisine of India and Lehja India Delicious, both decorated in upscale modern fashion. Add in the often-extravagant Indian weddings frequently held at the nearby Hilton and other hotels, and Short Pump feels flush with Indian cuisine in fast and fancy versions. Kebab & Biryani, 2452 Old Brick Road. 658-3174. Kebabandbiryani.com.
Big start for BlowToad: Now open in Carytown, Jimmy Sneed’s newest restaurant is getting a surge of interest in its brunch with bubble bread, coal-fired pizza and craft beer selections, as well as its enterprising specials and famously out-front chef. Open daily except Mondays. 2907 W. Cary St. 355-8623.
Byram’s out, Tower Fish House in: After a disappointing recharge of Byram’s, the longtime Broad Street lobster house, owners Jeff and Corina Kelso introduced a re-branded restaurant in the same location last week. Tower Fish House takes a more casual approach with lower prices for seafood, meats and daily specials. Lunch and dinner are served Monday through Saturday. 3215 W. Broad St. 355-9193. Towerfishhouse.com.
Rooster Cart: Early raves from followers of this vegetarian food truck from siblings Jen and Luke Mindell talk about tofu as if it’s nectar from heaven. The Kickstarter-campaign-funded cart caters to vegans and others with a changing list of baguettes, snacks, sweets and a locally famous version of banh mi. It’s usually seen at 2906 Patterson Ave. near Bandito’s in the neighborhood that some still know as the Devil’s Triangle. 802-324-3183.
Burger Bach: New Zealand beef comes to 10 S. Thompson St. at this new eatery from Michael Ripp, formerly of Havana ’59. The casual gastro-pub replaces the original Ellwood Thompson’s coffeehouse, and will focus on meats and mussels, beer and wine. Open nightly for dinner, beer and wine.
Out of order: Recent closings include Great Seasons Restaurant in Midlothian’s Shoppes at Bellgrade. Da Lat at 9125 W. Broad St. has changed owners and names. It’s now Pho Boston, serving a similar Vietnamese menu. 762-9330.