Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Short Order

RVA Food News: Naked Onion preview, Local Eatery's new brunch, Toast for charities + more.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Greg Comstock and Lauren Jurk opened the Naked Onion two weeks ago and have quickly developed a following for their version of the banh mi sandwich. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Greg Comstock and Lauren Jurk opened the Naked Onion two weeks ago and have quickly developed a following for their version of the banh mi sandwich.

Richmond's love affair with the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich appears to be intensifying now that chefs Greg Comstock and Lauren Jurk are offering a new variation. It's the first thing to sell out daily at their business, the Naked Onion, at 2118 W. Cary St.

This version has house-braised, grilled and glazed pork belly with garlic aioli on a Flour Garden baguette, for $8.95 including a small side. The brie grilled cheese with caramelized onions and apple compote, and the roast turkey panino with green onion cream cheese, pickled jalapeños, red onions and bacon, are pressed to order. The Naked Onion is open Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 972-3339.

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Nominee news: Chef Lee Gregory, whose work at the Roosevelt has earned a lot of local and national attention, including being named Style Weekly's 2012 Restaurant of the Year, is nominated for this year's James Beard Foundation award for best chef in the mid-Atlantic region. Winners are announced next month.

Weekend brunch: The Local Eatery & Pub at 1106 W. Main St. now serves Saturday and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. For St. Patrick's Day weekend it will open at 9 a.m., offering traditional Irish breakfast and other seasonal specials. 358-1862.

For the cause: Toast, a popular new gastro-pub in the Village Shopping Center at 7007 Three Chopt Road, is giving 10 percent of food sales to designated local charities on Monday nights, owner Jessica Bufford says. Details at toastrva.com.

NOW SERVING

Veranda Ristorante: Italian classics in remodeled Midlothian bistro with patio; pizza and pastas in casual setting from longtime restaurateurs. Lunch and dinner daily. 1358 Sycamore Square. 893-3063.

The Savory Grain: Cozy upscale drafthouse, 24 craft beers, wines, farm-to-table changing menu from chef Sean Murphy. Dinner and bar nightly except Mondays. 2043 W. Broad St. 592-4000.

Dutch & Co.: Intimate retro dining room in Church Hill serves meaty entrees and cocktails from chefs Caleb Shriver and Philip Perrow. Dinner Monday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. at 400 N. 27th St. 643-8824.

Casa del Barco: Tequilas and a wide range of Mexican fare in renovated factory beside the Canal Walk. Dinner and bar nightly, lunch Monday-Saturday, Sunday brunch. 320 S. 12th St. 775-2628. casadelbarco.com.

SubRosa Wood Fired Bakery: Artisan breads, coffee and pastry in cozy storefront. Tuesday-Sunday. 620 N. 25th St. 788-7672. subrosabakery.com.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Short Order

RVA Food News: Yellow Umbrella preview, Mondays at Mama J's + more.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 4:00 AM

The Yellow Umbrella has larger quarters, heritage meats, more prepared foods and pantry items, and wine and cheese from partnering business Cellar to Table. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • The Yellow Umbrella has larger quarters, heritage meats, more prepared foods and pantry items, and wine and cheese from partnering business Cellar to Table.

Richmond's delirious march toward status food, and food-town status, continues with a case in point in Westhampton. There's fresh local lard for sale at the Yellow Umbrella, and orange-fennel bouillon, and pork stock, and pantry items unheard of when the business began 34 years ago. A house-made charcuterie case stands where street-side coolers of fish used to be. There's house-butchered heritage pork and beef, and international wines and cheeses next to locally-sewn bottle cozies and Billy Bread. And unsurprisingly there's seafood from near and far.

At the new Yellow Umbrella, "there's nothing we can't do," says chef Jed Garvey, who's turning out prepared foods such as Moroccan stewed chicken, Spanish kale, squash and sausage bread pudding, and offering a changing array of meat- and seafood-based entrees, soups, quiches and appetizers. When market produce arrives from local farms, the week's menus take shape. Garvey appreciates the options presented by the shop's whole hogs and whole sides of beef, he says, and customers can watch the action through the open kitchen window.

Home cooks can find shellfish stock, clarified butter, uncommon pantry staples and spices. The shop's expanded range includes pies from 4 & 20 Bake Shop in Maidens, maple caramels from Nana's Homemades in Richmond, Wade's Mill grits, and local breads and honey. Kate Haydon, of partner business Cellar to Table, will introduce customers to wine and cheese through tastings and store events.
Mottos on the walls drive the local-foods mission home, with sayings such as "Sustainable: Take some for you, leave some for me, put some back for them," and "Dining: eating real food on a real plate, not by yourself, not standing up." After years of ersatz nautical motifs in the previous digs, now there's an interior design by Kristi Lane that mixes stainless simplicity with a few rustic touches. Somehow there's barely an aroma of fish.

Business has been brisk since the shop opened Feb. 8, says co-owner David Whitby — yet another indicator that Richmond's desire for fine, local foods is finding fulfillment. Customers won't see a sign out front — that awaits city approval — but aluminum letters eventually will be mounted to cap the project, which, Whitby says, may always be a work in progress. The shop is open Monday through Saturday. 5603 Patterson Ave. 282-9591.

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Monday supper: Mama J's, one of the city's quintessential soul and Southern food attractions, and with no trace of hipster trendiness, is in its second month of serving Monday dinner. Style Weekly food writer Karen Newton lauds the frosted cakes and fried chicken among other revelations at this friendly, down-home restaurant with a dedicated following. 415 N. First St. 225-7449.

NOW SERVING

The Savory Grain: Cozy upscale draft house, 24 craft beers, wines, and a farm-to-table, changing menu from chef Sean Murphy. Dinner and bar nightly except Mondays. 2043 W. Broad St. 592-4000.

Dutch & Co.: Intimate retro dining room in Church Hill serves meaty entrees, cocktails and more from chefs Caleb Shriver and Philip Perrow. Dinner Monday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m., at 400 N. 27th St. 643-8824.

Casa del Barco: Tequilas and a wide range of Mexican fare in renovated factory beside the Canal Walk. Dinner and bar nightly, lunch Monday-Saturday, Sunday brunch. 320 S. 12th St. 775-2628. casadelbarco.com.

Boo's Brown Bag: American menu of deli sandwiches, burgers, vegan options and breakfast, lunch and late-night for takeout and delivery. 1201 W. Main St. 358-2667. boosbrownbag.com.

SubRosa Wood Fired Bakery: Artisan breads, coffee and pastry in cozy storefront. Tuesday-Sunday. 620 N. 25th St. 788-7672. subrosabakery.com.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Crushing It

What’s worth checking out at the Virginia Wine Expo.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM

ASH DANIEL
  • Ash daniel

The Virginia Wine Expo uncorks its sixth year at the Greater Richmond Convention Center from Feb. 22 -24. Three days of tasting more than 400 Virginia wines and craft beers show how the state’s wine industry has progressed from a 1970s novelty to the fifth-largest wine-producing state in the country.

Scads of events, at both the convention center and area restaurants, begin with a pre-party kickoff at the Wine Loft on Feb. 19.

All events are individually ticketed. In addition to the walk-around grand tastings (go Sunday, it’s less crowded) wine cognoscenti should attend Jay Youmans’ seminar, “Virginia Against the World: a Blind Comparative Tasting,” on Saturday.

Youmans is the founder of the Capital Wine School in Washington, an advanced level sommelier, a certified wine educator and the only master of wine in the nation’s capital. He has three decades of tasting experience, including a deep knowledge of Virginia wines. This is an opportunity to learn from a master how to taste like industry professionals in a sit-down setting. Twelve wines will be presented — six whites and reds from Virginia pitted against six from classic growing regions around the world. All wines will be tasted blind, without identifying names or regions to distinguish one from the other. The seminar runs from noon until 1:30 p.m. and tickets are $34. For tickets and information, see virginiawineexpo.com.

Short Order

From the owners of DeLux comes Pearl Raw Bar. … Plus, what’s worth checking out at the Virginia Wine Expo.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 12, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Jared Golden, Michelle Williams and Ted Wallof are finishing a redesign of DeLux in the Fan, turning it into Pearl Raw Bar, which they hope to open this month. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Jared Golden, Michelle Williams and Ted Wallof are finishing a redesign of DeLux in the Fan, turning it into Pearl Raw Bar, which they hope to open this month.

People thought it was crazy when Richmond Restaurant Group decided to close DeLux, “throwing away a business that had been doing over $1 million in sales,” co-owner Michelle Williams acknowledges. “We wondered if we were crazy too.” But running a bar in the Fan for five years had lost its allure once the partners’ lives became more focused on families, she says. So the old place at 2229 W. Main St. was cleared out in the fall, the Ed Trask murals moved to other homes, and the space divided in two for a new food and drink concept.

Pearl Raw Bar will be the sixth in the group’s holdings, which have shown seafood to be “a formula that is comfortable for us,” Williams says. The Hard Shell’s locations in Shockoe and Midlothian, along with Water Grill in Carytown have solid track records. Pearl will be a step down in prices with a more casual attitude than those, she says. Oysters, shrimp, mussels, clams and crab legs will be served at the large marble bar, which seats 20, and in booths. The newly outfitted dining room has “more of a classic Northern raw-bar look,” Williams says of the gray and white palette. Sandwiches and entrees will cost $10-$25.

The back room with garage doors and skylights will get a few more tables and a quieter feel. Upstairs, a private party space waits for a name and an opening date; it can hold 100 for cocktails. Pearl Raw Bar is expected to open next week, and its sister business, the Daily Kitchen and Bar, continues its long construction in Carytown with a planned opening in April. 353-2424. pearlrva.com.

Shockoe fill-up: Under construction in the former A Movable Feast space at 1318 E. Cary St. is a new franchise of Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches, making it the area’s fourth. A bit south, Pizza 111 prepares to open in the former Southern Railway Deli building at 111 Virginia St. Kitchen on Cary continues to make progress at 1329 E. Cary St.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Short Order

RVA Food News: Baja's new patio, the Naked Onion, Valentine's dinners + more.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 5, 2013 at 4:00 AM

At Baja Bean Co., the famously full deck is gone and a new brick patio with pergola is going in. General manager Jeff Allums says the work is expected to be complete by St. Patrick's Day, and that the business just posted its best year yet during an 11-year run at 1520 W. Main St. Meanwhile, Baja's owners are also renovating the former Mulligan's at 1323 W. Main and hoping for a May opening.

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Skewed food: Chefs Greg Comstock and Lauren Jurk are about to open the first half of their Fan District-based food business later this month. The Naked Onion is their commissary-style prep kitchen at 2118 W. Cary St., the former Ingrid's Bakery, and will serve soups and sandwiches for takeout. Meanwhile, a food truck they're developing, Skewtopia, will go mobile with "delicious and memorable creations" in new American, from-scratch style the pair learned in culinary school and cooking stints here and in Las Vegas. 972-3339.

Carytown revival: Not quite secret in Carytown is a new project from Hamooda Shami, whose business interests include New York Deli and Don't Look Back. He's about to announce Portrait House, a casual dining and drinking spot in the former BlowToad space at 2907 W. Cary St. — all three businesses are in the same block. Plans for new décor and menu are under way, Shami says, with an opening expected in late March.

Coming to Midlothian: Veranda Ristorante at 1358 Sycamore Square has familiar owners, Nuccio Giambanco (Osteria la Giara, Nuccio's) and Salvatore Conigliaro (Sensi). Both are passionate about pasta and classic Italian foods, and are launching "not a pizzeria," Conigliaro says, "but gourmet Italian is what we're aiming for," with veal, chicken, seafood and individual pizzas in a dining room that's "simple and very relaxed, with no dress code, so come as you are." A full bar, patio dining, and a dozen tables are being readied with a hoped-for opening in late February. 893-3063.

Love bites: Once again local chefs are pulling out all the familiar flavors of romance for Valentine's Day dinners — the aphrodisiacs (oysters, champagne, chocolate), the red (steaks, rare tuna, lobster) and the expensive (some fixed price meals cost more than $100 a person). Just as a bouquet of red roses may triple in price every mid-February, so do the tariffs that help keep some restaurateurs afloat. Reservations are advised.

Food lines: If your love of food compels you to write a poem, Ellwood Thompson's wants to read it. Chocolates and flowers are the prize for its love poem contest, and entries are due by Feb. 11. See details at ellwoodthompsons.com.

Midweek attraction: Little Venice introduces a three-course dinner on Wednesday evenings priced at $25 per person, with beverage, tax and tip extra. Reserve at 741-6022. 10482 Ridgefield Parkway. littlevenicerichmond.com.

Sweet support: Tricycle Gardens is sponsoring a fundraiser for Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary in Floyd County on Feb. 23, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. The $40 fee includes lunch; environmentalist Gunther Hauk will discuss solutions to the declining honeybee population. See more details at tricyclegardens.org, as well as updates on the group's farm produce stand in Church Hill and other community projects.

Closed: Recent restaurant closings include Maximo's in Shockoe Bottom, Racine in the Fan, and Emilio's in Midlothian.

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NOW SERVING

Dutch & Co.: Intimate retro dining room in Church Hill serves meaty entrees, cocktails and more from chefs Caleb Shriver and Philip Perrow. Dinner Monday through Saturday, 5-10 p.m. at 400 N. 27th St. 643-8824.

Casa del Barco: Tequilas and wide range of Mexican fare in renovated factory beside Canal Walk. Dinner and bar nightly, lunch Monday through Saturday, Sunday brunch. 320 S. 12th St. 775-2628. casadelbarco.com.

Boo's Brown Bag: American menu of deli sandwiches, burgers, vegan options and breakfast, lunch and late-night for take-out and delivery. 1201 W. Main St. 358-2667. boosbrownbag.com.

Urban Farmhouse: Second location of natural foods coffeehouse with sandwiches, salads, soups. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 13872 Coalfield Commons Place, Midlothian. 378-3366. theurbanfarmhouse.net.

Saison: Cozy Jackson Ward gastro-pub with craft beer, seasonal menu and service expertise. Nightly except Mondays. 23 W. Marshall St. 269-3689. saisonrva.com.

Rappahannock: Fresh oysters, raw bar, appetizers to seasonal entrees, full bar from owners of Rappahannock River Oysters. Lunch Tuesday-Friday, dinner and bar nightly, Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. 320 E. Grace St. 545-0565. rroysters.com.

A2: Cozy spot for Asian fusion food, bento dog and cocktails in chic, minimalist lounge. Weekday lunch, dinner and bar nightly except Sunday. 1112 E. Main St. 344-3220. a2restaurant.com.

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