There's a difference between what Mel Oza is doing at the new Curry Craft Indian Restaurant and Bar, and the longstanding Farouk's House of India a block west in Carytown. Oza is appreciative of the 38-year longevity of his neighbor, but hopes to bring "a modern, almost kitschy" feel that contrasts and updates the tradition.
"This is upscale casual, with a late-night industry bar," Oza says of Curry Craft. "The food is Indian but with today's style and service." Staff members dress in black shirts and denim, and music is tuned to Midival Punditz on Pandora. It's perhaps reminiscent of the neighborhood Indian places in London, Oza says, and there's room for the concept to grow.
While an ABC permit is pending, Curry Craft is experimenting with menu and hours in the 42-seat space. Oza, formerly associated with Short Pump's Indian jewel Lehja, had been trying to find a Carytown location for a while and bought the assets of Bonvenu earlier this year. He made decorative changes that show off stainless steel accents and subtle art, but is mostly focused on fare that intends to show "finesse and complexity," he says, with Madras curry sauce and seafood among the starting points.
For now, luncheon service is Friday through Sunday, and dinner is offered nightly. Watch for changes as the business finds its following. 2915 W. Cary St. 358-0350. currycraft.com.
Portrait House: House-ground burgers, pizza, sliders and craft beer at this new Carytown pub, open nightly. 2907 W. Cary St. 278-9800.
Deep Run Roadhouse: Brisket, burritos, barbecue, and hearty snacks and sides at Paul Hubbard's new Tex-Mex counter-service and comfort-food spot. Lunch and dinner daily. 12379 Gayton Road. 740-6301. deeprunroadhouse.com.
Dinamo: Intimate cafe for pho, pasta, sandwiches, with breakfast to dinner Monday-Saturday. 821 W. Cary St.
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It started with a handshake on New Year's Eve, and 17 weeks later the new pub Portrait House is open in Carytown.
Hamooda Shami, whose three business interests are within 85 steps on a single block, made the deal with building owner Matt Donlon to take over 2907 W. Cary St. after the blow-up of BlowToad. Although Donlon had his choice of takers, it was his familiarity with Shami's partnerships at New York Deli and Don't Look Back that sealed the arrangement.
The inside of Portrait House was warmed with paint from Beth Ross, lending a speckled backdrop for portraits of people and animals culled from flea markets to decorate the space. A juke box is programmed "with nothing obvious," Shami says, and the menu has house-ground burgers on house-made buns, pizzas fired in the coal and wood oven, and assorted sliders. Two-dozen craft beers on tap and an enlarged bar give the two rooms their focal point.
Now that Shami's management company Big Youth has expanded to 120 employees, he's aware that worker interconnectedness is vital. "I know their back stories, and I'm very close to my staff and now the family is getting bigger," he says, with some of them moving into key roles at the new place, including general manager Zach Grout from the New York Deli.
Like its sibling businesses, Portrait House will open nightly year-round — including Christmas Day, Shami says — because "I want people to be able to rely on us."
Early Dinamo: One way to know whether the new cafe Dinamo is open is to look for the propeller out front. The equipment hails from a drone-motor factory where Marilyn Monroe worked before becoming blonde and a star. Now the propeller is turned on when the place is open, compelling a look inside. A short list of options punctuated by Illy coffee makes this a full-service sort of Edo's Squid cafe — mostly Italian, but with twists such as Vietnamese breakfast soup, latkes, rugelach and other Jewish pastries and salty surprises. It serves at 821 W. Cary St. daily except Sundays. No phone or website.
French on the weekends: Longtime Carytown business Jean-Jacques Bakery now offers European brunch on Saturdays from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m., with specialties such as crepes, omelets, soufflés, waffles and eggs Benedict. The lunch menu also is served. 3138 W. Cary St. 355-0666. richmondfrenchbakery.com.
Boo's Brown Bag redux: Changes are in progress at this new Fan District business. Owner Bob Windsor says he's brought in chef Brad Sullivan, a culinary grad who worked at Pescados China Street. On the retooled menu, the Boo-mongous has four quarter-pound burgers, a basket of fries, a basket of onion rings and four cans of soda for $25; the brown bag special is a monster grilled cheese with beer-battered fries and can of soda for $7. Hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, salads, sides and desserts run the comfort-food gamut. Seating is limited to six two seaters, and Windsor is applying for a city permit for patio dining. Delivery is available from Quickness RVA. The business is open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily at 1201 W. Main St. 358-6227.
Searching for winners: Style Weekly reader Bill Rice sends a request for entries to a contest for the Web Marketing Association's best restaurant website of 2013. Enter at webaward.org by May 31. Find information about this volunteer organization, which has worked since 1997 to establish standards of excellence for websites across industries, at webaward.blogspot.com.
Ride now: Act fast if you want to attend a fundraiser at Mint New Casual Cuisine on April 24 during Bike Week III. Following the premiere of "Reveal the Path" at the Byrd Theatre, the cafe will hold a benefit to install wall-mounted bike racks on the building's eastern exterior, and eventually outside other restaurants. Music by Black Girls, raffles from local bike shops, food and drink specials will start with a $5 donation at the door, for guests 21 and older. The custom bike rack sculpture for Mint is the brainchild of James Ginnell of Tailwind Bicycles and artist Daniel Pritchett. "We're way excited to have this opportunity and can't wait to see the Wall of Bikes on Main Street," Mint owner Amy Cabaniss says. 2501 W. Main St. 359-9690.
Curry Craft Indian Restaurant and Bar: Fine Indian cuisine in former Bonvenu space at 2915 W. Cary St. 358-0350. currycraft.com.
Deep Run Roadhouse: From former Alamo BBQ owner Paul Hubbard, barbecue, bison burgers, burritos and pork chops at 12379 Gayton Road. Open daily from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 740-6301. deeprunroadhouse.com.
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In a calculated run-up to a bar launch that can't come soon enough, the guys behind the Rogue Gentlemen may have pushed the slow reveal into hot and numbing territory. For months, chefs John Maher and Aaron Hoskins have dripped hints about their project, a professor's study- meets-cocktail bar now rising in Jackson Ward. Hand-delivered cards and clues, a covert Twitter account and a what's-the-password website are building an identity well before the building will be ready.
"We want to be right smack in the middle," Hoskins says of Rogue's midcity position on a pristine First Street corner with views of condos and cherry trees. The building's insides are gutted to the 1910 brick for a bookish remake designed to be "masculine, eccentric, dark and moody, timeless," the concept boards say. Backing comes courtesy of Sandy and Allison Appelman, developers who bought the building and the concept — cocktails, fine food, neighborhood feel — and gave the rogues their opportunity.
The room will seat 16 at the bar, a dozen at tables, and more outside on a trellised patio next to a kitchen garden. It will open for breakfast and pastries, Sunday brunch, and nightly service except Tuesdays. From starters to cordials, the partners are obsessing over every detail of menu, service and execution, with an awareness that expectations are high and that competition is stiff.
Maher will manage the house and make cocktails with barman Eric Fortin, and Hoskins will run the kitchen. He says he'll put into practice what he's learned in the past year from Tim Bereika at Secco among other chefs who've helped and hectored him as needed.
Although the partners say they might open by summer, that last clue may be the hardest of all to deliver. Follow progress @roguegentlemen.
Neighborhoods across town are bracing for more food options in the second quarter of the year. Here's a partial list of what's on tap, with more in the offing:
Malcolm Mitchell, a former Food Network competitor, is running pop-ups this month and finalizing plans to open a restaurant tentatively called Taste at 516 N. Second St. near the Hippodrome. He's exploring additional options nearby with developer Ron Stallings.
Also on that street, Estes Bar B Que opens soon at 317 N. Second St., building upon Joshua Estes' fine-swine, food-truck empire.
In the same block, Andale's casual Mexican fare is coming to 325 N. Second St.
Max's on Broad, in a renovated ham shop, brings Belgian food and other items from owner Ted Santarella of Tarrant's Café. Formerly dubbed Max's Tavern in honor of his baby boy, the renovated two-story at 305 Brook Road is finishing construction.
Portrait House in former BlowToad at 2907 W. Cary St. is set to open next week. Watch this space for a preview next week.
The Daily Kitchen and Bar, still under construction at 2934 W. Cary St., promises a June opening. The menu will focus on sustainable local foods. All-day service starts with breakfast and pastries and continues through bar hours. Highlights are 12 tables on the patio, floor-to-ceiling windows and a big bar, co-owner Michelle Williams says.
Curry Craft Indian Restaurant & Wine Bar in the former Bonvenu spot at 2915 W. Cary St. opened last week.
Mellow Mushroom, a pizza and sandwich chain, announces via website that it will open May 6 at 3012 W. Cary St. in the former Plan 9 record landmark.
The Viceroy, taking over the fully gutted former Café Diem space at 600 N. Sheppard St., has a hoped-for opening in late May. Dave Bender (Caliente), a co-owner with Sean McClain (Bandito's Burrito Lounge) says the "brand-spanking new" casual space won't reinvent the wheel, but will serve traditional rustic and new American food.
Coriander Café, takeout Mediterranean fare at 704 Sheppard St., is due to open this month.
After a slow start, equipment is going in at En Su Boca at 1001 N. Boulevard. "We're so close," co-owner Patrick Stamper says of the project that had been planned for last year. "The bar is in, the artwork [from Ed Trask] is coming in, we're finalizing the menu and doing some tastings in San Francisco and then we are ready to go." The taqueria is expected to open in mid-May.
Pasta and house-made sausages, espresso and other Italian flavors, plus futuristic art painted by Rob Womack, are themes at Ed Vasaio's new spot Dinamo, which opened last week at 821 W. Cary St. A concise menu, seven tables and a crisp new feel includes a view of chef Brad Wein's kitchen and Mya Anitai running the front. Open weekdays for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Saturdays for dinner, closed Sundays.
Sugar Shack Donuts arrives at 1001 N. Lombardy St. in a few weeks.
Avalon unveils a new décor and menu at 2619 W. Main St., keeping chef Jen Mindell on board but adding new owners, Walied Sanie and James Baldwin. The 20-year-old business is open during renovations.
Michael's Pies & Pints is under construction in the former Racine space at 304 N. Robinson St. Nearby, Acme is bringing sushi and smoothies to a storefront next door to McCormack's Whisky Grill.
In the former Mulligan's sports bar at 1323 W. Main St., a new restaurant called Postbellum has just begun construction. Ryan Koontz of Station 2, a partner in the business, says they're hoping for a late June opening.
Cous Cous at 900 W. Franklin St. gets a new identity by summertime. Co-owner Al Copeland says a redesign is in progress.
Haiku Sushi and Lounge in the former Sensi at 2222 E. Cary St., is scheduled for a late May opening. Chef Hai Truong and Michael Hinerman are owners; Hinerman says the space will feature "fairly extensive changes with Hai's taste for decorative lighting effects in full force." The entrance will be moved, sushi bar added, and private dining room prepared for sake, wine and beer tastings. Ceviche will be a summer specialty.
Pizza 111 is coming to the Southern Railway Building.
Kitchen on Cary is beginning culinary training in the former Dora's Brazilian Grill at 1329 E. Cary St.
Luncheonette, perhaps the longest-stalled restaurant project in town, is furnished and decorated but not operating at 104 N. 18th St.; its Facebook page promised to open a year ago this month.
Urban Farmhouse is about to announce plans to open its third location in a residential building in north Church Hill. Watch this space for details.
Renovation is underway at the former Shenanigans at 4017 MacArthur Ave. It's owned by George Xyderis and operated by his son, and although details are scarce, neighbors admit "incessant hammering" promises even more competition along the very busy food corridor.
Also updating its grilled cheese repertoire with a new dining shelter is the Grey Hill Café at 4009 MacArthur, serving a pulled pork sandwich and other neighborhood favorites from a food truck.
Burger Bach plans to open its second branch in West Broad Village this summer.
Tazza Kitchen, a Mediterranean concept, replaces Café Caturra at 3332 Pump Road this summer; a new Café Caturra location comes to West Broad Street and Cox Road in the Colonnades West this fall.
Longtime local landmark the North Pole was sold at auction to Eat Restaurant Partners (Osaka, Blue Goat, Fat Dragon, Wild Ginger) last year; co-owner Chris Tsui says he's developing plans for the space.
Kudos to the city's food press corps for helping bring these projects to light, along with neighborhood blogs and Twitterers who can't wait to share new information with our dining public. And though it seems like a surfeit of dining options, it isn't an exhaustive list — and more new restaurants are in the works for later in the year.
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Richmond's food community gave an immediate rallying cry to help Sub Rosa Bakery after a fire last week. Benefits and other projects are in the works to help rebuild the structure at 620 N. 25th St., which was condemned. Residents in adjacent apartments were displaced and the bakery was forced to suspend business.
Bakers Evrim and Evin Dogu are known for creating rustic breads, seasonal pastries and other items to sell at Sub Rosa, in farmers' markets and to local restaurants.
A dinner at the Roosevelt on Monday night featured seven of the city's best chefs. On Thursday, April 11, RVA Street Foodies and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery will use their food truck court at the brewery from 6-9 p.m. to raise money for the bakery and tenants.
Name change: Crust and Cream in Westover Hills has a new name, and for some neighbors, not a moment too soon. It's now RVA Deli and Groceries at 4610 Forest Hill Ave. The menu of pizzas, ice cream and sandwiches remains the same, and some groceries are now available. 230-5555.
Wine in Shockoe Slip: Virginia Military Institute alumnus Shane Finley returns to the Commonwealth to hold a wine dinner April 21 at the Dining Room at the Berkeley Hotel. Finley is a winemaker whose private line, Shane Wine Cellars, will be featured in a five-course dinner from the hotel's chef, Carly Herring. Cost is $65 per person plus tax and tip. Reservations are required at 225-5105.
Three dozen of the city's most popular restaurants are participating in Richmond Restaurant Week, running April 22-28. Guests dine on a set, three-course menu for $25.13; proceeds go to Feedmore.org, supporting the Central Virginia Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. Reservations are suggested, as this often is one of the busiest dining-out periods of the year. Information, including the event's history, is online at richmondrestaurantweek.com. Restaurants participating this month include:
Amour Wine Bistro
Amuse at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
Charles City Tavern
Julep's New Southern Cuisine
M Bistro and Wine Bar
Made in Asia
Secco Wine Bar
Tastebuds American Bistro
Dining Room at the Berkeley Hotel
The Blue Goat
The Hard Shell
The Hill Café
Zeus Gallery Cafe
Pioneering seems to come naturally to Noelle and Zachary Archibald. Along with partner Jen Rawlings, they built Lamplighter Roasting Co. in a fringe-of-the-Fan neighborhood three years ago and made it a distinctive destination that grew more quickly than they imagined. Now they've opened an espresso bar and roastery in Scott's Addition at 1719 Summit Ave., helping revitalize an industrial area on the cusp. Every marketer knows that people move in when a good, local coffee shop is nearby.
At the new offshoot, Lamplighter will establish the city's first street-level seating area with a sanctioned "parklet" in the spaces out front. This trend in Western states makes its way here to meet customer demand for outdoor seating in tight urban spaces; it augments the garage-style windows that will open to good weather at the new, simply designed former factory.
Lamplighter is among the first businesses in Richmond to use the Square point-of-sale register technology, which scans cards and sends email receipts and dispenses with a tip jar in favor of the online kind. Hardywood Park, Black Hand Coffee and a few others are on board with Square as well.
But what most sets Lamplighter apart, in addition to its precisely selected, micro-roasted coffee, is its creative menu in meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free configurations. Sandwiches such as the Al Sharpton (ham and cheese), a miso-tempeh combo with ginger slaw, assorted empanadas and salads, vegan doughnut holes and pastries are anything but run of the mill.
The roastery on Summit will close Mondays so that barista classes and other training can use the space. "This is a testing ground to perfect our brewing methods," Noelle Archibald says. "We're driven by our desire to learn more and do more," including sourcing their own beans and fine-tuning their skills while educating their customers. Cuppings, tastings and other events on Fridays at 4 p.m. will be open to the public. 116 S. Addison St., 1719 Summit Ave. Lamplightercoffee.com.
More beans: Meanwhile, across town, taZa Coffee n Crème, a business destined to be mispronounced and misspelled, has expanded. (It's TAHS-ah, meaning cup in Spanish. The Crème is actually La Michoacana ice cream bars.)
TaZa's airy new storefront fills a Westover Hills niche for lounging with two levels of seats and worktables, Wi-Fi and a small stage, a local grocery market, made-to-order fare and Blanchard's coffee for breakfast and lunch. Sandwiches are named for streets in the area: the King William has rotisserie chicken, provolone and Cajun remoulade for $6.94; the New Kent is vegetables and hummus for $5.95; build-your-own salads, bacon and egg bagels, Dixie Donuts, and other treats rotate with the hour and season. Chocolates by Kelly also has a counter of fresh candy.
The space at 5047 Forest Hill Ave. is a designated outpost for the Farm to Family bus – meaning it's a pickup spot for the bus's community supported agriculture program, and also a stop-in market for meats such as bison, lamb, sausage, and other hormone- and antibiotic-free items, fresh eggs, produce and pastas, and locally made mixes, salsas and sauces. The community-supported agriculture program begins April 11 and runs for 24 weeks. Learn more at www.thefarmbus.com. TaZa is open daily. 233-8646. Tazacnc.com.
Jorge's Cantina New watering hole with fajitas, avocado fries, Mexican entrees and bar food. Nightly, with lunch hours coming. 2526 Floyd Ave. 918-1857.
Le Crepes Downtown counter-service breakfast and lunch spot for sweet and savory crepes, salads, soup, pastries and coffee. Weekdays. 1110-B E. Main St. 225-0222.
Carena's Jamaican Grille Jerk chicken, angus burger, ribs, oxtails, island specialties in modern cafe with patio; Lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. daily. 7102 Midlothian Turnpike in the Spring Rock Green Shopping Center. 422-5375.
Pearl Raw Bar New establishment in the former DeLux, with seafood, sandwiches, sliders, salads, spirits; bar with booths and sunroom in back. Dinner daily, weekend brunch. 2229 W. Main St. 353-2424 pearlrva.com.
Wild Greens & Pig Sandwich shop features heritage pork barbecue, soups, chips, desserts in casual setting. Chef Alfredo Macias and owner Lisa Granger focus on local and organic ingredients. Weekdays 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. 9033 Quioccasin Road. 750-1350.
Homemades by Suzanne Southern fare at the John Marshall Hotel, 101 N. Fifth St. downtown. Weekday luncheon is $9.85 and includes beverage; hours are 11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. 775-2323.