Just as sushi and house-roasted coffee used to portend a culinary upswing in a neighborhood, lately it’s the gastropub that proves the times are changing. Such is the case in central Chesterfield County, where a 30-tap business with a locally focused menu opens this week and updates that suburban dining landscape in a big way.
Owned by Karen and Matt Verdisco, Brew has all the hallmarks of a city spot — poured concrete bar and communal tables, industrial-modern décor, lounge seating on the patio, multitudes of craft beers and cocktails, a from-scratch kitchen using select local purveyors, and a focused staff. “We love the concept and it’s something we always searched for in Chesterfield,” Karen Verdisco says. “It feels good to say we created this from the ground up — it’s a nice collaborative effort.” James Vance manages front of house and bar, and Josh Reed and Charles Williams are chef and sous chef.
The space seats about 63 inside and 60 on the patio. Products include Lamplighter Coffee, Carytown Teas, Gelati Celesti ice cream and Boylan’s sodas, along with local craft beer, a 40-item wine list and house-made cocktail mixes with Agriberry fruits. The menu has grilled sandwiches, small plates, gourmet burgers and changing specials, all made to order in a kitchen that has no freezer except to store ice cream.
Brew is open for lunch, dinner and bar hours Monday through Saturday, and brunch on Sunday, at 6525 Centralia Road in the Chesterfield Meadows Shopping Center. 454-0605. brewgastropub.com.
Chefs’ choice: Tim Bereika has left Secco Wine Bar for a position with Mosaic Edibles, the city’s mega-caterer. Chef Mike Braune, formerly Secco’s sous chef, steps up and will retain the wine bar’s sophisticated menu, making adjustments described as subtle and gradual. Bereika returns with other guest chefs for a tomato-themed dinner later in August. Kevin LaCivita has left the Blue Goat in Westhampton, and owner Chris Tsui says a new chef will be named this week.
Acacia after dark: For those who’d like a later nosh at one of the city’s favorite dining spots, Acacia Mid-Town will serve as host of Fin de Soiree from 9-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays at the bar and on the patio, with specially priced bites. 2601 W. Cary St. acaciarichmond.com.
Group feed: A national dining-out experience called Dishcrawl.com returns here Aug. 13 with an event in Carytown. For a $45 ticket, guests will visit four of the neighborhood’s restaurants for tasting samples at each. The names of the businesses are revealed just prior to the evening. “We’ll have a trio of tasting items and talk to the chef or owner, mix and mingle with people in the community,” host Melanie Bianco says. Carytown is “a perfect place to start,” she says, as she revives the concept that first came here early this year. Details at dishcrawl.com/carytown.
It's not just the kitsch that makes tiki fun — although what's not to love about coconut-shell bikini tops and crazy glasses that are as big as punch bowls.
For bartenders, "Tiki drinks are really kind of masterful," Tim Quinn of Heritage says. "It's a serious craft concept that went from uncool to surging back." So Quinn and the Roosevelt's bar star T. Leggett are kicking off a tiki pop-up cocktail lounge to show guests that mai tais, scorpions and zombies can taste far better than they might think. The first of a possible summer series is at Ipanema Cafe on July 31 from 10 p.m.-2 a.m.
Quinn and Leggett will deck the place out. They're bringing in Brittanny Anderson to make Polynesian bar bites and Greg Darden to spin vinyl in the exotica style — tiki lounge music that's "cool, almost orchestral and sea breezy," Quinn says. Some call it the midcentury bachelor pad soundtrack.
Mostly, though, it's about the flavors of the drinks — international rums, pineapple, coconut, fresh juices and spices, homemade syrups such as the almondy orja, and falernum, blending almond, ginger, cloves, limes and other flavors. "They're just super fun," Leggett says of the traditional tiki drink recipes, "and this is something totally different from what we usually do. There's some stuff up my sleeve, maybe some smoke, some fire."
Quinn references the Manhattan bar Painkiller, now closed, which rode the tiki trend through the past few years. "That really opened my eyes to the history of tiki," Quinn says, "and just how interesting it is." The scene seems ripe for Richmond summertime. Ipanema Cafe is at 917 W. Grace St.
Fan re-brand: Work is in progress at the newly named Social52 Kitchen & Craft Bar, formerly the Avalon at 2619 W. Main St. James Baldwin and Walied Sanie bought the business in March and hope to reopen in mid-August. Oscar "Mac" McCrowell (Europa, Hill Café) is head chef, fine-tuning a gastropub menu with seafood, chicken and some of the Avalon's classic vegetable dishes, along with six taps for craft beer. "We've opened up the layout," Sanie says of the building's redesign, "and found beautiful natural brick under the drywall and concrete floors that we're polishing," with an enlarged bar, seating for 130 and an area for private parties. Watch this space for details.
Quick change: The Mediterranean Bistro at 2301 W. Main St. has suddenly become Luckie's Bar and Grill.
Craft beer month kickoff: Meet the brewers from about two dozen local craft breweries, sample beer and food, listen to live music and kick off Virginia craft beer month Aug. 2, 5:30-10:30 p.m. at the Richmond Coliseum, 601 E. Leigh St. Tickets at the box office are $22 general admission in advance and include samples. Designated driver and VIP tickets are available. See richmondcoliseum.net/events for details.
In the increasingly competitive sport of menu building, chef Ryan Baldwin is going all out to make a bigger name for himself and the Viceroy, now open in the Devil's Triangle near the Boulevard. Baldwin grew his fan base from Tastebuds in North Side to a well-reviewed year at Accanto in suburban Henrico County, but prefers the energy of city restaurants and their adventurous diners.
At Viceroy, Baldwin introduces an often decadent lineup that starts with snacks for $6. There are bacon-wrapped, blue cheese deviled eggs with scallion grass, salmon jerky with blueberry and shaved asparagus, crispy chicken skin and Gouda beignets, goat cheese fritters and flank steak skewers with pickled carrots. Small plates include frog legs, ribs, scallops and oysters. Sandwiches run from the traditional french dip and meatball to smoked wild boar pastrami on grilled jalapeño corn bread, for $11. Main dishes include the seemingly required-in-Richmond crab cakes for $24, and choices such as grilled lamb kung pao, fried pork cheeks, chicken-skin-wrapped grouper and avocado Key lime popsicles for dessert.
"It's rustic, eclectic and not intimidating, with some comfortable things," Baldwin says of the menu and the setting. "It's all about the execution down to the little details, and it's got to be a certain level. We have a higher standard in this town now — do it right and try to be distinctive." The bar's 20 taps are augmented by signature cocktails and a select wine list, and the setting is a redesign in the classic modern realm. The Viceroy is open daily at 600 N. Sheppard St. 342-7696. viceroyrichmond.com.
Skins attached: Never missing an opportunity to cross promote, the guys at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery are making it easier for Redskins fans to experience the lunch-with-beer tradition. The brewery will open each day the Redskins' new training camp runs this summer. Details at rvastreetfoodies.
Pizza pops: A five-course pop-up dinner from mobile caterer Pizza Tonight comes to Lamplighter Roasting Co.'s Addison Street location July 29. Family-style service for 50 includes Italian seasonal foods prepared in the wood-fired oven, paired with beverages from Ellwood Thompson's wine guru Leigh Rodgers. Tickets are $75 per person and some early-bird and group discounts are offered. Proceeds benefit FeedRVA, a new nonprofit dedicated to food justice in Richmond. pizzatonightonenightstand.eventbrite.com.
Wheels for meals: Richmond bicycle patrolman Patrick Warner, who manages the Carytown farmers' market on Sundays, is taking his cause for food equality on the road. He'll ride a mountain bike across Virginia starting Aug. 3, stopping at farmers' markets along the way, to raise awareness of the match program of SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for low-income residents. The match allows recipients to shop at farmers' markets, promoting healthy eating and supporting local farmers. See vamarketride.com for details on Warner's 500-mile trek from Yorktown to Big Stone Gap.
Nile on hold: A reboot is in progress at Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, which closed in June and plans to reopen in August with an expanded menu and new décor. Fans can find its food at Ellwood Thompson's hot bar on Mondays. 309 N. Laurel St. nilerichmond.com.
Estes Bar B'Que: Fine swine food truck gets a storefront for pulled pork, baby back ribs, smoked portabello mushrooms, baked beans with pineapple and mountain slaw. Weekday lunch until 3:30 p.m. 317 N. Second St. 888-5521. estesbarbque.com.
Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's hard not to notice the new design aesthetic transforming parts of Carytown. Newcomers are turning vintage into modern — most notably at furniture boutique Ruth & Ollie, in a lively redo of the Leo Burke store, and at two restaurants with similar mass-market goals.
At the Mellow Mushroom, in the former Plan 9 Records space at 3012 W. Cary St., there's room for a crowd, with a big menu, splashy lighting fixtures and wall art that pays tribute to the building's roots.
A block east, it's all eye-catching California woodsiness at the Daily Kitchen & Bar. Richmond Restaurant Group spent a bundle practically bulldozing the former Glass & Powder board shop to make a big-scale bar and cafe with walls of windows, a sleek interior and a sidewalk patio for 40.
With all-day service, the Daily's food choices are extensive, and vegetarian and gluten-free options are noted. The dinner menu has salads (quinoa, beet, kale, grapefruit and avocado, most at $7.95), pizzas, burgers, a short rib sandwich, barbecued tofu, tacos and meat and seafood entrees in the $10-24 range. A dozen side dishes include Brussels sprouts, beans and greens, quinoa johnnycake, all $4.95. Seasonal specials will be harvest-driven, says co-owner Michelle Williams. "It's a healthy neighborhood cafe with mostly organic, natural ingredients, and we're hoping to open this week." The Daily Kitchen & Bar, 2934 W. Cary St. 342-8990. thedailykitchenandbar.com.
Bastille bashes: Francophiles and connoisseurs have two options to celebrate Bastille Day at Amour Wine Bistro in Carytown. A five-course, themed dinner with wine pairings is July 13, $59 per person; the following day an indoor picnic with owner Paul Heitz's festive touches that will cost $29 each. Details at amourwinebistro.com. 3129 W. Cary St. 353-4020.
Decommissioned: The weathered, gray building may have gone unnoticed by younger diners, but a 43-year seafood stalwart in Henrico County will serve its last supper July 12. Skilligalee, drenched inside and out with fishing artifacts at 5416 Glenside Drive, will be torn down. An auction of its decorative elements is underway. In recent years, it's mostly seen early birds who come in for fried shrimp, oysters and know-your-name service. Owner Richard Stephenson says retirement is overdue and welcome — a familiar refrain among longtime restaurateurs.
Summer sip and slide: New food and drink specials at Pie, 214 N. Lombardy St., include grilled jalapeño skewers, hand-rolled mozzarella sticks, daily dollar burgers from 5-7 p.m., half-price pizza on Tuesdays, raffle tickets, a DJ and $1 beer all night Wednesdays. Other promotions include cheap tacos and nachos Thursdays, $5 appetizers Fridays, comedy Saturdays, and $2 rail drinks Sundays. 257-7940.
Good segue: In an effort to keep drunken drivers off the road, a local nonprofit has one answer. Providearide.org offers breathalyzer tests for a donation, and works with bars and restaurants to offer free cab rides home for intoxicated patrons. In 2011, this area racked up 3,400 driving under the influence convictions, 33 fatalities and more than a thousand accidents, many with injuries. See the website for details of this volunteer effort, or check out the Provide a Ride booth at Hardywood Park Brewing Co. during some of its busier events.
23rd & Main Kitchen and Taproom: Bigger dining room, bar and menu at rebranded Sette in Shockoe Bottom; craft beer, burgers and pizza, salads, outdoor dining with fire pit. Lunch, dinner and bar hours daily. 7 N. 23rd St. 788-7077.
The Grand Palace: Colorful spot for spice-focused Indian, Pakistani and Asian fusion foods with vegetarian options. Burgers, lamb chops, biryani, tandoor pizza and desserts. Full bar, hookah, patio. Lunch, dinner and bar hours daily, late-night kitchen menu on weekends. Lunch buffet Thursday-Sunday. 4032-B Cox Road 762-4411. grandpalaceva.com.