Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Weekly Food Notes: Love from the Washington Post, Harry Potter's Cupcakes are Back + More.

Slow news is mostly good news.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2016 at 12:26 PM

Fortunately, the restaurant closings around town slowed down, but so did the openings. And that's not a bad thing. But don't stop reading. There are still a few things to mention, nonetheless.

 Tom Sietsema of the Washington Post came through Richmond a couple of weeks ago on a whirlwind eating tour to catch up on the latest and greatest in the Richmond dining scene. You can read all about it here.

The old Village building is back in the hands of the Dikos/ Giavos family, reports Richmond BizSense and we couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome. In 1956, Stavros Dikos and his lovely young wife, Stella, opened the original Village Restaurant in the space at 939 W. Grace St. No word yet on what kind of restaurant will go in, although there are plans to start renovations in January.

Takara Ramen is now open in the old TCBY space at at 9468 W. Broad St.

Sapori Ristorante Italiano’s co-owner Luca Amato in Chester announced that he’ll open a new restaurant at 2028 W. Cary St. “Actually, I had looked around for about a year and a half and nothing was working out because I couldn’t find a space,” Amato said to the Times-Dispatch. “I was just walking about the city and happened to find that space.”

It looks like Benny’s BBQ at 3044 Stony Point Road in the Stony Point Shopping Center is closed, reports the Times-Dispatch.

Harry Potter is back! At Carytown Cupcakes! From Oct. 24 November 6th, you’ll find all kinds of special Harry Potter-themed events happening and the bakery will offer six new cupcake flavors each week. “Our shop will be transformed into a wizarding fantasy-world, complete with floating candles, the Sorting Hat, potions, wands, dementors, an Azkaban photo booth, and our very own forbidden forest,” said Carytown Cupcakes co-owner Kevin Liu in a news release.

The Jackdaw is popping up at Kinsfolk on Monday, Oct. 24, starting at 5:30 p.m. You can expect chef Ian Merryman’s shrimp rangoons, squid-ink congee and black sesame-currant macarons, among other offerings.

And remember -- Richmond Restaurant Week is going on right now. Seize the moment!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Weekly Food Notes: We're No. 1, Westward Expansion + More

Beer dominates, of course, but wings and ice cream are on the horizon, too.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 12:33 PM

Rappahannock Oyster Co.’s Ryan and Travis Croxton, who also own Rappannock and Rapp Sessions on East Grace Street, will open Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Los Angeles, California. The L.A. branch will make 14 restaurants for the Rappahannock Oyster Co. group. “We figured,” Travis Croxton says, ‘Why the hell not?’”

Soon you’ll be able to grab some pimento cheese fries and a sandwich named the Jefferson piled with roast beef, bacon, horseradish mayo and white cheddar. North Carolina-based Secret Sandwich Society at 501 E. Grace St. announced that it will open the first week of November.

San Su opened last week in the Chippenham Square Shopping Center at 7437 Midlothian Turnpike, with Korean barbecue, sushi and steamed seafood dishes, Richmond BizSense reports. “It’s going to be authentic Korean food,” says owner Alex Hyun.

Anchor Bar is a chain -- but its original restaurant in upstate New York is reputedly where buffalo chicken wings were invented. There’s some dispute about this -- the real inventor may be John Young of John Young’s Wings ’n Things -- but what isn’t in doubt is that the wings were first served in Buffalo, New York -- hence the name -- and that they are delicious. Anchor Bar will open at Stony Point Fashion Park by the end of the year, reports the Times Dispatch.

Ice cream may not be the first thing that you think of in the fall, but the old Quirk Gallery building at 311 W. Broad St. will soon host Charm School. “Everything but our sprinkles will be made in-house,” co-owner Alex Zavaleta told Richmond BizSense. “The baked goods are meant to complement the ice cream.”

Richmond’s Edible Education Kitchen a la cart, is a self-contained interactive, mobile culinary cart manned by Ann Butler, who teaches school children about cooking and nutrition. Edible Education is a finalist in Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Velocity Tour, part of the first 50-K Pitch Contest, which will award two 50,000 grants to startups that relocate to Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Tricycle Gardens and Shalom Farms were named two of the 10 top organizations in the James Beard Foundation and Food Tank’s new 2016 Good Food Organization Guide.

Richmond has the most craft breweries and wineries per capita in the nation according to WalletHub, which bases its data on the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, and Yelp, among other sources. Don’t get too excited though -- we tied for first with eight other cities across the nation. WalletHub named Richmond as the sixth most food friendly city as well.

And don't forget! Richmond Restaurant week starts on Monday, Oct. 24 and lasts until Sunday, Oct. 30.

Bella's Restaurant Owner Remarks Cause Uproar

Compares Black Lives Matter with KKK.

Posted on Wed, Oct 12, 2016 at 10:57 AM

Restaurant owners say the darndest things. And you may have met this particular restaurateur in Richmond.

For less than a year, Bella’s Restaurant served up Italian food in the Short Pump Village Shopping Center a few doors down from Peter Chang China Cafe. After it closed, Chang took over the building and opened the doors to Noodles & Dumplings.

The original Bella’s, located in Charlottesville, is still going strong. And so is its owner, although he may have lost his part-time job.

Douglas Muir taught as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia in the engineering and applied science department.

That is, until last week.

On Oct. 4, Muir wrote in response to a Facebook post about a Black Lives Matter event: “Black lives matter is the biggest rasist [sic] organization since the clan. Are you kidding me. Disgusting!!!” Although the comment has been deleted, the vice-mayor of Charlottesville, Wes Bellamy, posted a screenshot on Instagram.

U.Va. wasn’t happy about what Muir had to say.

“While free speech and open discussion are fundamental principles of our nation and the University, Mr. Muir’s comment was entirely inappropriate,” officials said in a news release. “UVA Engineering does not condone actions that undermine our values, dedication to diversity and educational mission.”

Muir is now on leave from the university.

No word yet if the owner's post has affected pasta consumption at the Charlottesville restaurant.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Rappahannock Moves West

Ryan and Travis Croxton are opening a restaurant in Los Angeles.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 4:31 PM

Oh, the shiny sparkling lure of a big city's glamor. It's proving irresistible to Richmond restaurateurs.

East Grace Street’s Rappahannock is the latest restaurant with owners planning another version out of town. Ryan and Travis Croxton, who also own Rappahannock Oyster Co., will open Rappahannock Oyster Bar in Los Angeles, California.

“We get solicitations all the time for different places,” says Travis Croxton. “But after [plans to open in] Charleston and then the Wharf in D.C., we were done.”

But the setting on offer changed the Croxtons’ minds.

“We like going into old places and like being a part of restoring downtowns,” he says.

The future spot will be in the old Los Angeles terminal market. Produce from all over California used to arrive there to be loaded onto trucks that would head out across the country. It’s now under development by Row DTLA to house restaurants, galleries, offices and retail shops. Think of an upscale — very upscale — Union Square Market in Washington, and you get the drift.

A branch of Tartine Bakery is moving in as well, and there are rumors — not yet confirmed — that David Baran, of Chicago’s Alinea and Next, will open his own, much-anticipated fine-dining restaurant there.

“We toured the spot,” says Croxton, “It’s 2,000 square feet and it has a little mezzanine. The whole thing is historic and fits what we do.”

The L.A. branch will make 14 restaurants for the Rappahannock Oyster Co. group.

“We figured,” he says, ‘Why the hell not?’”

Richmond Is No. 1 in Craft Breweries Per Capita

To the surprise of no one.

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 11:53 AM

According to WalletHub,* Richmond has the most craft breweries and wineries per capita in the entire country. This is impressive when you consider that we don’t even have any wineries within the city limits. Specifically, there are 10.44 craft breweries per 100,000 residents.

This isn’t a surprise — we’ve all known that if you threw a rock, you’d probably hit a local brewery. (Not that I’m advocating it. Keep your rocks to yourselves.)

It’s not quite so impressive when you realize that we’re tied at No. 1 with San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Tampa, Florida, Cincinnati and Denver — we’re just not as special as we think. But given our size compared with the other cities, we’re killing it.

What is surprising is our ranking for grocery stores per capita. We come in at No. 3, with 119.3 stores per 100,000. That seems like an awful lot, and I can’t imagine how crammed Cincinnati and Orlando, which tied for first place, are with parking lots, grocery carts and supermarkets.

In addition, Richmond comes in at No. 6 for restaurants per capita. That means we have 6.9 per 100,000 people — and that seems a little low to me. Miami, Orlando, Florida, Atlanta, Las Vegas and Pittsburgh all come in ahead of us. (Pittsburgh? Really?)

Our ranking for access to healthy options is shameful: No. 115. That should be our real focus. Former Ukrop’s and Martin’s executive Jim Scanlon is working on it — he's planning to open a Jim's Local Market in the East End, although no timeline has been announced. Still, one store is a drop in the bucket.

In short, WalletHub says that Richmond overall is the 9th most food-friendly city. And because the rest of the cities ranked are larger than us, I think we’re holding our own here nicely. (Pittsburgh was No. 13, FYI.)

Would you like to read more? Follow this link for the full story.

*Data used to create these rankings were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Council for Community and Economic Research, Federation of Tax Administrators, Tax Foundation, County Health Rankings and Yelp. In determining WalletHub’s sample, they considered only the city proper in each case and excluded surrounding cities in the metro area.

Legend Brewing Co. Will Open a Second Brewpub in Portsmouth

Posted By on Tue, Oct 11, 2016 at 1:00 AM

Legend Brewing Co. is expanding to Portsmouth in the spring, reports Virginia Craft Beer. The Richmond company will open an 80-seat brewpub with a 70-seat patio and a three-barrel brewing system. Instead of shipping its beer staples directly from the Richmond brewery to the new spot, Legend will use local distributor Hoffman Beverage Company.

One reason Legend chose this particular location for expansion was that it was reminiscent of the brewpub in Manchester, vice-president Dave Gott says.

“‘In Richmond, Legend Brewing Co. is known for its views,’” Virginia Craft Beer quotes Gott as saying. “‘The historical downtown Portsmouth is a good fit for us and it fits the kind of atmosphere we want for our customers.’”

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Weekly Food Notes: A Metamorphosis, Beer Expansion + New Food For Fall

Whew! No permanent closings at the moment.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 10:44 AM

Openings: There’s a new spot on Lakeside. Another Round Bar and Grill is open at 7515 Brook Road and serves the usual suspects including potato skins, plenty of wings, burgers and some fancier entrees such as salmon and filet mignon.

Re-opening: And after all the closings in the past week, it’s a relief to hear that Kanoa Latin Cuisine, at 417 W. Grace St., isn’t closing for good-- the menu is getting a makeover. In a couple of weeks, it will reemerge as Alera Mexican Restaurant. We’ll miss the arepas, but we’re glad owner Yofre Blanco is striding into the future instead of locking his doors permanently.

Bigger and Better: Strangeways Brewing is planning to open a new production plant in Fredericksburg, to the tune of $2.5 million, Richmond BizSense reports. “It’s actually the building we used to run our chain of seven clothing stores from,” founder Neil Burton, a Fredericksburg native, says.

Seasonal Changes: Lucca Enotoca has a new menu for fall, plus an expanded wine selection. New dishes include black bass with Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, and duck with cabbage, butternut squash and fig sauce.

Wine Ride: October is Virginia Wine Month, and if you use Uber to visit a winery -- no matter how remote -- you'll receive discounts on tastings, bottles and merchandise, Governor Terry McAuliffe announced.

Happenings: Acacia Mid-town has a wine dinner on planned for Thursday, Oct. 13 with winemaker Elizabeth Spencer. Chef Dale Reitzer will whip a few things such as potato gnocchi with fresh crabmeat and celery root cream, and braised boneless beef shortribs with curry carrot purée.

It’s almost time for Richmond Restaurant Week. Get ready for Oct. 24-30 when special three-course dinners will cost $29.16 a person. The event benefits FeedMore and $4.16 of the meal cost goes to the charity. This spring, FeedMore received $59,899.27 from the event.

CORRECTION: The day of Acacia Mid-town's wine dinner was originally incorrect. It will take place on Thursday, not Friday, Oct. 13.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Weekly Food Notes: the Transformation of the Old Buddy's, Alcoholic Cupcakes and More

Posted By on Wed, Sep 28, 2016 at 1:00 PM

Metzger Mourns: Metzger Bar & Butchery’s Kurt Moon died in a car accident last week. The driver of the van was charged with drunk driving and the investigation into the accident continues. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and co-workers.

Closings: Castanea, Curry Craft Bar & Restaurant, Omega Grecian Restaurant, Pomegranate and Shockoe Whiskey & Wine all closed, reports the Times-Dispatch. … And Richmond magazine reports that Lucille’s Bakery on Meadow Street is no longer open.

New Concept: The Blue Goat, at 5710 Grove Ave., will temporarily shut down at the beginning of 2017 to revamp its menu. When it reopens, it will feature Asian fare — a nod to the building’s former tenant, the Peking. The Blue Goat owner Chris Tsui has a lot of ties to the space: He started out as a busboy there, his uncle co-founded the restaurant and his father came on board later as a Peking co-owner.

Openings: The old Buddy’s building at Robinson Street and Hanover Avenue now houses Secco Wine Bar, which will open Friday, Sept. 30. … Chef Michael Hall’s Spoonbread Bistro opened for dinner and weekend brunch in the old Jorge’s Cantina space at 2526 Floyd Ave. … A new bakery, Lush, is now serving alcohol-infused cupcakes at 9963 Orchard Meadow Road in Mechanicsville. Three Notch'd Brewing Co. is open for business in Scott's Addition. ... Sen, serving Vietnamese small plates made with organic ingredients, opened in the old Dixie Donuts building in Carytown, reports RVAHub.

Coming Soon: Stella’s announced that it would open a second location in Charleston, South Carolina, to open in the spring of 2017.

Back on Track: Edward’s Virginia Smokehouse in Surry, devastated by fire in January, is again producing its award-winning ham, bacon and sausages, and everyone in Virginia is cheering.

Star Power: The Food Network tapped the Halligan Bar & Grill in Short Pump for “Ginormous Foods,” which will feature the restaurant’s Flatliner. How big is it? It comes on a six-inch bun stacked with a half-pound of hamburger burger, pulled pork, brisket, cheddar, pepper jack and onion rings. The sandwich reportedly weighs a whopping 3 pounds.

Happenings: Mississippi’s James Beard Award winner John Currence is coming to Southbound, at 3036 Stony Point Road, on Oct. 23 to promote his latest cookbook, "Big Bad Breakfast: the Most Important Book of the Day." He’ll prepare a three-course breakfast-for-dinner meal for $50 (excluding taxes and gratuity) and a copy of his book is included in the ticket price.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Pomegranate and Castanea also closed after this story originally published. It's been updated to include them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stella's Will Open a Second Location in Charleston

Richmonders no longer will be the only fortunate ones.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 10:50 AM

Stella Dikos, who's been serving her Greek food to Richmonders for decades, will be part of the new Stella's in Charleston, South Carolina. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Stella Dikos, who's been serving her Greek food to Richmonders for decades, will be part of the new Stella's in Charleston, South Carolina.

Stella’s is taking its Greek cuisine south, opening a second location next year in Charleston, South Carolina, Constantine Giavos says.

The Giavos-Dikos family is working with longtime friend Steven Niketas. Johnny and Katrina Giavos met the Charleston native 25 years ago and began to start seriously talking about a partnership over the last two months.

The new Stella’s will open in the space now occupied by Niketas’ restaurant, the Westendorff -- a sister to Mosaic restaurant in Richmond and its Mosaic Catering + Events, which also operates in Charleston. The Post and Courier’s Hanna Raskin broke the news.

“‘I’m excited about the opportunity, even though I feel like we’ve had a great run,’ says Niketas,” Raskin wrote. “In July 2015 [he] opened the Westendorff after painstakingly restoring the former Westendorff Hardware & Son structure.” He plans to close the restaurant Oct. 16. Stella’s is scheduled to open in spring 2017.

“The space is so beautiful,” says Constantine Giavos, who will design the restaurant’s interior, as he did in Richmond, “and the building is so charming.” He says there’s little to do except bring the rustic-modern feel of Richmond’s Stella’s to the new city.

“It’s a great fit for us down there,” he says. “There aren’t really any other Greek restaurants like Stella’s.”

The branding from Richmond will travel to South Carolina, as well as the menu. Chef Russ Williams of the Richmond Stella’s will open the Charleston restaurant and stay to see it up and running.

Niketas’ 80-year-old mother, Elane Yatrelis Niketas, will collaborate on cooking, as Raskin reports. Stella Dikos will be there in the beginning too.

“She’s really excited about it. And when Stella is excited about something, it’s contagious,” Giavos says. “She gave her blessing to the project and that’s the most important thing of all.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery Wins the Wahoo Cup

Or maybe the sunflowers did?

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 3:00 PM

I personally didn't see the appeal of an "all you can pick sunflower weekend," but hundreds of other people did, and they came, and they picked. I've never seen a brewery as packed as Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery in Goochland was on Saturday. Many people, myself included — I was a ceremonial judge and had no responsibilities whatsoever since the crowd voted for its favorite — were there for the 2016 Wahoo Cup, but many more people seemed to be there for the chance to pick free sunflowers.

People are strange.

Despite the sunflower fields looking as if they got dusted with a layer of Agent Orange due to the grubby hands of a never-ending procession of sunflower enthusiasts, the land that surrounds Lickinghole Creek's hilltop property — think rolling hills, meadows, green stuff — is pretty breathtaking.

Plus, this summer, due to the overwhelming demand for flowers that last for two days after you pick them, Lickinghole Creek added three huge new fields dedicated solely to sunflowers. And literally thousands of Richmonders made the 45-minute drive because we all know sunflower field pictures clean up on the Gram. I got 31 likes myself.

Oh, and there was beer! Good beer!

The Wahoo Cup is in its second year and judging by the crowd of people drinking in orange shirts this past Saturday, it will remain an awesome and charitable event for the foreseeable future.

“We wanted to capitalize on the craft beer uprising — which hasn't died down, surprisingly — and feature two cities that U.VA. people in Richmond would support,” says University of Virginia Club of Richmond member, attorney and co-organizer of the event, Mathew Taylor. 

(Taylor also mentioned that the event, as all great ideas are, was born in a bar over drinks.)

The Wahoo Cup pits four Richmond breweries against four Charlottesville breweries, and Richmond was represented by Strangeways Brewing, the Answer Brewpub, Kindred Spirit Brewing and Lickinghole Creek.

Charlottesville was represented by, Blue Mountain Brewery (technically in Afton, but we’ll let that slide), Champion Brewing Co., South Street Brewery and Three Notch'd Brewing Co.

Tasting cups were available, or — and I wouldn’t recommend it — you could buy eight full beers and go to town. Some people did just that. I only hope they could remember where they put their sunflowers.

In the end, the home farm ended up bringing the Wahoo Cup back to Richmond with a slim majority of the crowd voting for Lickinghole Creek's Carrot Cake Imperial Amber Ale. I had one —and it was excellent — but were the voters were perhaps swayed by the bushel of free sunflowers wilting in their car’s backseat? We can never know that answer for sure.

But it wasn’t all drinking and picking flowers. Lickinghole Creek gave a dollar per beer to the Wahoo Cup’s charity, Children of Fallen Patriots, which provides college scholarships and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. It’s a cool charity. The event raised over a thousand dollars.

Lickinghole Creek is a pretty cool place, too. Unfortunately, this appeared on their website the day after the Cup: “Due to an amazing turnout, 99% of the sunflower field has been picked. There may be some sunflowers left, but they are small and spread out over a very large field.”

You people are vultures!

P.S. The heavy U.Va. alumni crowd watched their football team drop another game and fall to a grim 0-3. People didn't seem that upset though, because, you know, sunflowers and beer.

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