Short Order 

This Week: Opening and Urban Farmhouse, an Italian feast for ALL senses and more.

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First Taste

Long lunch lines in the first wintry days of business helped the Urban Farmhouse at 13th and Cary streets get off to a strong start earlier this month. Seems that Martin Agency staffers were ready for a new hangout, and a contingent of local bloggers, office and government workers stopped in to check the place out.

The business is a counter-service affair with coffees and baked goods, a concise menu of sandwiches, salads and soups, and a wall of packaged foodstuffs that in future seasons will be augmented with crates of local produce and market items. Seating is a mix of sofas and tables arrayed in a sunny corner storefront that's an excellent perch for people watching. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee. 1217 E. Cary St. 325-3988. theurbanfarmhouse.net. 

Feast for the eyes: It all began when James Parrish of the Richmond Moving Image Co-op dropped into Mamma 'Zu to talk with chef and owner Ed Vasaio about the connection between great films and great food. Now their collaboration, the seventh annual Italian Film and Food Festival, is a tasty rite of winter. See for yourself Feb. 20 at Plant Zero. rmicweb.org.

Mushroom mania: Lemaire is rolling out a series of monthly farm-to-table dinners featuring local growers. Dave and Dee's Mushrooms are first up, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. They'll interact with guests while sharing a three-course menu highlighting their products paired with other regional foods. The cost is $50 per person, tax and gratuity extra, with discounts on wine. Reservations are required; seating is limited. See lemairerestaurant.com or lemairerestaurant.com/food.aspx or call 649-4629 for information.


To Style: Where's the Money?

Last year I reported how Karsen's took my $50 gift certificate money the week before Christmas and closed shortly after Jan 1. Never to be heard from again. Goodbye, $50.

This year it is Verbena — same song, second verse. The week before Christmas it took my $50 and gave me a gift certificate, which the people there had to know they would never honor. … I think the owners of these places ... knew what they were about to do, and wanted every dollar they could get their hands on, and Christmas gift certificates were easy cash. Just hang in there until the first of the year before closing your doors.

Different song for the folks at 1 North Belmont. The week before Christmas they would not take my money, saying they were out of gift certificates. Thanks guys.

Style Weekly knows who all of these people are. If they try to open a new restaurant, I think Style owes it to readers to report that they were they former owners of X and ask them what they plan to do about outstanding gift certificates from their former restaurant. Thanks.

Richard Alford

Update: Verbena responds.

Now that the dust is settling with the sale of Verbena, I read the "Where's My Money" section of Style [Short Order, February 17, 2010] today and realized I had not properly communicated, as I should have, to Verbena's loyal customers that we had closed. I would like to rectify any lack of communication or miscommunication with those individuals that may have purchased gift certificates and not have redeemed them, as I have been in contact with some previous clients about this. 

I have offered two options: redeem them at either Cha-Cha's or Lucky Buddha, or receive a refund for the value. Please call Cha-Cha's at (804) 726-6296 during the hours of 2 to 4p.m. Monday through Friday with any questions.

Sincerely,

David Bess
Former Owner of Verbena

Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene? Send it to shortorder@styleweekly.com.

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