Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Short Order

All of Richmond's getting pickled.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 26, 2011 at 4:00 AM

An array of Bonvenu’s pickled fruits and vegetables makes it to market twice a month. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • An array of Bonvenu’s pickled fruits and vegetables makes it to market twice a month.

Summer lasts longer and tastes better with a little vinegar mixed in. Variations on pickled produce are all over town, including tangy versions of not-your-grandma’s relish at the Black Sheep, Balliceaux and Lemaire, among others. It’s on the menu at Carytown’s Bonvenu as well, where owner Susan Doyle and her mother, Martha Stewart (not that one), also are bringing the goods to market.

Twice a month they sell the restaurant’s house-made soups, desserts and bread, along with pickled beets, radishes, asparagus, apples and jalapenos at the St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church farmers’ market on Saturday mornings. And in other market news, doughnut lovers are swooning over Mrs. Yoder’s sourdough doughnuts at the South of the James market. They’re cut, shaped, fried and glazed on site, and even at $2 apiece are flying out of the booth and setting Twitter on fire.

Brunch beautiful: The preacher can’t compete with five kinds of bacon and house-made hot sauce at the Bloody Mary bar during Sunday brunch at Balliceaux, 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Dishes include the proper fry-up, smoked bluefish-cake Benedict, duck leg and waffle, zucchini bread French toast, and tofu scramble with falafel. Or, if the hangover-helper platters aren’t enough, Sunday supper is a later option at one of Richmond’s best-designed restaurants. 203 N. Lombardy St. 355-3008. balliceauxrva.com.

Morning buzz: If it’s too early for cupcakes, a selection of muffins, scones, frittatas, cinnamon rolls and coffee cake — including vegan and gluten-free options — is now being served at Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe. Breakfast hours are 7:30-10 a.m. or so, Monday through Saturday; then cupcakes in all their variations start to fill the cases about 10:30. Pearl’s is at 5810 Grove Ave. 285-2253. pearlscupcakeshoppe.com.

Patio for people plus: It’s dog friendly outside Great Seasons in the Shoppes at Bellgrade in Midlothian. Chef Reece Roberts (Franco’s, Cabo’s, Fanhouse) is adding basil from his garden in the prosciutto roll with Hanover tomatoes and fresh mozzarella; other dishes include soft-shell crabs, house-ground Angus burgers at lunch, nightly dinner specials and fresh fruit desserts from sous chef Kyle Midgett. A new Sunday brunch menu is on the way as the catering business develops its sit-down options in a suburban center that’s catching renewed interest among diners in the neighborhood. 11400 W. Huguenot Road. 594-7008. seasoningsfinecatering.com.

Family first: A two-course, $14, family-style dinner is now a regular Monday night feature at Europa Italian Café and Tapas Bar. Diners choose a salad or antipasto plate and pick a pasta from a hearty list, with a dessert option for an extra $5 per person. Dinner is served 5-10 p.m. at 1409 E. Cary St. europarichmond.com.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Short Order

Part 2 of Richmond's new restaurant mania.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Goree African Restaurant is dressed and ready to open, with hiring in progress in Shockoe Bottom. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Goree African Restaurant is dressed and ready to open, with hiring in progress in Shockoe Bottom.

Last week we ran through a list of new restaurant openings, but there are more in the offing. Here are some to salivate or speculate over, with a few interesting additional announcements on the way:

Goree African Restaurant: Orange African textiles dress the tables, and a grand opening is imminent for this new Shockoe Bottom business at 1823 E. Main St. Lamb and chicken dibi, kebabs, firir (fried fish with onion sauce), mechoui (marinated, stuffed lamb), cere (fine millet cous cous) and other dishes, including appetizers and drinks such as dakhar (tamarind juice), give the lunch and dinner menu African culinary heritage. 269-5375. goreerestaurant.com.

Margarita’s Cantina: The painted logo and “opening soon” banners have been in place for a while, the cardboard cutout of some guy in the window, and a Mexican menu brings some competition to the neighborhood at the former Zuppa spot on 18th Street in Shockoe Bottom.

2113 Main: The website pitch makes this red-painted building seem ultra-cosmopolitan. It promises to become the city’s first restro-lounge, a communal setting for the bohemian chic with exquisite food and unparalleled service. Look for a renovated building, outdoor dining, weekday lunch, Sunday brunch, and dinner with bar and entertainment. Operators expect to add more projects here. 2113main.com.

Shockoe Lounge & Grill: Replaces the former Down Under Lounge at 11 S. 12th St.

Pasture: Construction has resumed and is about 70 percent complete, says owner Ry Marchant (Six Burner) at this downtown restaurant in the former Montaldo’s building on East Grace Street. With chef Jason Alley designing the menu, this project has food watchers on high alert. An anticipated 12-week build-out puts the opening at October.

The Hard Shell at Bellgrade: “When you walk in, you’ll know where you are,” says owner Michelle Williams about the faithful duplication of the original Shockoe Slip seafood house coming to the former Bottega Bistro in Midlothian. A new wall of windows, murals and other details are coming together under partner Jared Golden’s supervision. A September opening is expected.

Cary Street Natural: This is the working name for the next project of Williams, Golden and the Richmond Restaurant Group, in the former Glass & Powder corner space at 2934 W. Cary St. Because it’s a total gut job, this business won’t hit the market until next spring, with a lunch, dinner and late-night menu that features healthy burgers and natural foods at lower prices. richmondrestaurantgroup.com.

Riad Moroccan Grill: In the former Pasta Luna space at 8902 W. Broad St., a new Moroccan restaurant is transforming the two-level space. Mega-owner David Gil (multiple units of Mariachi’s Mexican Grill and Plaza Azteca) expects to open this fall, with his Moroccan-born wife working the kitchen.

Phil’s: A new version of the old Westhampton standby is coming to life in the former Arcade Café space next to Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe, one block from the previous Phil’s. Owners Kyle and Katie Measell promised regulars they’d reopen nearby; this project is expected to open by mid-September at 5810 Grove Ave.

Former Phil’s: Likely to be called the Continental Lounge, this new Johnny Giavos project is just beginning construction at 5704 Grove Ave. The new business is expected to open by the end of the year.

The Halligan Bar: The beloved firefighter bar brings its second act to West Broad Village in Short Pump, and followers can expect more links in the chain. Larger quarters, a full-size fire truck and all the trimmings promise to make the Short Pump spot easier for families to pack in for the barbecue and comfort food in a memorable and lively setting. Opening early in 2012 at 2451 Old Brick Road, across from Dave & Buster’s.

Sedona Taphouse: An upscale venue for craft beer and live music is coming to Westchester Commons in Chesterfield County, expected to open this fall. VIP memberships, investment opportunities, tastings and seminars, and the lure of “Richmond’s first sophisticated craft beer house” with a 550-beer menu make this one of the more ambitious projects in that area. sedonataphouse.com.


Louisiana Flair: Closing at the end of July. Chef Nate Sams says he simply ran out of money and regulars when neighboring downtown businesses began to lay off workers. The business at 322 E. Grace will serve breakfast and lunch daily, except Saturday, for another couple of weeks.

The Triple at 3306 W. Broad St. posted a sign that it closed July 10. The restaurant with bar and pool tables was a nightlife fixture in the museum district for several years.


South African wine: Tarrant’s Café downtown holds a wine dinner July 26, and also now has valet parking nightly. 1 W. Broad St. 225-0035. tarrantscaferva.com.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Short Order

Summer brings more than a dozen new dining options to Richmond.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2011 at 4:00 AM

The bacon-wrapped, deep-fried jumbo hot dog at the new Hogshead Cafe is topped with pulled pork barbecue, sauce and slaw. - ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel
  • The bacon-wrapped, deep-fried jumbo hot dog at the new Hogshead Cafe is topped with pulled pork barbecue, sauce and slaw.

No Doldrums

Summer may be traditionally slow in the restaurant biz, but that's not stopping more than a dozen owners from rolling out new dining options around town. Add these to the 1,200-plus independents already here and realize, once again, how saturated Richmond has become with restaurants — and how much their owners desire your business, stat.

A rundown:

Hogshead Cafe: Brings wood-smoked barbecue and ribs, house-made sauces and desserts, and cozy familiarity to a new 35-seat space at 9503 W. Broad St. Owners Kim and Steve Logue are serious about customer satisfaction, and their menu strays beyond the usual. The bacon-wrapped jumbo beef hot dog is deep fried and topped with pulled pork; the Cuban hog sandwich, smoked salmon Caesar salad, build-your-own burger and little piglets menu are among the choices. Hogarita cocktails, wines and beers are specifically chosen to compliment the barbecue, a tweaked Memphis dry rub cooked over apple- and cherry wood on an Oklahoma smoker. Lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays. 308-0281.

Benny's BBQ: Just opened in the Stony Point Shopping Center, this former Stratford Hills landmark has a much larger space that seats 150, an expanded menu and the delayed gratification of owner Richard Cacciotti, who's finally turned a lost lease into a better deal. Closed Sundays. 3044 Stony Point Road, No. 23. 320-7447. bennysbbqonline.com.

The Citizen: A stealth project in the even less-known former Clayton's at 909 E. Main St. has just opened with a top local chef. Greg Johnson, former sous chef at Amuse in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, has taken over the downtown cafe and quietly opened a breakfast and lunch spot in a lower-level space in the Mutual Building. Fresh local eggs in $5 omelets, Victory Farms salad greens dressed in basil vinaigrette, and tortas such as pulled pork with cabbage for $5.75, and sides of roasted beets, curried chickpea stew, braised greens and cumin potatoes show that food is front and center. Johnson has been cooking in Richmond for 28 years and is finally in the ownership role. Hi counter-service cafe holds just 22 seats, but outdoor dining is in the plans, with eventual beer and wine offerings as things take off. 780-9098.

Ejay Rin Noodle Bar: Two leading chefs, an affordable premise, an underserved neighborhood, a cool and casual setting with indoor and outdoor appeal — it's a ticket ready to be punched in Manchester. Bill Foster and Andy Howell expect to open their joint venture inspired by Momofuku this week in the Corrugated Box Building, 201 W. Seventh St. 745-6488.

M Bistro & Wine Bar: Opening this week for lunch, with dinner hours to follow, this project from chef Michael Hall is the third dining spot in Rocketts Landing. Fine French comfort cuisine with southern touches in a contemporary space with retail section for gourmet comestibles and wines. Closed Mondays. 652-2300. mbistro-rocketts.com.

The Magpie: In Carver, a handcrafted redesign of the former Leigh Street Bar & Grill nears completion. Chef and owner Owen Lane (Stronghill Dining Co., the Track) and his fiancee, Tiffany Gellner, are refining the menu and drink list, and building a following for an interior that showcases the carpentry talents of Big John Bullen, former Helen's chef, and a team of creative people intent on bringing something unusual to the market. 1301 W. Leigh St. 269-0023. themagpierva.com.

Selba: Now hiring at 2416 W. Cary St., this ambitious new contemporary restaurant with a garden room, full bar, locally sourced, healthy cuisine and a mission-minded staff will serve dinner nightly except Mondays, and weekend brunch. selbarichmond.com.

Olio Downtown: The gourmet bistro and market in the Fan gets its second location downtown at 600 E. Main St. in the former Just Willie's cafe. Look for weekday lunch hours for Olio's well-regarded deli sandwiches, salads and other fresh fare. It's expected to open this week. oliorichmond.com.

La Parisienne Bistro and Café: Bona fide French cuisine and wines in the sparkling Williams Mullen building, opening by August for quick-service weekday breakfast, lunch and wine bar happy hours, with dinner service Thursday evenings. Live jazz occasionally, European finesse from Belgian chef Cedric Payne. Owner Ali Benhamed, a former hotelier, says he's almost ready to unveil the 60-seat interior for a more-than-ready clientele. 200 S. 10th St. 225-0225.

Station 2: From the owners of Baja Bean Co., this newly renovated former firehouse is Shockoe Bottom's answer to burgers and brews. Local products, affordable pricing, neighborhood appeal and a colorful in-and-out interior, plus experienced operators, give this spot an advantage. 2016 E. Main St. 249-4702. station2richmond.com.

The Roosevelt: Hiring is in progress, final touches are being added, and permits are being granted at this new cafe from chef Lee Gregory (Six Burner) and Kendra Feather (Ipanema Café, Garnett's). A retro-inspired update on the former Que Pasa space at 623 N. 25th St., this neighborhood charmer is high on the hot list for its culinary team and its handcrafted concept and execution. Opening any day now. rooseveltrva.com.

Buz and Ned's: After a series of delays, construction resumes at the former Fuddrucker's, 8205 W. Broad St. near Parham Road. Buz Grossberg says he switched architect and contractors for the new, larger, second location for his popular barbecue. "Everyone was hand selected for their honesty, ethics, integrity, construction experience, financial stability and realistic bid pricing given the law of supply and demand in the construction industry today," Grossberg tells Style Weekly in an email. "Henrico County approved a new building permit and we will commence construction any day now. Completion will take 120 days." buzandneds.com.

Stella's: Work is nearly complete at this new brick building at 1012 Lafayette St., and permits are in progress. Stella Dikos, high in the culinary pantheon of Richmond, is namesake of this third location for her Greek-inspired restaurant, opening by late summer or sooner.

Next week, more restaurants in the works for Richmond.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Short Order

The new Thai Corner is more than welcome in Jackson Ward

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2011 at 4:00 AM

Michael Ng, whose tongue-in-cheek business card lists his blood type as MSG, is a Hong Kong native whose Thai-born wife helps run the new Thai Corner in Jackson Ward. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Michael Ng, whose tongue-in-cheek business card lists his blood type as MSG, is a Hong Kong native whose Thai-born wife helps run the new Thai Corner in Jackson Ward.

The building is 100 years old, the cooking traditions are ancient, but the attitude is casually youthful at downtown’s newest cafe, Thai Corner. This Jackson Ward 30-seater, at Second and Marshall streets, is a long time coming for owners Michael and Dana Ng. They see the business as a gateway to the neighborhood, and are working with the city to clean up the streets and give an owner-occupied presence to a growing food destination.

“This is about the area. We want everyone to succeed,” Ng says, reeling off the names of nearby restaurants, including his tenant at Nate’s Truck Stop next door. At Thai Corner, “we are serving good food at a reasonable price,” particularly the Thai beef noodle soup, a variation on Vietnamese pho, priced at $6.95. Stir-fried noodles, curries and rice dishes show the kitchen’s Thai-to-Chinese repertoire, a sit-down version of Ng’s successful Thai Cabin food carts downtown.

In the cafe, he’s retained a section of mottled wall color to show the building’s history, and added bamboo, burlap and warm colors in a cost-conscious updating that shows off the simple, fresh foods and fruity drinks. Thai Corner offers counter-service weekday lunch until 3:30 p.m. and may add dinner hours on First Fridays.

327 N. Second St. 343-2009.

First taste of Blue Goat: In an opening-night benefit July 6, urban gastro-pub the Blue Goat will donate all proceeds to the Richmond Children’s Hospital and Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now. Tickets are $75 for a spread of hors d’oeuvres by chef and partner Kevin LaCivita, and can be purchased for cash only at Osaka Sushi & Steak River Road, or Wild Ginger. The Blue Goat opens for dinner service July 7. 5710 Grove Ave. 288-8875.

State dinner stand-up: If there ever was a reason to spend $250 for a benefit dinner, it’s the Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond’s 2011 Savor event set for Oct. 1. Chef Roland Mesnier, the longest tenured chef ever to serve the White House, promises guests they’ll get an authentic state dinner experience with all the finesse and precision a president would expect. Entertainment will be the hilariously intimate storytelling of the French Legion of Honor member Mesnier, who knows how to work a room as well as a pastry table. Some of Richmond’s top chefs will work the line; planning has been under way for more than a year. See hhhrichmond.org for details on this unusual evening and the cause it supports.

Marinara on cue: Local food blogger Matt Sadler is announcing a barbecue crawl to be held July 9. Tickets are $50 for a bus tour and tasting at some of the area’s favorite barbecue joints, and no doubt a running commentary from some of the city’s liveliest eaters. Details at themarinara.com.

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