Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Short Order

This Week: A Magpie dinner party and an Iron Fish switch-up.

Posted on Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 4:00 AM

click to enlarge Fried soft shell crab on gnocchi with escargot, bok choy and tomato-saffron broth is one of The Magpie’s fish of the day specials. - ASH DANIEL
  • Ash Daniel
  • Fried soft shell crab on gnocchi with escargot, bok choy and tomato-saffron broth is one of The Magpie’s fish of the day specials.

Dinner Party

Satisfaction comes in many forms, but one of the sweetest is when a nine-month project brings a couple even closer together, and culminates in shared tears of joy. It isn’t exactly a baby, but the Magpie, a neo-Victorian treasure box of a gastro-pub in Carver, has all the attributes of a long-awaited birth. “I had a vision,” co-owner Tiffany Gellner says. “We really wanted it to be a place like we are having a dinner party at our house — comfortable, where people are enjoying themselves, where they can relax and have a glass of wine or two. Owen and I are very interactive with our customers.”

Owen Lane, a chef who’s worked toward this goal for years, acknowledges that it was an ass-busting construction process to turn a low-key bar and grill into a personalized statement as unique and intimate as possible. “We knew that if we opened something in Richmond,” he says, “it would have to be unusual.”

The menu shows it: seared antelope with rosemary grits, collards and blackberry sauce, grilled baby octopus with smoked Vidalia onions and sweet corn cream, corn dog-style lobster tail on a stick with tomato-coconut and horseradish-mango sauces, and the inspired conversation starter — heirloom tomato salad with basil and fresh mozzarella ice cream. Duck breast, house-made fettuccini, fish of the day with gnocchi and escargot, rib-eye, braised pork, veal sweetbreads and other delicacies round out a sophisticated selection of small plates ($7-$12) and entrees ($19-$29).

The 30-seat space is outfitted with old-fashioned light fixtures, hand-painted surfaces, a scrolling red banquette, a stuffed magpie and enough visual details to linger over. Select wines and beers, signature cocktails and creativity in the kitchen show the extreme focus of a chef and his front-of-house fiancee who know exactly what they want. They’ve been busy every night since opening in late July. Dinner and drinks Tuesday through Saturday, 4-11 p.m. 1301 W. Leigh St. 269-0023.

White Anchovie out, Iron Fish in

In one of the fastest switch-ups in Richmond restaurant history, a new identity, menu and kitchen staff have turned the not quite three-month old White Anchovie into the Iron Fish, at 3061 Lauderdale Drive.

Chef and partner Todd Manley introduced a new menu at the Henrico restaurant last week, with dishes such as curried blue crab mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, pan-seared barramundi and other small and entree-sized plates ranging from $6 – 25. The new restaurant’s motto is “fresh fish and local farms by Pescados” and emphasizes colorful, accessible food that is a response to customer requests, Manley says. “I feel pretty confident” about the retooling, he adds, acknowledging that recent lukewarm reviews of the White Anchovie were a factor, but not the deciding point, in the changes. Chef Matthew Tlusty, a former partner in the venture, is developing another project.

Iron Fish is serving dinner Tuesday through Saturday as it makes the transition.

Taste Alert

A Summer Tasting Menu comes to the Positive Vibe Café courtesy of guest chefs Walter Bundy and Aaron Cross of Lemaire on Aug. 29 at 6 p.m. This is an occasion to support the Vibe’s training program for people with disabilities, while experiencing the cafe’s unique warmth and the work of some of Richmond’s finest chefs.

With each course matched to a Rodney Strong Vineyards wine, the menu pulls from local purveyors. Yellow squash bisque, chilled tomato salad, herb-roasted wild rockfish with Bundy’s special V-10 broth, black Angus strip loin with roasted Vidalia onions and grits, and black mission figs with ice cream demonstrate the chefs’ enthusiasm for summer flavors and their support of the cafe’s mission. $100 per person. Reservations at 560-9622. 2825 Hathaway Road. positivevibecafe.com.

Now Serving

The Roosevelt: Casual reincarnation of Church Hill beauty with seafood, meats, desserts, adventurous and familiar foods, top chef, expert service, full bar. Dinner and drinks Tuesday-Saturday. 623 N. 25th St. 658-1935. rooseveltrva.com.

The Blue Goat: Relaxed, Euro-inspired dining, charcuterie, paté, seafood, nose-to-tail cooking; cocktails, patio in new Westhampton landmark. Dinner and bar Monday-Saturday. 5710 Grove Ave. 288-8875. bluegoatva.com.

Ejay Rin Noodle Bar: Pork buns, rice bowls, soups and small plates; wine and beer, patio, chef-owned contemporary Asian cafe. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. 201 W. Seventh St. in the Corrugated Box Building. 745-6488. ejayrin.com.

M Bistro & Wine Bar: French-meets-Southern cuisine from chef Michael Hall; breakfast to dinner specialties; wines and gourmet items, house-baked breads and pastries, coffee. Summer hours: Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 652-2300. mbistro-rocketts.com.

Selba: Health-aware casual dining with garden room, separate smoking lounge, piano, full bar. Seasonal, local foods and wines. Dinner and bar Tuesday-Sunday, weekend brunch. Closed Monday. 2416 W. Cary St. 358-2229. selbarichmond.com.

Benny’s BBQ: Ribs, brisket, burgers, salads, onion rings, platters and Southern sides. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. Full bar, friendly service. 3044 Stony Point Road. 320-7447. bennysbbqonline.com.

Citizen: Chef-prepared weekday breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups, salads, house-made sauces and dressings, meat and veg options. Small lower-level space in Mutual Building. 909 E. Main St. 804-780-9038.


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