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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Short Order

RVA Food News: Saison preview, Burger Bach brunch + more.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Sara Kerfoot is flanked by Jay Bayer, Adam Hall, Chris Elford and Patrick Moran at Saison, opening soon in Jackson Ward and promising something distinctive in an ever-savvier food city. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Sara Kerfoot is flanked by Jay Bayer, Adam Hall, Chris Elford and Patrick Moran at Saison, opening soon in Jackson Ward and promising something distinctive in an ever-savvier food city.

It's no secret that restaurant watchers who used to just speculate now track progress of new food businesses through social media. Facebook shots of owners hoisting things into place, close-ups of decorative details or new nitrogen tap systems — these are the mileposts that keep a future fan base interested and owners motivated while they strain through months and money preparing for opening night.

In the case of Saison, in Jackson Ward's former Marshall Street Café and Jazz Bistro, things online and in person are moving more quickly than usual. After a few months of start-up, the gastro-pub opens this week. The trick is to buy a business with an existing ABC license and to have professional experience — with perhaps supernatural confidence in the plan, the concept and the players.

Saison is owned by Jay Bayer and Adam Hall, who worked together at Capital Ale House and taught themselves to brew beer at home. Their new business is "one of the few spots on the East Coast with a Siebel Institute-certified brewer and a certified cicerone," Bayer says. A cicerone is a beer service expert, similar to a wine sommelier.

Hall, who runs the kitchen, intends to "blend Latin American and Southern foods," he says. "We see a lot of similarities and natural progressions to play with." He's testing bourbon and chicken-liver pâté, short ribs on grits with scallion sauce and bull's blood, and peanut pie with sorghum ice cream and salt brittle. Lavender black bean cassoulet with confit pork and other small plates can pair well with saison-style beer, always on draft at the bar.

Beverage manager Chris Elford brings New York experience to the equation and promises "Richmond's most varied, nuanced" drinks, no small feat in a town where libations show increasing finesse and invention. Elford's house-made mixers, herbs grown on site and "playful and refreshing" cocktails are a key feature at Saison's bar, which holds a dozen patrons; another 30 seats at tables fill the textured, rustic interior, installed by the owners. Naturally, all is visible online. Dinner will be served Tuesday through Sunday; lunch and brunch hours are coming soon. 23 W. Marshall St. 397-5226. saisonrva.com.

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Drink it off: They're hiring tasting-room servers at the area's newest brewery, Center of the Universe Brewing in Ashland. Brothers Chris and Phil Ray turned their home-beer making obsession into a business that opened last weekend. Beer tastings and tours are coming soon to 11293 Air Park Road, in what was once the Hanover Herald-Progress newspaper building. From their mission statement: "It is our responsibility to understand and appreciate how our actions affect the community that supports us," so they're using all-natural methods and keeping the focus on craft and citizenship. See more at cotubrewing.com.

Breakfast of champions: Burger Bach — remember it's pronounced "batch," as in bachelor pad — starts weekend brunch Dec. 1, with eggs and sandwiches Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The gastro-pub with table service also has a new 16-tap beer system to cater to craft-beer enthusiasts, who'll notice brews for the season include a milk stout that's a bit sweet, and other dark and local products. 10 S. Thompson St. 359-1305. burgerbach.com.

Looking at another you: Bogart's in the Fan has some staff changes and a new chef, Joshua Hamilton, who's revamping the menu at the longtime live music bar and grill. The kitchen serves "accessible" entrees and sandwiches nightly until midnight. Brunch is 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, bands play most nights of the week and "some pretty good singers" come for karaoke on Mondays. 1903 W. Cary St. 353-9280. bogartsinthefan.net.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Short Order

RVA Food News: Baking on the Hill, Fat Dragon opens, breakfast at Moore Street + More.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Evrim and Evin Dogu bring sibling and cultural pride to their work running Sub Rosa Wood Fired Bakery in Church Hill, the city's hottest culinary destination lately. Nearby, folks lined the block for the opening of Proper Pie Company. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Evrim and Evin Dogu bring sibling and cultural pride to their work running Sub Rosa Wood Fired Bakery in Church Hill, the city's hottest culinary destination lately. Nearby, folks lined the block for the opening of Proper Pie Company.

Church Hill is a magnet for food excellence these days, with three new businesses opening in the same month and others on the way. In addition to Sub Rosa Wood Fired Bakery, now quartered at 620 N. 25th St., customers are flocking to WPA Bakery and Proper Pie Co. for baked items that span the ages and the continents. All three long-awaited openings managed to intersect in November — just in time for holiday stuffing.

Sub Rosa's hearty breads sold out at the Byrd House Market as quickly as baker Evrim Dogu could bring them to a cult following of subscribers. Now he and his sister Evin have expanded the business repertoire beyond their Turkish roots to include tarts, rolls and other items in a renovated building that's warmed by the wood-fired stove and the owners' artisanal integrity. subrosabakery.com.

A few blocks southeast, nostalgic appeal starts with aromas coming from WPA Bakery, where co-owner David Rohrer bakes sticky buns, canelés, muffins and other sweets and, by special order, whole pies and cakes. His work is well regarded around town, particularly at co-owner Kendra Feather's restaurants Ipanema Cafe, Garnett's and the Roosevelt. At WPA, which stands for Well Made Pastry Alliance, customers can linger with coffee and pastries at tables in the vintage storefront. (Nearby, a show of Rohrer's paintings opens at the end of November in Eric Schindler Gallery.) Open daily from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. at 2707 E. Marshall St. 716-9797. wpabakery.com.

Proper Pie Co. brings the fun of a New Zealand culinary staple to 2505 E. Broad St. The cool, straightforward charm of the counter-style setup reflects the upbeat energy of owners Neil Smith (whose accent has its own fan base) and Nikki Price. Theirs is a food adventure for local palates, with meat-based pies and fruity desserts, all with tender, house-made crusts. Smith promises to educate those who don't know about the portable snacks and their many variations. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Wednesdays–Sundays.

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New Patina: After a quick turnaround, the slightly renamed Patina Restaurant & Bar opened last week at 3416 Lauderdale Drive in the Shops at Wellesley. New owner Greer Bernstein introduces a redecorated space for chef Kyle Cox's European comfort food; he worked at Lemaire and the Blue Goat and collaborated with consulting chef Johnny Maher of Spoon for the new Short Pump venture. Its motto is "a fresh look at the farm to table tradition" and features a wealth of local fish and shellfish, meats and produce for dinner and bar menus. Dinner and bar menus Tuesday-Sunday. 360-8500. patinarva.com.

Boulevard beauty: Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen is open at 1200 N. Boulevard with daily dim sum, Cantonese cuisine with local ingredients and menu twists on classics with an emphasis on natural and sustainable methods. A bar with craft beer on 24 taps, a late-night menu, and casual chic design from Eat Restaurant Partners (Blue Goat, Osaka Sushi and Steak, and Wild Ginger) add a new food and drink destination to the neighborhood. Dinner and bar Tuesday through Saturday, brunch on Sunday, closed Monday. 354-9888. fatdragonrva.com.

Chef change: Shaun Watts, well known at several local kitchens, takes the helm of Conch Republic, the restaurant and bar at Rocketts Landing. Watts is known for his way with seafood, which is a major menu feature at the bustling riverside establishment.

Luncheon orders: Avenue 805 has re-introduced lunch hours; the Fan District hideaway at 805 N. Davis Ave. now serves soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas and hearty entrees weekdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. See lunch, dinner and brunch menus and details at avenue805.net.

Winner from Williamsburg: An area chef won top prizes at the World Food Championships earlier this month in Las Vegas. Travis Brust, executive chef at the Williamsburg Inn, won the world chef challenge and was a third-place winner in a category called final table, for his fennel-dusted rockfish with bitter greens and oyster ragout.

Scott's addition with eggs: Moore Street Café now serves breakfast on Saturdays, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. at 2904 W. Moore St. 359-5970.

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Short Order

RVA Food News: Floating restaurant, the Rogue Gentlemen, Lincoln's foodie + more.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 13, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Flatheads, the floating (but not moving) restaurant east of downtown is ready to open any day now, with lap robes and fire pits to keep customers warm by the dock. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Flatheads, the floating (but not moving) restaurant east of downtown is ready to open any day now, with lap robes and fire pits to keep customers warm by the dock.

Bad weather has slowed but not stopped the city's only floating restaurant, Flatheads, from opening later this month. The former trawler, now named Celebration, is docked near Rockett's Landing at the Intermediate Terminal. It won't move during service but is moored near a party zone with outdoor seating, fire pits and a tailgate atmosphere with sports on a big-screen television, beer and cocktails, and an up-close view of the James.

Operators Matt Gleason and Anita Salomonsky will serve gumbo and crawfish boils, kebabs and burgers, seafood, salads and big sandwiches such as the Flatheads, with fried catfish and crabmeat on French bread. Most items cost $10 or less, and the menu will change according to demand, season and whim, Gleason says. "I love exploring with food and we will experiment," the culinary school graduate says of his kitchen team. A full bar, décor that pays tribute to the river, and enough seating for 100 guests will "be a fun place for people to enjoy the river, a beautiful asset for Richmond," Gleason adds. The business will operate daily at 3125 Wharf St. 543-8388.

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Mustache and glass: A sly pre-marketing campaign for a new bar is stirring up interest because it's vague and unusual. Last week a mustachioed man dropped off postcards and matches at local media outlets, leaving an intentional wake of curiosity. From the card, this missive:

November 1, 1916

William — Today, all of Virginia has gone dry. Those so-called temperance advocates at the Anti-Saloon League have gone too far. The prohibition of alcohol is an assault on our freedom that looks to spread across our great nation. I'm not sure how, but we will make this city WET once more, by legal means or otherwise … Robert

An animated website, theroguegentlemen.com, opens with the password "wet" but reveals only the date, January 2013. Some speculate a saloon is coming to Jackson Ward, to the recently closed Leone's Sports Bar on Marshall Street.

Some notice that the website is pretty close to that of Rouge, the Shockoe Bottom strip club — which promises "a magnificent dining experience" in its pitch for hiring chefs. Stay tuned.

Fare in film: If the talkiness of "Lincoln" proves taxing for viewers, a tasty comic counterpoint comes from actor James Spader, who plays political operative W.N. Bilbo in the film. Bilbo is rarely shown without engaging in some sort of gustatory business — bagging fowl, cracking crabs, eating pie or having a beer thrown in his face — and his portlier-than-usual countenance is set off with purple foulard scarves and a curly wig. While in Richmond, Spader was seen frequently in Fan-area dining spots, including Amuse at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Acacia and Stuzzi, among others, talking enthusiastically about his culinary interests and keeping his Southern silhouette filled out.

Food relief: Two events featuring local chefs are in the works to benefit victims of hurricane Sandy. Pasture (416 E. Grace St., 780-0416) plays host to Shuck it Sandy on Nov. 18 and Heritage (1627 W. Main St., 353-4060) hosts a five-course dinner Nov. 19. Contact the restaurants for details.

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Short Order

RVA Food News: C&M Galley preview, Good Foods growth, incoming eateries + more.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 6, 2012 at 4:00 AM

Manny Mendez and Chris DiLauro may not have appeared in “Lincoln,” but they're featured players at their new restaurant C&M Galley Kitchen in Stratford Hills. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Manny Mendez and Chris DiLauro may not have appeared in “Lincoln,” but they're featured players at their new restaurant C&M Galley Kitchen in Stratford Hills.

As is the Richmond way, a new restaurant with familiar names attached is slammed from opening day. In the case of C & M Galley Kitchen, which almost certainly will be called just Galley, the owners are well established restaurateurs — Manny Mendez of Kuba Kuba and Chris DiLauro of Bacchus.

They get an assist from their friends Johnny and Constantine Giavos, whose fingerprints are all over the restaurant: huge portions, family prices, happy-hour come-ons (draft beers are $3), just slightly offbeat menu choices, a Fan-style atmosphere with wooden booths, a small bar and a churning crowd.

Galley, at 2805 Hathaway Road in the Stratford Hills Shopping Center, has pastas, paellas, fish tacos, burgers, barbecue and sandwiches, and chalkboard specials from $7 to about $22. It's open daily for dinner with lunch coming soon. 323-1117.

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Midnight soiree: Always in a celebratory mood, owner Paul Heitz and the folks at Amour Wine Bistro will hold a beaujolais nouveau party Wednesday, Nov. 14, starting at 11:30 p.m., and will uncork the wine at midnight. It's a French tradition to open this wine after the third Thursday in November. The following evening, a four-course dinner with duck rillettes and lamb will be paired with beaujolais wines; reservations are online at amourwinebistro.com. 3129 W. Cary St. 353-4020.

Cuban revolution: Jeff Johnson is the new executive chef at Havana '59, fresh from a private-chef stint in the Caribbean. He'll introduce a fall menu Nov. 12 with grilled morcilla sausage, trout stuffed with serrano ham, wood-grilled chicken with passion-fruit mojo, and roasted root vegetables. Dinner and bar from 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday at 16 N. 17th St. 780-2822. havana59.net.

Bulked up: Good Foods Grocery has grown in the Stony Point Shopping Center and now has the city's largest bulk foods selection plus spices, natural foods and abundant produce. Chef Michael King is overseeing both stores' delis and cafes, serving sandwiches, juices and other healthy fare weekdays. Some of the salad dressings, sandwiches and peasant bowls are reminders of King's role as vegetarian chef and owner of Grace Place and later Relish. goodfoodsgrocery.com.

Store raising: A specialty market coming to Manchester plans to sell farm produce, prepared foods from local restaurants, sundries, art and other items daily. A crowd-funding campaign at indiegogo.com is in progress for the Atlas Exchange at 721 E. Fourth St. atlasmanchester.com.

Meat-free feast: A three-course vegan dinner with members of the Vegetarian Society of Richmond comes to Pho Saigon on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 plus tip; reserve a spot at 344-4356 or at vegetarianrichmond.org.

Tastes like the holidays: Two events coming to Kitchen Thyme include a Jewish soul food cooking class with barbecue frontman Buz Grossberg on Nov. 28, and a cookie exchange with Mise en Place on Dec. 14, 6-8 p.m. Get details at kitchenthymerva.com or 396-2665.

Incoming eateries: In addition to a batch of restaurants poised to open just before the holidays, these new spots are in the works: Saison, in the former Marshall Street Café; the Viceroy, in the former Café Diem; Lemon Cuisine of India, in the former Byram's Lobster House; Culinard's Kitchen on Cary Street in the former Dora's Brazilian Grill; and Urban Farmhouse, with a second location in Midlothian.

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