Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Urban Tavern preview, Metzger Bar & Butchery + More

Posted By on Tue, Mar 18, 2014 at 4:00 AM

A Tavern Emerges

Garland Taylor opens his 10th restaurant next month, veering off the sports-bar path to create a new destination, the Urban Tavern, near Short Pump. He's taking over the former Shackleford's space at 10496 Ridgefield Parkway, removing every trace of its former décor and bringing in modern design, an emphasis on craft beer and a taste-tested menu — and the experience to know how to run it.

Taylor says the Urban Tavern "is not a geographical reference, but an experiential one," where guests will find the metal, concrete and reclaimed-wood elements of an industrial pub. Gone is the former deck, to be replaced with a patio, and the design reflects the food-and-beer pairings and full bar that are central to the concept.

Taylor created and owns three Home Team Grill sports bars and through the years ran a series of Main Street businesses (Easy Street, Coyote's, Castle Thunder) and Garland's Way in western Henrico County. He has a federal trademark on Home Team and acknowledges that the Urban Tavern brand could lead to offshoots too.

"The tuition isn't cheap," he says of the learning experience that comes with operating a successful food empire. "I want to get it right. You start doing this and you realize it costs a lot to be wrong. We think we have gotten better but we haven't cracked the code" of permanent profitability, but says his research affirms the current strategy.

The news comes on the heels of Ted Santarella's plans to open Tarrant's West nearby. Tazza Kitchen also is drawing crowds in the neighborhood, and Taylor takes note: "I am always a fan of more independent guys out here. It's friendly and I'm impressed with what Tazza is doing."

This month traditionally is Taylor's busiest for the Home Team Grills, and he hopes to open the Urban Tavern by mid-April. "We've pushed the line a few times" to get to that point, he says, but as equipment and furnishings come in and decorative elements are completed, he's nearly ready for the big reveal. Stay tuned.

Africanne again: Chef Ma Musu, long known for her African cuisine and heritage, is bringing new energy to the former Parkside Café at 3514 Forest Hill Ave. She's opening a second location and repainting is in progress. Ma Musu's buffet of traditional Southern, West African, vegetarian, African diaspora and Caribbean dishes is one of downtown's lunchtime classics at 200 E. Main St. She eschews sugar and salt in favor of nuanced spicing. An opening is expected next month.

Germanic tendencies: Metzger Bar & Butchery has sold out its initial appearance, a pop-up dinner at the Roosevelt on March 30. Chef Brittanny Anderson and Brad Hemp are opening the German-inspired restaurant and butcher shop at 801 N. 23rd St. in Church Hill this spring, promising krauts, schnitzels and more in a neighborhood that continues to attract culinary talent and customers who support it. metzgerbarandbutchery.com.

Beer and 'burbs: Brew, the Chesterfield County gastropub that successfully carved its niche, holds a Goose Island beer dinner March 20. A six-course menu of sweetbreads, strawberries, shrimp and steak, among many flavors and beers to complement them, runs $85 per guest, including tax and gratuity. Reserve at 454-0605. 6525 Centralia Road. brewgastropub.com.

Vino with Paolo: Antonio's Ristorante and Wine Bar in Chester holds a series of events this season. Of note is a guest chef appearance by Paolo Randazzo of Portico on River Road in Goochland County. He'll be joined by wine educator Carol Colby in presenting wine pairings for a multicourse Italian dinner by reservation only. The event is April 8, starting at 6:45 p.m. 11956 Ironbridge Plaza, Chester. 768-4255. antoniosandcesares.com.

King conch: Restaurateur Bob Cox is in the running for Man of the Year to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He owns Conch Republic in Rocketts Landing and is part owner of Curbside Café in the Fan. Find out more about the cause and how to donate at mwoy.org/va.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Sarahfran's Soulful St. Patrick's, Buz and Ned's New Menu + More

Posted By on Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 4:00 AM

It's been open for 10 months, but still seems to be under the radar amid Church Hill's culinary buzz. Sarahfran's Restaurant & Lounge is filling its calendar with events to bring the business to the forefront, including a St. Patrick's Day bash, networking nights, karaoke, and soon, a Sunday jazz brunch.

The long and lean building at 412 N. 25th St. was OMG Café, and has been redecorated by owner Elliott Cox, who named the business Sarahfran's after his mother. Recipes from her Guyana-based parents "all derive from family secrets," Cox says, with oxtail that is "tender till the very last drop," and seasoned chicken, plantains and soul-food standards such as cabbage and collards, waffles and wings, and macaroni and cheese. Entrees come with two sides and cost less than $15. The space can hold 100 in the two-room setting with a full bar. 343-0061.

Glass act: It's officially Virginia wine and dine month, with specials at many of the area's best, most wine-centric restaurants. Some will offer Williamsburg Winery's Adagio, the red blend of cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot grapes that won the Governor's Cup award at a ceremony last month. Virginia wines hit a sales record last year, with more than 6 million bottles sold. A list of events and activities for the Love by the Glass promotion is online at virginiawine.org.

Rib ticklers: An updated menu at longtime barbecue standout Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue brings out the spice, with jalapeño bacon and triple sliders (Broad Street location only), fried okra and pickles, and shrimp on skewers. Among the seasonal lineup, Buz's Cajun fried corn, Brunswick stew and chili are available while it's cold outside. The meats — ribs, pulled pork and brisket — remain the same top sellers as usual, and the company's Twitter followers can count on seeing a pun a day urging customers to come eat. 1119 N. Boulevard, 355-6055; 8205 W. Broad St., 346-4227. buzandneds.com.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Canal revival, Sally Bell's national nod + more.

Posted on Tue, Mar 4, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Canal Revival

Amid a burst of new energy at the Canal Walk downtown, chef Josh Loeb is keeping his head down and expectations high at the reinvigorated Casa del Barco. Loeb has risen through the ranks at some of the West Coast's most acclaimed resorts and restaurants, including the Lodge at Pebble Beach, Calif., Mary Elaine's in Scottsdale, Ariz., Pacific's Edge in Carmel, Calif., and others. He's also worked locally at A Sharper Palate and the Berkeley Hotel.

Loeb is intrigued by the opportunity at Casa to get more Richmond diners down to the location, whose waterfront setting offers a "geographic advantage," he says. "This area is unique and up-and-coming, and the Capital Trail will pass by right in front."

He says his goal is to bring "exceptional Latin cuisine with casual, approachable service, where guests can experience a wide range of flavors and amazing cocktails."

Bar manager Michael Avery, a certified sommelier, has developed a strong following for his tequila expertise.

Across the canal, chef Malcolm Mitchell is about to bring his Mint Gastropub to a new partnership with the F.W. Sullivan's group, owned by Hayden Fisher and Jake Crocker. The businesses will operate side by side at 1001 Haxall Point, with Sully's on the Canal offering a lunch, happy hour and big group atmosphere in a casual setting, and Mint doing a more intimate, upscale dinner and bar service in the evenings.

Mint leaves its location at 2501 W. Main St. in the Fan by midmonth, and is expected to open by March 28 at the Canal Walk. The Mint menu, branding and approach will be the same, Crocker says, with an eye toward duplication in the Fan at a later date.

Perly's returns: Chef Kevin Roberts, co-owner of The Black Sheep in Carver, will reopen downtown landmark Perly's late this spring. The longtime deli at 111 E. Grace St. closed in September and set off a minor uproar among staff and devotees. Roberts is nationally known for his creative cooking. Read more at styleweekly.com.

Charlottesville to RVA: Moving into the Mint space is Continental Divide, well known to Charlottesville customers for its margaritas and its atypical blend of Latin and American flavors. Tuna tostadas and goat cheese tacos stand out for Style Weekly food reviewer Robey Martin.

Also coming east from Charlottesville is Christian's Pizza, a busy mall kitchen that sells pizza by the slice in a multitude of flavors. It's scheduled to open this month in the Village Shopping Center.

Boxed in: Longtime local favorite Sally Bell's Kitchen gets a nod in this month's Saveur magazine in the publication's 100 Favorite Things list. In addition to the takeout location at 708 W. Grace St., Sally Bell's offers a dine-in experience at the Valentine Richmond History Center at 1015 E. Clay St., with new manager Robin Rushing adding a spark of personality, fresh flowers on the tables and a changing line-up of soups, sandwiches and salads in addition to the famous cupcakes. The bright cafe in the history museum garden is open weekdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., with terrace dining a best-kept secret. 649-9550. sallybellskitchen.com.

Blind wines: You can learn deductive tasting tips in a short course at Secco Wine Bar this month, with future events promising more training in observing the nuances of the grape. March 11, 6 p.m., $25. Secco also offers cheese and vermouth tastings this month and has new menu options, happy hour specials and other reasons to check it out in Carytown, at 2933 W. Cary St. 353-0670. seccowinebar.com.

Now serving: Sugar Shack Coffee has opened downtown at 1110-B E. Main St. The über-popular doughnut shop has a juice and coffee bar along with its specialty baked items, open weekdays 8 a.m.-2 p.m. 225-0700. sugarshackdonuts.com.

Court commissaries: For those planning to attend the Atlantic 10 basketball tournament in Brooklyn, Style Weekly food critic Don Baker, a part-time Brooklyn resident, has food suggestions. Baker offers two dozen suggestions for eating near Barclays Center, as well as the team watering holes for Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond fans in attendance.

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