Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Handcrafted Tap Handles, Lebanese Food Fest + More

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Unexpected Sideline

He'll never have to buy beer again. Now that Ed Bath has traded furniture-making for the more rustic but profitable beer-tap-handle making, he has plenty of bartered brew. It's a perk for his timely entry into the craft beer movement, and his work is on display at bars across town.

Bath is a former accountant who finds fallen trees around Richmond — oak, cedar, gum, maple, cypress, beech, sycamore — then mills the wood and dries it in solar kilns he built for his Henrico County shop, Citiwood. He cuts the wood into tap handles for Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and a Texas brew, Lone Pint, which add laser-engraved logos and ship them to be installed in bars.

"The tap side of the business is growing," Bath says. "I'm starting to focus just on that. Beer is a big thing. I'm proud to be recovering the trees. Taking a tree to a sawmill is like fishing — this could be something great, a discovery. A lot of times you get something really beautiful."

This spring Bath is working on orders of 250 tap handles for Hardywood, with another 200 for Lone Pint. And he's had to shake off his training in smooth perfection, he says: "It's amusing to me that these craft breweries want the look to be rustic, and here I've spent a lot of time learning how to make things perfect." But he isn't complaining, and the industry's growth "has worked out great."

Gibson's returns: After a few weeks off, Gibson's Grill at the National has reopened downtown at 700 E. Broad St.

Patina change: Mike Ledesma is new executive chef at Patina, replacing Kyle Cox. Ledesma has worked at Hard Shell Bellgrade and at Max's on Broad, several high-profile Baltimore restaurants, and trained at the Greenbrier after graduating from the University of Hawaii's hospitality program. New spring menus are in place at the restaurant, 3416 Lauderdale Drive. 360-8500. patinarva.com.

Lebanese returns: Save the dates, May 16-18, for the 30th Lebanese Food Festival at St. Anthony's Maronite Catholic Church in Glen Allen. A new feature will be on-site cooking for special dishes while guests watch. Traditional foods, pastries and beverages will be augmented by live music, costumed Lebanese dancers and other activities. Frozen takeout food and a cookbook, "Timeless Lebanese Recipes," also will be available. Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 4611 Sadler Road. 270-7234. stanthonymaronitechurch.org.

Now serving: Boka Tako Bar has been open awhile at 304 N. Robinson St., and after a few kitchen changes and trial runs, its hours, phone and menu are coming together, says owner Patrick Harris. The business is now open daily with weekend brunch. Late-night weekend taco hours will be determined by customer demand. The menu has vegetarian and meat tacos and empanadas such as the four pig and seasonal variations, craft beverages, a modest dine-in area, takeout and upcoming delivery service. 937-8256. Bokatruck.com.

Wegmans coming: You ask, you get. Last year Style Weekly readers in our Best of Richmond poll named Wegmans the grocery store they'd most like to lure to RVA. The Rochester, N.Y.-based market took heed, and will build two stores here in Short Pump and Midlothian.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Saison Market preview, 10 Italian Coffee, Graze Foods + more.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Market Driven

Jay Bayer is a driven man who acknowledges a fondness for whimsy. He's the force behind the growing food and beverage destination Saison in Jackson Ward.

Taking cues from other cities, Bayer, co-owner and chef Adam Hall and their team expect to open the market side of their business May 1, alongside their existing and acclaimed gastropub.

This expands their reach by offering breakfast, lunch and dinner sandwiches and small plates to take out or eat in, patio dining, growler filling, wine and beer, and unexpected bursts of whimsy such as peanut-chili pie with grape jelly ice cream. 23 W. Marshall St. 269-3689. Saisonrva.com.

Cup runneth: Lamplighter Coffee's third location at 26 N. Morris St. is now open. Open daily.

Closed: The downtown restaurant 525 at the Berry Burk closed April 19. Its co-owner and general manager, Tom Haas, says business was good when events were happening at CenterStage, but other nights weren't strong enough to sustain the business. He says he hopes a more experienced operator will revive the business, which opened in June 2012 after a major renovation of the landmark building, which once housed a haberdashery. In the six months leading into its opening, Style Weekly went behind the scenes with the restaurant. You can read that story, "Into the Fire" from the archives at Styleweekly.com.

Coming to Carytown: Claudio Ragazzi brings his northern Italian sensibilities to a new project this spring, 10 Italian Cafe, at West Cary and Auburn streets. That's the former coffee shop with the big deck that's a prime people-watching destination. Ragazzi operates Caffespresso in the West End and will open 10 — his soccer-jersey number — with a similar menu of panini, cheeses and charcuterie, snacks and pastries. Live music, local art and an emphasis on international languages will add to the mix. Ragazzi promises low prices for wine, fair portions for food, and an easygoing atmosphere with flavors unique to the area. Outdoor coffee service begins soon, and the cafe will open in a few weeks when renovations are complete. caffespressocart.com.

Tequila and cigars: Havana '59 at 16 N. 17th St. plays host to an evening of tequila and cigar pairings, 6-8 p.m., May 1. 780-2822. havana59.net.

Keg standings: Richmond ranks higher than Washington when it comes to the number of wine taps in use. That's a sign of how well a local business, Tap26, is doing getting keg taps for wine into restaurants and at events here and regionally. Now the company, under President Jon Lintvet, teams with Blue Bee Cider to introduce artisan ciders from May through September as part of the Virginia on Draft barrel program. Charred Ordinary is the first cider to roll out in the stainless steel, pressurized keg. Blue Bee is a premium artisan cidery and the first and only urban cidery in Virginia. bluebeecider.com. Tap26 Wines can be found on Facebook.

RVA victory: In a swanky evening of wine and dine at the Williamsburg Lodge on April 12, teams of chefs from Richmond, Williamsburg and Virginia Beach competed in an "Iron Chef"-inspired challenge held by the Williamsburg Area Restaurant Association. Chefs Todd Richardson of the Blue Goat, Andrew Haapala of the Country Club of Virginia and Matt Coleman of the Savory Grain took top prize, but the event was a reminder of the serious cooking talent from here to Tidewater and beyond.

Special appearance: Audra Chapman of Hourglass Winery in Napa Valley talks history and vineyards at a dinner at Wild Ginger on May 1. A five-course meal is paired with wines from the boutique vineyard for $100 per person. Space is limited to 24 guests. 3734 Winterfield Road. 378-4988. wildgingerva.com.

Graze on: One of spring's culinary highlights is Slow Food RVA's Graze food series, set for May 18 at Tuckahoe Plantation. Chefs Walter Bundy of Lemaire, Jason Alley of Pasture, Joe Sparatta of Heritage, DeAndre Wilson of Rappahannock and Craig Smith of Estilo will use rare and historic ingredients to create heirloom dishes. Guests will get tasting-size portions and can sample wine and craft beer. A limited number of house tours will show Tuckahoe, the home of Sue and Tad Thompson, where Thomas Jefferson lived as a boy. Music, vendors and family activities are part of the lineup. Slow Food RVA seeks to build meaningful connections among our past, food and the people who produce it. It's one of 225 national chapters in an international group. Tickets are $35 for food and alcohol tastings, $15 for food tastings only, $5 for ages 12 and older and children younger than 12 free. Details at grazeattuckahoe.weebly.com.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

525 at the Berry Burk Closing

Downtown landmark ends its run April 19.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM

The former haberdashery turned restaurant 525 at the Berry Burk will end its run on Saturday, a few months shy of its second year.

General manager and co-owner Tom Haas says the decision to close his dream venue was difficult. "Ultimately, the decision became a question of the balance between finances and contribution to the neighborhood. I truly want The Grace Street Corridor to reemerge as a focal point for both the city, and the region, and I believe it will. I think we provide a valuable service for guests on nights when there is a show at Center Stage, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive, but it’s the other five days of the week when we struggle."

A fundraiser at the restaurant that is set for Monday, April 21 will continue, as well as another private event in May. Haas says he hopes a more experienced restaurant operator will take over the space, which underwent a major renovation in 2012, and opened to fanfare as the first in a series of restaurants reviving that section of E. Grace St.

Style chronicled the opening process of 525 at the Berry Burk in this 2012 cover story.

Cake Theater

RVA Food News: Shyndigz' new space, seasonal menus bloom + more.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Now that the dessert emporium Shyndigz has moved into a twice-the-size space — formerly Bogart's in the Fan — the level of its theatrics is growing.

Owners Bryon and Nicole Jessee are front and center with their team, icing cakes in the glass-walled Cake Cave, viewable in the dining room as well as from Cary Street. They'll plate slices of elaborate Shyndigz cakes and pies at the long bar, which is anchored by an espresso machine for the cafe's new coffee menu.

The Jessees brought the hand-painted and antique-door tables, the whimsical lighting and a thousand hand-folded pinwheels to attach to the walls — all signatures of the Patterson Avenue location that started three and a half years ago and quickly outgrew its digs.

"We turned away more business than we took," Bryon says. Now there's room to seat 75 inside and another 60 on the patio, with live music, wine and beer coming soon, and potentially brunch hours to show off the chefs' savory skills.

Online catering and pick-up service offer dozens of cake and pie options, from fresh berries to peanut butter to old fashioned fudge, with a rotating menu and a range of sizes. The cafe is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, 4-11 p.m. 1903 W. Cary St. 938-3449. shyndigz.com.

Fare play: A rite of spring that helps keep Feedmore's pantry stocked is Richmond Restaurant Week, April 21-27. Three-course dinners at 33 of the city's most noted restaurants cost $25.14 each, a portion of which funds the local nonprofit. Reservations are suggested, because this is a growing and popular event among food and restaurant lovers. richmondrestaurantweek.com.

Spring flavors: New, seasonal menus are in place at Helen's, 2527 W. Main St., Chez Foushee, 203 N. Foushee St., Havana '59, 16 N. 17th St., and Morton's, 111 Virginia St.

More campus cuisine: A second local branch of Christian's Pizza is in the works next door to the Village Café on Harrison Street. A block away, a new coffeehouse from Alchemy Coffee is about to begin its build-out in the Depot student art exhibition space at 814 W. Broad St. (See Edwin Slipek's architecture feature on page 17 for more on that building).

Cookbook for RVAdine: See 804ork.com for details about a new collection of 68 recipes from popular local chefs, and photographs of some of the city's favorite restaurants, compiled by Susan Howson and available for preorder.

Girl power: A dinner to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is set for April 21 at 525 at the Berry Burk, and features Richmond's cadre of female chefs, bartenders and servers, including this writer serving as hostesss. Tickets are $75 for a multi-course meal, and alcohol is additional. See mwoy.org under Jessica Bufford's fundraising page for man or woman of the year.

Now Serving

Chef MaMusu's African-Caribbean Cuisine: Local legend prepares healthy and hearty vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes with traditional spices and techniques. Lunch and dinner Tues. – Sun. 912-2812. 3514 Forest Hill Ave.

Dash Kitchen and Carry: Sandwiches, burgers, salads in casual counter-service cafe. 11 a.m. - midnight daily. 900 W. Franklin St. 912-2689.

Carena's Jamaican Grille: Jerk chicken, oxtails, rum cocktails, colorful island décor. Patio and takeout. 7102 Midlothian Turnpike. 422-5375. carenasrva.com.

Foo Dog: Asian street food, ramen bowls, snacks and meals, full bar. Covered patio, loud and lively, casual. Open at 4 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. 1537 W. Main St. 342-1800. foodogrva.com.

Omega Grecian Restaurant: Chef Themie Xyderis offers lamb shanks, stuffed salmon, gyros, grilled pork chops, moussaka and traditional Greek dishes. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. 4017 MacArthur Ave. 262-1081.

Monument City Coffee & Records: Work in progress with light fare, coffee. Beer and wine coming soon. Open daily. 306-A E. Grace St. 698-5489.

Mom's Siam 2: Shockoe location of popular Thai food spot. Sushi, desserts, full bar. Daily. 1309 E. Cary St. 225-8801.

Monday, April 14, 2014

New Carytown Italian

Coffee shop swooner takes over a prized corner

Posted By on Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Claudio Ragazzi is well known to a certain fanatical customer base at his West End business Caffespresso, where Italian language and culture are as important as the food and beverages.

Now Ragazzi turns his attention to a new project, 10, his soccer jersey number and about to become an Italian cafe and wine bar in the former Carytown Bistro/Bin 22/Betsy's space at 26 S. Auburn.

It's a prime Carytown corner with a large deck and an intimate room with a view. "I'm a city guy," Ragazzi says. "I love watching people walk by, and having a glass of wine. I want 10 to be a place where people can have an experience that is unique and that they can enjoy and not spend too much money." He objects to big wine mark-ups and pledges to keep food portions fair and wine prices affordable.

Food at 10 will include paninis, cheese, snacks and pastries in a simple format with Northern Italian flavors.

The deck seats about 20 and will open for coffee and beverages by early May. Interior work may take a couple of months to complete before the cafe opens, he says. Ragazzi plans to show local art and feature live music in addition to the language classes and other programming that makes the 5 1/2 year old Caffespresso a hit with customers on Gaskins Road.

Bandazian & Hughes Inc. handled the transaction.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Coach Cook-Off preview, cheesy new Kroger + more.

Posted By on Tue, Apr 8, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Coach Class

It's no small feat to get NCAA coaches Shaka Smart and Chris Mooney together right after a big basketball season to cook for a charity event. But Positive Vibe Café has a mission that appeals to the greater good — training future food service workers with disabilities — so the second annual coaches' cook-off is this month's hot ticket.

The benefit is at 6 p.m. on April 17 at the Science Museum of Virginia. The Richmond Spiders' Mooney and Virginia Commonwealth University's Smart will get help from Buz Grossberg of Buz and Ned's Real Barbecue and Glen Pruden of UR's dining services. They'll assist the coaches as they prepare duck and lamb burgers for a judging panel — this writer among them — and people's choice awards. Guests will get to taste everything, and local wine and craft beer will be included with the $100 ticket. The Taters will perform and Daphne Maxwell Reid will play host.

Last year's inaugural event filled the Benedictine gym with 300 people. The new goal is 500 attendees. Get tickets at the Positive Vibe Café, 2825 Hathaway Road, 560-9622, or online at positivevibecafe.com.

More Cheese

It took almost a month to load in all of the merchandise at the new super-sized Kroger, which opened last week at Staples Mill and Hungary Spring roads. About 425 people got full- or part-time jobs there, and some local foods vendors got a big new client. 

A nod to the eat- and shop-local movements includes such products as Blanchard's Coffee, Carytown Teas, Sun Seasoned raw foods kale chips, Naokeidoe Creations essential oil soaps, Dickie's Seafood and plants from Virginia Beach's White's Nursery. More space for natural and organic foods and bulk grains and nuts shows the mainstream acceptance of what once was the province of health-food stores.

Of note is the store's affiliation with Murray's Cheese, a New York City-based business with 175 varieties on sale here, topping out at $30 a pound for the Pleasant Ridge reserve, an artisanal Wisconsin cow's cheese. Customers can expect frequent product demos and tastings, including wines from the expansive section overseen by wine consultant Rob Czyzewski, who promises a local wine-store experience with advice, a designated shelf for customer favorites, and a range of prices for imports and domestics.

There's a Starbucks kiosk, a separate Fred Meyer Jewelers with a full array of diamonds, a drive-through pharmacy, a nonemergency clinic staffed by a nurse, 18 fuel pumps, premium sushi in party-tray sizes, sandwiches made to order, brand-name clothing and housewares such as dishes and furniture.

Rocoto here: More dishes are on the menu now that Rocoto Chicken has moved to larger quarters. Besides Peruvian rotisserie chicken, it's selling seviches, tacos, specialty beverages and other South American items in a family-run business that has bigger aspirations. Live entertainment will start once liquor licensing is in place. 8902-A W. Broad St. 680-2323. rocotochicken.com.

Keeping faith: Food is central to a speakers' series this month at First Presbyterian Church. Topics such as healthy diets, hunger in Richmond, genetically modified organisms and more will be addressed by first lady Dorothy McAuliffe, Bobby Ukrop, Doug Pick of Feedmore and other experts. The first in the series is April 27. Find out more at fpcrichmond.org.

Boka soft: Patrick Harris expects to open the Fan location of Boka Kantina on April 9. Watch for details at bokatruck.com.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Carena's Reopening, Dash Kitchen Preview + More

Posted By on Thu, Apr 3, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Carena Ives, without question the tiniest of local restaurant operators, finally can celebrate. She's in her 20th year running Jamaica House in the Fan, and the repairs are finished at her South Side cafe after a fire last year. Carena's Jamaican Grille reopens April 7.

After the six-month shutdown, Ives says, "We just want our customers to come back to the fold." The fire started in a kitchen ticket printer of all things, and was "very expensive to recover from," she says. "The emotional toll that it takes, not just the numbers, the dollars, but you don't have a lot of resources and 25 employees to take care of." All of them are returning.

Jerk chicken and oxtails are perennial top-sellers, and rum-based cocktails, beer and other spirits reflect Ives' Jamaican roots. Murals by Happy the Artist set a sea-fantasy tone in the bright, casual, 80-seat dining room, and a patio with ceiling fans and pergola is an accent likely to pull in new customers.

The business also has new neighbors, as that section of Chippenham Parkway and Midlothian Turnpike is popping out chain restaurants and a jam-packed Krispy Kreme around the super-sized Kroger grocery store. Growth in that area comes not a moment too soon, Ives says — she's naming a cocktail the Midnchip to mark the destination.

Carena's Jamaican Grille is open daily from 11 a.m. A curbside take-out window operates 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily. 7102 Midlothian Turnpike. 422-5375. carenasrva.com.

Josh and Jessica Bufford are about to reveal the new interior at Dash Kitchen and Carry, a new “semi-service” eatery on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Josh and Jessica Bufford are about to reveal the new interior at Dash Kitchen and Carry, a new “semi-service” eatery on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus.

Dash up next: April 7 is opening day for Dash Kitchen and Carry, a new concept from Toast and Estilo owners Jessica and Josh Bufford. This one, in the former Cous Cous and the Well space, is a counter service lunch and dinner business with wine, beer, kombucha and a server-staffed dining room that accommodates takeouts, quick meals and more leisurely ones.

The Dash menu has specialty burgers — veggie, chicken, buffalo, beef and salmon — and soups, salads and classic Reuben, turkey Rachel and Cuban sandwiches. The room's footprint is the same, but it's lighter and reveals some previously-covered historic details, lit by a Josh Bufford-designed feature dividing the room.

It'll serve daily from 11 a.m. – midnight, with late-evening student specials and online ordering. The 68-seat space has a good-sized kitchen from which the owners hope to add catering, and breakfast hours might come if demand warrants. 900 W. Franklin St. 912-2689. dashrva.com.

Changing of the guard: Frank and Elizabeth Carollo symbolically handed over the keys to son Giuseppe last week at a 23rd birthday party for Frank's Ristorante in the Stony Point Shopping Center. The place is a cult favorite for pizza and lasagna, and a neighborhood old faithful for a few famous faces. Some interior changes have opened up the dining rooms and added a bar, and a new patio to the side will add more outdoor dining to the shopping center.

Giuseppe Carollo moves from the former Bocca Toscana (now Estilo) to this ownership venture, bringing some menu items from there and keeping the Frank's traditions for the regulars, who know what they want. 3054 Stony Point Road. 560-1613. franksstonypoint.com.

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