Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Chetti's Comeback, Hatch peppers + more.

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

Chetti's Comeback

If you were a barhopper in the late '80s and '90s, you might recall the popular Shockoe Bottom hangout Chetti's Cow and Clam Tavern. It was famous for its unassuming, fun atmosphere and for a particular type of shooter — the moister oyster — created by owner Ray Chetti.

The drink was a simple affair: Take a freshly shucked oyster, douse it in a house-made sauce and chase it down with two ounces of beer. "People loved them," Chetti says. "If somebody was on a date, we used to make the guy do one to impress his lady."

Chetti's closed its tavern doors for good in late 2000, but its proprietor remained a fixture across Richmond if you knew where to look. Chetti could be found backing the bar at Joe's Inn and at Morton's the Steakhouse for about 10 years.

He'd fallen out of the bartending scene lately after losing his son to cancer. "It took me a while to deal with that," he says. "I didn't think anyone would hire a 67-year-old bartender, even with the reputation."

But hired he was, and by an old Chetti's regular to boot. Fans can see Chetti at the Halligan Bar & Grill in Short Pump, where he's resurrected the moister-oyster shooter at the restaurant's back bar. The formula is practically unchanged, which Chetti says should be a good thing for people who remember the glory days.

"The owner, Shawn Gregory, hung out at Chetti's and drank the moister oyster," Chetti says. "It's a fun thing and it's not expensive. We're selling it for $4. I believe it was just $3.50 back in the day." Look for Chetti to be shucking and pouring at the back bar Fridays through Sundays. 2451 Old Brick Road, Glen Allen. 364-2707. thehalliganbar.com.

Summer Shakeup: Cary Street's Little Mexico has announced a new summer menu. In addition to taco and margarita specials throughout the week, it's experimenting with a few items that may migrate over to the year-round menu. Some standouts include:

• Fresh mango guacamole with jalapeños.

• Tequila-braised short rib empanadas with sweet plantains, chipotle sauce and cilantro crema.

• Blackened mahi mahi tacos with pickled cabbage, roasted tomato and guajillo salsa.

• The hibiscus margarita featuring tequila, fresh lime juice and agua de Jamaica served on the rocks.

Little Mexico, 1328 W. Cary St. 525-4216. littlemexicova.com.

Hatching a plan: Astute watchers may recall food wayfarer Anthony Bourdain heaping praise on the Pepper Pot, a small, spicy restaurant in Hatch, N.M. The area is known for the Hatch Valley, which has the perfect combination of soil conditions to grow Hatch chili peppers, much sought out for their mellow heat and buttery flesh when roasted.

The peppers are somewhat rare at grocers in Virginia, though imitators pop up from time to time. You'll have your chance to snag some of genuine article at area Krogers starting in August, when the grocer plays host to outdoor Hatch chili roasting events.

Look for demonstrations on cooking, handling and storing peppers, alongside specialty prepared foods. The events kick off at the Carytown Kroger on Aug. 15, 16 and 17, move to Kroger Short Pump on Aug. 22, 23 and 24, and finish up at the Staples Mill Kroger on Sept. 5, 6 and 7. Pro tip from Hatch chili evangelists: Buy in bulk because they won't be back for awhile.

Flexing mussels: Roosevelt chef Lee Gregory will compete in the 2014 Great American Seafood Cookoff in New Orleans on Aug. 2. He'll be one of 19 chefs at the event, which promotes sustainable fishing practices. Judges include the James Beard Foundation's Kris Moon, the Culinary Institute of America's Brian West and Barbara Mathias, publisher of Food Arts magazine. Want a reminder of Gregory's seafood prowess? Two standouts at the Roosevelt are scallops with roasted cauliflower, apples and picked raisins in a curry sauce, and catfish in a shell bean and bacon succotash with hominy and a red pepper broth. The Roosevelt, 623 N. 25th St. 658-1935. rooseveltrva.com.

New brew lookout: Center of the Universe Brewing's RVAle is floating around town. It's a small batch Belgian-style that the brewer describes as a "light-bodied beer bursting with citrus and spice." It's the product of the Ashland brewery's Wort Share Competition, which began in February. If you'd like to snag a bottle, check your beer nerd buddy's refrigerator, or contact Center of the Universe. 11293 Air Park Road, Ashland. 368-0299. cotubrewing.com.

Now selling: Tickets for Fire, Flour and Fork, "Richmond's first four-day gathering for the food curious." Featuring 75 events, such as curated menus, an urban state fair and foodie lectures. Highlights include a bevy of famous national chefs: Charleston's Sean Brock, New York's Sarah Simmons and Milwaukee's Justin Carlisle. Hardywood also will play host to the Festival of Hungry Ghosts on Halloween featuring a dine around of Richmond food celebrities. Ticket prices vary by event. Oct. 30 through Nov. 2. fireflourandfork.com.

Early bird tickets also are available for the Richmond Folk Festival's Folk Feast. The lineup has nearly doubled from last year, including emissaries from the Roosevelt, Carena's Jamaican Grill, Lemaire and Metzger Bar and Butchery. Sixteen restaurants will be represented in all. Tickets cost $75 through Aug. 15. The feast is Oct. 7. richmondfolkfestival.org/folkfeast.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Short Order

A Southern Season Preview

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

Comfort chef Travis Milton saunters toward the door of the brightly lighted cooking school at Southern Season. He's been discussing his demonstration slated for the specialty grocer's private opening party. Jay White, vice president of new store development, gestures toward him, smiling. "He's exactly the kind of gentleman we want," he says.

Milton, trucker hat askew, shoots him a perplexed look. "Gentleman?"


"Oh," Milton says, joking. "You said 'gentleman' and I got confused."

Those with a tooth for Southern gourmet may have taken a pilgrimage to the popular Southern Season locations in Chapel Hill, N.C. or Charleston, S.C. The grocer is known for stocking specialty items that feature a Southern twang, such as peach gazpacho, endless varieties of grilling sauces and a galaxy of cheese straws.

But the big draw when the 52,000-square-foot Richmond store opens July 31 — a short drive north of West Broad Street off Staples Mill Road — will be the local talent and products on display.

In addition to Milton, local talent in the works for Southern Season's launch period include Joe Sparatta of Heritage, Blue Ridge lamb farmer Craig Rogers, "Southern Slow Cooker" author Kendra Bailey Morris and Rappahannock chef Dylan Fultineer.

"We want local producers to come into the store and meet someone for themselves," Chief Operating Officer Dave Herman says. Southern Season's manager will be in charge of outreach to local chefs, vendors and entrepreneurs, he says.

Bar-height demonstration areas will cap the ends of aisles, and the sales floor includes a circular specialty-grocery counter, where local food artisans can interact with and sell directly to shoppers. The current roster features 10,000 Virginia foods — 10 to 15 percent of which are from Richmond.

"We're all about sampling," White says. "That's what we do day in and day out. But nobody sells a product better than its creator."

Southern Season seems firm on introducing Richmond shoppers to as many local products as possible. Herman says the store's buyers have been combing local food boutiques and farmers' markets for months looking to make local contacts.

"We've had so much fun getting out there and trying all the Richmond products," Herman says. "We've been in Chapel Hill for almost 40 years. We've grown organically there, but we want it to be your local store here too."

It's the local food scene that made Richmond such an attractive location, says Kat Van Leer, marketing and public relations manager.

"Look at what's happening in Richmond. It's one of the coolest foodie cities. There's this excitement for good food here," Van Leer says. "The restaurants here are incredible."

Pamela Osborne, the director of restaurant operations for Southern Season, adds that the site's Southerly Restaurant and Patio should be a good fit for Richmond's food landscape.

"I think brunch is going to be one of our busiest services," Osborne says. "This area of town has a lot of chains — the Dennys and the IHOPs. I think we can set ourselves apart there."

She notes that the Weathervane restaurant at the Chapel Hill location was voted as one of the best brunch spots in the country by Open Table. "We're really looking at the restaurant as being a showcase for the products we sell in the store."

The marble-and-espresso-colored Southerly Restaurant and Patio will be headed by executive chef Joseph Durante. With more than 40 years in the kitchen, Durante aims to bring Southern Season's accessible gourmet flair to 320 seats and an expansive patio. A stroll through the menu reveals crispy rockfish tacos, sweet-tea-glazed salmon and a chipotle-infused take on classic North Carolina barbecue, among other comforting fare.

Highlights from the grocery floor right outside the restaurant include:

• Locally roasted coffee from Black Hand, Rostov's and Blanchard's at a huge, dedicated coffee bar.

• A massive, three-tiered Matador oven from Germany in the bakery with a touch screen and the capability for 200 programmable recipes.

• An extensive cheese counter presided over by Richmond's only licensed cheese monger, Dany Schutte.

• More than 5,000 wines and a temperature-controlled rare wine room.

• A candy section featuring a wall of every flavor of Jelly Belly jelly beans.

• An ice cream counter — with handmade waffle cones, naturally. Plans are in motion for the ice cream to be locally produced, but the wraps aren't quite ready to come off on that deal.

Finally, there's the cooking school in a glass-paned rectangular classroom at the back of the store. Featuring six tiered rows of tables facing a long kitchen, as many as 40 students at a time can watch the chef's every move from three high-definition TVs mounted near the ceiling. White says the goal is to get popular local chefs such as Comfort's Milton, as well as national chefs to teach. The first class will be on the subject of pie-making, with many others to follow, such as the meat-heavy Guys on the Grill series popular at the other Southern Season stores.

There will be a lot for shoppers, diners and students to explore when Southern Season throws open its doors, but White hopes the store also will become a familiar, central location for Richmonders' favorite foods.

"The store size seems daunting at first, but it's a very warm and inviting presentation," White says. "We're hoping that it becomes a destination."

Southern Season
2250 Staples Mill Road
Monday-Saturday 8 a.m.-8 p.m.,
Sunday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Short Order

Torero Tapas preview, Brahms and bourbon + more.

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

Tapas Return

A bartender places three plates in front of a couple beside me — tapas of beef tenderloin with monje cheese and espagnole sauce, veal meatballs simmered in white wine with chorizo sauce, and a dish of grilled octopus with cucumbers and radishes.

"It's picture perfect," the woman says, before digging in.

To the left, a man who lives nearby has returned for the second time this week, only a few days into the soft opening of Torero Tapas Bar and Grill. He recommends the cheesecake.

In the former Europa space in Shockoe Bottom, Torero makes a trio on this block of Cary Street for owners David Bess and Matt Busch, who also own Society American Bistro and Cha Cha's Cantina.

Aside from two openings that add a larger feel along a wall that separates dining spaces, the physical layout resembles Europa. But there's a change in décor, fixtures, a refresh. Downstairs, Ibiza Lounge is less dark than its predecessor but still intimate, with a magenta glow, new furniture and portraits of female matadors — and a crowd limited to people 25 and older.

Signature cocktails from Bar Manager Josh Kadrich include a young buck — ginger beer, hibiscus flower infusion and cider — and the witty gin fizz, which is topped off by Strangeways Brewing's Albino Monkey.

Or shoot for a kicker from the dragon breath, made of "fire and fantasy," Kadrich says — or more specifically, Crown Royal, St. Germain and Cointreau — and arrives smoking. The mesquite air wafting from the glass brings campfire memories, appropriate considering Kadrich's Eagle Scout status.

Prepare to wait 35 minutes for authentic paella, Busch says. And bartenders are still tinkering with the sangria recipe. But it will come in a variety of ways, including tableside service. Dinner runs 5-10 p.m. 1409 E. Cary St., 643-0911. facebook.com/ToreroRVATapas.
— Jason Roop and Colby Rogers

Brahms and Bourbon

If you're looking to unwind after work, you have a new option with the classics and cocktails of the Richmond Symphony's Summer at CenterStage concert series. For $20, concertgoers can enjoy the complete sonatas of German composer Johannes Brahms, among other works, Thursdays through Aug. 28. Admission comes with a drink ticket, so if you're looking to step up from your typical post-work dive bar, consider this: You don't even have to wear a tie. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at the Libby S. Gottwald Playhouse at Richmond CenterStage. 600 E. Grace St, #400. richmondsymphony.com.
Political Wieners

Did you know that July 23 is National Hot Dog Day? Word has it that Gov. Terry McAuliffe is working on a proclamation for this, the most sacred of all American holidays. In honor of the event, the crowd-pleasing Joey's Hotdogs in Innsbrook is throwing a celebration with live music, prizes and an appearance by newly minted Republican congressional candidate David Brat. Naturally, Brat will be cooking up some brats for hungry customers. If you relish a good sausage fest, mark your calendars now. 4028 Cox Road, Suite H, Glen Allen. joeyshotdogs.com.

Coming Soon

If you've ever gotten a mighty hunger for doughnuts while on your beach trip, you might have stopped by Duck Donuts in North Carolina's Outer Banks. With four in that area — Duck, Corolla, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk — and one in Williamsburg, the out-of-town doughnut competitor brings its sixth location to Willow Lawn. All the accoutrements are in attendance: glazed, lemon icing, maple icing and more. Plus, you can buy them by the bucket.

Restaurateur and chef Malcolm Mitchell is bringing his Mint Gastropub to a renovated space in Petersburg, with a projected opening of August. In February, Mitchell announced that the restaurant would move from West Main Street in the Fan to F.W. Sullivan's on the Canal Walk. But the idea was scrapped with that restaurant's re-branding as Haxall Point in May. 16 W. Old St., Petersburg.

Southern Season, the market, cooking school and restaurant from North and South Carolina brings a third location to the Richmond area's increasingly crowded grocery scene, featuring Southern-inspired food, specialty coffee and other gourmet items. The grand opening is July 31, and its Southerly Restaurant is hiring for such positions as a full-time sous chef and a front-of-house manager. Watch this space for developments. 4901 Seasons Mill St., 292-3446.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Short Order

Beer Expo Standouts, Cupcakes and Chandonnay + more.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Beer Bounty

The Capital Ale House National Beer Expo comes to Richmond July 15-20, featuring breweries from across the country showcasing more than 200 craft beers.

Style Weekly is one of the event sponsors, with a Taco Throwdown on Friday, July 18. Attendees can sample tacos created by Richmond chefs, paired with more than 30 craft beers and wine samples.

The main event will be the Walk-Around Grand Tasting that Saturday, with more than 150 brews present and accounted for across town. Look for an app to help navigate the rising tide of beer.

Some beers to watch for: entries from a trio of California breweries — Ballast Point (San Diego), the Bruery (Orange County) and Firestone Walker (Paso Robles). These are considered by many beer aficionados to be world-class breweries.

The rare-in-Richmond Terrapin Tangerine Dreamsicle, a collaboration between the Terrapin Beer Co. of Athens, Ga., and Green Flash of San Diego, has garnered some good buzz.

Speaking of Green Flash, it will bring its West Coast IPA, considered by many to be one of the best U.S.-made India pale ales.

Flying Dog Brewing's Dead Rise Old Bay Summer Ale will be making its local debut in Richmond — which has more than a few beer nerds on the edges of their seats.

And more: 21st Amendment Brewery, Anchor Brewing, DC Brau, Maine Beer Co., Ommegang, Uinta Brewing and Victory Brewing. Find an expanded listing and more festival info at nationalbeerexpo.com.

Dishing the menu: Now that popular Charlottesville Tex-Mex transplant Continental Divide has started dinner service, here are a few menu items that caught our eye:

Tuna tostada: Grilled rare tuna steak and puréed black beans on a crisp flour tortilla, with goat cheese, red pepper coulis and jalapeño glaze.

Santa Fe enchilada: Yellow and blue corn tortillas layered with grilled chicken and cheese, spicy chipotle sauce and cilantro crema.

Black Angus meatloaf: Ground black Angus topped with chipotle barbecue sauce, served with green chili mac and cheese.

Continental Divide, 2501 W. Main St., 359-9690. eatdivide.com.

Cupcakes and Chardonnay: Carytown Cupcakes will begin serving wine, prosecco and local craft beers July 11. For the launch, cupcake lovers can sample a few pairings. There's a Cadillac cupcake — vanilla cake, key lime curd and Grand Marnier butter cream — alongside a chardonnay, and a raspberry cupcake alongside Bolle Felici Prosecco. Beers will include offerings from Hardywood and Devils Backbone, with Blue Bee Cider. Carytown Cupcakes, 3111 W. Cary St., 335-2253. carytown-cupcakes.com.

Now available: Lickinghole Creek Brewery's Pony Pasture Pilsner, released July 5. Look for bottles of this small, single batch floating around town. Featuring continental pilsner and cara malts, alongside sterling and saaz hops, the beer is described by Lickinghole Creek as a "noble aromatic blend of earth and spice … Perfect for hot Virginia days down by the Rivah." Bottles still may be available for sale at the brewery. Call 314-4380 for details. Lickinghole Creek Brewery, 4100 Knolls Point Drive, Goochland. lickingholecreek.com.

Belle Isle Craft Spirits premium moonshine is available in 100 ABC stores across the state, as well as in bars and restaurants here in River City. This is the distillery's first spirit following the company's launch in 2012 by three local college graduates. If you'd like to try before you buy, look for Belle Isle Craft Spirits behind the bar at such establishments as Heritage, Balliceaux and LeMaire. A list of locations is at belleislecraftspirits.com. Belle Isle Craft Spirits, 615 Maury St.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Dinner in the Field, Summer Moon Music Festival + More

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Down on the Farm

The Boathouse Group has banded together with local growers Victory Farms to create a series of summer suppers called Dinner in the Field. They'll feature traditional southern Italian fare created by chef Paige Healy of the Boathouse. Diners will enjoy a farm tour, herb picking and a five-course outdoor meal in the garden at Victory Farms. A recent menu included salted cucumber spears, a salad of roasted beet, walnut, gorgonzola and arugula, and braised rabbit on a bed of roasted vegetables. Diners also can expect sommelier-chosen Virginia wines to complement the meal. Dates include July 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19, with more throughout the summer. Seating is limited, and the $85 tickets can be purchased by emailing info@dinnerinthefield.com. 

Moon music: Center of the Universe Brewing Co. in Ashland has announced the return of its lunar-landing-themed Summer Moon Music Festival on July 19 and 20. The free event will feature 12 local and regional bands battling it out for the charities of their choice. The acts include Curbside Collective, New Outliers and Royal We, alongside food vendors such as Zzaam Korean Grill, Sweet Frog and the Halligan Bar & Grill. Anderson's Neck Oyster Co. also will serve freshly shucked shells from the York River. Information at cotubrewing.com. Center of the Universe Brewing Co., 11293 Air Park Road, Ashland. 368-0299.

Now Serving

Popular Charlottesville Southwest and Tex-Mex spot Continental Divide announced to much fanfare that it was bringing a second location to Richmond back in March. Located in the former Mint Gastropub space in the Fan, the restaurant was set to start dinner service July 1 with favorites such as the chicken, cheese and chipotle Santa Fe enchilada, Thai chicken burritos and tuna tostadas. Watch for more in Short Order next week. 2501 W. Main St. 359-9690. eatdivide.com.

Metzger Bar and Butchery in Church Hill. Modern German fare with beer, wine and Sausage Craft meats to go. Open for dinner Tuesday-Sunday, 5 p.m. to midnight. Retail open Tuesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 801 N. 23rd St. 325-3147. metzgerbarandbutchery.com.

Opening Soon

Torero Tapas Bar and Grill, in the former Europa space in Shockoe Bottom, has set a soft launch July 10 with a grand opening to follow. Traditional Spanish tapas, catering and event space. 1409 E. Cary St. 643-0911.

Bistro 27 downtown will relaunch with a new look, menu and culinary team following an extensive renovation at 27 W. Broad St. Soft launch is July 10. bistrotwentyseven.com.

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