Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Inner City Blues to Close

Gilpin Court will lose soul food hot spot.

Posted on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Gilpin Court’s Inner City Blues will close Sunday, Dec. 1 because of a dispute with the landlord. Fear not -- Alicia and Lamont Hawkins’ excellent North Carolina-style barbecue is available at the couple’s second location, Carolina Bar B Que Restaurant, on Nine Mile Road.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Southbound Q&A, Two Closings + More

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 2:59 PM

With everyone talking about it, you probably know that Southbound is opening. The Roosevelt’s James Beard Award-nominated chef Lee Gregory and Heritage’s Joe Sparatta surprised everyone earlier this year by teaming up to open a restaurant in the South Side. The suspense that swept through the food community finally is over, with Southbound offering a preview Friday and officially opening Tuesday, Nov. 25. 3036 Stony Point Road, 918-5431, southboundrva.com.

We asked Gregory and Sparatta about the process of opening:

Style: How did this partnership come about?

Sparatta: I was looking to expand Heritage into retail with [Beechwood Farms’] Matt Gottwald. We couldn’t really find a space. Lee put a bug in my ear and said, “We should open something on South Side one day.” After Matt had essentially committed to trying to do the whole Heritage to Go project, I wound up saying, “Hey, what about a proper restaurant in South Side — with Lee?”

Gregory: I’ve always wanted to open a South Side restaurant. I would pick him up in the morning and ride around [there], partially for me and partially to hope to drag him into it.

Chefs Lee Gregory and Joe Sparatta served up hors d’oeuvres at the preview of their new restaurant, Southbound, on Friday night. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Chefs Lee Gregory and Joe Sparatta served up hors d’oeuvres at the preview of their new restaurant, Southbound, on Friday night.

What kind of restaurant did you envision?

Gregory: We’re trying to have something for everyone. We want to be an everyday restaurant. By accident, The Roosevelt and Heritage have somehow semi-turned into destinations. We don’t mean for that to happen here.

Sparatta: We ended up talking about food that was very casual and approachable. We want to keep it inexpensive, but still use really nice ingredients and prepare everything with care — what we still do at our other restaurants, but make it a little more friendly [for the neighborhood].

Gregory: This restaurant is very much location-specific. I don’t think we would have done this — we weren’t just going to open a restaurant together. It never would have happened downtown or the Fan or Church Hill. It’s South Side specific.


Opening and closing: Pane e Vino’s former space, 2617 W. Broad St., is now occupied by Lalo’s Cocina Bar & Grill. … In December, Pho 79, renamed House of Noodles, will move into 8900 W. Broad St., formerly occupied by Green Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, which served its last eggplant medley Nov. 16. … Tarrant’s West also is shooting for a December opening in the former Grandpa Eddie’s at Cox and Three Chopt roads.

Noodles: Chef Erik Bruner-Yang of Washington’s Toki Underground took over the stove at Rappahannock on Monday night to serve up bowls of ramen Richmonders had only heard about in rapturous tales from out-of-towners.

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Short Order

Gelati Celesti's New Digs, Happy Hour Food Drive + More

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Ice cream sneaks up on you. Just a taste becomes two or three spoonfuls, and before you know it, you're looking at the bottom of an empty container that you want to hide in the bottom of the trash can before anyone sees.

Going to an ice-cream store is a different experience. And Gelati Celesti in the West End has honed the way people enjoy the frozen goodness for 30 years. "I always tell people," owner Steve Rosser says, "ice cream is not a food — it's a treat."

Gelato is a denser, less air-filled version of ice cream. Although it's made with milk in Italy, in the United States the Food and Drug Administration sets standards for butterfat content and weight, among other things. That means the American version of gelato is richer and delivers a more powerful mouth-feel experience than regular ice cream.

Rosser bought the company five years ago from friend and longtime owner Peter Edmunds. "I always wanted to do my own thing and had started a search for a small business," he says. "[Edmunds] called me and said: 'You know what, I'm tired. I've been doing this for 25 years — I'd like to sell my business.' And I was kind of surprised, but it was a really wonderful transaction."

Since then, Rosser moved ice cream production from the back of the original store to a commercial kitchen on Dabney Road. He's added another store, in Bon Air, put a Gelati Celesti truck on the road (well, parked at festivals and private events) and is opening a third store in Short Pump on Thursday.

Peter Fraser of Fraser Design Associates created interiors for both the Bon Air store and the newest one. The tag line on Fraser's website for the project declares: "Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos. We designed a space to save us from that fate."

"When you think of ice cream stores, you think of a lot of plastic and bright colors. That's not what we're all about," Rosser says. "Adults make the decision to go. We wanted to create a more sophisticated experience." Expect lots of reclaimed wood, milk bottle fixtures and custom ironwork seating.

But you go to the ice cream store for the flavors, not the interior's artisan craftsmanship, right?

Gelati Celesti's No. 1 flavor is salted caramel, with chocolate decadence a close second. Besides the classics, Rosser rotates other ice cream varieties in and out. In the course of the year, the company will sell 180 flavors.

Remember Ukrop's rainbow cookies? You might find them stirred into vanilla ice cream. Baklava ice cream is one of Rosser's favorites, and for the new store he plans to unveil Bangkok peanut, as well as a bourbon-praline variety.

"Ideas come from a lot of different places," Rosser says — his ice-cream-maker, his wife and his employees — and he's willing to try any creative notion that comes his way.

"I get a little taste or spoons of ice cream throughout the day — which is terrific," he says. "I never get tired of it."

Regular ramen: Will Richardson's Shoryuken Ramen, a traveling ramen pop-up event, stays put for the next three months at Lunch on Monday and Tuesday evenings, from 5-11, starting Dec. 1. It's first come, first served, and you can grab a bowl for $10. facebook.com/shoryukenramen.

Final four: Richmonder Beth Royals is one of four finalists in the Pillsbury Bake-Off. Her peanutty pie crust clusters (small squares of pie dough that Royals transforms into white chocolate peanut-butter drop candy) impressed the judges. "They felt I used pie crust in a way that hasn't been done before," she says. She's competing for a million-dollar prize and public voting is open till Dec. 2 at pillsbury.com/vote.

Closed: Andale Taco Chop Shop is temporarily closed. According to its Facebook page and confirmed by owner Michael Ng: "We will be closed until further notice. We can't handle the growth. Our product is not consistent. Going back to the basics."

Happy hour food drive: If you take canned goods to Don't Look Back, New York Deli and Portrait House through Nov. 21, between 3-9 p.m., your happy hour will magically extend past the usual 7 p.m. cutoff. The project benefits Virginia Supportive Housing. virginiasupportivehousing.org.

Highest bidder: The building that houses Lombardy Street's Pie, owned by Mo Roman, will be up for auction, Richmond BizSense reports. But despite the foreclosure on the building, the slices will continue to slide out of the oven for customers.

Golden trowels: For the sixth year, Tricycle Gardens handed out its Golden Trowel awards, honoring locals' contributions to the food community. Honorees at the Nov. 7 event included Susan Winiecki, associate publisher of Richmond Magazine, Rick McCormick, a volunteer at the Peter Paul Development Center, Urban Development Associates' Robin Miller and Dan Gecker, and Frank Robinson, president and chief executive of Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. tricyclegardens.org.

Say cheese: The World's Best Cheesecake brand launched this week out of Ashland's Daystar Desserts. In addition to restaurants, cheesecakes in such flavors as crème brûlée, triple chocolate and pumpkin streusel (which was dropped off at the Style offices for thorough sampling) are available for order online. Co-owner Dave Saunders, also of Madison and Main, says of his three other partners: "This is a side business for all of us. It was a no-brainer." worldsbestcheesecake.com.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cider House Rules

The scenic Bold Rock Cidery in Nelson County steps it up.

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 12:00 PM

With all the talk about breweries, it’s eye opening to hit the road for Cider Week and visit the apple folks at the new Bold Rock Cidery barn and tasting room in scenic Nelson County. They’re giddy because they know the numbers.

Hard cider is the fastest growing alcoholic drink in the country, with national production tripling from 2011 to 2013, and the number of cideries in Virginia has grown from a couple to 10. Popular in the Colonial days, cider lost its momentum after beer was introduced and during Prohibition. Now it’s back: And Virginia is the nation’s sixth largest apple producer by acreage, so we’re well situated to crank it out.

“Nelson County might just be the alcohol capital of Virginia,” says Todd Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, on Thursday evening during a soft launch of the third annual Cider Week. Reporters and the growing corps of Virginia food bloggers were taken yesterday to the cozy farm-like setting of Bold Rock Cidery, featuring a big Shenandoah-style barn with 600 native oak beams and floor-to-ceiling glass windows allowing beautiful views overlooking Rockfish River.

Bold Rock is owned by John Washburn, who started it with a famous apple orchardist from New Zealand named Brian Shanks. Shanks got into cider after a cyclone ruined his apple crop in the early ‘80s and quickly became a recognized leader with international experience. He started cideries in Europe, China and Australia.

“Some of the best apples in the world are grown in Virginia,” says Shenks. He credited the institutional memory of area families who grew apples for hundreds of years. “Cider is all-encompassing,” he says. “We have cider makers here who are making absolutely beautiful fine wine-style ciders that match the best of Virginia wines. As cider grows, you’re going to see more and more diversification. It’s got 2,000 years of history and 2,000 years of future.”

While there are some orchards on the 50-acre property, most of the apples used are purchased from local growers. The technically designated “farm-winery” is minimal and rustic -- inside the $4 million dollar facility there’s the visible production area and conveyor belt, an open bar with two ciders on tap, tiny gift area and a high-ceilinged dining room with a combination of rustic reclaimed wood and handmade brick including three fireplaces. Outside, tiered decks overlook the lush countryside and local trout run.

Some dudes might still think of cider as a ‘girly’ drink -- but it’s clear by the numbers that plenty guys are getting their cider on, too. A recent Chicago Tribune story attributed the exploding popularity to people searching for a gluten-free alternative to beer, as well as a search for different flavors.

Last night, those in attendance enjoyed Virginia barbecue, oysters, heirloom tomatoes and the bluegrass ‘80s covers of Love Canon. The drinks were refreshing and not too filling. But for my money the drier, less sweet ones are the winners. You can purchase the sparkling Crimson Ridge Vintage Dry or Crimson Ridge Vat No.1 in 750 ml bottles. Or simply order a darker Bold Rock Virginia draft from a local bar -- they’re everywhere.

You know it’s hip when Bushwacker Cider, America’s first boutique cider only bar, opens in southeast Portland. Locally, there’s a cider festival this Saturday at the 17th Street Farmer’s Market and a host of other cider events this week.

Bold Rock Cidery is located at 1020 Rockfish Valley Highway, Rt. 151 and is open for tours and tastings from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Cider Week, RVA Beer History + More.

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Brown in town: Food Network star Alton Brown was all over Richmond last week, sampling coffee at Lamplighter Roasting Co. and stopping off with an inhuman appetite at Sally Bell's, the Black Sheep, Saison and Proper Pie Co. for consecutive lunches in one day. In his live show that night, he used Rappahannock River Oyster Co.'s oysters as a pizza topping for what he called the "Mega Bake Oven" (inspired by an Easy Bake Oven from his childhood), composed of massive stage lights putting out 1,000 watts, which baked a pizza at 640 degrees in less than four minutes along a conveyor belt.

Food on the move: Starting Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6 p.m., Richmond CenterStage Associates Board will hold a progressive dinner, Bubbles and Bites. It will move from Julep's to Lemaire, then on to Rappahannock and end up at Pasture. Tickets are $55 and transportation is provided. richmondcenterstage.com/bubblesandbites.

Cider time: Virginia Cider Week, held Nov. 14- 23, offers opportunities to imbibe all week long. Blue Bee Cider teams up with Burger Bach to kick things off Friday, Nov. 14, with a three-course, paired dinner from 4-6 p.m., while North Side's Once Upon a Vine will hold a tasting starting at 5 that same night. On Saturday, you can get your apple on at the Richmond Cider Celebration at the 17th Street Farmer's Marketplace, then head to Acacia Midtown for a cider dinner at 6 p.m. The next day, Sunday, Nov. 16, Hill & Holler will serve dinner on Libby Hill with the Roosevelt's Lee Gregory, Caleb Shriver and Phillip Perrow of Dutch & Co., Heritage's Joe Sparatta and Owen Lane of the Magpie. The following week, you'll find cider dinners going on at Metzger Bar and Butchery, Shyndigz and Camden's Dogtown Market. More at ciderweekva.com.

Party's over: West Main Street's Martini Kitchen & Bubble Bar closed, as first reported by Richmond.com, and a sign on the door says it's by order of the Virginia Department of Taxation. In Short Pump, chain restaurant Mimi's Cafe at West Broad Village, also closed.

Beer history: Lee Graves, Richmond Times-Dispatch's beer columnist, published his book, "Richmond Beer: A History of Brewing in the River City," this past week. Full of great pictures, the book explains the rise and fall (and rise again) of Richmond's favorite obsession.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Fire, Flour & Fork Recap + More

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Overeating, overflowing with information and, frankly, with exhaustion weighing them down, attendees of the first Fire, Flour & Fork — some, at least — may have overscheduled their days and nights to suck the marrow right out of the event.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing. The weekend food conference was crammed with famous chefs and cookbook authors doing demos, discussing their passions and cooking widely varied dinners. Even Richmond celebrity Donnie Corker, aka Dirtwoman, buzzed through the lobby of the Library of Virginia in his wheelchair between sessions, heading down the street to the tasting tent for a free bag.

The event started at the Eclectic Electric Appliance Museum, a quirky homage to more than a hundred years of toasters, milkshake-makers, miniature stoves, fans and so many other things, including an interesting assemblage in the bathroom. Richmond Times-Dispatch columnist Clare Osdene Shapiro, the daughter of museum owner Thomas Osdene, says the exhibit is a small fraction of what the museum holds.

Chef Sean Brock and Comfort chef Travis Milton dished up Appalachian cuisine, served family-style, with beans starring in such dishes as leather britches, soup beans (not to be confused with bean soup), plus catfish and the largest platter of pickles I've ever seen. "This is the close as it comes to eating at my grandmother's house," Brock says.

"I don't want to make what already exists," says Momofuku Milk Bar's Virginia-born Christina Tosi. She taught attendees to make her famous crack pie after she distributed pieces for everyone to eat while they watched. Pit master Tuffy Stone revealed most of the methods he employs to create his award-winning barbecue, but the audience was sworn to secrecy. "I've friends on the circuit that would pay big money for this," Stone says. (Come by my house if you'd like to try my now-excellent pulled pork.)

Cookbook author Alice Medrich (read the full interview at Styleweekly.com) explained that although her new cookbook, "Flavor Flours," is gluten-free, she focused on exploring alternative flours to see what they could do instead of creating a replacement for wheat flour.

The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery brought out costumes and tastings created by Owen Lane of the Magpie, Mike Braune of Secco Wine Bar, Brittanny Anderson of Metzger Bar and Butchery and more, while dinners were going on at Amour Wine Bistro, Curry Craft and others.

Another day of speakers followed, with Tim Gearhardt explaining chocolate, Lamplighter Roasting Co.'s Jennifer Rawlings talking about the history of coffee, Chris Fultz of ZZQ giving away his secrets for perfect Texas brisket, and historian Leni Sorenson discussing Mary Randolph's seminal 1824 cookbook, "The Virginia House-Wife" and its influence on American cooking.

Five more simultaneous dinners happened that Saturday night, including a feast prepared by chefs Peter Chang and Gerg Haley at Amuse. Just to give you a taste of everything that went on and that I had to leave out, there were a total of 46 speaker sessions, 14 dinners, seven lunches and a rare tour of the C.F. Sauer factory — all within three days. Fire, Flour & Fork was a marathon, and next year I'll be sure to train before I get there.

Roosevelt reunion: Chefs are known to travel, and Mike Braune, who's been the force behind the small plates at Secco Wine Bar, has moved from Carytown to Church Hill to cook at the Roosevelt. The restaurant's co-owner and chef, Lee Gregory, and his two sous chefs, Mark and Scott Lewis, worked with Braune at the long-closed Six Burner in the space now occupied by Heritage. "Mike will be a breath of fresh air," Gregory says, "and it'll be interesting to see how we change and how he changes."

Closed: Pane y Vino, the Italian restaurant owned by Joseph Lo Presti, in the former Julian's space. First reported by Richmond.com, it was confirmed that a Mexican restaurant under new ownership is planned for the spot called Lalo's Cocina Bar & Grill.

Putting up: Cookbook author and Washington Post columnist Cathy Barrow comes to Southern Season on Friday, Nov. 7, from 4-6 p.m. Her book, "Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Practical Pantry: Recipes and Techniques for Year-Round Preservation," taps directly into the local food movement and takes preserving from a summertime-only task to a year-round pursuit.

Happy birthday: The Cask Café & Market on South Robinson Street is celebrating its first birthday through Nov. 9, with special kegs tapped each day, a bicycle pub crawl Nov. 5 and a Lickinghole Creek mini tap takeover Nov. 6.

New wine: Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant is coming to Short Pump Town Center. With locations in seven states, the restaurant chain carries its own line of wines exclusively and pairs each dish on the menu with a specific varietal or blend. An opening date of Dec. 8 is planned.

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