Friday, September 29, 2017

The Butterbean Market & Cafe is Coming to Hull Street.

It's time to revitalize Manchester's forgotten business corridor.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 2:37 PM

It’s time to feed the masses in Manchester. The neighborhood is teeming with hundreds of new apartments and condos, but there’s hardly anywhere to eat and there’s nowhere to shop for groceries unless you start up the car and drive 10 to 15 minutes.

Michael and Laura Hild want to change that. Not with a grocery store, not with a full-service restaurant, but with a spot that’s a smaller first step: The Butterbean Market & Cafe at 1204 Hull St. will open at the beginning of next year.

The Hilds’ name may be familiar to you — the two started Anderson’s Neck Oysters in 2010. Now, however, “we have a whole stable of ideas,” Michael Hild says, and they’ve formed Church Hill Ventures to execute them. The couple's first projects are planned for Manchester along Hull Street.

“We’re not developers — at all,” he says, “but we saw the cool bones of the [Hull Street] business corridor — and we saw an area that’s really just a sea of apartments centered in the industrial [section] with just a couple of cool places to eat.”

They first asked themselves what the neighborhood needed, he says. They then considered the most logical way to start. A market and cafe seemed like it would both fill a need, while also being “a less risky option than a destination dining concept.”

The building once housed Urban Beat Entertainment, run by Alexander Randolph, aka Mr. Wiggles, aka Dickie Diamond, aka August Moon. He was an R&B singer, music producer and still is a political activist. And his music lives on — hip-hop artists often sample the work of the artist known for inventing the “fatback style,” the backbone of much soul and funk.

The couple brought Dan Scherotter, former owner of San Franciso’s Palio d’Asti, on as culinary director. He’ll help with the Butterbean and later projects that Hild isn’t ready to talk about yet. “He’s got more experience in his little finger than I do in my whole body,” says Hild.

The cafe will offer coffee, sandwiches, salads and to-go items á la Church Hill's Union Market, and although the market won’t be full-blown “by any stretch of the imagination,” he says, it’ll stock fresh produce and other necessities. The idea is to provide healthy food so that the Butter Bean's neighbors don’t have to jump in a car to go get them.

“We’ll judge ourselves at the end of the day whether this whole thing is successful not by whether our businesses are successful, but whether people want to move into the corridor because it just makes sense,” Hild says. “We hope we can build the foundation and others will come.”

Correction: Dan Scherotter's last name was misspelled when this story originally published.

Here's How Weezie’s Kitchen Is Stepping Up Its Game

Posted By on Fri, Sep 29, 2017 at 12:18 PM

Carytown's Weezie’s Kitchen is improving its game. Owner Todd Gelsomino has brought in key players to elevate service, the cocktail program and the food. Bar manager Vanna Hem has been mastering cocktails for 13 years at top Richmond bars, including Vagabond, Postbellum and Can Can. The new chef, Brian Brown, also worked in the kitchen at Can Can.

Both the new cocktail and food menues will change with the seasons and draft beer includes local rotating brews.

I experienced these improvements at a Hardywood Park beer dinner on Sept. 25, which paired four creative courses with limited-release Hardywood beers. Hem and Brown had visited the brewery to sample and choose the beers for the dinner, and Brown created dishes tailored to them.

We began the dinner with oysters on the half shell. The fresh mignonette and the salty seafood played well with the introductory beer, the slightly sweet and tart Pineapple Mango Berliner Weiss.

The next course, a salad of kale and lentils, lightly grilled tuna, cantaloupe gazpacho and shaved pecorino, presented a clever mix of bright and earthy flavors. The salad was paired with a French farmhouse saison, a small-batch ale brewed on Hardywood’s Charlottesville pilot system. The spicy notes from the saison yeast — as with most farmhouse-style beers — paired wonderfully with the earthy flavors from the salad.

The main course featured quail in the style of chicken and waffles. The chicken-fried quail perched atop a Belgian sweet corn waffle with drizzles of sweet huckleberry syrup. Hardywood presented its 2016 rye whiskey barrel-aged farmhouse pumpkin, a rich amalgam of fall flavor touched with spicy rye whiskey.

Arguably, the dessert best demonstrated chef’s creativity. Savory predominated in the surprising and delightful foie gras Melba: A slice of foie gras rested on balsamic custard and brûléed peaches and was topped with rich, slightly sweet raspberry sauce and arugula. The beer pairing — Cuvée Gold Belgian Pale Ale — complemented the dessert with an equal intensity and appropriate dryness.

I also sampled the new cocktail menu, via a full-flavored fall concoction that blended dark rum and apple — a marriage that worked surprisingly well.

Besides a creative mix of flavors, Hem’s cocktail list includes plenty of infusions and other ingredients not in a home bartender’s arsenal. The Tokyo Drift, for example, is made with duck-fat-washed Woodford Reserve rye and red wine and plum reduction with mole bitters, lemon and star anise.

As Hem explained to me, Weezie’s is a Carytown institution, serving Richmonders for more than 10 years. The goal now is not just to make Weezie’s better than ever but also to “make Carytown great again.”

Based on my experience, I have great expectations.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Noodles, Cocktails + More

Posted By on Wed, Sep 27, 2017 at 12:50 PM

Did you hear, did you hear? But how could you not? Team Hagglünd-Leggett-Liu (Mattias Hagglünd of Shagbark, the Roosevelt’s Thomas Leggett and Kevin Liu of the Tin Pan and Carytown Cupcakes) announced that they were planning a cocktail bar called the Jasper in the Carey Burke Carpets space next door to the bakery. The power trio plans an end-of-the-year opening.

Kanoa Latin Food, Bar & Art has reopened and launched a new menu. The East Grace Street restaurant is still pan-Latin American-focused with a few Venezuelan flourishes from its owner, but it's added a few things. You’ll find subs with diced onion, tomatoes and cheese with a variety of meat options and topped with potato sticks, cilantro and rosado sauce. Burgers take on a Latin flair with avocado, queso fresca and pineapple sauce options, and you'll also find plenty of entrees and Mexican favorites.

Little Saint opened its doors in the Devil’s Triangle in the spot most recently occupied by Deco Ristorante. It’s owned by Frances Santarella, wife of the late Ted Santarella who founded Tarrant’s Café, Tarrant’s West and Max’s on Broad. You’ll find oysters, bison burgers, Autumn Olives Farm pork and the intriguing rockfish chicharrones on its Virginia-based menu.

Thirstys Bar & Grill and its New Orleans-influenced menu will take over the old Kinsfolk spot next to Crossroads Coffee & Ice Cream at 3514 Forest Hill Ave., reports the Times-Dispatch.

Presto: Belly Timber is now Beauvine Burger Concept, every pun intended. The space has been given a facelift and the menu now sports fabulously gourmet burgers, milkshakes and duck-fat fries. Two new owners have come on board, Kelsey Aiken and Eric Stangarone, who join Belly Timber founders Randy O’Dell, Patrick Stamper. The new spot is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Virginia Commonwealth University students are always hungry and when L’Apple closed at Harrison and Grace streets, one more independent option disappeared. Soon, however, Ramen Spot will provide bowls brimming with carbs to the masses, Richmond BizSense reports, although no more details were available other than its name.

Patina Restaurant & Bar is shutting its doors, reports RVAHub West End. “Our little family business just could not continue to compete in the booming restaurant industry in Short Pump,” it stated on its Facebook page.

I’m late hearing the sad news, but the Betty on Davis closed on Friday. And according to Richmond magazine, Yaki isn’t renewing its lease, although owner John Maher is looking for a new space for the Japanese-style tavern on West Broad Street — and that's great news.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cocktails and Cupcakes Collide to Make Carytown's Newest Bar

Hagglünd, Leggett and Liu will open a new spot in the Carey Burke Carpets space.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 26, 2017 at 12:48 PM

What do you get when you smash cupcakes into cocktails? Apparently, nothing.

Although the Tin Pan and Carytown Cupcakes owner Kevin Liu declined to comment when Richmond BizSense asked him about a permit to expand the Carytown business into the Carey Burke Carpets space next door, the logical leap was that Liu was going to, well, make a bigger cupcake shop.

Instead, Liu was planning a top-secret project with star bartenders Mattias Hagglünd of Shagbark and the Roosevelt’s Thomas Leggett. The three still don’t want to talk much about the cocktail bar they’ve dubbed the Jasper.

“We’re playing it close to our chest,” says Hagglünd. “We’ll have more details later.” Given that the place hasn’t been built yet, there are probably a few details that need to be worked out. Small, cocktail-friendly plates will be on offer, he says, and the vibe, as seen in the rendering, will be both comfortable and sophisticated.

The spot is named after Jasper Crouch, a legendary Richmond barman. He was the freed black cook and bartender for Chief Justice John Marshall in the early 1800s. Marshall founded the Quoit Club, whose members met to play an 18th-century game that’s similar to horseshoes each week, and Crouch whipped up a batch of powerful punch for them. Leggett debuted his version of the Quoit Club punch at the Roosevelt in its early days.

“If you were coming through town and wanted to be sure of getting a good drink and great hospitality, you were sent to Jasper Crouch,” according to Hagglünd. “[As] a bar set up by bartenders, we wanted to embrace that history and hope to continue on in its tradition.”

Hagglünd and Leggett had been talking about opening a place together since they met. They casually began visiting properties together a couple of years ago and talking to investors, but it wasn’t until Liu told them that the owner of Carey Burke was retiring that things turned serious: “Kevin reached out to me and said ‘Should we do something here?’”

“He’s a fast thinker,” Hagglünd says, “and gets things done.”

Hagglünd says that Liu is “one of the sleeper cocktail nerds in this city.” He’s an MIT graduate, former Marine and wrote “Craft Cocktails at Home: Offbeat Techniques, Contemporary Crowd-Pleasers, and Classics Hacked with Science" in 2013. They met while Liu was doing research for his book.

The deal that’s taken a better part of the year will come to fruition at the end of 2017. “Cocktail bars are such a successful thing the world over. … I think you can appeal to anyone if you just do it the right way,” Hagglünd says.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been out of the ownership game,” he says at the end of the interview. “It’ll be fun to have that side back again.”

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Toast, Ice Cream + More

Posted By on Wed, Sep 13, 2017 at 1:24 PM

https://www.styleweekly.com/ShortOrderBlog/archives/2017/09/12/bike-restaurant-week-launches They're bringing the deliciousness across the river: Toast owners Josh and Jessica Bufford unlocked the doors at the second location of Toast in Powhatan County’s Winterfield Place shopping center.

According to Richmond BizSense, Gelati Celesti is opening a much bigger production plant —four times larger — to keep up with the ice-cream demand. It also is considering Virginia Beach. Next up: the world.

Pumpkin spice beer is highly divisive, and this Virginia brewery wants you to bring in a bottle so they can pour it down the drain.

Although it’s no longer breaking news, it is happy news. The old Village Cafe spot will be renovated to accommodate Charlottesville-based Roots Natural Kitchen, described as, inevitably, fast-casual and serving natural food. You can get your grain bowl on in February.

We were promised a restaurant and it looks like we’re going to get it — next year. Stone Brewing is about to start renovating Intermediate Terminal site nearby for the four-floor spot, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, to open later next year. And that’s still about a year ahead of schedule for the brewery.

Shore Dog Cafe has a new chef, Tommy Levitt, formerly of Richmond Restaurant Group. Along with consulting chef Michael Grayson, the menu is undergoing an expansion to include new dishes and seafood options.

Chef and owner of Butler’s Unique Catering, Todd Butler, has opened a brand spanking new Olio at 2028 W. Cary St., reports the Times-Dispatch. Butler bought the naming rights from original owner Jason Savedoff last year.

Bike Walk RVA is about to launch its first restaurant week. It will be held Sept. 17-21 and will feature plenty of restaurants, deals and discounts and even bike tours to get you to your destination.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bike Restaurant Week Launches

Roll on over to your favorite restaurant.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 12, 2017 at 1:43 PM

It’s an opportunity for zero-sum eating: Bike Walk RVA is throwing its first restaurant week from Sept. 17-21. Restaurants that have signed on will offer discounts or promotions to customers who ride over, instead of driving over. And if you’d like a little guidance, Bike Walk RVA will lead cycling tours each night to get you more comfortable with Richmond’s bike-friendly developments.

“There is nothing quite like a casual evening ride with friends or family to your favorite local restaurant or exploring a new neighborhood on two wheels to try a new place to eat,” said Brantley Tyndall, community engagement manager for Bike Walk RVA in a news release.

There are a whole bunch of restaurants participating —  the Roosevelt, Casa del Barco, Stir Crazy, Lunch/Supper, even Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market. Here’s a link to the list so you can check out the ones in your neighborhood.

Or, hey — crazy thought: Why don’t you cycle on over to another neighborhood to try something different or to burn off a few extra calories? You may even be able to borrow a bike with the new RVA Bike Share program.

“On a bike,” says Zach Archibald, owner of another participating spot, Lamplighter Roasting Co., “you put yourself ‘in charm’s way’ when it comes to the highlights of city life.”

Friday, September 8, 2017

Fan Noodle Bar Will Transform into Pik Nik on Sept. 17

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 1:58 PM

Rival noodle shops. Rival brothers? Not really.

Sonny Kiatsuranon and his brother, Joe, grew up working at their family’s restaurant, Mom’s Siam. Later, Sonny left to start Fan Noodle Bar, while Joe opened My Noodle & Bar, which is also in the Fan. Confused? The Kiatsuranons were concerned about that.

“A lot of people found it confusing,” Joe says. “[They’d ask], ‘Why aren’t you joined together?’ We want to make it one place so that people don’t get lost.”

Actually, the brothers are creating two places that will be very different from one another. Fan Noodle Bar will merge with and move to My Noodle & Bar’s location via its menu, where you’ll find its dishes dotted throughout. For the space at 2301 W. Main St., the Kiatsuranons are trying something new.

Pik Nik will offer affordable, contemporary American food, says Alex Bailey, the bearded chef who’s done stints at Max’s on Broad, Patina Restaurant & Grill and lately, Shore Dog Cafe. “It’s going to be very eclectic. You’ll see a nice mix. … It’s not going to be your traditional Richmond restaurant concentrating on a certain genre.”

The interior design will be another dramatic departure from the former Fan Noodle. “People know my food,” says Joe. “I want them to see what else I can do.” The design, he says, is in his head. And he’s meticulously planned each day until opening on Sept. 17 — three days to put up a wall, three days to finish the patio and so on until he’s done.

The Kiatsuranons, Bailey and general manager Rob Smith took a trip to New York for some inspiration and to refine the concept. “What are you going to think about when you take a girl on a date?” he says. “We thought about a picnic in a park. We wanted to bring it into a restaurant.”

When I stopped by, a rustic wooden wall was going up inside and above it, the tin ceiling had been painted sky blue. Joe plans to have clouds painted across it, to underscore the outdoor, picnic vibe he’s looking for. Murals by artist Mickael Broth will finish the inside.

The front windows will roll up on nice days and a small bar — just inside the restaurant — will serve the patio. “We want it to feel like an old farm or park,” Joe says. He’s designed small picniclike tables made of distressed metal and dark wood that are surrounded by a shiny, corrugated steel wall and cross-hatched fencing.

After opening, Pik Nik will be in the hands of Smith and Bailey. Older brother Sonny says, “I cannot do it all.” Joe concurs. The younger brother also is co-owner of Sabai and YaYa’s Cookbook in the West End.

“[We’ve] always done Asian food,” he says about Pik Nik. “I wanted to do something different.”

Correction: Joe Kiatsuranon and his partner Brandon Pearson are not planning to open a second Sabai at this time. We regret the error.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Weekly Food Notes: Doughnuts, Bagels + More

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 4:22 PM

Sugar Shack is opening its 12th — yes, its 12th location — this time in Washington. And the sweet takeover of our mouths and minds continues.

Mike Ledesma is a busy, busy man. Aftr leaving Richmond Restaurant Group, he revamped the menu at hot spot Kabana Rooftop. This week he announced that he’s speeding down the tracks to the opening of his very own restaurant which will be located in another hot spot, Scott’s Addition.

Bagels kept my children alive when they were younger, and I have a keen appreciation for their subtleties. Nate Mathews trained in New York and makes some of the best in town. Now they’ll reach a wider audience later this year. Mathews plans to open Nate’s Bagels, with a seating capacity of 12, at 19 S. Allen Ave., reports Richmond BizSense.

South Side quailed when Martin’s closed in the Shops at Stratford Hills. Suddenly, the convenient way to pick up an onion or a can of tomato paste vanished. That may change soon — although it hasn’t been confirmed exactly. The Times-Dispatch does confirm that Publix has bought the property. “At this time, we can confirm the purchase of the real estate. However, we are currently in the due diligence process and are evaluating our next steps. When additional information becomes available, we’ll be happy to follow up,” Publix spokeswoman Kimberly Reynolds said in an email to the paper.

Vagabond, the ever-changing restaurant by the National, has a whole new bag on its bindle. Mama J’s Kitchen’s Lester Johnson and folks from the Jake Crocker-owned Lady N’awlins Cajun Cafe and F.W. Sullivan's have taken over and revamped its menu, Richmond magazine reports. You can expect Mama J’s killer soul food from its former kitchen manager-turned-chef Katrina Mazyck.

The man behind Luncheonette and Luncheonette Northside, Brad Barzoloski, has just upped the ante. Capitol Waffle Shop, his latest venture, is open at 1110 E. Main St., reports the Times-Dispatch. “The concept is simple,” Barzoloski told the paper. “We put a whole bunch of crazy toppings on waffles.

Correction: Publix bought the Martin's property in the Shops at Stratford Hills, not the Stratford Hills Shopping Center as originally cited.

Sugar Shack Adds Another Location

This one is in Washington.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 6, 2017 at 11:47 AM

Like a sweet, sweet balloon, Sugar Shack Donuts keeps expanding. And I doubt you’ll find many complaints. The latest shop unlocked its doors in Washington at 1932 Ninth St. N.W.

This makes a whopping 12 opportunities from Florida on north to take a bite of sometimes unexpected and surprising flavors. Pineapple jalapeño, anyone? And to lure you in — because doughnuts are so easy to resist — Sugar Shack is also offering 30 percent off on its coffee during on weekdays in September between 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at its Richmond locations.

Curious about what goes on behind the scenes at Sugar Shack? This story from April delves deep into its fryers.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

A New Restaurant From Mike Ledesma Is Opening in the Joy Garden Space

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 11:55 AM

Let’s go to the default in the restaurant industry — constant change. Unrelenting, never-ending change. And that’s a good thing for Richmond diners.

People mourned when Joy Garden at 2918 W Broad St. closed last year. A fixture for 60 years, it was impossible to imagine the landscape without it. But it’s time swallow your residual sorrow — Mike Ledesma announced today that he’ll be opening a new restaurant in that much-loved space in Scott’s Addition. The chef has worked in a lot of cities, including Oahu, Hawaii, and says those places will influence the menu he plans, along with dishes he learned from his Filipino family.

Most recently, Ledesma was the executive chef for Richmond Restaurant Group and then revamped the menu at Kabana Rooftop. He plans to remain its executive chef.

“When you open a restaurant, you get to take full ownership of the menu and the path it’s going to take,” Ledesma said in a news release. “I like to have the ability to push culinary trends. When I play with food, I want it to be creative.”

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