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Friday, August 31, 2018

Mediterranean Makeover

The team behind Tarrant's and Little Saint plan to open Bar Solita in the old Graffiato space.

Posted on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 4:00 AM

It’s been a couple months since Graffiato, Mike Isabella’s Richmond restaurant, closed. The group behind Tarrant’s Cafe acquired the keys shortly after, and recently announced that Bar Solita, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with an extensive bar, will open in the 123 W. Broad St. space.

“The equipment that was here really speaks to Italian food, obviously with the wood-burning oven,” says RVA Hospitality's Liz Kincaid. “But we just didn’t really want to do Italian right now. Mediterranean speaks to the way food and health are trending these days.”

The menu, which Kincaid says is still in development, will feature dips and other shareables with Spanish, Italian, Greek and Portuguese influences, plus a hefty international wine list and craft cocktails. As for the space, Kincaid says RVA Hospitality is making some “small cosmetic changes,” but nothing major, especially not to the bar.

“That bar was designed by someone who loves cocktails, you can just tell,” she says, noting that the current setup allows for high-volume service.

The group is aiming for an opening of Oct. 1 at the latest.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

By the Pint

This weekend's beer and cider releases.

Posted on Thu, Aug 30, 2018 at 1:34 PM

Nary a weekend goes by without the release of a new beer or cider, and how is a person supposed to keep track of it all? So for those of you who can’t resist a new brew, here’s a rundown of what’s hitting the taps and the shelves over the next few days.

Dark Dessert mint-chocolate stout | Three Notch’d RVA Collab House | Thursday, August 30

Summer is finally coming to an end (though who’d believe it, with these scorching temps), and Three Notch’d is waving it off with a dark, sweet stout brewed with mint leaves, lactose and cacao nibs.

Bergsaft | Steam Bell Beer Works | Friday, August 31

At 4 percent ABV, this Bavarian-style Hefeweizen has a “light biscuity flavor” and notes of banana. It’s available in 16-ounce cans.

Maple-spiced cider | Buskey Cider | Friday, August 31

Available in cans and on tap in the tasting room, this cider was made with maple wood spirals, vanilla beans, cinnamon and maple syrup.

All the King’s Horses IPA | Castleburg Brewery and Taproom | Friday, August 31

There’s no wrong time of year for an IPA, and Castleburg has a new one on tap. Described as citrusy with tropical fruit and melon flavor, it’s hopped with two different hops and comes in at 6.3 percent ABV.

River City Tap Water | Canon and Draw Brewing Company | Friday, August 31

Just in time for Labor Day, the classic American lager at Canon and Draw will be available in 16-ounce cans on Friday. It’s a crisp, easy drinkin’ beer brewed with Citra dry hops.

Farmhouse Pumpkin | Hardywood Park Craft Brewery | Saturday, September 1

It’s never too early for pumpkin, and Hardywood is one of the first to release a fall-inspired beer this year. Brewed with Virginia sugar pumpkins, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice and ginger, this Belgian farmhouse-style ale is all things fall in a pint class.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Shuffle on Over

Tang and Biscuit is open for business in Scott's Addition.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 29, 2018 at 3:16 PM

Remember a few months ago when we told you about Tang and Biscuit, the shuffleboard venue coming to Scott’s Addition? Doors officially opened last Sunday, and now that they've worked out some of the first-week kinks, they're holding a grand opening party this Saturday.

At 3406 W. Moore St., the 18,000-square-foot space features 10 regulation shuffleboard courts and a 50-foot bar. Corn hole, pingpong, giant Jenga and board games are also available, so there’s truly something for everybody.

As for what to nosh on between turns at the court, the beer menu lists domestic staples like Pabst Blue Ribbon and Corona, plus local favorites like Vasen Brewing on draft. True to the name, the cocktail list includes a Tangtini, featuring the classic orange powdered drink Tang, citrus vodka, fresh orange juice and Cointreau. To eat you’ve got biscuits (naturally) with sandwich fillings like pulled pork and coleslaw, chicken, bacon and ranch, and shredded beef with Chees Whiz. Loaded tater tots are also available, with four topping options — think nachos, poutine, barbecue and baked potato.

Hours are Mondays through Thursdays 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Hello, Fall?

Starbucks releases its pumpkin spice latte on Tuesday.

Posted on Mon, Aug 27, 2018 at 4:08 PM

The first day of fall is technically Saturday, Sept. 22. But we all know that the onslaught of fall-inspired paraphernalia starts showing up long before the leaves actually begin to turn (I’m looking at you, pumpkin display at Kroger), and Starbucks never fails to be one of the first to declare summer over.

This year, the coffee chain’s pumpkin spice latte — ever heard of it? — will hit cafes on Tuesday, Aug. 28. The sweet, espresso-based beverage featuring “notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove” has become available earlier and earlier each year; the release date in 2015 was Sept. 8, and it has crept up with each successive year.

A tall pumpkin spice latte with whole milk and whipped cream comes in at 330 calories and 75 milligrams of caffeine. Pro tip: If you want it to taste like an actual latte instead of a milkshake with someone whispering “coffee” in your ear, try it with just one pump of the syrup. It’s also pretty delicious served cold, if you can get past the cognitive dissonance of slurping down a pumpkin-flavored beverage when it’s 90 degrees outside.

Friday, August 24, 2018

High on Hops

Strangeways Brewing will release a CBD-infused beer this weekend.

Posted on Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 2:58 PM

OK, so it won’t actually get you high, but a new beer released by Strangeways Brewing this weekend does contain cannabidiol, called CBD, oil, a nonintoxicating marijuana extract. On Friday, Aug 25, the C.H.U.D CBD imperial red ale, featuring six types of hops, will be available at Strangeways. It’s a small-batch beer only available on draft, so be sure to try it before it goes up in smoke.

For your four-legged friends, Happy Hempies hemp-infused treats from pet supply company Best Bully Sticks will also be available this Saturday. And if all this starts to give you the munchies, Goatocado will be on site.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Pitching the Plastic

All Richmond-area Kroger stores will phase out single-use bags by 2025.

Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 12:10 PM

As part of its Zero Hunger, Zero Waste commitment, Kroger plans to eliminate single-use plastic bags from its stores by the year 2025.

“It’s a bold move that will better protect our planet for future generations," says Kroger's chairman and chief executive, Rodney McMullen.

According to a news release, estimates suggest that 100 billion single-use plastic bags are thrown away in the U.S. every year, and less than 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled annually. The grocery chain will "work with NGOs and community partners to ensure a responsible transition."

The Zero Hunger, Zero Waste initiative also includes a goal to divert 90 percent of waste from landfills by 2020, and an ongoing effort to send nutritious foods to local food banks and pantries.

Monday, August 20, 2018

It’s all about what’s between the bread during this year’s RVA Sandwich Week

Posted on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 2:55 PM

Which 'wich?

We've got lunch all week figured out for you. RVA Sandwich Week kicked off on Monday, Aug. 20. Sixteen restaurants are participating, each offering a specialty sandwich for either $5 or $6 and the chance to win a $100 Visa card.

Download the passport at rvasandwichweek.com to keep track of all the sandwiches you try, and be sure to have your server initial and date the sheet after each one. Available sandwiches include a roasted turkey and brie baguette at Chez Foushee, a tuna melt at Liberty Public House, a 'mater sammich at Union Market and a pressed chipotle steak flatiron at Wood and Iron.

Don't forget to submit your signed and dated passport to events@styleweekly.com or the Style Weekly office at 24 E. Third St. after you visit three or more restaurants.   

Finales in the Fan

In recent weeks, two restaurants within a block of each other in the Fan have announced their imminent closures.

Starlite Dining and Lounge, at 2600 W. Main St., will soon stop serving its pub-style food like cheese fries, wings, burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant, which has been operating since 2002, will hold brunch, lunch and dinner one last time on Saturday, Sept. 1. According to Rueger Restaurant Group operations director Shannon Conway, the space will soon house a concept similar to the restaurant group's popular Scott's Addition restaurants Lunch and Supper.  

"We know a lot of our regulars are sad to say goodbye, but they also know we're coming back with something they'll love from a brand we've worked hard to make very popular in RVA, Lunch and Supper," Conway says by email. " We're really grateful for the way the city has embraced Lunch and Supper, and we're excited to share a new concept that will play off these restaurants."

She doesn't share many more details than that, but does note that the new restaurant will serve as an "ode to one of RVAs favorite meal times!" I see you, Brunch. The goal is for the new concept to be up and running by January.  "We've loved serving Richmond as Starlite, and we can't wait to invite the #RVADine community to our newest addition!" Conway says.

About 400 feet away, Continental Divide is also preparing for Sept. 1 to be its final day. The second iteration of the brick-and-mortar spot in Charlottesville that's been serving tacos and an extensive tequila selection for more than two decades, the restaurant at 2501 W. Main St. never took off the way the original did. A Monday post on Continental Divide's Facebook page reveals that for the remaining weeks, happy hour will be extended to Tuesdays-Sundays, and "a couple more fundraisers and dance parties" will take place before closing day.

The post says the owners intend to search for a new Richmond location, but in the meantime, its truck Divide Ride Tacos will continue to show up around town to sling tacos, nachos and quesadillas.  

Summer Lovin'

For the third year in a row, the Veil Brewing Co. is holding the Forever Summer Fest. Held on Saturday, Aug. 25, the all-day celebration will benefit ChildSavers, a Richmond-based nonprofit committed "to the mental well-being of children and the positive bond between adult and child."

Beer from all over the country will be available by the 3-ounce pour. Breweries represented include Allagash Brewing Co., Hill Farmstead Brewery, Jackie O's Pub and Brewery, Sante Adarius Rustic Ales, the Answer Brewpub and Tired Hands Brewing Co. This year, the focus is on the "wild, funky, sour styles." If you want to brush up on sours before heading to the festival, check out Paul Brockwell's piece from earlier this year at styleweekly.com.

Tickets cost $100 per person, and the festival consist of three, three-hour sessions. Guests get one pour from each brewery and souvenir glassware.  

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Cultish Richmond Brewery The Veil May Be Coming To Norfolk

Posted By on Thu, Aug 16, 2018 at 3:15 PM

The Veil may be coming to Norfolk.

Excitement about the Richmond brewery occupying the old Norfolk Chop House space on Colonial Avenue has been mounting after a meeting of local business owners and a social media post by the Veil itself. Though small, the two-year-old brewery has an outsized reputation, inspiring fevered devotion among beer fans.

Its presence there would significantly raise the profile of beer in Hampton Roads.

Veil president and co-founder Dave Michelow did not deny the Veil is expanding to Norfolk. But he also declined to confirm it.

The brewery posted an Instagram story Wednesday showing the former chop house building at 2314 Colonial Ave. Emojis with a thinking face were placed over the photo, with a GIF of a woman dancing in front of the building. The post has since disappeared.

Immediately, speculation flared on social media.

The plans were also discussed at a Railroad District Business Association meeting last week by the developer Monument, an attendee and a colleague of attendees both told The Pilot. Tom Dickey, a principal with Monument, said that the building is under contract to 2314 Colonial Norfolk LLC, and any development is contingent on city approval. He declined to comment further.

The Veil is already in the process of opening a second location in Richmond. But their renowned head brewer, Matt Tarpey, has strong family and professional connections to Hampton Roads. He was raised in Chesapeake from the age of 12 and has called Norfolk his hometown. His first brewing job was at O’Connor Brewing in the city’s Park Place neighborhood, less than half a mile from the Chop House building.

On the heels of New Realm's Virginia Beach opening in September, a Norfolk brewpub from the Veil would be another feather in Hampton Roads' beer cap. Even outside Virginia’s borders, the Veil is the subject of fervor bordering on the cultish.

Each beer released by the brewery is met with the kind of dedication usually reserved for Beyonce tickets. Every Tuesday at 4 p.m., fans line up outside their brewery in Richmond's Scott's Addition neighborhood with lawn chairs and coolers, waiting hours for their chance to buy a limited allotment of Veil four-packs. Some drive more than three hours for the privilege.

There's reason to believe that even a small brewpub in Norfolk would draw beer tourists from outside Hampton Roads looking to sample the Veil's new and limited-batch releases. Of the top 50 Virginia beers ranked on beer-lover site Beer Advocate, 14 are brewed by the Veil.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Chef John Maher Returns to the Stove at Rogue

Posted By on Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Self-proclaimed old man John Maher is back in the kitchen after a six-year hiatus from cooking.

"I'm 36," Maher says. "That's like 50 in chef years."

Standing on a hard floor for 16-hour days makes his feet ache, but Maher's eyes light up when he talks about running the kitchen at Rogue, the restaurant he and his parents opened as the Rogue Gentlemen in 2014.

Maher grew up in Powhatan, and briefly considered studying architecture before realizing he didn't want to sit behind a desk all day.

He embraced his culinary career with serious panache. After earning a culinary degree from Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island, Maher took his first cooking job under chef Thomas Keller at the French Laundry in California. The famed Michelin three-starred restaurant has trained top chefs the world over, including Grant Achatz, Richard Blais and Rene Redzepi.

In 2005, Maher and a few other Laundry alumni left to help open a nearby Sonoma restaurant. For the next few years he bounced around the globe in typical chef fashion, cooking at renowned restaurants in Germany and San Francisco, plus others in New York, Washington and a tropical resort in St. Vincent. He returned to Richmond in 2012 to settle down and open Rogue.

Maher never intended to cook in his own restaurant.

"I wanted that ownership role," he says. "I wanted the restaurant to succeed with a greater vision than just me being the chef."

In San Francisco, Maher had developed an appreciation for the emerging mixology trend of bringing a chef's sense of flavors to cocktail blending. He opened Rogue partly to introduce Richmond to the concept, and promptly won an Elby award for best cocktail program in the city.

With powerhouse Will Longoria running the kitchen at Rogue, Maher focused on management, which included launching and cooking at the short-lived Japanese restaurant Yaki. Maher cooked a single pop-up night at Rogue late last year, offering the classic French food he was trained to cook.

When Longoria gave notice this spring, Maher was confident that Rogue's brand was solidly established and decided the time was right to get back to the stove. He returned July 6.

"I was really excited to cook again," he says. "I can introduce my modern French food to the city."

Like most chefs, Maher has deeply held beliefs about how certain dishes should be prepared. The cooking rules have, sometimes literally, been beaten into the heads of every chef who has worked in a serious kitchen. Maher is particularly passionate about the technique behind his pâtés, foie gras mousse and roasted meats.

"Classic French is ingrained in my soul," Maher says.

He means not only French technique, but the training. Maher is now the mentor, teaching his novice crew the way he was taught at the French Laundry. He is supported in the kitchen by sous chef Tyler Cartwright.

"Teaching is the most fun part, so far, of being back in the kitchen," Maher says. "Showing Tyler techniques I know, it's neat having someone who cares and wants to learn."

Maher has come full circle. Or, as the French say: "Plus ça change. …" S

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Scott’s Addition restaurants Brenner Pass and ZZQ both receive accolades from national food and drink publications

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 1:00 AM

Accolades Adding Up
Last week, Food and Wine magazine gave a considerable nod to Richmond, naming the recently opened ZZQ the best barbecue in Virginia. In the article, "The Best BBQ in Every State," David Landsel writes:

"Really, what isn't Richmond suddenly extremely good at? Add Texas-style barbecue to the list of musts in this food-mad town with the spring debut of ZZQ, in the excellence magnet otherwise known as the city's Scott's Addition neighborhood. Don't be fooled by the impressive venue — partners (in business and in life) Chris Fultz and Alex Graf might have had some help getting to where they are right now, but this isn't just some corporate joint, capitalizing on a trend, this is the real deal. Fultz and Graf started small, impressing first one small group of lucky folks and then another, with their backyard pop-ups — some time later, we're now here, and here is — well, it's delicious."

There's something ironic about naming a Texas-style joint the best in a state that claims Southeastern barbecue as its own, but hey, we'll happily add it to an ever-growing list of Richmond accolades.

A few days later, we find out that Brenner Pass is among Bon Appétit's top 50 nominees for America's best new restaurants for 2018. It's certainly not the first time owner and chef Brittanny Anderson has gotten national attention — earlier this year she was nominated for a James Beard Award, and she competed against Alex Guarnaschelli on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America."

Timing is Everything
Carytown Burgers and Fries owner Mike Barber broke a lot of hearts last year when he announced that the restaurant's flagship location would close due to the termination of his lease in the Richmond Shopping Center. Burger devotees have been asking about the next step for months and we finally have an answer: The owner recently purchased the soon-to-be-empty Nacho Mama's building at 3449 W. Cary St, a mere few hundred feet away, across the street. Nacho Mama's, a margaritas and nachos staple of Carytown, recently announced it is closing Aug. 31.

The beloved burger joint will stay open at the original location through mid-September, and reopen in its new home by the end of that month.

Boka's Bringin' the Barbecue
Last year, Boka Tako Bar and Boka Grill owner Patrick Harris quietly added Momma's Barbecue to Richmond's food truck scene. And now you can order a couple tacos with a side of coleslaw, or a smoked pork sandwich with some chips and queso, all under one roof.

As of a couple weeks ago, the full Mama's Barbecue menu is available at Boka Grill in Forest Hill. Most popular, Harris says, has been the roasted jalapeño Cuban: a sandwich featuring smoked pork, Dijon mustard mayonnaise, pickles, onion, jalapeños and a "fried cheese skirt" of cheddar and jack. The menu also features a double split sausage sandwich, a breakfast burrito, collard greens and a barbecue bucket featuring mac and cheese, beans, corn, slaw, pork and cornbread.

He's also got something new up his sleeve these days, and we'll keep you posted as we learn more.

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