Thursday, July 18, 2019

Raising the Bar

Recluse Roasting Project wants to make coffee more engaging.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 18, 2019 at 4:00 AM

“For some weird reason, ever since I was 12, I wanted to open my own cafe,” says Aimee Biggerstaff, one of those people whose passion for her work is palpable.

She could wax poetic all day about crafting and drinking the perfect cup of coffee, and after more than 15 years in the industry, she’s well on her way to living out those plans she detailed in her middle school journal.

Along with business partners Russell Durfee and Jack Fleming, who’s also her romantic partner, Biggerstaff is in the process of building out the space for Recluse Coffee Bar and Roastery, a European-style coffee shop in Scott’s Addition. It won’t be the cozy, “Friends”-style venue with plush couches and communal coffee tables Biggerstaff envisioned in the ‘90s, but it will be something Richmond hasn’t seen before.

Called a coffee bar, Recluse will be exactly that — a bar, but with coffee. Guests will sidle up to the semi-circle-shaped counter and order the same way they would at a traditional bar. Baristas will interact directly with guests, much like bartenders, using multiple tablets to run cards instead of a stationary cash register. Seating will be minimal, with standing room only at the bar and a couple high tables next to the windows.

“We wanted to see if we could do something different, have things set up in a way where if it was a quick takeaway service it’ll be fast and out the door, but also offer someone a beautiful service for here,” Biggerstaff says. “You can stand at the bar and read the paper, or stand there and have a conversation with someone else who’s at the bar. We want to try to create a space that’s more about engagement.”

Biggerstaff says she and her partners were inspired by cafes they visited in their travels, and they’ve seen this approach work in cities all over the world.

“It’s this throwback, that simple idea of walking up to a bar and the bartender greets you, without this whole to-do of lining up,” she says. “We also know, having been in the industry for so long, that it’s hard to break customers of habits. We’ve been taught to line up, so it’s going to be on us and our experience to really confidently guide people through the space.”

The goal is for the bar, at 2904 W. Moore St., to open its doors in September. The owners are doing the hands-on work themselves — Biggerstaff learned to pour concrete a few hours before interviewing for this story — while still roasting and distributing coffee around town.

Bags of Recluse Roasting Project beans are available online and at local retailers such as the Butterbean Market and Cafe, Union Market and Outpost Richmond, and you can find brewed cups of coffee at Pomona Plants and Sugar and Twine. The team also sells beans, beverages and Recluse merchandise at the pop-up farmers market at the Veil Brewing Co. — they’ll be there every other Sunday from July 28 to September 22.

Recluse Roasting Project

1310 Altamont Ave.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

Smoothie Spinoff

A year after launching her food truck, Pulp Fiction owner Ruslana Remennikova opens a brick-and-mortar shop with coffee, sandwiches and pastries.

Posted By on Sat, Jul 13, 2019 at 6:27 PM

Ruslana Remennikova has been told she walks like a ’90s era Uma Thurman — specifically the “Kill Bill Vol. 2” Uma, who punches out the coffin’s roof after being buried alive and proceeds to stalk angrily through the cemetery’s shadows.

But Remennikova’s gait is more of a bounce. Each step across the checkerboard tiles of her recently opened business venture, Pulp Fiction Lakeside, reads as intentional.

It’s how she leads her life. She’s a Quentin Tarantino fan because his movies follow that same purposeful energy. Despite this, Remennikova says Pulp Fiction is about her dream of selling cold-pressed juice, not the movie.

“[It’s] what I imagined the juice line to be called,” she says.

It’s been more than a year since she left her corporate chemist job to jumpstart a tinted-teal smoothie truck of the same name. Inspired by the tucked-away coffee scene in Barcelona, she found the perfect spot in January and knew a brick-and-mortar shop was the next step.

“This is the vision that I saw,” she says, reflecting on the five-month renovation. “There’s some magic in there that I can’t explain.”

The wood is an homage to Remennikova’s love for earthy tones, while a white penny tile wall accentuates the 420 square-foot shop. When she first found it, there was only a double oven on the left-hand side.

Whether it be the items on the menu or the European-inspired succulent plants that rest atop the perimeter of wooden shelves, everything has a story.

“I went to Sardinia with two friends and worked on an olive field for three weeks,” Remennikova says. “It was more than just an olive oil project. It was ‘How do we interact with each other? How are we helping each other? What are we really doing?’”

In comes the Sardinian, a tomato spread, anchovy and olive combination on a New York bagel. The Israeli, complete with hummus, olives and feta, speaks to her Jewish background while the Ukrainian, with provolone cheese and kielbasa, honors her family’s migration from Eastern Europe.

The coffee, which includes a signature Ru’s Brew, is supplied by Legacy Roasting Co., while locally baked pastries come from WPA Bakery. Her personal go-to smoothie, Legacy — containing spinach, golden raisins and bananas — is inspired by her father, with Bear Claw being a fan-favorite due to the espresso beans and gritty texture.

Although smoothies remain at its core, Pulp Fiction Lakeside values balance. She says having a healthy relationship with food is about owning what you eat.

“We support doughnuts,” she says excitedly, noting their presence on the menu. “I actually want to put that on a shirt.”

Reflecting on the past few years, she attributes her strength and growth to her dad, who died shortly after they completed an Olympic-length triathlon in 2016.

“It devastated me. I felt like I was robbed,” Remennikova says of losing her best friend. “But I always say he’s around because he is … I’m living through his energy.”

Dealing with adversity provides everyone with a decision, Remennikova says, have a negative outlook or improve your quality of life. She chooses the latter every day, saying it’s the route her dad, a funny, light-up-the-room guy, would choose — perhaps with an apple fritter in hand.

“I’m not a celebrity,” she says. “But I just feel like me providing a healthy smoothie makes someone happy. Or a yummy Mediterranean wrap. ‘Whoa, this is great, thanks.’ OK, that’s already a good response, and I’m happy with that.”

Pulp Fiction Lakeside

5411 Lakeside Ave.


Mondays - Fridays 7 a.m.- 3 p.m.

Saturdays 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.


Monday, July 1, 2019

Coffee-to-Wine Pipeline

With Fuel Pump, a New York couple brings an all-day work and social concept to Carytown.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 1, 2019 at 3:00 PM

Loki, named after the Norse god of mischief, sits idly in the high-top metallic chair closest to the bronzed La Marzocco coffee machines, his 6-year-old feet dangling above camo blue Gap flip-flops on the floor. He's used to keeping preoccupied at the bar top.

It's nearing the lunching hour at Fuel Pump, a coffee-station and wine-bar hybrid that celebrated its debut in Carytown on June 7. Since the panini set to be rolled out on the menu are still in the works, co-owner Mary Dail offers her son a buttery slice of toast.

Loki seems satisfied.

Dail has yet to find her favorite in the panini trial runs, noting that she's a hot-sauce-on-hot-wings kind of gal and they're not spicy enough. Andreas Waltenburg, the co-owner and her husband, interjects to agree that "food is merely a vessel for hot sauce."

Fuel Pump's Instagram account teases dishes for those with tamer taste buds, such as homemade hummus paired with bagels, ricotta toast with drizzles of honey and avocado radish toast placed strategically on a wooden cutting board — an homage to Dail's days as a photo editor at Martha Stewart Living. Dail looks forward to expanding the menu, especially for charcuterie fanatics.

"We have an idea of what we want to do but we want to be open to what people are receptive to, what they'd like to see," Dail says. "Because it'll be their spot."

Dail, having finished the layout and decor, is already prepared for her next project: refurbishing the patio into a community event space. In the coming months, she hopes to hold oyster roasts, Saturday morning cartoons for the kids, taco nights and, once the liquor license comes in, her husband's "badass margaritas."

But for now, the couple plans to fine-tune what made them start this shop and make the trek from the concrete jungle of New York: Coffee and wine.

"Every day, I find myself on the coffee-to-wine pipeline," Dail says as she picks up her daily iced cortado. "I would have coffee in the morning and wine at night. … No one says 'Hey want to meet up for a water?' You usually say 'Want to grab a cup of coffee?' or 'Want to have a drink?'"

For Waltenburg, many of his connections started with drinks. To him, Fuel Pump's 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. schedule makes sense. "People are coming in, having a bite, having a coffee, and then all of a sudden, it's 4 o'clock and they're like 'OK, let's have a beer.' And they continue to work," he says.

Working-hour favorites include the couple's favorite coffee brand, Intelligentsia, in espresso, drip and iced form. It sold out in the first two weeks. As for the 15 wines? Waltenburg, who's been in the food and drink industry for more than 20 years, just goes for what he likes.

"I love wine," he says. "And a long time ago, I was working for someone who told me, 'Just F what everyone else is saying' … so we just make it fun and find something for everybody."

Fuel Pump has become their heart and soul, with Dail saying it's "mom-and-pop by every sense of the word."

Since Waltenburg still owns his bar in New York and Dail runs a photo studio, with another in the works, their days are far from typical.

But with a few espresso shots, it's doable.

Fuel Pump
3200 W. Cary St.
Daily 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Oh, You Put My Love on Tap

This Sunday, in collaboration with Virginia Pride, Hardywood celebrates beer and four years of marriage equality.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 7:11 PM

It started with a beer.

Then the beer became a celebration of marriage equality when four years ago, a casual conversation between Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Virginia Pride cannonballed into branding a beer together: Tropic Like It’s Hot.

The sour ale, with a refreshing finish that makers describe as tart and dry, is served in a rainbow-colored tallboy can that’s now distributed across stores and bars in Richmond. It mixes tropical fruits in the name of Pride and Lyft, which provides a discount code for a safe drive home.

This collaboration also resulted in Love on Tap, a free, family-friendly event featuring food, booze and entertainment that commemorates the Supreme Court’s 2014 decision to nationally recognize and guarantee the right to same-sex marriage. But the festivities are about more than just that — its fourth anniversary at Hardywood this Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m., gives Richmond an opportunity to be a part of something that recognizes national LGBT month while waiting for PrideFest in September.

Last year, organizers added LGBT-owned and allied vendors to the event, allowing business owners to market their products completely free of cost — all they have to do is provide their own 10-by-10 tent. Lori News, director at large of Virginia Pride, takes care of the rest.

“We kind of just look for a balance of vendors that offer quality goods or services, are based in RVA or the surrounding communities and just want to give back to the LGBT community,” News says.

Finding these vendors is a combination of word-of-mouth, reaching out to the community and social media groups like RVA Makers, Boss Babes and RVA Queer Exchange. As a self-proclaimed jam fanatic, News looks forward to seeing “Dayum, This Is My Jam,” a local vendor that sells — you guessed it — jars of jam.

For shopping, goers have Jini & Tonic for custom-made pins, Little Nomad for stylish kids’ clothes and treats for the family dog at Cool Canines Pet Care Services, among other vendors. La Bête food truck offers a Carribean-Creole mix while Go Go Vegan Go offers a plant-based take on meaty favorites. And this can all be enjoyed with pop-funk bands or drag performances playing in the background.

While Virginia Pride may be most well known for its Pride Festival in September, News says the organization also gives back to the community with its donations. This includes supporting other groups, establishing outreach programs and building scholarships of up to $10,000. A percentage of Hardywood’s sales on Saturday go toward these initiatives.

“It’s just an energy that really can’t be contained into one performance, one event, one day,” Erin Brunner, event coordinator for Hardywood, says of Love on Tap. “It’s so fun feeling like everyone is bringing that energy from this event out into the rest of the world and into the community.”

While James Millner, president of Virginia Pride, says it’s “a real celebration,” he hopes people come away with this:

There’s still a lot of work to be done.

He references the reality of multiple states and communities in which LGBTQ people continue being physically, socially and legally vulnerable. In Virginia specifically, it’s currently legal to fire — or refuse to hire — someone on the basis of sexual orientation.

“I think it’s important to say ‘OK, we can absolutely take this moment to celebrate and we can absolutely take this moment to recognize those who’ve gotten us to this point,’” Millner says. “But I think we also need to look at ourselves and say ‘I need to pick the baton up from here and move it forward.’”

Millner’s favorite parts of Love on Tap? It’s not just for the LGBTQ community. He’s found it fosters understanding, compassion and awareness.

News echoes this statement, recalling a 10-to-12 year-old boy dancing with his friends at last year’s event.

“It was probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen,” News says. “You could feel that he was comfortable in the community and felt at home. That’s really what makes me want to keep doing this. Just seeing that.”

The collaboration with Hardywood allows Virginia Pride to reach beyond the LGBTQ community, Millner says. With this comes an opportunity to create a conversation about inclusivity and diversity, even if an individual originally came to Hardywood that day just for their favorite IPA.

“When you find common ground … you find yourselves standing next to people who are not like you in some ways,” Millner says. “But you realize you’re there because you came for the same reason, and sometimes, it’s as simple as the fact that you came to get a beer.”

Love on Tap

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

2408 Ownby Lane

Sunday, June 23

1 - 6 p.m.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Drinks for Donations

Negroni Week, a philanthropic movement at bars around the world, kicks off on Monday.

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 5:09 PM

The exact origin of the Negroni is still a little fuzzy (much like your sensibilities after two or three of them), but the most widely accepted version of the story is that it was invented in 1919 at Café Cavalli, formerly known as Café Casoni, in Florence, Italy. So happy centennial, Negroni — let’s celebrate with a drink, shall we?

Negroni Week, celebrating the classic, simple cocktail of Campari, gin and vermouth, officially starts on Monday, June 24. Organized by Imbibe Magazine and Campari, this weeklong initiative invites bars across the globe to promote Negronis and support charitable causes. Since its 2013 inception, Negroni Week has grown to include nearly 10,000 venues and raised about $2 million for dozens of charities.

Several Richmond establishments, including Perch and Saison, have chosen to support Children of Restaurant Employees, an organization that supports families of food and beverage service employees during times of extreme financial strain and life-altering circumstances. Weezie’s Kitchen, which will offer variations with rum, mezcal and the Peruvian brandy known as pisco, plans to donate $1 per drink sold. The Jasper, known for its creative takes on classic cocktails, will feature a drink menu of about a dozen variations on the Negroni, including one on draft, in support of the group.

Aloi, supporting No Kid Hungry, will offer seven variations. At Greenleaf’s Pool Room you can look forward to a cold-brew coffee version and the increasingly popular white Negroni, a twist on the original featuring Lillet Blanc and Suze liqueur. Greenleaf’s charity of choice is Muttville, a senior dog rescue.

Other participating restaurants and bars include Secco Wine Bar, the Scott’s Addition location of Tazza Kitchen, TJ’s in the Jefferson Hotel, Laura Lee’s, Lemaire, Adarra, Alewife, Metzger Bar and Butchery, Metro Bar and Grill, Fat Dragon Chinese Kitchen and Bar, Southbound and Can Can Brasserie. And if you want to get in on the festivities without the booze, sidle on up to the bar at Heritage, where you can get a zero-proof Negroni-inspired mocktail with a vermouth tea blend from Roundtree Trading Co.

Information about Negroni Week is available here, and be sure to include the hashtag #NegroniWeek when you post those pictures on social media.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Clean Drinkin'

Charlottesville-based Juice Laundry is bringing its vegan, organic concept to Richmond.

Posted By on Tue, Jun 4, 2019 at 4:41 PM

The Juice Laundry has been pressing and blending entirely organic, vegan and gluten-free products since its humble 2013 beginnings as a juice delivery service in a corner of a Charlottesville doughnut shop. Owners Mike and Sarah Keenan expanded the concept into a brick-and-mortar storefront in 2015, serving an extensive menu of juices, nut milks, smoothies and breakfast bowls. They have since opened a second Charlottesville location and another in Washington.

Last week, the owners announced that Richmond will soon get its own Juice Laundry. The Richmond menu and overall concept will be identical to the others, but it’ll be owned and operated by Richmonder Billy Salter in a licensee arrangement.

“We’re always just spread a little thin,” Mike Keenan says. “So when Billy brought this idea to our attention, and knowing his background and expertise in running food establishments, we were like ‘Oh, this is perfect.’ It’s a great way for us to expand into Richmond, which is something we’ve been wanting to do for years.”

Juices, served in 17-ounce glass bottles, include veggie-heavy concoctions like the Clean Green, featuring kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, parsley, ginger and lemon. The Rinse and Re-Beet is a blend of beet, carrot, cucumber, celery and lemon, and the Turmeric Tonic is just turmeric, lime and maple syrup with water. Dairy-free milks include cashew, chocolate-almond, Brazilian mint and chai hemp, and bottled cold brew lattes are available with cashew or almond milk.

One of the most popular smoothies on the menu is the vibrant pink Bradley’s CB&J, which is made with cashew butter, strawberries, dragon fruit, banana, dates and cashew milk. For something a little different, try the Waterboy, a bright turquoise tropical-tasting smoothie made with pineapple, mango, coconut water and Blue Majik, a proprietary extract of the blue-green algae spirulina. For every Waterboy smoothie or bowl sold, $2 goes to former NFL player Chris Long’s Waterboys, an organization that provides clean drinking water to communities in need.

Other menu items include gluten-free, dairy-free mac and “cheez,” a kale Caesar salad, vegan chili, cauliflower rice salad, a cashew-based Greek yogurt and granola parfait and chocolate chia pudding. You can also choose from a lengthy menu of bases, fruits and toppings to make your own smoothie or bowl.

The Juice Laundry also offers one-, two- and three-day juice cleanses, which consist of five bottled juices and your choice of nut milk each day.

The new shop will be in the River Road Shopping Center, next to Scout and Molly’s Boutique. And according to Salter, it will be more than just a juice bar.

“We want this to be a community gathering place,” he says. “We’ll have comfortable seating and the tables will have USB ports and electrical outlets so you can sit and stay a while. We really want it to be a place where people don’t just grab a smoothie for lunch and go.”

Along with co-working-friendly seating and WiFi, there will also be an enclosed Plexiglas room where guests can watch the behind-the-scenes juicing and bottling process.

Construction on the space is set to begin on July 1, and Salter is aiming for a September opening. In the meantime, mark your calendar for Wednesday, June 19 — Salter will be at Scout and Molly’s Boutique offering Juice Laundry samples from 4 to 8 p.m. Keep an eye on the shop’s new Instagram account, @thejuicelaundryrva, for updates.

Friday, May 31, 2019

From DJs to Dinner Service

The owners of District 5 have opened the Annex, a small, cozy taco and tequila joint in the Fan.

Posted By on Fri, May 31, 2019 at 10:48 AM

Consider the humble taco. Whether from a roadside cart, an upscale restaurant or a drive-thru window (come at me, bro), it's hard to go wrong with any variation of protein, veggies, cheese and heat inside a folded tortilla. Believed to have originated in 18th century Mexico, the taco has proven a divisive subject matter in 21st century Richmond. Corn or flour tortillas? Cilantro and onions on top, or the Americanized lettuce, cheddar and sour cream? Guac or sliced avocado? Where does the ever-debated topic of "authenticity" come in?

The team behind the newly-opened Annex is here to tell you that none of it is wrong. Tacos in Richmond continue to get more abundant and more creative, and luckily for us, there's room for all of them.

The Annex is a new spot in the Fan slinging tacos and tequila. Located at 1919 W. Main St., catty corner from Bacchus, it's the latest endeavor from the owners of District 5, the nearby restaurant and bar known for attracting the college crowds with its pub fare, buckets of Bud Light and nightclub atmosphere. The Annex is smaller, with a cozier, more neighborhood-like vibe. And according to Roland West, who opened the restaurant with partners with Hani Atallah and Gary Wenzel, that was intentional.

"I'm ecstatic. We're getting a positive response, but in a different way," West says, comparing the Annex to District 5. "It's more geared toward the food and dinner experience rather than a DJ and the bar."

West says he and the guys had lengthy discussions about creativity and authenticity, and where they wanted their tacos to land on that spectrum. Seems there's something for everybody, and West says they'll continue playing with the menu.

Build your own street tacos with barbacoa, chicken tinga or carnitas with your choice of toppings in either a flour or corn tortilla. Signature tacos include white fish with creamy slaw and avocado, carne asada with cojita cheese and avocado sauce or tequila-lime grilled shrimp with peppers and tomatillo-jalapeno ranch. You'll also find less traditional options, like the bahn mi taco with ground pork, pickled veggies, Thai basil and chili soy peanut sauce, and the fried eggplant topped with charred corn, goat cheese and cilantro.

If, for whatever reason, you're not in the mood for tacos, there's plenty more to choose from. Starters include an octopus tostada, chicken tinga taquitos and beef empanadas, plus a spring salad topped with fresh fruits and veggies if you're looking for something a little lighter. Chicken, steak and shrimp fajitas come with all the fixin's, and burritos served on 12-inch tortillas come with rice and corn salad.

Now let's talk about the bar. Frozen drink machines churn our four varieties frozen margarita: regular, strawberry, watermelon and Sour Patch Kids (which, yes, has candies floating in it), and all four flavors are also available on the rocks. Margaritas come in a standard 16-ounce glass or a giant fishbowl called 40 Ounces to Freedom. Dozens of tequila bottles line the shelves for mixing and sipping, and West says that number will soon hit 100.

"We can serve it any way you like it," West says. "Especially the higher-end stuff, you wouldn't see anyone drinking any other way but on the rocks or otherwise."

The Annex made its quiet debut on May 23, and the Tex-Mex joint is officially open for dinner seven days a week. West says the team is still determining "how the crowd's going to flow" each night, and to expect late-night specials on Tuesdays but probably not lunch any time soon.

The Annex
1919 W. Main St.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Frozen, Not Stirred

Nightingale rolls out a Manhattan cherry ice cream sandwich in collaboration with Reservoir Distillery.

Posted By on Wed, May 22, 2019 at 10:44 PM

Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches unveils its newest flavor tonight — Manhattan cherry. It’s a collaboration with Reservoir Distillery, featuring fresh black cherries macerated in Reservoir bourbon, then simmered and thickened until the alcohol cooks out.

The flavor will debut at the sold-out Full Disclosure Live: A Night with Nightingale this Thursday evening. The live event, hosted by Roben Farzad and broadcast on local NPR radio stations, will showcase Nightingale owners Xavier Meers and Hannah Pollack.

“Nightingale makes the best ice cream sandwiches around, and we like to think we make the best bourbon around,” says Jay Carpenter, co-owner and distiller at Reservoir Distillery. “It was a natural joining of forces.”

Carpenter worked with Meers and Pollack to develop the new flavor. It wasn’t as simple as dumping a Manhattan’s mix of bourbon, sweet vermouth and cherry syrup into an ice cream base.

“It’s a fine line because ice cream and alcohol don’t play well together,” Carpenter says. “Alcohol doesn’t freeze.” The partners also wanted an alcohol-free ice cream sandwich that non-drinkers and children could eat.

Although the commercial version is alcohol-free, Meers says the pair also experimented with an adult version that has actual bourbon.

“Of course we had to make something a little different for us,” Meers laughs. “We have a private collection.”

The Manhattan Cherry fits right into the decadent line of sandwiches that Nightingale is fast becoming nationally known for. The rich ice cream is tinged pinkish purple and studded with chunks of dark cherry. It’s nestled between two crispy brown-sugar cookies.

If the flavor isn’t bourbon-forward enough for you, Meers and Carpenter suggest pairing it with Reservoir’s new Hunter & Scott Rye, also being released today, and available by special order at ABC stores.

Look for Manhattan cherry sandwiches next week in stores and at Reservoir’s tasting room.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Chef Joe Sparatta's next venture is a restaurant at Hardywood West Creek.

Posted By on Fri, May 17, 2019 at 6:59 AM

Three of Richmond’s culinary golden boys have something new up their sleeves. Hardywood owers Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh have teamed up with chef Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound with plans to open a restaurant inside the brewery’s West Creek location, which sits on 24 acres overlooking Tuckahoe Creek. “The picnic mentality is something we keep going back to,” says Murtaugh. “We’re just trying to get people to reconnect with the outdoors, and make really high-quality food that people can enjoy without worrying about formal sit-down service.” The menu isn’t finalized yet, but Sparatta says to expect sandwiches, soups, salads, chips — no-fuss food that transports easily to a picnic blanket and pairs well with the ample beer selection. While the concept is a bit of a departure from what we’ve come to expect at Sparatta’s restaurants, he’ll continue to honor his commitment to local, seasonal ingredients.

“It’s a whole new challenge,” Sparatta says. “I kind of like doing things out of my comfort zone. That’s usually when I have the most growth, and I’m ready for a new set of challenges.”

The fast-casual concept doesn’t have a name, and the guys say they’ll probably keep it that way.

“Our initial feeling was just that this is a new element to what we offer at Hardywood West Creek,” says Murtaugh. “I think at the end of the day we feel that our goal at our facility is to create the ultimate beer experience, and to complete that picture is to have really high quality food to enjoy with the beer.”

Construction on the space is scheduled for this fall, with plans for the restaurant to be up and running by early 2020.

Hardywood West Creek

820 Sanctuary Trail Drive



Monday, May 13, 2019

Fat and Happy

The newest restaurant from Eat wants to be Richmond’s barbecue crossroads.

Posted By on Mon, May 13, 2019 at 10:06 AM

Barbecue has a way of being both a great equalizer and a polarizing culinary battleground. Everyone can agree the slow-cooked meats and hearty sides deserve a permanent and hallowed place in Richmond's dining world, but where do your loyalties lie? Are you drawn to the tangy vinegar-based North Carolina sauces? Memphis-style dry rubs? Brisket inspired by Texas? The sugar-forward variety that we call our own in Virginia?

Maybe you don't have to decide. One of Richmond's most prominent restaurant groups believes there's room for everyone, not just in the same city but under the same roof.

Introducing Fatty Smokes: A Barbecue Joint, the newest concept from Eat Restaurant Partners, known for spots like Foo Dog, Wong Gonzalez, Pizza and Beer of Richmond and Hot Chick. The new restaurant is on the 300 block of East Broad Street, and hospitality manager Chris Staples notes that nearby street parking is free in the evenings. Executive chef Mike Lindsey is at the helm, and the menu is framed with his extensive culinary background, which includes a stint as a pitmaster in North Carolina.

"Having Mike with all this wisdom and also a background in barbecue allows us to confidently say that we can be a barbecue mecca here in Richmond," says Staples. "There isn't a style under that roof that doesn't hold up to someone who specializes in it."

The menu includes standbys like beef brisket, sausage, pulled pork, smoked turkey and ribs, plus starters like fried green tomatoes, smoked wings and barbecue egg rolls. But much like many of Eat's other restaurants, Fatty Smokes offers up unusual twists on classics, like the Virginia lasagna — pimento macaroni and cheese topped with Brunswick stew and fried collard greens. Ribs are deep-fried and served alongside waffles, and a bowl of ramen features a pickled egg, collard greens, carrots and your choice of meat in smoked pork broth. Sandwiches include the Big Poppa with pulled pork, sausage, bacon and slaw, and El Jefe with beef brisket, beef hot links, pickles, fried onion straws and spicy ranch, both topped with Kansas City barbecue sauce and served between two chunks of toasted jalapeño cornbread with a choice of side.

Speaking of sides, Staples says they're enough to draw even nonmeat-eaters to the restaurant. The list includes green beans, herbed potato salad, jalapeño creamed corn, vegan collard greens and farm-style fries, which he says are like a hybrid between hand-cut and steak fries.

Over at the bar you'll find an extensive selection of spirits, local and otherwise. Six whiskey flights, each featuring three one-ounce pours, range from $15 to $32, with the priciest option offering tastes from Copper Fox, Tarnished Truth and Peerless distilleries. House cocktails all cost $10, with riffs on classics like the ManFattan, featuring bacon-infused rye and bitters.

The 24 taps include local and regional beers, of course, but Staples says barbecue doesn't necessarily lend itself to a hoppy, hyper-local selection. Familiar brews include the Brandy Barrel Wee Heavy from Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Tropic of Thunder from Stone Brewing Co., plus rotating taps from Bingo Beer Co. and Three Notch'd Brewing Co. Happy hour is every day 3 - 7 p.m. with $2 off draft beer and $1 off cans and bottles.

If somehow you save room for dessert, you have half a dozen sweet options to choose from, including sweet potato cheesecake with marshmallow fluff, peach cobbler bread pudding and a bourbon-pecan ice cream sandwich from Nightingale.

For the next week or so, Fatty Smokes is running a social media special, offering a free order of cheddar cornbread popovers to every table from Tuesday to Saturday between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. Check the restaurant's Facebook and Instagram for details.

Next on the horizon for Eat is an iteration of Wong Gonzalez in the GreenGate shopping center in Short Pump, which Staples says will be heavily taco-focused but not identical to the original.

Fatty Smokes
328 E. Broad St.

  • Re: Gingerbread Is Back

    • Hope the GBS is good this year. Last years was terrible.

    • on September 13, 2019
  • Re: Closing Time

    • Will they except their gift cards when the new business opens?? Or at any of…

    • on September 6, 2019
  • Re: Armenian Pride

    • Very excited! Soooo hungry right now!

    • on September 4, 2019
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