Wednesday, September 18, 2019

High Tides and Good Vibes: Island Shrimp Company Offers Tropical Getaway

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 5:05 PM

If you’re looking to revisit that island resort, Caribbean cruise or even spring break, Island Shrimp Company has got you. The third dining concept from the family that brought us the Boathouse and Casa del Barco, Island Shrimp wants to give guests a mini vacation via a full-on immersion into tropical food, decor and music.

“We felt like this space was craving something new,” says Paige Healy, chief creative officer for parent company the Housepitality Family. “We wanted to connect with people who are used to crossing the river to have dining experiences.”

The eye-catching building in Chesterfield Towne Center is a mashup of turquoise shipping containers, glass walls and balconies. Bright murals, ceiling neon and a turquoise-peach-pink-green color scheme immediately set a tropical vibe. Live Caribbean music will invite dancing on the rooftop deck, where a wide bridge will connect to the forthcoming Casa del Barco next door.

As part of the research for Casa del Barco years ago, the Housepitality Family sent the chef to eat his way through Mexico. Similarly, Healy and concept chef TJ Borawski hit food trucks in Hawaii, cookouts in Jamaica and eateries in the Bahamas to develop the Island Shrimp menu.

The food hits the concept home, with island-inspired dishes like four different shrimp options, poke nachos, chicken curry bowl, sofrito shrimp dip, mushroom banh mi and papaya salad. The tiki-tinged bar menu includes house-made pina colada and hurricane mixes, fresh-squeezed juices and hollowed-out pineapples as cups. You can even get your spring-break zombie.

Island Shrimp is clearly here to bring big fun to Chesterfield, and there are many on-trend operational details to ensure guests stay in a chill vacation mindset. For example, each table has a colorful coaster-sized card -- place it in a tall wire stand if you need attention. Orders are marked on a bright paper menu, then handed to the server. Getting separate checks? No problem, each paper slip creates an individual bill -- easy on both guests and servers.

“We knew we could bring our high level of service to this idea,” Healy says. “I was inspired by other restaurants in not just Hawaii but London, Rome, New York, all over the world.”

Judging by the long-lived success of the beachside bar at the Boathouse at Sunday Park, Richmond diners will probably cruise right into Island Shrimp Company. It opened on Tuesday, Sept 17 at 3:00 p.m. for happy hour.

Island Shrimp Company

11500 Midlothian Turnpike, Chesterfield, VA 23225

Mon - Thu 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Fri - Sat 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.

Sun 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Gingerbread Is Back

Hardywood has announced the release schedule for its series of beloved holiday stouts.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 4:00 AM

It tastes like Christmas, it has a cult following and it’ll be available for preorder in a couple weeks. Even sooner if you’re a Family Tree Beer Club member. Yes, of course we’re talking about Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s coveted Gingerbread Stout (GBS), the seasonal brew with a perfect score of 100 from Beer Advocate magazine that first released in 2011.

Twelve varieties will be available this year, and starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, you can order the complete set, which includes a bottle of each. You’ve got your original, of course, along with the Christmas Pancakes version featuring maple syrup, Christmas Morning brewed with coffee and the various iterations that are aged in bourbon and brandy barrels. New this year are the Fluffy GBS, brewed with toasted marshmallows, the Frosty GBS with coffee and cacao nibs and the lactose-free Gingerbread Porter.

The original GBS and Christmas Pancakes will be on the menu in the taprooms starting on Saturday, Nov. 2, and the others will debut over the course of every subsequent Saturday through Dec. 14.

Worried they’ll sell out before you’re able to submit your order for the full set? Consider joining the Family Tree Beer Club, which gives you early ordering access along with discounts, special events and a free birthday pint.

Order your GBS set here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top Chefs

Longoven makes Bon Appetit magazine’s top 50 new restaurants of 2019.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 12:52 PM

It’s been an eventful week for Longoven, which continues to rake in national accolades. Six days after the Scott’s Addition restaurant was declared one of “two new enchanting reasons to drive and dine” by renowned restaurant critic Tom Sietsema, Longoven appeared on Bon Appetit magazine’s list of nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants 2019.

It’s the only Virginia restaurant on the list, and other cities represented include New York, San Francisco, Nashville, Philadelphia and Raleigh. Each nominee gets a photo with a short description, and Longoven’s write-up reads “Tweezer food you’ll actually enjoy!” It’s the only description with an exclamation mark, so, extra points for enthusiasm, right?

On Sept. 17, the 50 nominees will be narrowed down to the final Hot 10 list, and a celebration in New York will take place Oct. 19.

Andrew Manning, Patrick Phelan and Megan Phelan quickly established a following by holding successful pop-ups for three years, and the brick and mortar restaurant opened last summer.

Check out our previous coverage of Longoven here and here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Back to Business

Riverbend Coffee Co. takes over Captain Buzzy’s Beanery in Church Hill.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Tasha Bobrosky's 2003 Honda CRV, Tallulah, is a lady of the night.

"She's red, she glows, she's hot," says the co-owner of Riverbend Coffee Co., which took over the infamous Captain Buzzy's Beanery space in Church Hill in July.

Her car complements her husband-turned-business-partner Brian Colegrove's 1995 rusty Dodge Ram frequently parked outside the shop. It makes an ever-so slight-noise when the brakes are pumped, he says, but it does the job.
Today, the truck transports Oreos needed for a Riverbend milkshake — one part of the shop's overhaul of Buzzy's menu.

The couple is quick to say its favorite food item is the Country Peach panini, a savory and sweet combination of country ham, scallion cream cheese, jalapenos and peach preserves. Concocted by a friend who's also a chef, the menu includes a balsamic pork panini with roasted tenderloin, basil and fontina cheese and an ultimate grilled cheese with Gruyere, cheddar and bacon. Nightingale ice cream sandwiches are also available along with smoothies, bagels and scones.

"We're not selling Sam's Club baked goods," Colegrove says with a chuckle. "Everything is baked in-house."

While it's keeping true to Buzzy's classic Sumatra dark roast, Riverbend diversifies its coffee portfolio with Costa Rican beans, a Brazilian medium roast and blueberry coffee. With Bobrosky and Colegrove being new to coffee roasting and business ownership, it's been a chaotic process.

"We're learning as we go, but [our staffers] are awesome people," Colegrove says. "We look to them as to what's next."

Bobrosky's last day as a full-time dietitian before being round-the-clock at Riverbend is coming up. As she mentions it, she remembers when her dream was to be a farmer. Colegrove interjects to say he doesn't know why since she's able to kill a succulent.

Although he's not giving up his day job in telecommunication sales just yet, Colegrove says he's excited to see where Riverbend takes him in a year. Bobrosky looks forward to curbing her recurring nightmares of forgetting how to make a latte or BLT.

"It's so odd because both of us at our jobs are the go-to," Bobrosky says of adjusting to not knowing everything yet. "But we have a lot of backup."

As for revamping the space — which included upgrading the espresso machines and coffee brewers — it was an extensive process. When they say they cleaned the premises with a toothbrush, they're not kidding.

But Bobrosky, a dedicated Buzzy's customer for nearly 10 years and TV fanatic who allegedly wins at "Friends" trivia every time, says it's worth it. The 16-year dietitian always wanted to open a coffee shop that resembled the setting of the '80s show Cheers, where everyone knows everyone and meets up at the neighborhood spot. She even modeled the women's bathroom after Rachel and Monica's apartment in "Friends."

So she welcomes her life feeling like a sitcom.

Included in the character list are staffers who worked at Buzzy's for years — and who Bobrosky and Colegrove say are the backbone of the shop," and the regular customers who've been with Buzzy from the start, such as Eddie Jenkins, a local cop, and Mr. Rucker, who has his designated couch near the window.

The next step for Riverbend? Wholesaling its coffee, potentially establishing a coffee cart and creating a space near Buzzy's classic coffee roaster, a limited edition 1980 Probat GN12, for locals to keep their personal mugs.

"Nobody else is putting their lips on my mug!" Colegrove jokes.

Riverbend Coffee Co.
2523 E. Broad St.
Mondays - Fridays 6:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturdays 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sundays 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Armenian Pride

The history behind one of Richmond’s longest running food festivals.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 1:00 AM

At lunchtime on a Tuesday in late August, the first floor of St. James Armenian Church is bustling. The 61st annual Armenian Food Festival is less than two weeks away, so it's preparation crunch time for the dedicated team behind the event.

In the kitchen, neat rolls of bourma, a traditional Armenian dessert resembling baklava, line jumbo baking sheets in various stages of production. One apron-and-hairnet-clad volunteer slices the rolled sweets and paints them with butter before popping the pan into the oven, while another drizzles a generous serving of simple syrup over a hot, fresh batch.

In the adjacent room, a multigenerational group of mostly women focus on the early bourma-making steps: gently folding a sheet of phyllo dough in two, painting each side with clarified butter, spreading on a mixture of walnuts, cinnamon and sugar and then, using a small wooden dowel, delicately rolling it into a long, narrow cylinder.

The Armenian Food Festival, which runs Sept. 6-8, started out as a humble bake sale to fund the building of the church. It has since grown into a multiday outdoor event that includes musical performances, a gift shop and an expansive, ever-growing menu of Armenian entrees, sides, desserts, beer and wine.

"In addition to it being a major fundraiser for the church, it's also bringing Armenian culture and history to Richmond and making sure people know about us, everything about us," says Leiza Bouroujian, a committee chairwoman and festival organizer. "We wanted to make sure to give back to the community by exposing them to our wonderful cuisine that we're very proud of."

  • Ash Daniel

Lilly Bouroujian Thomas, Leiza's sister-in-law and a longtime festival organizer whose mother taught her to cook, says the recipes came from the church's original elders, and had already been passed down for generations before the festival started. She and the cadre of cooks, spanning in age from grandparents to adolescents, are protective and loyal to the recipes, while remaining open to adaptations, like folding the phyllo sheets in half during the bourma-making process to prevent rips.

And the preparation will continue through the final day of the festival. Once the team finishes the desserts — roughly 2,500 of each variety — they'll move on to other tasks, like marinating meats for kebabs. Beeshee, a fried dough with syrup, will make its debut on the menu this year, and the hye burger of ground beef and lamb has developed a devoted following. Heaping pots of pilaf, a rice dish with spices and veggies, will continuously make their way from the kitchen to the dining tents throughout the weekend, and she says they anticipate selling out by closing time on Sunday.

Bouroujian Thomas grew up in Lebanon, where her family settled after her grandmother survived the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s. When she arrived in Richmond, the concept of a food festival was foreign but exciting to her, so she was eager to get involved and help cook. In 1994, when her beloved mentor Virginia Ashjian Greene fell ill, Bouroujian Thomas took on more responsibility and became a driving force in the kitchen.

'She was so sick, she said 'Lilly, I want to give you my food festival books. I know you can do this,'" she says. "Every time I think about it, I get goose bumps. I still have her books."

Armenian Food Festival
St. James Armenian Church
843 Pepper Ave.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday noon - 5 p.m.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Closing Time

Pearl Raw Bar will serve its final oysters this Sunday.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 29, 2019 at 4:56 PM

Make way for a new restaurant in the Fan. Pearl Raw Bar, which has been serving up an extensive, seafood-heavy menu with a focus on oysters for six years, recently announced that it will close its doors this weekend.

According to a press release from Richmond Restaurant Group, which owns and operates Pearl, an “exciting new concept” is in the works for the space. No word yet on what that’ll be, but we hear it’s something that isn’t already in the group’s purview.

You’ve got two more chances at happy hour, which runs 4-7 p.m. on weekdays, and two more shots at brunch, served 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Pearl will serve its final rounds of seafood platters and cocktails on the night of Sunday, Sept. 1, though the press release says the restaurant “will remain open for all private parties that have been previously booked in the Vintage room.”

Monday, August 26, 2019

Any 'Wich Way

RVA Sandwich Week kicked off on Monday, Aug. 26.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 26, 2019 at 3:10 PM

Do you prefer chips or fries with your sandwich? How about $100 to spend on Amazon?

For Style’s annual Sandwich Week, 15 area restaurants are offering special sandwiches for $5-6. Try at least three of them, have your servers sign off on your passport and then turn the sheet in to have your name entered in a drawing for the aforementioned gift card.

At the Flyin’ Pig in Midlothian you’ll find a hearty breakfast sandwich laden with smoked brisket, an over-easy egg, American cheese, pico de gallo and mayo. In Manchester, Camden’s Dogtown Market offers up the veggie-heavy Viet Baguette, featuring hummus, fried eggplant and roasted and pickled vegetables. The Camel, located in the Fan, embraces the carnivore with a turkey Rueben, an Italian melt and a chicken cordon bleu sandwich. The best bang for your buck is either the $6 fried chicken thigh sandwich at Burgerworks in Glen Allen, or the $6 Cleopatra at Secret Sandwich Society, a caprese-inspired meal served with chips and pickles.

Other participating restaurants include Beauvine Burger Concept, Industrial Taphouse, McCormack’s Big Whisky Grill, Metro Bar and Grill, New York Deli, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Sedona Taphouse, Sticks Kebob Shop and Wood and Iron Gameday Restaurant and Bar.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Helping Hands

After Ita's Food Truck was totaled in a highway crash, friends created a GoFundMe campaign.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 15, 2019 at 6:15 PM

When Kristina Melendez-Thompson posted to Facebook last Saturday afternoon, she was full of gratitude. She thanked a list of strangers, friends and first responders, and wrote that she was “lucky and blessed to be alive.”

Melendez-Thompson survived a highway crash in her Puerto Rican food truck and walked away with only minor injuries. The vehicle itself, which rolled twice after a tire suddenly blew, was totaled, leaving its contents in disrepair.

Shortly after the crash, a family friend created a GoFundMe campaign to help Melendez-Thompson rebuild the family business. As of Thursday evening, donations reached more than $6,000.

Ita’s, a cheerful-looking truck covered in a rainbow of tropical-style flowers, could be found at events and festivals, plus breweries, business parks and farmers markets. The menu features meat and vegan empanadas, fried plantains and the vegetarian rice dish arroz con gandules.

Monday, August 5, 2019

In Season

The owners of Grisette hope a rotating menu and accessible prices will make the new restaurant stand out in Church Hill.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2019 at 2:21 PM

When chef Donnie Glass says he wants to use every part of the animal, he isn't kidding, which is why you'll find pig tails on the menu at Grisette, opening soon in Church Hill. Cooked low and slow before being deep-fried and served with honey, benne seeds, chilies, scallions and house-made pickles, the tail isn't the cute little curlicue you may be picturing — it's a long, hefty piece of meat with a bone running through the middle, cut into three or four pieces. The size and texture are similar to those of a chicken wing, and you eat it like corn on the cob.

Co-owners Donnie and Megan Glass, who met at the Charlottesville restaurant Public Fish and Oyster in 2015 and got married two years later, both know their way around a kitchen. Megan was recently a line cook at Lemaire, but her dining experience also includes front-of-the-house, so she's taking the lead as general manager while Donnie's at the helm as chef. They've also partnered with Andy McClure, who owns several Charlottesville restaurants and Citizen Burger Bar in Carytown.

The 50-seat restaurant, which the Glasses say was designed to look and feel like their own living room, will serve a meticulously curated menu of Southern French-inspired dishes with seasonal, local ingredients. They define local as anything within a day's drive, and when something is out of season it's off the menu. You won't be served cabbage in summer or tomatoes in winter, and the selection will change weekly.

Those tails, an often neglected cut of the pig, represent the type of cooking Donnie wants to bring to Grisette.

"While it's easy to cook somebody a duck breast or a rib-eye and make a beautiful sauce and put it on a plate, it's far more challenging to go to the farmers market, buy five ducks from Free Union Grass Farm, and say 'How am I going to make 100 dishes out of five ducks?'" he explains.

So how does he do that? By using the skin, fat, bones, necks, legs, thighs and breasts, while also incorporating "what's in surplus," like produce, legumes and grains.

"It can be done, but it's difficult. I think it's more fun," he says. "It's more fun than buying a case of duck breasts, having them sent to you and all you're doing is marinating them, scoring them, searing them and serving them. That's easy."

They've been tinkering with the opening menu for weeks, swapping ingredients in and out as farms' produce availability changes. Last week, the menu included a tomato tart with a green salad, goat cheese and black pepper tortellini, a summer bean salad with maitake mushrooms and steak frites with bearnaise. A lightly sweet foie gras eclair will be available as an opening special, and dessert will always be some sort of house-made pie with ice cream from Gelati Celesti. All breads and pastries will be made in-house, along with sauces, pickles, jams and preserves.

With the exception of a shareable charcuterie smorgasbord for $29, everything on the menu will cost less than $20, which the Glasses say was intentional. As young professionals who live in the neighborhood and love going out to eat, they wanted to create a space for people like them. Casual dress is welcome, Donnie says, and they hope Grisette becomes a regular go-to spot rather than a special occasion destination. Keeping the bar accessible is a big part of that.

Wines cost $9 or less by the glass, around $50 per bottle, and guests can pick a liqueur to build their own spritz. Classic-inspired cocktails, crafted by bar manager Caleb Donovan, who comes to Grisette after a lengthy stint behind the bar at Can Can Brasserie, won't exceed $10.

"We really want to cultivate a vibe where you can come in in shorts and a T-shirt and get a $4 beer or $8 glass of wine and hang out," Donnie says.

Grisette's doors haven't officially opened yet, but the owners say it'll be any day now. Keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

3119 E. Marshall St.
Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Binge on Bivalves for National Oyster Day

Posted By on Mon, Aug 5, 2019 at 10:02 AM

Today is National Oyster Day, so check your favorite spot for specials. The Boathouse and Saltbox Oyster Co. are offering half-priced oysters, and a handful of Richmond’s restaurants, such as Lemaire, Alewife, Aloi, Perch, the Savory Grain and Shagbark, are donating a portion of proceeds from oyster sales to the Virginia Oyster Shell Recycling Program. The statewide program, managed by the Virginia Commonwealth University Rice Rivers Center, collects shell waste from businesses and the public and diverts them back to the Chesapeake Bay for oyster reef restoration.

The Boathouse was one of the first Richmond restaurants to feature a private-label oyster on its menus, and its parent company Richmond Housepitality has gone all in on the concept. Now every Boathouse location offers five custom oysters from different parts of the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic ocean. Each oyster is grown by a different producer, designed to fit a particular flavor profile.

Simply named North, South, East, West and Salt, these oysters vary in their mix of the key oyster flavor elements: sweetness, salinity and minerality. The star is the West. Raised in the Piankatank River by Chapel Creek Oyster Co., the West is a particularly well-balanced blend of ocean and salt flavors, with a rich, almost buttery finish. It’s featured in the Boathouse’s oyster shooters, which are available with tequila, vodka, beer or sake, and it’s available fried with a side of chipotle remoulade.

Concerned about sticking to #MeatlessMonday? Don’t fret — because oysters don’t have a central nervous system, many vegans include them in their diets. Indulge guilt-free, and help rebuild the Chesapeake Bay.

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