First Impressions 

How Food & Wine Magazine sets certain hearts aflutter this month.

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When Kristin Donnelly came to Richmond in March to scope out the city's food scene, it wasn't quite a secret, but she wasn't telling too many people she was writing for Food & Wine magazine. They wouldn't know until later about the power of her palate and her pen to give their businesses a boost simply by publishing a favorable mention.

The magazine's July issue, now on its way to subscriber mailboxes and on newsstands next week, shows off some of the city's culinary newcomers. "We were focusing on places that were five years old or newer," Donnelly says, for a feature called "Food & Wine Across America."

Favorites here included Belmont Butchery, "something I was really thrilled with and wish I had in New York," she says. "There are plenty of great butchers here, but the fact that they're making their own stocks and have culinary training, that's really exciting."

A standout during the dozen-plus meals she ate over the weekend was dinner at Dogwood Grille & Spirits. "The combination of the quirky menu and wine list with sophisticated, serious food was great and unexpected," Donnelly recalls. Also getting high marks were Acacia, a longtime magazine favorite since Chef Dale Reitzer was named one of Food & Wine's top chefs; Can Can; and Jamaica House. "I went to Café Gutenberg for breakfast and had a bacon-and-egg panini that was just perfect," she adds, regretful that space limitations kept that Shockoe Bottom spot from getting coverage in the issue. "I like places like that, that can be many different things, just for coffee or a meal or a glass of wine. They have foreign-language conversation nights. … It's really lovely there."

At Comfort, "I got a totally delicious pulled-pork sandwich, and it was exactly the kind of place I had hoped would be in Richmond. Somewhere to get good Southern food that's inexpensive, with a casual, hipster feeling."

Next, the magazine visits Raleigh and Cleveland. S

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