Short Order 

Gingerbread architecture, Carytown adds a sushi place, restaurant review scams and more.

click to enlarge food48_short_avalon_200.jpg

Vision in Goth-Pointillist Pastry
Baker Mike Taylor of Avalon Restaurant & Bar lets his interest in architecture speak for itself. Hence, he's fairly low-key about winning a prize for a gingerbread house (pictured) that's part-pointillist, part-Gothic, as he describes it. And while the creation has been carted away to a winning bidder's holiday sideboard, there's always a new idea, plus the necessary ad-libbing, for next year: The Children's Museum of Richmond sponsors the gingerbread-house contest and auction each November.

Meanwhile, Taylor bakes all of Avalon's breads and desserts and works as sous-chef with the restaurant's new chef, Knox Vaughan. The Fan district hideaway is known for its broad bottled-brew selection, its nightly happy hour and moderately priced menu, which gives meat eaters and vegetarians a bunch of options. The duck pizza is particularly rewarding. 2619 W. Main St. 353-9709. www.avalonrestaurant.com.

Midnights in Paris
Garth and Max Larcen spent a week in France last month, presenting the innovative training ideas of the Positive Vibe CafAc to a contingent of 22 countries at an international disabilities conference.

“It was a wild scene and people were fairly amazed at what we have accomplished,” Garth Larcen says — “especially without government subsidies. I was surprised how much we are on the cutting edge of this training and how much support we have elicited.”

Meanwhile, back at the Vibe, a new holiday side-dish takeout menu has the slogan, “Buy your sides and help change lives.” See the Web site for details on items such as Indian corn pudding and baked oyster stuffing among many other traditional savory dishes. Executive chef Maurice Wells and sous-chef Chris Vaughan, both formerly with Fleming's, run the kitchen with help from guest chefs and a motivated, and now internationally known, staff.  www.positivievibecafe.com.

Scam and Mounting Criticism
Maybe we shouldn't give this scammer any publicity, but it's come to our attention that certain restaurant owners are falling for the newest (illegal) come-on — a doctored restaurant “review” plastered on a plaque for sale.

The scammers rewrite the food critic's actual review by taking out some of the real words (you know, the critical ones) and putting in the owner's fake (you know, glowing and hyperbolic) ones. Then they mount that fiction on an appropriately fake-wood plaque for a couple of Benjamins and, we hope, a lot of guilt for anyone trying to trick themselves and their customers.

Don't think we aren't checking out that phony rave on your wall by the cash register and wondering where these cons got your number.

Even More Raw
Carytown already has two busy and attractive sushi houses, Moshi Moshi and Carytown Sushi, but the neighborhood is poised to get a third one anyway — Momotaro Sushi, opening in early 2009 at 2803 W. Cary St., near Mom's Siam.


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