Side Dish 

Culture via tastebuds and some high-carb food relief

Food courts will be set up on Brown's Island and near auxiliary stages, and prices will range from pocket change to $10 or so. Festival admission is free. "We've tried to get a good blend of things people wouldn't taste all the time," says K Alferio of the festival, which runs Oct. 7-9. Because it's a rain-or-shine proposition, she says, "everybody is taking a risk, but the payoff is phenomenal. What we can do for this community is worth the risk, and not just financially. People are going to come away from this festival with a totally different understanding of music and culture."

Caloric benefit: Swanky Mac returns to Dogwood Grille and Spirits through the month of September, and $10 of each serving goes to Hurricane Katrina-related charities. The dish, white truffle macaroni and cheese with Maine lobster and asparagus, is one of the restaurant's most-requested dishes, co-owner David Shannon says.

New owner: Closed for several weeks because of an owner's illness, the Staples Mill Road restaurant Thai Country is keeping its name and daily lunch and dinner hours, but it has new owners and a new menu. Nukool Khaimug, formerly of Tara Thai in Vienna, says he's adding more authentic dishes to the menu, including a papaya noodle concoction and spicier versions of some traditional stir-fries.

Another taste: Now that Thai food dominates the local start-up scene, there's word of a former Cary Street Mexican restaurant possibly returning to Carytown. Though Nacho Mama's is a mainstay in the neighborhood, foodies and investors predict a little competition will spice things up in the ultra-hot restaurant scene (can this be true?) that is now Richmond. Stay tuned for details. — Deveron Timberlake

Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene? Send it to sidedish@styleweekly.com

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