March 08, 2016 News & Features » Cover Story


The 2016 State of the Plate 

Richmond food and drink trends, overlooked stalwarts and nine dishes our reviewers couldn't forget.

click to enlarge L’Opossum chef David Shannon excels at precise execution, presentation and wordplay in dishes such as his Faberge egg bedazzled with caviar and dill-cured salmon.

Scott Elmquist

L’Opossum chef David Shannon excels at precise execution, presentation and wordplay in dishes such as his Faberge egg bedazzled with caviar and dill-cured salmon.

2016 Restaurant of the Year: L’Opossum
Memorable flavors, eccentric design and bold choices make this a clear Richmond favorite.

Full Plate: 9 Favorite Richmond Dishes to Try in 2016
From surprising vegetarian creations to homey cookies that can inspire a Proustian reverie, our reviewers look back on some of their most memorable dishes of the year.

Tasting Table: Let These 5 Richmond Food Trends Smack Your Tongue With Flavor

Unsung Heroes: Meet the Restaurants Flying Under Richmond's Food Radar

After Years on the Rise, Richmond's Cocktail Scene Finally Hits Its Stride

Tip of the Tongue: What's Missing in Richmond's Restaurant Scene?

On the Beaten Track: Where to Eat Like a Richmond Pro


It’s been a year of living dangerously. Aggressive expansion has been the watchword among Richmond chefs. No longer satisfied with single successful restaurants, they’ve found investors with checkbooks open and ready to help them turn on the lights at a slew of new establishments.

The list is long — but here are a few. Take a deep breath.

Deep Run Roadhouse added a new location on West Grace Street, Thai Corner’s Michael Ng opened JKogi, which soon expanded into the Thai Corner space, eliminating Ng’s original baby. Ren Mefford and Chris Tsui brought Boulevard Burger & Brew to life and have another one, Wong Gonzalez, on the way.

Ed Vasaio added Rancho T to his portfolio, Ryan and Travis Croxton opened Rapp Session next door to their original spot, Rappahannock, and Sabai joined older sibling My Noodle & Bar. Dutch & Co. began hand-making its upscale version of hot dogs at Stroops Heroic Dogs. Shockoe Whiskey & Wine’s Shawn Minter turned the key at a spot down the street and opened Shockoe Steakhouse. And Jessica and Josh Bufford closed Estilo and Dash Kitchen & Carry, but opened Hutch Restaurant & Bar and Talley’s Meat & Three, coming out even.

The winners in all of this are, of course, Richmond diners. While the industry — and the food press — struggles with the lack of women and minorities at the back of the house, new restaurants mean new faces and new opportunities in the kitchen. We hope.

Our reputation as a dining destination is still on the ascent. As restaurants multiply, so do choices. Each opening becomes another chance to impress and so far, Richmond chefs have stepped up to the plate. — Brandon Fox

About Our Food Writers

Brandon Fox worked her way through college and graduate school in and around the restaurants of Richmond. She started as a restaurant reviewer at Style in 2005, took over editing duties at R• Home and later became Richmond magazine’s food editor, helping to launch the Elby Awards. She’s back where she started, now as food and drink editor, where her food writing has been honored by the Virginia Press Association. She also is the self-appointed guardian and unflagging advocate for Richmond’s gluten-intolerant community.

Matthew Freeman has worked in restaurants, but his real food education comes from his travels to five continents, 47 states and eight Canadian provinces, always in search of new food to try. He prefers a hole-in-the-wall serving authentic international food to fine dining with linens and crystal. He’s happy that the Richmond dining scene continues to embrace seasonal and local products while pushing the boundaries of what Southern food can be.

Jack Lauterback is cohost of “Play Mornings with Melissa and Jack” on 103.7 Play, weekdays from 6-9 a.m. He’s also contributed a biweekly column to Style for seven years now, twice awarded a first place in the column-commentary writing category from the Virginia Press Association. Prior to that, he spent many years tending Richmond bars, including at Havana ‘59, Cha Cha’s Cantina and Lady Nawlins. He lives in the Fan with his girlfriend and his dog. He loves whiskey, but if you’re buying, he’ll drink anything you put in front of him.

Rachel Machacek goes to bed thinking about breakfast, considers dinner all day and can’t write a single thing before rifling through the fridge first. Before moving to Richmond, she wrote about food and restaurants — and many other things — in Washington. She’ll take swiss chard over kale, Ghirardelli Ultimate Fudge Brownie mix over homemade and SausageCraft over all of it.

Karen Newton is a dedicated eater who’ll try anything put in front of her. She’s happiest with small plates rather than entrees, a bar stool over a table and well-chosen music to aid in digestion. Her penchant for eating out finds its reward in the ever-changing menus and well-priced wine lists of Richmond’s most creative kitchens. And dessert, always dessert.




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