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Weekly Food News

Weekly Food News: Zagat’s top 10 picks, a sudden closure, pollo rostizada, a biscuit and donut duo, and more

Hattie Mae’s closes without warning, a new biscuit and donut chain is coming to Short Pump, Boathouse owners eye two new spots in Chesterfield, and a look at Richmond’s delicious rotisserie chicken joints.

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All the news that’s fit to eat

Boathouse, Casa Del Barco owners set sail for Chesterfield Towne Center – HOUSEpitality Group, a team lead by father-daughter team Kevin Healy and Paige Healy, will drop anchor at Chesterfield Towne Center with two new restaurants in 2018, it was announced last week. The company, which operates four Boathouse seafood restaurants around Richmond along with and two sister Casa Del Barco upscale Mexican concepts, will open a third Casa location at the mall, along with an all-new concept, Shrimp Shack. Opening dates haven’t yet been determined. Find out more here.

In the battle of rotisserie chicken joints, everyone wins – There have been many (unsettled) debates on who has the best fried chicken in town (cough, cough Mean Bird), but what about the slow roasted rotisserie chicken joints? Local Peruvian charcoal-roasted chicken restaurant Chicken Fiesta was the first to serve its unique style of rotisserie chicken, known as pollo rostizada, in 2005. And now, recently-opened regional chain Super Rico provides a second option for the delicious, slow-roasted, marinated bird. So who reigns victorious in this #rvadine cock fight? Genevelyn Steele, writing for Richmond Magazine, says it all comes down to the sauce. But in these highly polarized times, why choose when you can have it all? Read on here.

Spin the wheel, save on a meal with a new app – Restaurant apps and daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are a dime a dozen nowadays, but a new concept that just launched in Richmond last week is doing things a little differently and caught my eye. Spotluck, a Maryland-based startup, is an app that allows you to spin a virtual wheel and save up to 35% at one locally-owned restaurant each day. Discounts are based on the time of day, how busy the restaurant is, and even the weather. All of these factors play into the company’s proprietary algorithm. It’s a neat concept, and might even save you the “what’s for dinner” conversation, if you’re willing to try something new or unexpected. I caught up with the founders of the app and found out what it’s all about. Read about it here.

New chef at Kabana Rooftop means the sky’s the limit – Kabana Rooftop is launching an all-new menu, and bringing on a noted Richmond chef to help usher in the changes and upgrades. Mike Ledesma helped launch Max’s On Broad, turned around Patina Grill, and has served as Richmond Restaurant Group’s Corporate Executive Chef where he oversaw the menu development and operations for all six restaurants including The Daily, East Coast Provisions, Pearl Raw Bar, The Hill Café and two Hard Shell locations. He’s now taking things to a new level–literally–cooking at the rooftop restaurant downtown. More here.

Travel guide Zagat names 10 must-try Richmond restaurants – The folks behind the famous Zagat guide visited Richmond, recommending 10 must-try restaurants and bars in town, saying:

Richmond, Virginia, is carving out a culinary niche all its own. Uniquely positioned in the part of the country where the Northeast meets the South, the city has the opportunity to take a “best of both worlds” approach to its food, fusing Southern comfort with pristine seafood, farm-fresh produce with timeworn butchery and inspired mixology with seasoned brewing. The restaurant landscape is indicative of a city meshing the old with the new, and as evidenced by the routine queues for classic-inspired pastries like kolache as well as contemporary Alpine cuisine, this is a city that’s all about balance.

Among the recommended restaurants are Rappahannock Restaurant, Maple & Pine, and The Rogue Gentlemen. Check out the full list here.

Savory and sweet: Rise Biscuits & Donuts opening August 19th – A fast-growing chain specializing in sweet donuts and savory biscuits is making its debut in the Richmond market August 19th with a location in Short Pump. Rise Biscuits & Donuts will occupy a storefront in the Corner at Short Pump shopping center across from Short Pump Town Center, and the opening weekend will benefit youth nonprofit Comfort Zone Camp. Get all the delicious details here.

Hattie Mae’s shutters Willow Lawn restaurant without warning – It seems like just yesterday that American Taproom closed its restaurant and bar at Willow Lawn in the Near West End. The restaurant was one of the first major new tenants to come in following the rebranding and repositioning of the mall–the oldest in Richmond–and a return to its outdoor roots after owners demolished the once-ailing center’s indoor mall portion. Owners of American Taproom repositioned their space as Hattie Mae’s, a southern comfort food concept, a mere five months ago. Late last week, employees showed up only to find the restaurant shuttered and no answers as to what happened. Now many of them are searching for work. Paul Whelan with the Richmond Times-Dispatch has the details.

The lowdown on fresh veggies at Richmond’s farmers markets – It’s prime vegetable season right now, and if your backyard garden isn’t absolutely bursting with fresh tomatoes and other veggies like mine is right now, you best get yourself to one of the local farmers markets this weekend, because Hanover tomatoes, local corn, and other summer favorites are at their peak right about now. Colby Rogers with Style Weekly has a roundup of the best local farmers markets and a look at a few hand-picked upcoming food events as well. Check it all out here.

This week’s restaurant reviews

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Weekly Food News

Food News: Top-tier pho and ramen coming soon, the current state of #rvadine, a Taste of Richmond, and a rooftop juice bar

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The week in food

It’s almost go-time for the new Pho 95 Hi Ky Mi Gia concept at Willow Lawn, and I’m excited because I love nothing more than a delicious bowl of hot pho this time of year, and this place is dangerously close to my day job. Eileen Mellon at Richmond Magazine says married couple and co-owners Christine and Steven Phan have quite a following on the pho circuit. Here’s a little more about them and when you can expect the restaurant to officially open.

Speaking of hot bowls of awesome, a popular DC ramen joint is heading to Richmond for one night only. Toki Underground will pop up at Carytown cocktail bar The Jasper on Sunday, March 1st at 5:00 PM. Tickets are $16 per person and you can be guaranteed they’ll sell out. Karri Peifer has the absolutely delicious-looking menu over on Richmond.com for your viewing pleasure.

Speaking of special events and the RTD, they’ll host their Taste of Richmond event at the Hilton Richmond Hotel & Spa in Short Pump on May 3rd. This year’s featured restaurants include Mama J’s, Mantu, Dover Hall, the Salty Pig, Hobnob, La Vita E’Bella Ristorante Italiano, Fall Line Kitchen & Bar, Natalie’s Taste of Lebanon, Texas de Brazil, and more. An all-access pass to enjoy unlimited samples is $75, and there’s a discount code available here.

Over at Richmond Magazine, Piet Jones has an excellent snapshot of the current moment in Richmond’s dining scene evolution through interviews with industry veterans including An Bui, Kelli Lemon, Michelle Jones, and others who have been instrumental in the #rvadine scene’s meteoric rise.

There’s a new kind of rooftop bar coming to the Fan. No, this one won’t be overflowing with spirits a la Scott’s Addition, but rather, a rooftop juice bar. The Pit and the Peel is moving their VCU location a block from where they currently are, having recently purchased a building at 1210 W. Main Street. This seems like a really cool idea and – if they’re investing just south of a million on a full renovation, clearly the VCU location is doing quite well. More here.

The Big Kitchen, Tazza Kitchen’s gourmet to go, Brew Thru-style concept in Scott’s Addition closed months ago, so seeing that the closure just now made the news over at BizSense surprised me, but then again maybe I was the only one who went there almost weekly. Picking up dinner to go there was tasty, convenient, and dare I say fun – all the convenience of a fast-food drive-thru with far superior food and service by Tazza. That said, most times I picked up, my order was the lone bag sitting on the shelf of the glass door refrigerators in the covered bay. So I wasn’t totally surprised, albeit definitely disappointed, when they closed. All that said, looks like the owners are brewing up a new restaurant concept for the space. Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense has more.

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Food News: A “last last call” for Comfort, 24 hours in “Hell” with Gordan Ramsay, and #rvadine regulars

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If you didn’t get a chance to get into Comfort before the restaurant officially closed for business, you’ll have one more chance this weekend. The restaurant will reopen Saturday night for a “last last call” party. It’s exactly what it sounds like. Stop in at 6:00 PM until everything’s gone – and that includes food, booze (even rare bourbons apparently), and some of the restaurant’s memorabilia. It’s your last chance to enjoy the iconic restaurant. Yes, really this time. More here.

What happens when Gordan Ramsay shows up at your restaurant dressed as an old church lady at your restaurant? You spend the next 24 hours in the kitchen filming a TV show, as one local restaurant owner found out. Shane Roberts-Thomas, the owner of Southern Kitchen in Jackson Ward, was recently featured on Ramsay’s TV show “24 Hours To Hell And Back” which airs on FOX. Ramsay typically disguises himself when he shows up at restaurants who have agreed to participate in the show. She was contacted in advance about the possibility of a TV show filming there, but she didn’t know which one she’d be on – or if it would happen. She spent the next day (yes, non-stop) filming. Karri Peifer with the RTD has a great interview with Roberts-Thomas in advance of the episode, which airs Friday night at 9:00 PM. Check it out here.

A new chicken wing joint is coming to the Fan. The Cocky Rooster, at 2523 W. Main Street across from 3 Monkeys, won’t just be another restaurant with wings, but rather one that focuses on them, with other offerings. The joint will supposedly be open until 3:00 AM on the weekends, competing with nearby Benny Ventano’s Pizza that caters to the late-night, post-bar (read: hammered) crowd. Richmond BizSense has all the details here.

HogsHead Café, a popular and delicious barbecue and comfort food joint in the West End (one that I discovered by accident about six months ago), is moving to a bigger location. They’ll take over the space formerly occupied by Havana ’59’s West End outpost before it closed. I always like to see locally-owned West End restaurants, which are increasingly fewer and farther between, succeeding amongst the bevy of chains. More here.

Over at Richmond Magazine, Genevelyn Steele has an intriguing interview with bar regulars (we’re talking folks that, in some cases, are at their favorite haunt almost every night) and what keeps bringing them back. We’re running the gamut here from L’Opossum to Home Team Grill. I found this one fascinating. Read it here.

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Food News: Fighting Fish and Canasta’s expands, grocery store love, and a new taqueria in the Fan

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As we settle into February, the Richmond restaurant scene is a bit dimmer without several mainstays among the ever-growing crowd that is the Richmond dining scene. Comfort and Aloi served their last meals since we last talked, and Acacia mid-town closes after service on Saturday evening. But 2020 promises new restaurants, concepts, and ways to push the #rvadine scene to the next level, no doubt.

For their part, Acacia is having a restaurant yard sale of sorts following their closure. Everything from wine and glassware to tables and chairs is up for grabs on Tuesday, February 11th from 3:00 until 6:00 PM. Check out how you can get your hands on a piece of the restaurant’s history here.

In the new restaurant realm, Richmond Restaurant Group’s latest venture, Barrio Taqueria & Tequila, is now open in the former Pearl Raw Bar space. I stopped by last Friday night and checked out their digs. The tacos, available on either flour or corn tortillas, are pretty tasty, especially the carne asada variety. The street corn (served shaved off the cob) and margaritas are both on point, too. This will be a cool hangout in the spring and summer months with the new garage doors installed around the building to allow in fresh air. Check out my photos here, and Karri Peifer has a writeup.

Jackson Ward hole-in-the-wall Fighting Fish is expanding its empire with a second location in Scott’s Addition, Richmond BizSense reports. The restaurant, which offers tasty sushi, sushi burritos, poke bowls, and more will take over the former Elsa Ethiopian restaurant on Arthur Ashe Boulevard near the 7-Eleven. More on the new location here.

Our intrepid southside reporter Richard Hayes has news of Canasta’s Chicken, a Peruvian chicken outlet with an existing location on S. Laburnum Avenue, opening in Stratford Hills. I’ve never been, but he likens the menu to Chicken Fiesta, but more Peruvian leaning than Tex-Mex. Check out his report here.

I’ve said it for years (and our website hits back it up) – Richmonders love their grocery stores. Whole Foods Market opened its new location in the Fan last week, and a crowd that stretched around the block welcomed the grocer with open arms. Style Weekly’s Phaedra Hise opines on something that hadn’t even occurred to me: they may be the first to be able to pick up where Ukrop’s left off in terms of offering a higher quality product and service – where other grocers have failed in the past decade (Martin’s, anyone?). The company even hired a thirty-year Ukrop’s alum to run the store. Read her story here.

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