By Kelly Booth
Nestled in a suburban outpost of brick and commerce in Midlothian, The Shaved Duck Restaurant offers diners an alternative to the chain restaurants which surround it.
It’s a 25-minute drive from Richmond but this fall The Shaved Duck, along with Aloi in Scott’s Addition, for the first time joined the fall Richmond Restaurant Week lineup of over 40 restaurants.
The biannual, week-long event held Oct. 21-27 gives diners a chance to sample Richmond’s nationally acclaimed dining scene — often at a lower price point and for a cause.
A tradition since 2001, a portion of the sales goes to Feed More, a Richmond-based nonprofit that collects, prepares and distributes food to hunger-relief programs including Meals on Wheels, the Kids Cafe, Mobile Pantry and weekend BackPack program.
Participating restaurants offer a three-course price fixed menu of $29.19 per person, $4.19 goes to Feed More.
While a majority of participating restaurants are located in Richmond, diners outside city limits have options also.
“The goal with the restaurant was really to provide people in this area with an alternative to going downtown or across the river,” said Lauren Wrenn, marketing director of The Shaved Duck.
Wrenn described the restaurant as offering fine dining in a more laid back environment. The Shaved Duck celebrates its two-year anniversary this month. A new cocktail menu was added that will be available for Richmond Restaurant Week and some of the best-sellers are showcased on the menu.
“Restaurant Week is just a great opportunity to kind of reach out to the public in the city especially that may not necessarily think of Midlothian as a type of place that could have restaurants of similar quality with different styles outside of the chain scene,” Wrenn said.
Aloi, which opened in 2018, serves up a seasonally rotating menu of contemporary American dishes.
Executive chef Ben Watters said what is important to him is the art of transforming a meal with simple ingredients into a special meal. Watters’ goal is for customers to taste familiar ingredients along with his own unique spin on the dish.
Watters seeks high-quality proteins and seafood sourced in Virginia to incorporate into his dishes.
The spiced sweet potato soup on the menu is a classic Southern-style dish, but Watters said he adds African spices for a pop of international flavor.
“Watters likes to keep one foot in the door in the familiarity of food and try to tiptoe into something new for people that they haven’t had before,” said Wyatt Swaney sous-chef for Aloi.
Watters and Swaney offer vegetarian, dairy and gluten-free options on their seasonal menu and also on their menu for restaurant week.
Aline Reitzer, organizer and founder of Richmond Restaurant Week, said the menus prepared by participating restaurants align with their restaurant concepts. The restaurants get exposure while giving back to the community.
“It is a great opportunity for the local restaurant community to work together in a friendly competition,” Reitzer said.
Richmond Restaurant week raised $5,000 the first year and now raises between $120,000- $140,000 a year for Feed More, between the spring and fall events. Since 2001, over $818,500 has been raised, Reitzer said.
Reitzer said the event website was rebranded at the beginning of the year and she is boosting social media to promote Richmond Restaurant Week, in addition to buying advertising with Richmond Magazine and National Public Radio.
“We’re on a path to have a record year this year,” Reitzer said.
To see all Richmond Restaurant Week menus, click here.