Congratulations to Longoven, one of Bon Appétit's top 50 new restaurants in the country! We've got more on this — and some new restaurants headed Richmond's way — in this week's Food News. Read on, readah. (Photo by Stephanie Breijo)
Well hello there! You've made it to the end of the week, and here is your reward: new restaurants, food festivals, that Short Pump Wegmans and so much more. You've earned it, champ.
- I'm opening with a closing this week, but I'm doing it in the hopes that you'll visit this neighborhood mainstay before it shuts its doors at the end of the month. After nearly 33 years in business, Forest Hill's Oriental Food Store & Gift Shop — one of the area's first Asian food stores — is closing, primarily due to the region's recent fierce market competition. Since 1983, the shop has transformed from corner store to a nexus, where customers would run into each other after years and even continents apart. It's a place where Japanese goods, Caribbean spices, dried fish and Korean DVDs coexist, a small, family-owned operation that goes out of business on Wednesday, Aug. 31. Learn all about the little shop at 4803 Forest Hill Ave. here, and then go on and spend some time with owner Belle Ann Apodaca yourself. (Richmond magazine)
- Speaking of Richmond's competitive grocery business, Earth Fare — an organic supermarket based in North Carolina — and the natural foods-focused Lucky's Market — a Colorado-based chain with locations as close as Florida — are both considering the Richmond market, so to speak. Taste Unlimited is set to open in the West End in 2018, and it appears all three might be eyeing Chesterfield. (Chesterfield Observer)
- And, of course, in immediate supermarket news, Short Pump's Wegmans opens this Sunday, Aug. 7, at 7 a.m. in the West Broad Marketplace on West Broad Street near North Gayton Road. The 120,000-square-foot grocery Goliath will offer the standard Wegmans sushi bar, bakery, cheese case, soup bar and international food bar, plus a Market Café and The Pub, similar to its Midlothian sibling location. “Months of planning and training will culminate on Sunday when we open the store and demonstrate the things that set Wegmans apart, starting with the incredible customer service our people provide,” store manager Todd Strassner says in a news release. “Beyond that, my goal is to delight our customers with unmatched quality and selection, convenience and consistent low prices.”
- In other news, new restaurateur Cynthia Matthews is hard at work at 119 E. Leigh St., the former site of Jackson Ward's Croaker's Spot. Jacksons Beer Garden & Smokehouse is set to open there in October or November, seating roughly 70 people and offering daily lunch and dinner service, plus a Sunday brunch, and a focus on smoked meats and craft beer. (Richmond BizSense)
- West a ways, Metro Diner is set to open at 11525 W. Broad St. in Short Pump in early November. This will be the first Virginia location for the Florida chain, and it may not be the last; a company representative says another two or three could hit the Richmond area in the future. (Richmond BizSense)
- UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP: Short Pump's Patina, a previous Richmond magazine Best Restaurant, is now in the hands of Joel Hagman and is set to reopen next Tuesday. Hagman, formerly in medical sales, is trying his hand as a restaurateur and retooling the concept with the "farm-to-fork" restaurant's chef, Todd Hicks. Expect more family-friendly offerings, such as, you know, a kids' menu, along with more beer taps, more local produce, local seafood, a bit of an interior revamp and a new name: Patina Restaurant and Bar. (CBS 6)
- Nota Bene, formerly Pizza Tonight, is doing away with its brunch service (R.I.P. that incredible porridge), but every delicious pizza cloud from that team has a silver lining: This Sunday, it will launch its weekly Sunday Supper series that offers a menu of small plates and wood-fired goods that will change each week. “Nota Bene has always been inspired by my Italian heritage," owner Victoria DeRoche says in a news release. "Having a big family dinner and gathering with friends on Sunday nights is an Italian custom, and I wanted to create that family-style hospitality where our regulars can come every Sunday and still enjoy something different.” Stop by from 5 to 9 p.m. to welcome the restaurant's new hours and plates.
- Speaking of Sunday change-ups, The Dog & Pig Show returned this week with a new menu item or two, and — wait for it — Sunday brunch. Now you can pop in on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for breakfast items like those new biscuits and gravy. Score.
- MORE SUNDAY NEWS: Perk! Coffee + Lunchbox is closing out summer with a weekly workshop series throughout August, and this Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m. you'll find Hummingbird Gardens' Amanda Montgomery leading a class on herb preservation. Other weeks' activities include a terrarium workshop, a homemade bath goods workshop and a farmers market. “We have so many amazing vendors that we have cultivated through the community and that we use at the shop, that we decided it would be great to bring them all together and create a Southside market," owner Christophile Konstas says in a news release. "We hope to make it an annual tradition and to have it grow every year.”
- All about that farm-to-table ethos? Virginia Farmers' Market Week begins on Sunday! Celebrate the Commonwealth's bounty by stocking up with goods from local vendors, but consult these tips for living Your Best Farmers Market Life before you head out the door. (Style Weekly)
- HEADS UP: The Rogue Gentlemen now offers happy hour, and you can find it from Tuesday to Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. (The Rogue Gentlemen)
- Looking to grab a bite somewhere new? We recommend downtown's Lucca Enoteca, headed by Andrew Manning of Longoven. (More on that below.) Take a scenic tour through Italy by way of wood-fired pizzas and house-made pastas, not to mention some fabulous shellfish. Read our full review here.
- And last but certainly not least, a huge congratulations to Richmond pop-up series Longoven, which Bon Appétit just named to its 2016 list of the top 50 new restaurants in the country. It's rare for a pop-up to earn a spot on this list, and I view it as a testament to this trio's creativity, hard work and especially ingenuity, given their current spatial restrictions, as the team continues its search for a brick-and-mortar location. This Sunday's pop-up dinner at Sub Rosa is already sold-out, but you can stay tuned to Longoven's social media and sign up for its mailing list to get notifications about upcoming dinners. To learn a bit more about the team behind the dinner series, visit our March profile here.
Hey! Get out and do things, why don'tcha:
- On Saturday, Kings Dominion's annual BBQ and Brew Fest returns. Every Saturday and Sunday through Aug. 21, find pork parfaits, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, moonshine-tinged pulled pork and brisket sliders, in addition to local craft beer and cider. Want that menu hookup? We've got you.
- Sip on some history this Saturday when you jump on The Valentine's Beer Industry Bus Tour from 1 to 4 p.m. Local author, beer authority and historian Lee Graves will drop some great brew knowledge, and there are tastings. Can't go wrong. Tickets priced at $25 for nonmembers and $20 for members. Call 649-0711, ext. 301, to make your reservation. (The Valentine)
- On Sunday head to Libbie Mill-Midtown for the Midtown State Fair, where the bake walks are plentiful and the events are free. Stop by for cook-offs, a culinary spelling bee and recipe contests, and produce, craft beer and food truck fare all available for purchase, all from noon to 4 p.m. And because some of these organizers also put together Fire, Flour & Fork — and, full disclosure, one happens to be Richmond magazine Editorial Director Susan Winiecki — there'll be special Fire, Flour & Fork discount codes for those who attend this weekend's fair. (And who doesn't love a discount code?) (Midtown State Fair)
And now for a few (inter)national links:
- We're all guilty of food waste — mea culpa, half-used head of cabbage that's been sitting in my fridge untouched for a week — but we don't have to continue to live this way. Here are a few chef tips on kitchen organization and ripening techniques that can help you eat your food when it's at its best, and stop throwing out the rest. (Food 52)
- Michelin-starred street food is now a thing — the times, they are a-changin' — and personally, if I ever make it to Singapore, you can bet Chan Hon Meng's Hong Kong-style chicken rice and noodles will get in my belly. This borderline tearjerker of a video tells the story of the chef and how much he reveres his craft, and I think you should give it a watch. (First We Feast)
Till next time, I will be thinking of chicken and noodles and wishing we had $1.50 Michelin-starred meals here in the States.