A fistful of grasshoppers: Find these traditional Mexican bar snacks — and so much more — on the menu at new restaurant Flora, from restaurateur powerhouse Jason Alley, Michele Jones and Jay Bayer. (Photo by Stephanie Breijo)
We've got crunchy grasshoppers, we've got fresh biscuits, we've got fried chicken, we've got St. Patty's Day fun, we've got undersea dining, we've got a new foundation with a great mission, we've got an eat-with-your-hands Filipino-food feast. WHEW. In short, we've got just about everything in this week's Food News. Dig in:
- Certainly, the sandy beaches of Oaxaca sound mighty fine right about now, but for those of us who can't jump on a plane within the next few weeks, fortunately there's Flora. The new restaurant — set to open in the former Balliceaux space the week of March 21 — pulls inspiration from a handful of coastal southern Mexican locales including Oaxaca, Yucatán and Veracruz, serving up mole sauce; fried whole fish; bright, house-made salsas; and even crispy chapulines, or grasshoppers, as well as a late-night menu to go with those live-music shows and DJ sets that will again fill that back room. Not to be overshadowed, the beverage program is slated to be robust with frozen drinks, bottled cocktails, a focus on mezcal and agricole rum. (What else would we expect from a partnership of Saison's Jay Bayer and Pasture and Comfort's Jason Alley and Michele Jones?) There's a lot of goodness in store, and you can read all about it right this way. (Richmond magazine)
- Looking ahead to summer, Short Pump's about to get a little bit sweeter and... flakier? North Carolina-based Rise Biscuits Donuts is set to open its first Virginia location here in Richmond this June, bringing with it a menu packed with fried-chicken sandwiches, freshly baked biscuits and 15 types of doughnuts made in-house daily. Soon 11561 W. Broad St., just across from Short Pump Town Center, will be full of biscuit or Martin's Potato Roll sandwiches, as well as sweets and even a salad or two, and that's not all, folks: Sometime next year, the franchise owners behind it plan on opening a Rise somewhere in South Side, as well as three more throughout the state. Want more? We've got you covered. (Richmond magazine)
- In more biscuit news, Fan favorite and former Lakeside bakery Early Bird Biscuit Co. is heading back to North Side! Never fear, Fan dwellers; the Robinson Street location will remain. Over the summer, owner Tim Laxton hopes to launch an Early Bird at 1221 Bellevue Ave. with his familiar menu, plus some new-to-the-brand items such as salads. (Richmond BizSense)
- In some sadder news — but there's a happy ending, I promise — a Sunday kitchen fire in downtown's Rappahannock Restaurant shut down both Rappahannock and its sibling oyster saloon, Rapp Session, but the Croxtons are mighty (and so are cement floors), and Rapp Session is already up and running again, opening today at 3 p.m. and returning to normalcy with brunch service tomorrow at 10 a.m. According to co-owner Travis Croxton, Rappahannock Restaurant will reopen Apri 1, at earliest. The best way to support these spots is to make your way to Rapp Session, so go get some oysters and small plates today. (Rappahannock)
- And in some just-plain-happier news, a Richmond-based foundation plans to raise awareness of — and funds to enrich — the Mid-Atlantic's food deserts. Meet EAT Foundation, a new pop-up dining series, where your $85 seat makes farmers markets in grocery-deprived neighborhoods happen. (Richmond BizSense)
- Sometimes we take our long-standing dining gems for granted, sometimes we overlook them completely. Here's a great profile on Midlothian Apothecary, the mom-and-pop operation that's withstood the test of time, the squeeze from big-box restaurants retailers, and a changing pharmacy landscape. Read up on the charming diner and pharmacy, then take a seat at the counter for yourself and be sure to say hi to Margie. (Chesterfield Observer)
- There's much more to a perfect dining experience than the food. Here, Style Weekly dives into what goes into your meal, from how L'Opossum's David Shannon hires his staff to how Laura Lee's Michael Smith builds his playlists.
- A Very Brunch PSA: Southern-food classic Julep's launches brunch this weekend, and that menu looks good. Find duck confit omelets with house-made sausage; bananas Foster French toast; sweet potato pancakes with Benton’s Bacon; jumbo lump crab cake Benedicts and more, all from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday. Not to be missed: “bottomless” mint julep mimosas or build-your-own Bloody Marys. Check out the full menu here.
- A Very Bakery PSA: Whisk now sells its croissants in ready-to-bake form. Stop by the Shockoe bakery or North Side's Little House Green Grocery to pick up a bag of the frozen croissants, then pop them in your own oven for flaky goodness. Disclaimer: I cannot buy these because I have no self control and will probably make the entire bag at once if they are in my home and this makes me sad but honestly I only have myself to blame. (Was that an overshare? Eh.) (Whisk)
- And a huge congratulations to Proper Pie Co., whose Banoffee Pie recently landed on Time Out New York's list of the 20 best desserts in the country.
Ready for the weekend's events? There's a lot more than the
luck food o' the Irish headed your way, but of course, there's a lot o' that, too:
- You've still got a few days left of Richmond's inaugural Black Restaurant Week, where 20 local, black-owned-and-operated restaurants are offering specials that'll make your mouth water now through Sunday. Here's a bit more on the great event. Go forth.
- IT'S HERE! The Virginia Wine Expo is back with more than 100 vendors including Virginia wineries, local breweries, food makers and all-around artisans, and what's more, this is the massive expo's 10th year. Find the full schedule of events here, then head on over to the Greater Richmond Convention Center, especially tonight, where Richmond mag will help judge the annual Burger Blast: a slider competition of delicious proportions.
- Tomorrow marks the big return of the annual Shamrock the Block street festival, where traffic around Boulevard is a nightmare but there's a lot of live music, beer and eats to be had. Find the action from noon to 5 p.m. between Broad and Leigh streets on North Boulevard. (Shamrock the Block)
- Also on Saturday, Kitchen on Cary is throwing Blarney Bash, a day of Irish food specials including a house-brined corned beef Reuben and Guinness-braised beef tenderloin. Peep that full menu here.
- In the neighborhood is Sine's St. Patrick's Day Street Party, where live music will be a-playin' and green beer will be a-flowin'. The fun starts at 10 a.m. (Sine Irish Pub & Restaurant)
- On Sunday, head to downtown's Citizen for The Jackdaw's Kamayan dinner, where you'll dive into Filipino food with YOUR MITTS. This communal, eat-with-your-hands feast runs $50/person and from 7 to 10 p.m. Tickets here.
And now for a few (inter)national links:
- From hospital-inspired restaurants to a seat at an airborne table hanging from a crane, here are some of the world's most unique dining experiences you can have. I'll take the underwater dining and skip on the toilet-themed restaurant, for what it's worth. (Travel + Leisure)
- This advice should be common in both the sense and knowledge arenas, but just in case it isn't, here's how to treat your bartenders, according to bartenders. Surprise, it's with your full respect, as they well deserve. See also this piece from the Rmag vaults, wherein we talk with a few Richmond-area career food servers about how we can all be better customers. (Vice)
Till next time, tip your bartender.