GOOD NEWS IN FOOD NEWS: The Nile's new Church Hill location is now open and serving up Ethiopian cuisine for dining in, taking out and even cooking in your own home. (Photo by Cecilia Tesauro)
Hi and hello and a happy weekend to you! As we near the end of this week, as well as August as a whole, let's visit our city's newest restaurants, some of our favorite barbecue dishes and a handful of stellar upcoming events. Also, I'm writing to you from Canada this week! GREETINGS, EH? This is pertinent for reasons you will learn soon enough:
- Not that you needed an excuse to eat with your hands, but now you've got a great one: Nile Ethiopian Bistro, the new Church Hill incarnation of The Nile, is now soft-open at 306 N. 29th St.! This means that owners Yoseph and Benyam Teklemariam are currently settling into their new digs, but you're still free to stop by during limited business hours for injera, tibs, wat and even some house-made spice mixes — now available for retail, a new Nile offering — until the grand opening on Tuesday. Then it's lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. We've got more details here, and we suggest you get eatin'.
- Helping you live your best fried-chicken life: Fast-casual Korean fried chicken chain Bonchon Chicken is set to open a Mechanicsville location at 7380 Bell Creek Road by the end of next month. (Whew, that was a mouthful, and a far less delicious mouthful than the ones you'll find when this place opens.) (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- GET READY FOR A SLURP SESH: Short Pump is getting its very own Jamba Juice, the very first in Richmond. Expect the national chain (but locally franchised!) smoothie spot to open at 11807 W. Broad St. by the end of September. I'll be the one standing in the corner yelling "SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS" about wheatgrass, don't mind me. (Richmond BizSense)
- In less-fun smoothie news, if you've enjoyed any strawberry-involved smoothie from a Virginia Tropical Smoothie location, you may have Hepatitis A! Anyone who's imbibed one of these in the last 55-ish days should be on the lookout for jaundice, abdominal pain, fatigue, vomiting and just about anything else that's (hopefully) abnormal, health-wise. (NBC 12)
- To co-opt (and corrupt) the Cookie Monster's famous saying, barbecue is an always food. But just to remind you, it always seems to taste best at the peak of summer. To help you dive in, face covered in sauce, we've rounded up five of our favorite barbecue dishes around town, from the traditional (pulled pork sandwiches) to the unusual (brisket fajitas).
- Speaking of pork, let's take a look at Milton's Local: one of Virginia's only businesses that's an aggregator, a connector and a producer. "But what does that even mean, Stephanie?" you're probably asking, and I am about to tell you: Milton's Local hooks up small, family-run pig and cattle farms with some of Virginia's best restaurants, which of course includes a handful of RVA's own. It also sells some of its own killer pork products. (Bacon sausage, anyone?) The National Pork Board says it's the only company in the state using this business model, which is pretty fascinating in its own right, but we also spoke to the company's founder, M. James Faison, and a few Milton's enthusiasts to learn what else makes this outfit so special. (Spoiler: It's great for small farms, it's great for restaurants and it's great for all of us who like to eat quality, local product.)
- Style Weekly just published its annual "Power List," and its 10 picks for the food and beverage industry include Katrina and Johnny Giavos (behind RVA institution Stella's, among others), EAT Restaurant Partners' operators Chris Tsui and Ren Mefford (behind Fat Dragon, Boulevard Burger, Foo Dog, Wong Gonzalez, etc.), Hardywood founders Eric McKay and Patrick Murtaugh, as well as new kid on the block Matt Tarpey of The Veil Brewing Co., who's a refreshing addition in this sea of familiar, but completely deserving, faces. Find the full rundown here, then be sure to stop by and visit the establishments when you can.
- And speaking of The Veil, A+ beer website Good Beer Hunting recently profiled the Scott's Addition outfit, and in addition to some lovely reportage, you'll also get to see some beautiful photography if you just click this link right here.
- And because I am in the land of poutine and you are not but I would like you to still be able to experience the majesty of gravy+fries+cheese curds, I'm going to give you two creative spins on poutine that are available in RVA. 1) Poutine at GWARbar: This pile of fries comes absolutely slathered in — nay, suffocated by — house-made pork gravy, plus cheese curds and also a slice or two of fried bacon. I am ashamed to admit how much I love this pork gravy. Even when I show up on a Monday for half-price burger night (that's another pro tip), I will order a side of pork gravy just for my fries. My arteries hate me for loving it. I hate me for loving it. 2) Southern Poutine at The Roosevelt: This is exactly what it sounds like. Replace a classic poutine's brown gravy with white sausage gravy, then nix the cheese curds in favor of pimento cheese, and you've got The Roosevelt's playful take. Please don't try and do anything active after eating this; you will fall over from the (delicious) weight of it in your stomach. And now that I have extolled the virtues of those dishes I realize there is probably enough material for an RVA poutine guide, so expect one of those in the not-too-distant future.
Put on your weekend
party eatin' pants because it's time to party indulge:
- Tomorrow (Friday) night, Carytown's Amour Wine Bistro hosts its annual Dîner en Blanc beginning at 5:30 p.m. Show up clad in white for an aesthetic and gustatory feast celebrating summer, but be sure to call 353-4020 or email email@example.com to make your reservation beforehand. (Amour Wine Bistro)
- On Saturday, head to Lakeside and celebrate Final Gravity's one-year anniversary with a special bourbon-barrel-aged beer reserved from the beer outpost and brewery's grand opening, plus live music, cornhole and food from Los Gauchos (one of our fast-casual Best New Restaurant picks)! Fun runs 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Final Gravity Brewing Co.)
- Wednesday, live out all your wonderful breakfast-for-dinner dreams at Saison's Latenight Brunch with Mike [Braune] & Justin [Ayotte], from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Get weird with dishes such as a lamb and avocado Benedict with feta, za'atar hollandaise, potatoes and poached eggs ($14); fried chicken thigh with a sausage and crawfish étouffée, rice, fried eggs and a foie gras biscuit ($11); and rock shrimp with fried grits, redeye butter, fried eggs and pickled onions ($13). BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE: There are a slew of cocktails including the Redeye Old Fashioned, made with Plantation Original Dark Rum, nitro cold brew and vanilla demerara, and the S.O.B v2.0 made with Vida, Espolón Blanco, pine, lime and fresno hot sauce. (Saison)
And now for a few (inter)national links:
- Dinner for the betterment of society: Here's a great Washington Post profile on chef Tunde Wey and how his dinner series, Blackness in America, sparks discussion on race, poverty, police killings and other oft-uncomfortable topics — and why we need it.
- On a lighter note, here's what it looks like when you take a bath in hot sauce. Spoiler alert: No, thank you. (First We Feast)
Till next time, I'm more poutine than woman now.