Gimme pizza, P-I-Z-Z-A: Richmond's got a slew of pizza options for pizza parties or casual pizza-involved gatherings alike, including the newly rebranded Olio in the Fan: Branch & Vine. Bonus: We've got a guide to the city's pizza on newsstands now. All pizza, all the time. (Photo by Stephanie Breijo)
If this weekend's impending snow teaches us anything, let it be that our city's dining scene is full of more options than your run-of-the-mill bread and milk. Stock up on kolaches, snow or shine, and sit down to an even bigger plate of Food News:
- "New year, who dis?" That's my really terrible impression of Olio in the Fan, which just rebranded as Branch & Vine in a smart and not-terrible manner earlier this week. Owners Matt Fraker and Jason Ferrell felt it was time to create the café and catering business's own identity — there's another Olio operating downtown under different ownership — and it works. At Branch & Vine, Olio-in-the-Fan fans will still find the sandwiches and salads they loved before, albeit with upgraded/tweaked recipes, as well as flatbreads, a few couches, some flat-screen TVs, and new tables and chairs. Hours will remain the same, as will the shop's focus on small-batch wines, local beer and house-made ingredients. To take a peek inside and learn more about the rebrand, click your way over here. (Richmond magazine)
- And in more changes, Sonny’s Bar & Grill in Henrico is under new ownership and has a new name: Bryan Park Bar and Grill is now open and serving up casual lunch and dinner fare along with karaoke and live music. Tamir Sherif purchased the operation at 5516-18 Lakeside Ave. and plans to cement the restaurant as a neighborhood establishment. (Richmond BizSense)
- Sure, everyone talks about the sharing economy, but Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co. is all about the caring economy. Hot off the presses from our new January issue is this look at how the local coffee company weaves humanitarianism into its business model, improving the lives of farm employees and elevating the standards of the trade. Whether they're providing free prenatal vitamins to a local clinic or funding the building of new roads, it appears the Blanchard's team is onto something that makes your cup of coffee — and the coffee industry — better for everyone.
- In Mergers & Acquisitions news, online grocer Relay Foods is closing its Richmond and Charlottesville warehouses next week as part of its absorption by Colorado's Door to Door Organics, another online supermarket and grocery delivery service. Richmond and Charlottesville will still receive grocery delivery through Door to Door, although Relay is laying off 48 employees in Charlottesville and an undisclosed number of workers here in RVA. (Richmond BizSense)
- So this is the New Year. Are you trying to slim down? If yes, as I mentioned last week, you came to the wrong place. But if one of your resolutions is to save some money, well, that's something I can help you with today — or, more accurately, it's what Megan Marconyak, of dining, shopping and lifestyle blog Marco Style, can help you with today. Here's a great list of happy-hour deals and other specials from restaurants in the area, full of some sweet eats and drinks for discounted prices!
- Speaking of 2017, a new year means new food trends. Richmond magazine restaurant critic Genevelyn Steele outlines five trends to taste this year and where to find them around town, from chocolate for breakfast (YES!) to mocktails. Read up, then go forth and order.
- And speaking of mocktails, here is a very cool thing: For those participating in a no-alcohol January, or drynuary, or for those who don't typically imbibe, Pasture is offering alcohol-optional drink specials throughout the month. Find house-made beverages such as honey-lavender lemonade with habanero shrub or strawberry ginger beer, then add a shot if you like, or keep it clean without.
- HEADS UP: If you fancy a road trip of the most delicious variety, Elby Award-winning chef and restaurateur Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound fame will cook at The Beard House in New York City later this month, whipping up a handful of dishes for the Jan. 25 dinner event "Forged in Friendship." Find the full menu, and ticket info, right over here.
- More on dinner: Manchester's Plant Zero Cafe launched dinner service this week, aiming for "something more upscale." (Don't worry, you can still catch breakfast and lunch service.) (Style Weekly)
- Ready for some accolades? One Huffington Post contributor went to town on some of the best whiskeys in the world, and what came out at number three? Our neighbors to the west, Lovingston-based Virginia Distillery Co. "Another whiskey that can surprisingly stand up to most scotches on our list, this aged malt whiskey is imported from Scotland and cask-finished in Virginia port wine barrels, giving it a scotch-like taste that’s almost worthy of the name (though it’ll never earn it legally). It’s a whiskey for scotch lovers," Brian Penny writes. To check out the rest of the list, click here.
- Shout-out to Lucy's Restaurant, whose Bloody Lucy beverage just landed on Only in Your State's roundup of Virginia's best Bloody Marys, and an equal shout-out for Grandstaff & Stein, which was just named one of the site's top spots to eat this year.
- Snow PSA: Craft Kolache proudly declared today that its Church Hill-based operation will still crank out hot, fresh baked goods this weekend regardless of the weather, so if you're up in that neighborhood, I recommend warming up with some of those.
Eat and drink your way through any and all snow with these events, then maybe just hibernate for the next few months:
- Due to the snow, Hardywood is actually releasing its Raspberry Stout today as opposed to tomorrow. Find it during normal taproom hours this evening, 4 to 10 p.m., and stay tuned to the brewery's Facebook page for updates about tomorrow's hours. There'll be live music, plus BoDillaz. (Hardywood Park Craft Brewery)
- Then on Sunday, head to Metzger Bar & Butchery for Gin Den, a gin-focused tasting and cocktail night where 5 percent of the beverage proceeds benefit the Blue Sky Fund in honor of Kurt Moon. Thomas "T" Leggett of The Roosevelt and James Kohler of the forthcoming Brenner Pass will be slingin' gin beginning at 5 p.m.
- Looking ahead to Jan. 15 because I can't imagine this won't sell out by next week's Food News: The Roots' Questlove — sometimes spelled with a "Q," sometimes spelled with a "?" — is an avid food enthusiast now with his own food-focused book. His Fire, Flour & Fork discussion panel at VMFA was rescheduled to January, and miraculously, you can still get tickets. Grab them, fast.
- And looking ahead to Jan. 16 for the same reason as above: Some of the biggest names in RVAdine will join forces like an inclusive and way-talented Voltron to benefit Diversity Richmond, which helps serve the LGBTQ community. Chefs Brittanny Anderson (Metzger Bar & Butchery), Lee Gregory (The Roosevelt and Southbound), Jason Lucy (Lucy's Restaurant), Adam Hall (Saison) and Joe Sparatta (Heritage and Southbound) will cook up a five-course meal at Heritage, each dish paired with a beer from Ardent Craft Ales. Tickets cost $75 per person. One seating at 6 p.m. and one at 8. Call Heritage at 353-4060 to secure your spot.
And now for a few (inter)national links:
- Ever wonder why so many characters in film drink milk? I was especially struck by it whenever I saw that one haywire host downing it in HBO's "Westworld," and thankfully, YouTube film channel Now You See It explains the general symbolism in this handy video. See also: clips of menacing grown men drinking milk. (Esquire)
- If you'd like to see a whopping 466-pound bluefin tuna, I recommend you click this link to take a peek and read all about how the massive fish just went for roughly $632,000 at one of the world's most famous annual fish auctions. I especially recommend you click the link if you also care about the world's dwindling tuna population, and want to read about the strains put on the species by the catching of adolescent fish. (I brought you up just to bring you back down. Sorry about that.) (NPR)
- File under Don't Panic Too Much but Maybe Panic a Little: According to a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago, who staged a Dust Bowl simulation on modern crops, our agricultural practices might be just as susceptible to widespread losses as they were in the '30s. Not great, Bob. (Modern Farmer)
- OK, one last link because I can't leave you on such downer notes: The Wendy's Twitter feed has long been one of my favorite brand accounts, but its recent, public rebuttals just rocketed it to, I don't know, maybe my No. 1? It's the best. See for yourself. (FoodBeast)
Till next time, I'll just be over here with a Baconator.