It’s hard to say for sure, but it seems a safe bet that this is Charlottesville’s first food trailer serving kolaches. What are kolaches? Czech pastries with a history in rural Texas, stuffed with fruit or savory fillings like meat and cheese.
They are one of the offerings at The Mod Pod, now open at Little Mod Hotel. The hotel has no restaurant, so the shiny silver trailer parked out front offers breakfast and lunch to guests, as well as anyone who strolls by its 14th Street location near The Corner. The hotel’s theme is mod, so there is of course avocado toast, breakfast tacos, and acai smoothies. But, don’t let that fool you. There is some serious cooking going on in the trailer.
At the helm is chef Tyler Andrews, who comes to Charlottesville from Ocean City, MD, where he cooked in acclaimed kitchens like The Shark on the Harbor and Rare & Rye. This will be Andrews’s first time running a kitchen of his own, so helping get the trailer started has been industry veteran Laura Fonner, formerly of Duner’s, Siren, and Guy’s Grocery Games, among other endeavors. Part of the idea behind the trailer is that, without the overhead of a restaurant, it can serve food with the sophistication of a trained and talented chef at more affordable prices. With Texas-style kolaches, tacos, savory waffle cones, and salads, the menu looks not just to please hotel guests, but to attract locals, too.
Like a Tex-Czech version of a knish or stromboli, kolaches wrap fillings inside a bready pastry that Andrews calls a hybrid of pizza dough and sweet dinner rolls. The Big Tex combines andouille sausage, smoked cheddar, and jalapeno; the burger-inspired All American has ground beef, smoked cheddar, and pickles; and the Vegetarian features roasted features vegetables, tofu, avocado, smoked cheddar. There’s even a nod to West Virginia with a pepperoni-roll style kolache.
Savory waffle cones are also a rarity in Charlottesville, and Andrews delivers. On our visit, he was busy making his favorite menu item for his girlfriend. For the Piggly Wiggly, Andrews brines and then hard sears slabs of pork belly, which he layers into a waffle cone with avocado, ginger miso slaw, and a bright yuzu molasses glaze.
Amongst all the meat, salads are a highlight. Andrews credits his love of vegetables in part to mentor Chett Bland. Bland himself was mentored by Manresa’s David Kinch, and “The Lawn” is Charlottesville’s ode to Kinch’s “Into the Vegetable Garden.” It’s loaded with red leaf lettuce, heirloom tomato, shaved, pickled and roasted vegetables, goat cheese, seasonal fruit, toasted seeds, tomato marmalade, and parsley vinaigrette. The idea, Andrews says, is to find the best seasonal vegetables available, and present them in various forms to open up the palate in many different ways. “You’ll have something pickled, shaved, raw, roasted, charred, tossed in a lovely vinaigrette, along with a healthy mix of seeds on top,” said Andrews.
The Mod Pod serves breakfast and lunch daily from 7:30 am – 2 pm.