The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Five Finds on Friday: John McMahon


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from John McMahon of Schuyler Greens. You’ve either never had McMahon’s greens, or you love them. While most local produce suffers the whims of Mother Nature, hydroponically grown Schuyler Greens have great flavor and texture all year round. In addition to area restaurants, find them at Foods of All Nations, Feast!, Timbercreek Market, Crozet Great Valu, Reid’s, and Market Street Market. McMahon’s picks:

1) Ponch Burger at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. “After a long week on the farm, nothing beats a cold beer and a Ponch Burger (or two) at Jack Brown’s, which is only available on Fridays.”

2) The Bellissima at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “When you combine country ham, arugula, lemon vinaigrette, and shaved parmesan on a pizza, what is not to love? Pro tip: Wash down with a Three Notch’d Pomegranate Gose (when seasonally available).”

3) Enchiladas Rancheras at La Michoacana. “It is borderline stressful to order only one dish at La Michoacana. The food is that good.”

4) Cheesy Bacon Potatoes at Smoked Kitchen and Tap. “Although known for excellent BBQ and home to the biggest burger I’ve ever eaten (#thanks Charlottesville29), make sure to order a side of the cheesy bacon potatoes. It might be the best ‘hash’ I’ve ever had.”

5) The Dude Abides at Fry’s Spring Station. Great food across the board but the Dude Abides = comfort food in pizza form. They also have a huge craft beer menu that constantly changes, so it pays to visit often.

Five Finds on Friday: Jeff Latchum


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come Jeff Latchum of wine importer Williams Corner Wine. If you’re shopping for wine and unsure what to buy, check the labels on the backs of the bottles. Find one that says “Williams Corner Wine,” and you know it will be good. This Sunday, Latchum, a natural wine expert, will be at Blenheim Vineyards Library Series to teach a natural wines class, showcasing some of the finest natural wines in the world. Just fifteen tickets will be sold. Call (434) 293-5366 for yours. Details on this and other Library Series events here. Latchum’s picks:

1) Jamón and Rancio Sec at MAS Tapas. “Yes I’m shilling for something we sell and writing my entire piece about wine. Catalan tradition of completely oxidized, non-fortified wine that pairs well with literally anything salty and savory, from jamón to seafood. Ask for Domaine de Rombeau.”

2) Shad Roe and German Riesling at Tastings. “Tucked away from the hoi polloi, have a glass or two from the dozens of open bottles or grab a bottle off the rack and enjoy it for a small corkage. Idiosyncratic and proud of it, also the best place to buy a special occasion or specific vintage wine. He might even still have shad roe to nibble on with a dry German Riesling (ask for Ulli Stein or Peter Lauer).”

3) Meatloaf and Champagne at Bizou. “An often overlooked list for thoughtfully chosen wines at a reasonable price, especially the Champagne and you should be drinking more Champagne! It will make you look (or at least feel) dreamy scarfing down a delicious plate of meatloaf.”

4) Ham Biscuits and Chenin Blanc from Foods of All Nations. “You’ll need a full case of wine, and Tom and Frankie can help. The Wine Store to explore! Make sure to start looking at the back label and becoming fluent with the importer. I am certain you will find kinship with a handful, as many are doing excellent work. It’s never been better to be a consumer of wine! While there, I suggest buying a MarieBette olive baguette, ham biscuits, and some fried chicken, for friends, or just you, the dog, and the case of wine. For ham biscuits and fried chicken I would suggest Chenin Blanc from Domaine aux Moines, Savennieres Sec 2015.”

5) Tuna Nicoise and Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc at MarieBette Café and Bakery. “Five Finds has found and celebrated many wonderful things about MarieBette, but did you know that they have an affordable bistro wine selection to complement the long list of lovable superlatives? Jason, Patrick, and Will are the best, made all the more adorable with a glass of Muscadet or Sauvignon Blanc. My pairing for either is the Tuna Niçoise.”

Charlottesville 2018 Best Food Truck: Côte-Rôtie


A great chef once told me that food should be “yummy.” It’s a funny word from the mouth of such a serious chef, especially with a thick French accent. But the point is profound. Fundamentally, good food should provide pleasure. Tasting it should cause lusting for more. And more.

The chef would usually repeat his axiom after a fine dining experience that disappointed him. It was overwrought, overthought, or both. Experimentation, culinary acrobatics, and cunning can all be good things, he says. But, they should never come at the cost of yumminess. Food should not just make you think to yourself: “this is good.” You should feel it.

Few Charlottesville chefs observe The Yummy Rule better than Peter and Merrill Robertson, of Côte-Rôtie food truck. Sure, they are capable of masterful creations. As Culinary Institute of America graduates, they routinely nail sophisticated dishes like Squab Terrine with D’affinois, Crostini, Grainy Mustard, and Balsamic-Macerated Dates; or Grilled Octopus, Pork Belly, Unagi, and Butter Beans in Brodo. But, these always share space on the ever-changing menu with more familiar fare, like sandwiches, steak, fried chicken, sushi, or whatever else the Robertsons might feel like eating. You see, the Robertsons cook not to show off, but to make food that is pleasurable to eat. Whether a cheffy experiment or something simple, you can taste it in everything that comes off the truck: these chefs love to eat.

Case in point: Veal Meatballs with Spaetzle. Of all the dishes I ate last year, this may have come closest to the Platonic ideal of Yumminess. Eating it, you never pause to consider how it was made or why its ingredients cohere so well. No. Reduced to a kitten on Grade A catnip, you just savor it, moan, and shovel it in, compulsively pumping the serotonin drip until it’s gone.

This type of reaction is not uncommon to Côte-Rôtie’s food. To track it down, follow along on Facebook for their latest whereabouts, which often include Random Row Brewing Co. and Blenheim Vineyards, among other locations.

While Charlottesville is blessed with many good food trucks, the winner of the 2018 Best Food Truck is the same as the 2017 winner: Côte-Rôtie.


Veal Meatballs with Spaetzle