The Charlottesville 29

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

Five Finds on Friday: Mitchell Beerens

Mitchell

On Fridays, we feature five foods finds selected by local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Mitchell Beerens, co-owner of Lampo, the much-anticipated new restaurant to open this fall, with partners Loren Mendosa, Ian Redshaw, and Andrew Cole.  Beerens has spent time in the kitchens of Bizou, MAS, and Tavola.  In the former location of The Farm, Lampo will specialize in real Neapolitan pizza.  Beerens’ picks:

1)  Cheese Plate at Flora Artisanal Cheese.  “This little cheese counter hidden in the back of a coffee shop is truly a Charlottesville treasure. Nadjeeb Chouaf is one of the most knowledgeable cheesemongers I’ve worked with. He has everything from the best imported mozzarella to local treats like Twenty Paces ricotta.”

2)  Vegetarian Blue Plate at Hamiltons’.  “My favorite lunch on the downtown mall.  I order it every time and can only hope that whomever I’m with will let me have a bite of what they ordered so I can sample some of the other offerings.”

3)  Vella Jack Cheese Fritters at Zocalo.  “My go-to appetizer at the most consistent restaurant in town. You can always count on this dish coming out perfect. It’s both sophisticated and fun. Just like the place that it is served.”

4)  Truffle Fries at Citizen Burger Bar.  “French fries are my favorite food on earth. At Citizen they use a special potato that creates a truly superior fry. Combined with truffle oil and Parmesan they are a real treat.”

5)   Beef Tendon and Tripe in Szechuan Chili Sauce at Peter Chang’s China Grill. “This is a very ‘chefy’ dish. All of the bits and pieces that no one else wants expertly prepared and transformed into something greater than the sum of its parts. I can’t go to this restaurant without ordering three of four items. It’s a fatty’s paradise.”

Homestyle

Chang

You don’t want to miss this one.  Nights like it don’t come around very often. Two of our area’s biggest food and drink talents are coming together for a homestyle feast.

Peter Chang has been called the best Szechuan chef in America.  He has won rave after rave, and his food has inspired critics and foodies to drive hundreds of miles just to taste it.  The cooking style of the former chef to the Chinese Embassy is known to be no-holds-barred, unadulterated to suit American tastes.  Yet, on September 3, he is doing something that even he doesn’t do very often – serving the homestyle food he remembers eating when growing up, like his grandmother used to make.

As Chang’s business partner Gen Lee explains, the authentic Szechuan food on the regular menu of Peter Chang’s restaurant, which is not at all like the Americanized food at your typical takeout joint, might appeal to just 10% of Chinese food fans in the U.S.  For this homestyle feast, though, Lee says that Chang’s food might appeal to just 1% of Chinese food fans. This is the real deal.

After an array of appetizers like 鬼椒薫鱼柳  (Smoked Fish w. Ghost Chili) and 葱煎牛肉饼  (Pan-fried Beef Cake), Chang will dish out a five-course menu of dishes like 𧐢汁焗藕饼 (Lotus Root w. Oyster Sauce) and 川式干蒸红鱼 (Red Snapper in Szechuan Style).

Better yet, each course will be paired with a beer from Champion Brewing Company, which has been called one of the fastest growing breweries in the country.  Champion’s founder and head brewer, Hunter Smith, will be on hand to make the pairings.

Chang’s food and Champion beer.  All for $45?  We’ll be there.