The Charlottesville 29

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

Category: News

Brian Jones Joins The Alley Light


Already a talented bunch, The Alley Light‘s kitchen staff just got even better. Earlier this year, Brian Jones, who ran Petit Pois’ kitchen for more than a decade, decided it was time to move on. His new project was to oversee the kitchen of Timberwood Tap House, the restaurant from the Timberwood Grill team which opened in October, across from Wegmans. Now that Timberwood Tap House is up and running, Jones is returning to more sophisticated culinary arts.

In mid-December, he will join The Alley Light’s kitchen, led by Executive Chef and co-owner Robin McDaniel. “Robin and I are excited to bring aboard Brian Jones,” said McDaniel’s husband Chris Dunbar, also a co-owner. “Having both worked with Brian for a number of years at both Petit Pois and Fleurie,” said Dunbar, “we have first hand knowledge of his work ethic, attention to detail, organization, and creativity.”

It was difficult for Jones to leave Timberwood Tap House, which he says is off to a great start and in very good hands. “I had a wonderful time with the Timberwood family,” Jones said, “but, I realized that being behind the range, cooking, was where I wanted to be.”  Jones is excited to have the chance to do that at The Alley Light, while reuniting with McDaniel and Dunbar.

The restaurant does not expect any significant menu changes resulting from the hire. Instead, McDaniel will just have one of the best assistants a chef could hope for. Jones has worked with some of the nation’s most decorated chefs chefs, such as Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Jean Georges Vongerichten. “Personally and professionally, we couldn’t imagine a better fit here,” said Dunbar.

Congrats to Jones and The Alley Light.

As 2016 Closes, So Does Spudnuts


For some, this may seem an appropriate end to a difficult year. As 2016 closes, so does Spudnuts, the Belmont institution whose donuts have been making Charlottesville residents happy for decades. The last day will be December 30.

So long 2016. So long Spudnuts.



Virginia Abounds in Good Food Award Finalists


We are blessed to live in an extraordinary food region. And, every now and then, someone happens to take notice. The latest are The Good Food Awards, which have long been good to Virginia, and this year is no exception.  To be eligible for a Good Food Award, in categories like Charcuterie, Cheese, Chocolate, Coffee, Spirits, etc., the 2,059 entrants must show that they meet “industry-specific environmental and social criteria.”  Then, a blind tasting by experts determines the winners.

Local artisans abound on this year’s list of Finalists, just announced. Just 23 charcuterie items made the finals, and two are right here in Charlottesville. Timbercreek Market’s Duck Rillette, created by Tucker Yoder, and JM Stock Provisions’ Beef Tongue Pastrami join a list of the who’s who of top American charcuterie producers.

It’s no secret that this is one of the nation’s best cider regions, too, and, of the thirteen cider finalists, two call the Commonwealth home: Blue Bee Cider – for their Harvest Ration – and Castle Hill Cider – for 1764 & Levity.

For coffee, Red Rooster Coffee Roaster’s Ethiopia Hambela Washed was honored. For Pantry items, Lindera Farms’ Black Locust Vinegar made the cut. And, for adult beverages, Port City Brewing’s Port City Porter made the Beer list and Texas Beach’s Bloody Mary Mix is a finalist in the Spirits category.

Congratulations to all of Virginia’s finalists. Winners will be announced on January 20, 2017.