When an expert panel of chefs, historians, and others once convened to determine Charlottesville’s signature dish, the fried chicken sandwich received strong consideration. Fried chicken has a long history in the region, and sandwiches of it are all over Charlottesville. It’s one of the deepest sandwich categories in town.
Among a stellar lot, the most crave-inducing comes from the The Fitzroy. The difference is in the details. First, boneless chicken thighs receive a soak in a honey-dill brine. Rinse and drain thoroughly before another soak, this time in buttermilk, for several hours. Next comes a dredging in flour and spices and then, finally, they are fried. The finished thighs are placed atop a brioche bun with sliced pickles. The final twist is the addition of lemon to the cayenne-spiked aioli that gets smeared on the bun. The touch of acid works, and may be the difference-maker that has turned this into an industry favorite, drawing those who discover it back to The Fitzroy just to get their fix.
Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Courtenay Tyler, co-founder of Tilman’s, which has lots of news this week. First, building on the success of the shop’s pop-ups, Tilman’s is launching a takeout menu. Today through Monday, from 12-6pm, guests will have the option of taking their order to-go or enjoying it “picnic style” on the patio. In addition to food and wine, there will be cocktails like Negronis, martinis, and sangria. Pre-ordering is preferred, but walk-ins are also welcome. Next, COVID-19 be damned, Tilman’s is planning a sister restaurant for later this year. In the former home to Tin Whistle Pub, Tonic will be a cafe and bar, with a patio and outdoor bar, offering small plates of vegetables, seafood, and fresh sandwiches, including house roast beef. Stay tuned for details and an opening date, likely this summer. Tyler’s picks, which focus on takeout and delivery options in the Culture of Takeout:
1) Tuna Avocado Carpaccio at Now & Zen. “This is probably the one dish in Charlottesville that I crave the most. It’s packed with big chunks of fresh tuna, avocado, and my favorite, tobiko. The wasabi dressing is always light, and the salad is perfectly dressed. My husband and I will wait in line for all of Chef Toshi’s small plates, but this is always the first thing that we order.”
2) Deonjang Jjigae at Maru. “Steven and Kay Kim are my next door neighbors at Tilman’s, and boy, did I luck out in that respect. They are incredibly nice. Kay has a sharp wit, and best of all Steven is an amazing chef. I love this Korean miso stew (don’t ask me how to pronounce it). It’s a big umami bomb, which I love. It has tofu and veggies and is a little spicy, and I always get it with clams. It comes with their homemade banchan, which has kim chi and other interesting things I can’t identify until I ask. I’m really happy if there’s pickled burdock that day.”
3) Any Soup at Bizou. “I have no idea how every single soup I have had from Bizou is amazing, but it is. Their shrimp bisque is actually the very first meal I ate here in Charlottesville, when I moved here in 2014. A mention on their specials board will definitely make me stop in. They have the butternut squash bisque on their to-go menu this week, and they are on my list for take-out. When things were ‘normal,’ they provided a much needed respite after a long day at Tilman’s. I enjoy sitting at that bar, and chatting with Rachel about her wine list. She has a great palate and point of view. And, she writes the best wine descriptions in town.”
4) Triple Citrus Pie at The Pie Chest. “Rachel’s pies aren’t super fancy. They are simple, and homey, and made with love, and in that, reflect Rachel’s personality. Her triple citrus is sublime. That texture! It’s such a treat.”
5) Chocolate Gelato at Splendora’s. “PK’s chocolate gelato is like no other. Deep, dark, intense. It may sound plain, but I promise you, it is not. It’s dangerous that PK is now delivering. All I have to do is call or text, and next thing you know I have my fix.”
Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Mita Tembe, Bakery Manager of MarieBette Cafe and Bakery. At MarieBette, Tembe’s favorites are the sticky bun, the chocolate chunk cookie, and the Monroe tartine, with scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, bacon, and herbs atop MarieBette sourdough. Tembe’s other favorites around town:
1) Spanish Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake at Orzo. “My friend and I meant to share but we got two instead. Best accident ever.”
2) Santa Fe Enchiladas and a House Margarita .at Continental Divide. “I love the pumpkin muffin on the side, and you can never go wrong with a CD margarita.”
3) Belgian fries and aioli at Public Fish & Oyster. “Hands down the best fries in Charlottesville: hot, salty, crispy. Also, the fried brussels sprouts, with that same aioli, are incredible.”
4) Torta Brava at La Michoacana. “Super super spicy and absolutely delicious.”
5) Grilled Banana Bread at Bizou. “I have attempted to recreate this at home to no avail. Bizou does it best.”