The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Boylan Heights

Five Finds on Friday: J.R. Hadley


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from J.R. Hadley, the restaurateur who owns Boylan Heights and the brand new nachos restaurant Cho’s. For St. Patrick’s Day today, Cho’s is turning back into the former occupant of its space on Preston Avenue: McGrady’s. They will hoist the old McGrady’s sign, and staff will wear McGrady’s gear in homage to what Hadley says is the best St. Patrick’s Day party in town. Drink specials, giveaways, live music on the new deck, bagpipes, and even face painting for the kids. Details here and here. Hadley’s picks:

1) Cavolo Nero at Lampo. “This may be the best $7 you can spend in town. I’ve been to Lampo more times than I can count, dating back to when Loren, Drew, Ian and Mitch first opened this gem. I’ve tried everything on the menu, and always look forward to Drew’s educated wine recommendations at the bar. But this often overlooked salad in Charlottesville’s hottest pizza joint is a great example of how talented these guys are. Pickled mustard seed, Tuscan kale, apple cider vin, and candied almonds? Yes please.”

2) The Southern at Roots Natural Kitchen. “I love Roots. Co-owner Jung Kim worked for me at Boylan Heights when he was an undergrad here at UVa and I am so proud of what he has done. In just over a year, Roots has become a staple on The Corner and rightfully so. Not only is it healthy, but its fresh, and flavorful. Most people don’t know they had the guys over at ZoCaLo help design their menu and recipes. Try The Southern if you haven’t already. The house made BBQ tofu is incredible, along with the signature brown/black rice, kale, chickpeas, roasted broccoli and pickled onions.”

3) Greens of the Day at Integral Yoga Natural Foods. “I’m a juice freak. Mainly because it makes it easy for me to get all the fruits and veggies my Mom tells me I’m supposed to eat every day. At Integral Yoga they use fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they are always so friendly and anxious to help you find the perfect juice or smoothie. Plus, it’s right across the street from Cho’s which makes it even more dangerous for me. My go-to is the Greens of the Day. It’s packed with kale, cucumber, cabbage, celery, and I usually add echinacea and Vitamin-C powder. And when you stayed out a little too late? Get the Liver Flush. It works ;)”

4) Tagliatelle w/ Ragu Alla Bolognese at Vivace. “I grew up in Ivy, and went to WAHS with fellow restaurateur Landon Saul. Since taking over Vivace, Landon has taken the menu from good to great. Landon’s parents owned a family grocery store and butcher shop when we were kids, and its no coincidence that Landon brings that same passion for local ingredients to the Vivace menu. After training in Calabria, Italy he brought that simple, authentic Italian style back to Vivace. We’re lucky to have Vivace in little ole Cville and the tagliatelle embodies that best in my opinion. The pancetta is seasoned and cured in house, and the house sausage and grana padano is perfect.”

5) Fried Chicken Sandwich w/fries at The Fitzroy. “There’s another menu item at The Fitzroy named the Perfect Sandwich. I disagree. This is the perfect sandwich. I think about it almost daily. Buttermilk battered chicken, cayenne lemon aioli and pickles. Boom. Owners Kelley Tripp & Richard Ridge are the best in the biz. Kelley helped me open up Boylan, created our menu, and his unique tutelage is a big reason for my success in this business. I’ve known Rich since high school and we were lucky to have him bartend at Boylan for years when he moved back home from NYC. The two of them together are a restaurant dream team. Only a perfectly battered fried chicken sandwich and shoe string fries can compete with them.”

Two For Tuesday: Tony Bennett

Tony Bennett

Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, with assistance from digital media students at The University of Virginia. Today’s student contributor is Ali Donaldson.

Tuesdays during The Corner series feature two favorite Corner food items selected by a different University figure each week. Today’s picks come from Tony Bennett, head coach of the UVa men’s basketball team and the 2014 ACC Coach of the year.  Bennett’s teams have increased their win totals in each of his first five seasons at UVa, culminating with last spring’s ACC regular season and tournament championships, and a number one seed in the NCAA tournament.  Fresh off two wins to kick off the new season, here are Bennett’s picks:

1)  Turkey Burger Bowl with Boylan Sauce and Fixings at Boylan Heights.  “My wife turned me on to the turkey burger bowl, Boylan sauce, and fixings at Boylan Heights and she never makes mistakes on great tasting food. On a side note, the milk shakes are sneaky good.”

2. Philly Chicken at Littlejohn’s (tender, low-fat chicken with shredded lettuce, tomato, sweet peppers and mayo with melted American cheese).  “The first sandwich I had when I arrived in Charlottesville was the Philly Chicken at Littlejohn’s. Talk about a great first impression of Charlottesville! It’s my go-to almost every time I’m there, and it’s available 24/7, 365!”

The Corner: Boylan Heights

Photo by Randy Reynolds

Photo by Randy Reynolds

Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, by digital media students at The University of Virginia. Today’s student contributor is Meghan Kasel.

The Background

In 2007, while living out west,  JR Hadley observed an emerging focus in the restaurant world on farm-to-table cuisine, local sourcing, and organic ingredients.  He thought a gourmet burger bar with these elements could take off. Though thousands of miles away, when he caught word that a space on the Corner had become available, Hadley, a Charlottesville native, leapt at the chance to return home and make his idea a reality.

Opening in August 2008, just in time for football season, Boylan Heights immediately established itself as a Corner staple. “We found that people really latched on to the mantra we were pushing,” Hadley said – a straight-forward crowd-pleasing menu built on grass-fed, organic beef from local Virginia farms.

The Experience

Boylan, as regulars call it, prides itself on its unique atmosphere, which Hadley describes as “1980s prep school—a little rough around the edges.” This theme runs throughout the restaurant, with locker-lined walls, varsity letter printed menus, and a wait staff rocking button down shirts or ones boldly stating “PREP.” The theme is also a nod to Boylan’s allegiance to the University to which it caters, as the menu is organized under headings such as “The Lawn,” “The Range,” and “The Dean’s List.” Yet, Boylan stops short of going over-the-top—its self-conscious kitsch adding to its charm.

With two sprawling floors of space, and two large bars with multiple flat screen televisions, Boylan serves as a great place to catch the game, but they are serious about food, too. The fresh and fun menu features beef, veggie, and turkey burgers, an extensive draft list, and a ever-changing burger-of-the-month, or B.O.M.B. This month’s? American Thanksgiving featuring pulled turkey, cranberry chutney, granny smith apples and melted brie cheese.

What to Order

When asked his favorite menu item, Hadley doesn’t hesitate: “The Western Civ” — an organic beef patty piled on with cheddar, pulled pork, onion straws, and cole slaw. Just describing it, Hadley shakes his head, smiles and quietly adds, “It’s amazing.”  And, while the menu contains a number of similarly elaborate combinations, Boylan’s most popular option is its simplest — the “build your own” burger option. In keeping with the scholastic theme, Boylan outfits each table with a pile of #2 pencils and a large stack of Scantron test sheets, familiar to the students that are regulars. On the sheet, customers can choose their meat, toppings, and bun, as well as from an array of sides and specialty sauces. Its one test students don’t seem to mind taking.


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