The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Cafe 88

Five Finds on Friday: Amber Cohen


Photo by Bethany Bandera.

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Amber Cohen, the former chef of Continental Divide and sous chef of Hamiltons’, who will be Melissa Close-Hart’s sous chef at Junction, set to open this summer.  “I have had a professional crush on Melissa since I met her when I first moved to town,” says Cohen, who has cooked in Charlottesville for 14 years. “I feel like I got asked to prom in a John Hughes flick.”  On March 15, Cohen will join Close-Hart for a special Junction preview dinner, benefiting the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and The International School of Charlottesville.  Check back here Monday at 10 am for an announcement on how to get tickets, which will be sure to go fast.  Cohen’s picks:

1) Canelés at MarieBette Cafe and Bakery.  “I am seduced into stopping and getting those decadent, evil, irresistible mini canelés every time I drive by MarieBette.”

2) Red Hot Blues at Continental Divide.  “It’s been a short two months since I gave up my kitchen residency at the Divide and I have already started missing and daydreaming (and sometimes actual night dreaming) of the Blues. Accompanied, of course, by a margarita.”

3) Prosciutto Pizza at Lampo.  “I’ve always felt that pizza is a perfect food, in this case, made somehow more sublime by cured meat and lightly dressed arugula.”

4) Pork Star Taco at Brazos Tacos.  “Perhaps just the words ‘pork belly’ make me giddy, but I have to have it on every visit.”

5) Absolutely Anything at Café 88.  “Their crispy tofu is perfectly seasoned, their veggies are never overcooked, the wonderful chicken is as advertised in the name (wonderful), and I would happily marry the hot sour soup.”


Five Finds on Friday: Patrick Evans


On Fridays, we feature five food finds from local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Patrick Evans, baker and co-owner of MarieBette, and creator of the bakery’s many delicious pastries, like, our favorite, the canele, as well as the brioche feuilletée, which has become a bit of a sensation since being dubbed a bronut, leading some even to call for a “national movement of bronuts.” Evans’ picks:

1)  Pizza with Pepperoni and Red Onions from Mona Lisa.  “This is a custom order pie usually, but sometimes they have it by the slice.”

2)  A dinner of Rosé from Blenheim Vineyards, a Sesame Baguette from MarieBette, and an entire wedge of Delice de Bourgogne from Trader Joe’s.  “Sometimes I’ll share some of the cheese with my daughter Betty, who we lovingly call ‘the cheese monster!'”

3)  Weekend Sandwich Special from JM Stock Provisions.  “Whatever it is, it’s gonna be good, and it’s usually on MarieBette Virginia Sourdough!”

4)  Burger Cooked “Red” with Fries and a Pickle at Citizen Burger Bar.  “They don’t do the traditional rare, medium rare, medium, well done here . . . but I realized that RED is the closest to medium rare, and it hits the spot.”

5)  Crispy Tofu Bento Box from Cafe 88.  “I once called to order this on the phone and Lee, the owner, responded by saying ‘OK Patrick, it’ll be ready soon!’ I didn’t know she knew my name, but this kind of small town familiarity is one of the great things about Charlottesville.”

Two for Tuesday: October 2, 2012

1)  Pork Dumplings in Chili Oil at Gingko.  When it comes to “Chinese” food, Charlottesville has come a long way.  Years ago, there was nothing beyond the standard Chinese-American places where the menus are all the same.  Sure, every now and then we get a hankering for a cloying, glowing mess like General Tso’s Chicken at a shopping mall.  Usually, though, we prefer something more refined.  Thankfully, Charlottesville has seen a proliferation of restaurants that are daring not to dumb it down.  Taste of China, Peter Chang’s, and Cafe 88 come to mind.  Now another restaurant appears poised to join them.  Gingko, recently opened just off The Corner, supplements a menu of standard Chinese-American fare with authentic Sichuan options.  The Pork Dumplings in Chili Oil are a good place to start.  Handmade dumplings swim in a pool of oil seasoned with just enough Sichuan chilis to create the desired numbing effect.

2)  Quiche at Paradox Pastry.   Yes, the egg is custardy.  And, yes the ever-changing fillings always seem fresh and flavorful.  But, as you might expect at a bakery, the crust of these personal-sized pies steals the show.  Flaky, buttery, and rich, it has the unmistakable stamp of a professional baker.  The quiches are so rich in fact that we like to take them home to pair with something acidic.  We’ve had luck with Planet Earth Diversified greens tossed in a French vinaigrette from Feast!, or a crisp white like the Blenheim Vineyards Chardonnay.