Brasserie Saisonhas just added even more talent to its kitchen, which already included head chef Tyler Teass, formerly or Rose’s Luxury, and Morad Sbaitri. Now they’ve added longtime Whiskey Jar head chef Devin Murray, who joins the kitchen as sous chef, replacing Nick Moon. John Meiklejohn takes over at The Whiskey Jar.
Aris Cuadra, formerly of Tavola, is new Executive Chef ofClifton Inn, which re-opened yesterday with a fresh new look and menu, after a brief closure for refurbishments. Look for a more accessible menu, suitable for regular visits.
At Duner’s, longtime chef Doug McLeod moved home to Asheville, and has been replaced by former head chef Laura Fonner who returns after a few years of baby time. “She’s an amazing chef,” says owner Bob Caldwell.
And, last but not least, John Shanesy is leaving Petit Poisto try his luck in New York City. Owner Brian Helleberg will continue as Executive Chef, and though he would not rule out hiring a sous or chef de cuisine down the road, says that for now he really enjoys being involved in the nuts and bolts of Petit Pois’s kitchen. We will enjoy him there as well.
Looking back at 2016, what stands out as the best thing you ate all year? Top area chefs provide their answer. (Here are last year’s picks.) A tribute to Charlottesville’s bounty:
Mitchell Beerens (Lampo)
Agedashi Tofu at Now & Zen. “The silken tofu is made crispy by dusting it in potato starch and frying it. Then, it’s set in a spa of tentsuyu broth made smoky from the katsuobushi and a little sweet from mirin. Perfect balance of big flavors.”
Craig Hartman (BBQ Exchange)
Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana at Parallel 38. “When restaurants around the world jumped to support the town of Amatrice in Italy after it was devastated by an earthquake, we were fortunate enough to experience a version of Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana at Parallel 38. Their version was almost exactly the same as what we experienced in Italy. It was also so delicious that we went back the next night to have it again.”
Brian Jones (The Alley Light)
Brebirousse from Flora Artisanal Cheese in Timbercreek Market with Seeded Roll from Albemarle Baking Company. “The seeded roll is a beautiful roll, made from baguette dough, crusted in fennel seeds, poppy seeds and white sesame seeds. What a yummy combination of flavors. Brebirousse is a soft, smooth, creamy, buttery sheep’s milk cheese from the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Not to take anything away from these two ingredients, but food memories often have more to do with the eater’s condition at the time of the meal than the actual meal itself. Food always tastes better when you are hungry! I have eaten at some amazing restaurants in my life but I the best meal I ever had in my life was on a backpacking trip when our rations were low and our calorie output far exceeded our calorie intake. We savored every last morsel, scraped our cooking vessel clean, so clean that there was nothing left to wash. Possibly food is at its best when the aromas or tastes remind you of a forgotten memory lost somewhere in the back of your mind. Think Ratatouille the movie when the food critic Anton Ego bites into Chef Remy’s ratatouille.”
Christian Kelly (Maya)
Duck Liver Terrine at The Ivy Inn. “This pâté en terrine is a slice of art. The perfect suspension of fat in meat wrapped in what appeared to be paper-thin cured duck breast slices and served with traditional pommery mustard and pickled vegetables. Angelo’s food is truly inspiring. The work of his kitchen is a delight to the taste buds. Well done.”
Tommy Lasley (Fry’s Spring Station, Ivy Provisions)
Live Scallop with Uni Broth at Mican (now closed). “The best thing I ate this past year was way too much amazing sashimi at Mican Japanese Restaurant, which unfortunately is no longer open! Everything I had was the best example I have tried in years, Charlottesville or otherwise. If I had to pick one bite it was the live scallop with uni broth.” [Note: Mican’s owners are now serving sushi at Lemongrass.]
Thomas Leroy (Kardinal Hall)
Pork Belly at BBQ Exchange. “I went there and ordered the meat combo plate of course. The ribs were outstanding, but that pork belly with a fried crispy finish to balance the smoking flavor was amazing. I topped it with their bacon bbq sauce of course. Next time I go, that’s all I’m ordering.”
Olive Oil Gelato from Splendora’s. “I don’t know if PK’s running it regularly, but it was truly fantastic. She used our Mosto olive oil from Liguria and we topped it with sea salt and a drizzle of the Galardo olive oil that Hodges and Jill Myers are importing. It was the perfect combination!”
Jenny Peterson (Paradox Pastry)
Roasted Chicken and Street Corn Off the Cob at The Fitzroy. “Holy moly! Food tends to be an ‘in the moment’ experience for me, and that chicken and corn just hit the spot at the right time, and it was so comfy and cozy in there.”
Ian Redshaw (Lampo)
Sunchokes from Wayside Produce. “Any vegetable from Wayside Produce, especially the sunchokes. These are the best vegetables I have been able to find thus far in my career.”
Ivan Rekosh (ZoCaLo)
Flank and Brisket Pho at Thai Cuisine & Noodle House. “This time of year I’m loving the pho from Thai Cuisine. I usually opt for the flank and brisket but sometimes add the tendon. The broth is amazing. I love to stick my whole face in the bowl and breathe in the steam while I’m slurping the noodles. Really warms you up from the inside out on these cold days. Also a great family runs it.”
Wilson Richey (co-owner, The Alley Light, The Bebedero, The Pie Chest, Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar)
Chicken Liver Mousse Tart at Timbercreek Market. “Just redefined what can be done with chicken liver, so smooth and elegant. I would eat the whole tart if it were not frowned upon to do things like that.”
John Shanesy (Petit Pois)
Black Bean and Corn Relleno at ZoCaLo. “It hits on every texture, and all the flavors are very well pronounced but at the same time all working in unison to be a joy to eat. They’ve been great new neighbors to get to meet and have greeted me so warmly as well.”
Andrew Silver (ZoCaLo)
Polpettine Panuozzo at Lampo. “Meatball parm sub was my go-to late night, altered state, munchie meal. Lampo’s is the refined, grown up version. Plus the fact that the bread is baked ‘a la minute’ seals the deal.”
Angelo Vangelopoulos (The Ivy Inn)
Petit Kouign-amann from MarieBette. “I found this gem at the city market. Will Darsie filled my request for a mixed bag of goodies while I picked up my veggies from Susan and Wally Parks at Broadhead Mountain Farm. It’s an over the top decadent croissant dough masterpiece with apples and a metric ton of butter and sugar. My market visit is no longer complete without one of them.”
Tristan Wraight (Oakhart Social)
170 Dry Aged NY Strip at Lampo. “Ridiculously delicious. Cast iron crispy and served with a head of roasted garlic. Not even fair.”
Tucker Yoder (Timbercreek Market)
I Don’t Even Own a Gun by Twenty Paces. “I Don’t Even Own a Gun and Noah’s Arcade are some of the best cheeses I have ever tasted. Could easily rival European cheeses. Great funky cheeses. All their cheeses have been a revelation this year but the soft gooey ones are a Yoder family favorite.”
A change of guard is coming to a post at the heart of Charlottesville dining. For eleven years, Brian Jones has overseen the kitchen of Petit Pois, one of Charlottesville’s most dependably excellent restaurants. Nowhere in town more closely resembles a classic French bistro, which is no wonder given that, before coming to Charlottesville, Jones had worked with some of the nation’s best French chefs, including Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert and Jean Georges Vongerichten.
At the end of June, Jones is leaving to prepare to take over the kitchen of Timberwood Tap House, set to open this fall in the 5th Street Extended shopping center housing Wegman’s. Petit Pois owner Brian Helleberg, who also owns Fleurie, knows how much Jones will be missed. “As good as he is as a chef and leader,” says Helleberg, “he is an even better person, and I will truly miss interacting with him day to day.” Anyone who has come to rely on Petit Pois’s spot-on renditions of steak frites, chicken liver mousse, and French onion soup knows that Jones’ successor has big shoes to fill.
That task belongs to John Shanesy, of Parallel 38, who says leaving was difficult. “I am sad to be leaving Parallel 38 and most importantly [co-owner] Justin [Ross],” says Shanesy. “He has changed everything for me and I can never thank him enough.” But, Shanesy is fully focused on the future and the responsibility of overseeing a Charlottesville fixture like Petit Pois. “I am very honored that I was chosen,” says Shanesy, “and am going to do everything in my power to maintain the great respect and solid name that Petit Pois has established in our community.”
In today’s era, it is rare for a chef to stay at any one restaurant for long. Thank you, Brian, for eleven superb years at Petit Pois. Helleberg says it best, calling Jones a “special person” with a “unique impact”:
Brian has had a unique impact on myself, his coworkers and our customers by bringing positive energy and professionalism to work every day. That is rare in the restaurant business, but Brian showed us all how it’s done. He really cares about people and his relationships with them, whether it be a new dishwasher, the wine delivery man or the upstairs neighbor. It’s not all that complicated but to make it look so effortless for 11 years takes a really special person. I’m really proud to have had Chef Brian set the standard at Petit Pois and happy for his new opportunity.