The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Josh Zanoff

Five Finds on Friday: Josh Zanoff

Zanoff

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Josh Zanoff, the ZZ Top guitarist Partner in Ten Course Hospitality who manages The Whiskey Jar and The Bebedero. One of Zanoff’s most beloved employees, Romaine Brooks, recently lost his life. You can show that Brooks is gone but not forgotten by helping his family cope with the financial impact of his death. Here’s how to shower Charlottesville’s love on Brooks’ grieving family. Zanoff’s picks:

1) Vibe at LW’s Livery Stable. “I know Five Finds is supposed to be all about the food but to me there is a close relationship among the food, the aesthetic, and the feelings that any eatery evokes. Livery gives me that good feeling. It comes across in the food and in the cocktail program. It comes across in knowing that the building and business have been in the same family since 1849. It’s our cool quiet local joint where the bartenders know your name and where you leave feeling taken care of.”

2) Cavolfiore Caramellato at Tavola. “The best cauliflower I’ve had anywhere, ever. The transformation of ordinary ingredients to extraordinary plates is a magical power of a great chef. This transformation at Tavola, similar to when chefs like Harrison Keevil roast a humble chicken, keeps me coming back for more just like their wine program does. It’s a place to go to get inspired.”

3) Large Iced Americano at Splendora’s. “If I start my day at The Whiskey Jar or The Bebedero then it’s our Trager Brothers blend of course, but it really depends on which way I walk to work. Sometimes it’s Java Java, or Lone Light inside Pie Chest, or Mudhouse but I usually try to aim right for Splendora’s. The Illy blend they use makes the Americano look right, smell right, taste right, and it gets you feeling right whether or not you throw in a couple ma’amoul.”

4) Beer Cheese Tots at Draft Taproom. “I crave food that comforts. Food that feels like a warm hug from places that feel like home. Riverside has always filled that niche very well, but lately I’ve also been drawn to Draft Taproom. I would never have imagined a joint with 65 taps would have a scratch kitchen. I assumed freezer to fryer but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I’d never heard of anyone doing potato tots from scratch before I started eating there.”

5) Southern Hospitality as formerly served by Romaine Brooks at The Whiskey Jar. “While it is not something that we order or pay for or eat with a fork, it is something that feeds our soul. We all know we can get a burger and some fried chicken and an Old Fashioned just about anywhere around here, even at our gas stations. What you can’t get anywhere are people who really care like Romaine. What sets one restaurant apart from another isn’t only the food but how that restaurant makes you feel overall. Romaine Brooks made you feel good. He made you feel like you were a part of something. He made you feel important and he made you feel taken care of. He was a part of our lives for many years at The Whiskey Jar and at Parallel 38 where his brand of hospitality will be missed dearly.”

Donate here.

Introducing Brasserie Saison

saison

Will Richey is at it again. And, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him more excited about a restaurant.

Since jumping into restaurant ownership in 2005 with Revolutionary Soup, Richey’s passion has evolved to the point of being a full-fledged addiction. He even now has a parent company — Ten Course Hospitality — to oversee his many projects, which also include The Whiskey Jar, The Pie Chest, The Bebedero, and The Alley Light, a 2015 James Beard semifinalist for best new restaurant in the country.

Richey admits that the creation phase is what appeals to him most. Just as those of us with a passion for food are planning our next meal during our current one, Richey is thinking about his next restaurant before his latest is finished. The creation is the fix.

To make that work, the chronic creator knows he needs a stellar team. And, he always has one, thanks in large part to longtime business partner Josh Zanoff, a trained chef who spent years in management at Whole Foods, and has been instrumental to every Richey project. To explain their management approach, Richey likes to cite a Steve Jobs quote: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

The Concept

Richey’s reliance on collaboration begins at the earliest stage of a restaurant. As with his other projects, the idea for his latest venture — Brasserie Saison –, though his initially, was molded significantly by input from others. In this case, the “others” include an impressive pair: Hunter Smith of Champion Brewing Company and Tyler Teass, former Sous Chef of Rose’s Luxury.

Richey’s concept was simple: good beer food. A hard-core oenophile who co-founded The Wine Guild, Richey has a soft spot for beer. “I always think of wine in terms of the food it would go best with,” says Richey. Beer is the same way, he says, but as much great beer as we have in the area, there’s a shortage of classic beer food to pair with it. “So I began to imagine a beer concept that would serve European style beers and common beer foods from places like Belgium and Holland but also Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Poland, Alsace and more.” He even drafted a menu.

One problem. While Charlottesville brews lots of great beer, little of it is in the classic styles that would pair well with Richey’s menu. So, the restaurant would need to brew its own. For that, he knew just who to call. “I had always admired Hunter’s beers at Champion,” says Richey. As luck would have it, when Richey called to pitch his project, Smith, who has no restaurant at his brewery, was already considering the very same thing. “We both got very excited to brew and cook in collaboration on this old world inspiration,” says Richey. In perfect synergy, they thought, the beer would drive the food, and the food would drive the beer.

The Beer

To enhance the harmony between beer and food, brewing will be done at the restaurant, located on the downtown mall at 111 E. Main St., in the former Jean Theory location. “Brewing onsite means we can work in tandem with the kitchen – brew seasonally and with flavors in mind,” says Smith. Richey agrees. “We are brewing beer specifically to match the cuisine we are working with,” he says. “With the brewery in the restaurant, the brewer can be working the same hours as the chef, tasting the food, and smelling the smells.”

So, what types of beer?  Smith’s favorites are the namesake Brasserie Saison and Brasserie Dubbel. “They were written by our Lead Brewer Josh Skinner, and they are just as we want them,” says Smith. “Fruity and complex, but also super dry and begging for food pairing.” The Saison has lively carbonation with aromas and flavors of bubblegum, pear skin, spice, and the classic herbal funk of Belgian yeast. The Dubbel, meanwhile, boasts a huge nose of spice and dried dark fruits, flavors of plums and fig from Special B malts, and a spicy, clove finish.

View the full opening beer menu here.

The Food

In the kitchen is Tyler Teass, who worked at l’Etoile and Clifton Inn before becoming Sous Chef at Rose’s Luxury, Bon Appetit’s 2014 Best New Restaurant in the country. This marks one of the only times a sous chef of such a nationally acclaimed restaurant has come to Charlottesville to help start a restaurant. (Restaurant Daniel’s Francis Reynard coming to Fuel more than a decade ago was perhaps another.)

When Teass joined the team last year, Richey sent him the menu he had created nearly five years earlier. “A week later,” says Richey, “he sent me back a menu that blew my mind.” While it still followed Richey’s initial focus on Benelux, Teass gave it a modern American touch “that made the entire idea come to life,” says Richey.

Yet, despite all of his success as a chef, Teass never takes food too seriously. When I sent him background questions about the restaurant, his responses used the word “fun” six times, which reflects his positive temperament and unpretentious approach. Asked about his philosophy for cooking, he said: “I like really bright, seasoned food, lots of vegetables and meat that’s cooked nicely. And nicely cut chives. Is that a philosophy?”

And so, while the cuisine is inspired by Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, Teass is no stickler for culinary tradition. “Their food culture is really interesting and using that as a basis for the food we make is important,” he says, “but at the same time focusing on delicious, fun, well-executed food.”

The vegetable-focused opening menu includes dishes like fried and raw Brussels sprouts with tomatoes, shallots and parsley; roasted sunchokes with creme fraiche, horseradish and trout roe; and, crispy scallops a la meuniere, with celery root and benne.

With all the focus on pairings, I asked Richey which excite him most, and he named the Moules Frites with Brasserie Saison, which, he says, “will be an essential experience for anyone coming through the door.” Another favorite is the Brasserie Dubbel with either smoked beef bitterballen or roast beef “carbonnade.” Finally, Richey likes the Tripel with housemade duck sausage. “That is magical,” he says.

Teass is particularly fond of a dessert he has made for his wife for years: buttered popcorn pudding, with lime and creme fraiche. “It’s essentially a curd with popcorn puree, topped with a creme fraiche mousse, lime zest, candied lime segments, and popped sorghum, which look like little pieces of popcorn,” says Teass.

Joining him in the kitchen are two seasoned sous chefs. Morad Sbaitri, who recently moved from Morocco, has “skill way beyond what we could have hoped for,” says Richey. And, Nick Moon spent time at The Whiskey Jar before honing his skills at MAS Tapas. “There are few better kitchens in this town to learn and grow than the one at MAS,” says Richey.

shrimp

Citrus-poached shrimp with lemongrass sauce

The Bar

“Beer is a main focus,” acknowledges Leah Peeks, a veteran of The Whiskey Jar and The Alley Light who now is the Beverage Program Director for Ten Course Hospitality. But, there is lots of other goof stuff, too. “Leah’s artistic talent fuels her inspiration behind the bar,” says Richey, “and keeps it interesting and dynamic.”

The restaurant’s focus on Benelux means that gin abounds, including Peeks’ all-time favorite liquid: a 50/50 martini of Plymouth gin and Dolin Blanc vermouth with orange oil and orange bitters. “I can’t wait to drink one with oysters. And mussels. And beer. All of the things, really,” says Peeks. The rest of the cocktail menu is “classic, clean, crisp, and bright,”she says. As with the beer, “I let the food be my guide on cocktail choices.”

THE KITCHEN COCKTAIL – market price – rotating chef’s choice of seasonal flavors

THE BRASSERIE SAISON COCKTAIL  – 9 – Bombay, lemon, pink peppercorn, Saison – up // balanced // refreshing

THE 50/50 – 10 – Plymouth, Dolin Blanc, orange oil, orange bitters – up // smooth // clean

THE MARTINEZ – 11 – Tanqueray Old Tom, Carpano Antica, Luxardo, mulberry bitters – up // smooth // fruited

THE VESPER ROYALE – 11 – Aviation, Ketel One, Cocchi Americano, Dolin Blanc, Carpano Antica – up // balanced // refined

THE ROUGETTE – 11  – Navy Strength Gin, Lillet Rouge, grapefruit, hopped grapefruit bitters  – rocks // citrus // bright

THE 23 SKIDOO – 12 – Bulleit Rye, Aperol, amaro, lemon, charred lemon bitters – up // balanced // bright

THE ALPINE – 14 – Tanqueray, Chartreuse, honey, ginger, lemon, champagne – long // citrus // complex

THE BIG KID COCKTAIL – 9 – Flor De Cana, Licor 43, Lone Light Chocolate, milk, soda – long // chocolate // foamy

THE LITTLE HEAD BUTT – 10 – Champion Shower Beer Pilsner and Gin – Beer and a shot

The wine list, she says, is “smart and concise” with several offerings by the glass joining bottle options “that will make wine nerds delight.” They are even pouring a glass of Champagne for what Peeks says is half of what it should cost “because Wilson just loves it and wants to serve it.”  In charge of the wine is Will Curley, former manager of Chicago’s Balena, who recently moved to town and quickly became Wine Steward for Richey’s restaurant group. “His palate is so correct,” says Peeks.

The Details

Brasserie Saison opens Thursday, February 1, and will seat 45 inside and 30 outside. Open seven days a week, it will serve lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m, and dinner from 5-10 pm. A midday menu will be offered in between.

Introducing Timbercreek Market

Creek

The first food tenant at the historic Coca-Cola building is set to open.  And, it’s no joke.

Timbercreek Market, an offshoot of Timbercreek Farm, will house a butcher shop, cheese shop, and casual restaurant, all in one.  For years, Timbercreek Farm products have been on menus of the area’s top restaurants, on shelves at select retail outlets, and available for purchase from the farm itself.  Now, Timbercreek is poised to remove altogether the middle men from the “farm-to-table” process.  The farm will bring its products literally to guests’ tables.

Sara Miller, who owns Timberbreek with her husband Zach, said that the idea behind the market is to “answer demand from both our customers and chefs that has been increasing over the years . . . for a place where they can gather to enjoy, shop for, and learn about the local foods we grow at the farm as well as those grown at other farms in the area.”

Given how esteemed Timbercreek Farm is throughout the food community, it’s no surprise that an all-star cast has flocked to help out. Will Richey and Josh Zanoff, of The Alley Light, The Whiskey Jar, and Revolutionary Soup, have been overseeing planning.  “I have worked with Timbercreek since the very beginning,” said Richey.  “With this new project, Timbercreek can extend their best practices in rearing animals to the best practices in handling the meats they produce.”  Richey says that while the market will have “all the things you expect from a top notch butcher shop,” what will make it special is that “you’ll know exactly where all of the meat is coming from — the farm less than seven miles from where it is being sold.”  Chefs and customers can inspect the daily offerings, select exactly the cut of meat they want, and know its source.

Beyond Timbercreek’s own beef, pork, lamb, chicken, duck, rabbit, eggs, and produce, the market will also offer products from other top local food businesses, including other farms, Shenandoah Joe, The Pie Chest, and more.  Meanwhile, The Wine Guild will provide a selection of wines, which can be enjoyed both on premise and off. The idea, Richey said, is to be a one stop shop for whatever’s needed for a great local meal.

Running the cheese counter will be Nadjeeb Chouaf, who last year was named second best cheesemonger in the country. The market will be the new home of his Flora Artisanal Cheese.  “I’m really excited about partnering with Zach and Sara,” said Chouaf who expects the new, larger space for his cheese shop to allow expanded selections, and also regular cheese classes, events, and even pop-up dinners.

Manning the butcher counter will be Adam Lawrence, a ten year veteran of Whole Foods Market.  “I am truly passionate about meat cutting,” said the Earlysville native. “It is an art not commonly practiced in this day and age.”

And, heading the kitchen will be Allie Redshaw, sous chef of Pippin Hill Farm.  Anyone who has enjoyed a meal recently at Pippin Hill knows that this is a good thing.  A very good thing.

Redshaw, whose husband Ian co-owns Lampo, plans an array of prepared food items to eat at the market or take home, as well as sandwiches stuffed with Timbercreek products.  We got a sneak peek at the menu and its a doozy, with options like a 120-day Dry Aged Ribeye Philly Cheese on ABC Ciabatta or a Brioche Grilled Cheese with Bone Marrow.  But, the sandwich that Redshaw is most excited about is her riff on a banh mi, which she says will include “an assortment of Porky goodies, pickled vegetables, and seasonal pates.”  Instead of the traditional crusty baguette, Redhsaw will serve the sandwich on Tigelle – a delicious bread from Emilia Romagna that is notoriously difficult to perfect.  Redshaw has been working hard to do just that, and Timbercreek Market will make theirs fresh daily.

Most of the rest of the sandwiches will be served on bread from Albemarle Baking Company, which drives home how intertwined our local producers and purveyors are.  Timbercreek provides its farm’s eggs to the bakery, which uses them to make bread, which the bakery provides to Timbercreek to make sandwiches.  “A full circle,” said Miller.

Last but not least, there will of course be steak!  Customers can pick any steak they like and, for a small fee, have it grilled for them on the spot.  Richey is high on this option.  “I am personally ecstatic about the chance to walk into the shop, point at a perfectly cut steak in the case and say, ‘Grill that for me, medium rare’, and then sit down with a beer to wait for my steak – any time of the day.”  Beer and steak any time of day sounds good to us.

Timbercreek Market plans for a June opening, with hours 10-7, Monday through Saturday.  In the historic Coca-Cola building at 722 Preston Avenue.