The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Now & Zen

Five Finds on Friday: Courtenay Tyler

Courtenay

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.”

pie

 

Five Finds on Friday: Chrissy Benninger and Kyra Miller

Bluegrass

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come Chrissy Benninger and Kyra Miller – the mother-duo daughter behind Bluegrass Grill & Bakery, which Benninger owns and Miller manages. They have both joint and separate picks:

1) Princess Cake at Albemarle Baking Company (both). “This cake has been our family’s favorite for years, especially for birthdays, and it even made an appearance as Kyra’s wedding cake. I would break my strict autoimmune diet any day of the week for a piece of Princess Cake.”

2) Volcano Roll at Now & Zen (both). “Now & Zen is one of our ‘special dinner’ places to go. We’ve had numerous plates there but the one we love the most is the Volcano Roll. Everything there is fresh and huge, and the staff is amazing.”

3) Cinnamon Maple Twist at Paradox Pastry (Kyra). “I have had the pleasure of working with Jenny, and was able to try many of Paradox’s buttery, sweet, delicious pastries. The cinnamon maple twist is incredible and possibly one of the best sweets I’ve ever had.”

4) Campechano Tacos at Tacos Gomez (Kyra). “The closest you’ll get to a traditional Mexican street taco. The homemade tortillas and sauces are amazing! My husband I always order the campechano tacos. And make sure to get a horchata, if you’re lucky enough to go when they are serving them.”

5) Roasted Chicken at Al Carbon (Chrissy). “I had a different choice in mind and then, for some reason, I thought about this chicken. It is literally the best chicken I have ever had. The. Best. I can eat half a chicken by myself. Whatever they do to that chicken is something blessed by culinary angels.”

Al Carbon Rotisserie Chicken, Charlottesville, VA 10/05/2015

Photo by Tom McGovern

Five Finds on Friday: Natalie Siler

nataliejune

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Natalie Siler, the woman behind Charlottesville’s favorite chocolate peanut butter balls. After a decade in the Pittsburgh restaurant industry, the Charlottesville native returned home in 2012 in search of a job with a more traditional schedule, when fate and Charlottesville generosity intervened. A “friend of a friend” asked if Siler would like to carry on the peanut butter ball recipe she had been making for Feast!. Siler accepted, and when she took her first batch to Feast!, she recalls, “the woman at the counter popped one in her mouth, and said: ‘Great! We will need 300 more.” Six years later, the peanut butter balls remain a sensation, as she now makes 600 per week to meet holiday demand. Available only at Feast!. Siler’s picks:

1) Black Bean Nachos at Continental Divide. “On paper, they might not sound like anything out of the ordinary, but when you add the squeeze bottle of Wait a Minute sauce and one of Matt’s margaritas, it is unpretentious and wonderful. If I have room, one of the daily specials from Seven Hills never lets me down. I like to sit at the curve of the bar and come early.”

2) Italian Sub at Anna’s Pizza #5.  “I grew up in Charlottesville and many of my favorite dishes and spaces exist only in memory now, but 34 years later, the Italian Sub at Anna’s Pizza #5 has stayed happily identical to how I remember it tasting after a swim meet on a Wednesday night. A satisfying crunch, the tangy house dressing and one of the best beer pitcher deals in town. Don’t change, Anna.”

3) Honey Ginger Martini at Bang!. “This drink makes me think of my sister. Her name is Ginger and she lives in Austin, which is where I was first introduced to Tito’s Vodka. (My dad claims to have played cornhole with Tito himself). And, this drink is perfect for a kick in the pants to get you going for a show downtown. House pickles and sweet potato gnocchi always follow.”

4) Cheese from Caromont Farm and Our Lady of the Angels. “I’m a sucker for a cheese plate. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite one, but Pippin Hill and The Local come to mind. I’m always excited to see Caromont Farm on the menu. After my snuggle session with the goats last year, I always like to think I played some tiny part in making it taste so good. But I’m always looking for that bright red wax wheel that covers the gouda from of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. It’s made in the mountains near Crozet and if anyone is not sure what I might want as a gift, the two pound wheel will do just fine.”

5) Tuna Avocado Carpaccio at Now & Zen. “The first time I ordered this and the almost-table length salad was placed in front of me, I giggled like a small child. It hit all the marks for me. Protein. Spice. Greens. Texture. I always over order here, but I can never not get this salad.”