The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Ten Sushi

Five Finds on Friday: Matt Beck

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Matt Beck of Oakhart Social, which this weekend hosts an event to help Tavola’s Rebecca Edwards prepare for the Diageo National Finals in the United States Bartenders’ Guild annual World Class bartending competition. (That’s Charlottesville for you. One restaurant celebrates the success of another.)  This Sunday June 2, at 4 pm, Oakhart Social is opening its private event space to the public for Sunday/Funday, offering a menu of cocktails that Edwards will bring to next week’s National Finals competition. Details here. Beck’s picks:

1) Uni, Ankimo and Otoro Nigiri at TEN. “The quality of the fish and the temperature of the rice are just a few of the small details that make sushi extraordinary, and the crew at Ten always nails it. If I had to pick three pieces that they do exceptionally well I would always choose Uni, Ankimo and Otoro, but you really can’t go wrong regardless of what you order.”

2) Dealer’s Choice at Tavola. “Rebecca and Steve and the rest of the wonderful staff do an excellent job of serving delicious seasonal cocktails without unnecessary pretense. It’s always a pleasure to pick their brains. I generally get a Dealer’s Choice and let them have some fun.”

3) Bamboo Pork at Cafe 88. “It’s not on the regular menu, but if it’s being run as a special it’s a must get. A delicious stir fry of pork, bamboo shoots, chilies and ginger. It’s probably one of my favorite lunches in town.”

4) Porky Things at Little Star. “I’ve tasted most of the menu, and everything is delicious and thoughtful and you should order it all. But, I always get charcuterie from Sylvanaqua. Chris from Sylvanaqua is raising and curing some excellent products. Try to save a little room for dessert though.”

5) Wednesday Night Bar Menu at Prime 109. “The price and ambiance on Wednesday night are pretty great. Eat a sandwich or another of the specials that they offer at the bar, listen to some live jazz, and order a cocktail, and you’re bound to have a good time.”

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Prime 109 bar Photo by Kailee Taun

Five Finds on Friday: Eva Solano

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Eva Solano, the Little Star sous chef who has an immigration hearing this month to decide whether she may remain in the country. As the primary provider for her family, Solano is fighting deportation so she can continue to support her family in the United States. You can help her with her battle, as she incurs mounting legal fees and other costs. Help Solano here. Solano’s picks:

1) Tacos de Lengua at El Tako Nako. “It is not hard to know why I love tacos. Tacos are a part of my heritage and roots. As well, this food truck is open until midnight and is convenient. After working a long night in the restaurant, I want to get something fast and yummy.”

2) Ankimo at TEN Sushi. “For some reason, I like to eat liver. The technique used at TEN Sushi when poaching the liver and preparing the components that form the dish work well. It is a very unique and yet simple dish.”

3) Pollo at Al Carbon. “As a working mother, when I was not able to cook for my family, I would always get the pollo from here. My fiance always jokes that I cook all day for other people, but am not able to cook for my own family. We love this pollo. It reminds us of the times we lived in NYC and had all the cultural influences. This pollo is prepared in a traditional Peruvian style and is a family favorite.”

4) Menudo at Super Amanecer. “If you ever want to recover from a hangover, this stew made from cow’s stomach and red chili pepper can save you! This is again very traditional after a long celebration. It reminds me of what my mom would make after holiday parties.”

5) Mole at Little Star. “The first time Chef Ryan said we were going to make mole, I was concerned as it is one of the most difficult, signature Mexican sauces. Sometimes it can have more than twenty different ingredients and takes us two days to create. I have been a chef for fine dining French, Japanese, and Italian cuisines, and I am so excited to make such an authentic sauce from Mexican cultures that is used for celebrations. When I tasted it, I was impressed with the results. Chef makes me proud to show Charlottesville that Mexican ingredients and techniques can compare with fine-dining cuisines of the world.”

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

Photo by Tom McGovern

Five Finds on Friday: Wilson Richey (2)

Richey2No good idea goes unpunished – as when the person who suggests a good plan is required to execute it. “Great idea! Now, do it.” A while back, Wilson Richey proposed that prior participants of Five Finds on Friday be permitted to do it again. The six year span of Five Finds on Friday has included hundreds of picks from area chefs and personalities, but never a repeat appearance. With such a long history, Richey contended, some picks may now be stale, while early participants have likely made new discoveries worth celebrating.

And so, today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Wilson Richey, the serial restaurateur who launched Ten Course Hospitality, founded The Alley Light, and currently owns or co-owns Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar, The Bebedero, The Pie Chest, and Brasserie Saison. Five years and several restaurants after his first picks, Richey’s second round of picks:

1) Meatloaf and Good Beaujolais at Bizou (b. 1996). “I wanted to say ‘Tim and Vincent at Bizou’ but I’m not sure everybody gets to see them when they go. I often do, and a friendly smile from Tim or a story from Vincent will make me feel better about my life and my day. There is perfection in simplicity and that perfection is delivered every service at Bizou. I could eat at Bizou every day. The dishes are balanced, never too heavy, always flavorful and with apparent attention to detail. Every time I eat there I remark at how crisp and well dressed every leaf of lettuce is. A quick conversation with Vincent will yield a tremendous wine selection and, more often than not, some really good advice about managing your restaurant. Like John and Lynelle from Mudhouse, Vincent has helped me grow and think about my business far more then I will ever be able to thank him for. There is always a great Bistro wine selection at Bizou that you will not find anywhere else in town. Often these are from my favorite fringe wine regions in France like Jura, Savoie or the often overlooked but not fringe region of Beaujolais. A good Cru Beaujolais and the classic Bizou Meatloaf is just good, unpretentious enjoyment, a perfect lunch for this time of year in the Fall when the patios on the mall are the best place to be in town.”

2) An Elegant Glass of Wine and Some Perspective at Tastings (b. 1990). “When I moved to town in 1997, I tried to get a job at Tastings because for me it was obviously the best business idea in town. I did not get the job but I bought a case of wine hand selected by Bill Curtis every other week for the next year to learn about wine. At the time I thought Bill was a grumpy, contrary, rough old dude. Twenty years later I still think that and I love it. Bill Curtis is one of the straightest shooters in the business. He and his business are among the most authentically Charlottesville things about Charlottesville. I always go to Tastings, and I send everyone I know to Tastings, to find a good bottle of wine with a little age or character to it. I try to stop and have a great glass of wine when I can (he is one of the few people to open exceptional bottles to pour by the glass), and listen to Bill’s perspective which can be more refreshing than the wine itself. I don’t get to do this often, but it is a personal goal for me to get over there more.”

3) Lobster Bisque and The Full Experience at Fleurie (b. 2001). “Back in those days, around the time when I was buying a case of wine at Tastings from Bill up the street, I would also take myself to dinner alone at the newly opened Fleurie, every other week or so, to learn something about food. I was waiting tables at the time and was single and in my early 20’s. I had money to burn and I burnt it on learning from the right places. I have always loved Fleurie for its classic French cuisine, but ever since Erin Scala took over the dining room and wine program she has added another layer of appreciation for this always excellent experience. And now, with Jose De Brito’s return, and an already complete experience is heightened, though seemingly impossible, to a level beyond. Think about it: Brian Helleberg’s Fleurie is a tremendous classic French restaurant, Erin Scala has brought the hospitality and wine program to an unprecedented level in this town and possibly in the state of Virginia, and now Jose de Brito is back in the kitchen . . . I mean Good Lord in Heaven . . . I really can’t put into words how good this is. Anyway, if I had to pick one dish from Fleurie it would still be the lobster bisque because it is exceptional and complex and excellent with a good White Burgundy. But really Fleurie is about the total experience and everything they do is of note.”

4) A Light Dinner Alone at TEN Sushi (b. 2007). “Going to Ten makes me feel calm and collected. I often go when I am trying to collect my thoughts or I want to feel particularly together as a person. This is also my favorite restaurant in town to go to alone. The cocktails are elegant and well made, there is always a good and reasonably priced Champagne on the wine list, and the fish is always of the finest quality. One bite of the rice and you know someone took the time to make sure it was excellent. I have many favorites here but I most often will order the Wasabi Roll and the Wasabi Wagyu Skewer together with a house recommendation of Sake. People think of Ten as expensive but it does not have to be. Like any great restaurant, you can make it a pricey splurge or you can order a few items that still fill your hunger (like the amazing tempuras). Even when you order light, like I usually do, you still feel uplifted and refined by the experience.”

5) Coupe Maison late night at C&O (b. 1976). “I used to go to C&O’s basement bar late night all the time. It is classy, warm, and comfortable. C&O for late night is another standard bearer for living in Charlottesville. This is where my wife and I would go when we were dating, for late night ice cream and champagne. Often I would order some sort of Campari based drink and sit long into the evening. This is where I first heard The Olivarez Trio and was blown away by Rick, Dave and Jeff’s rendition of some of my favorite music. I love the C&O for many reasons. The sweetbreads with greens peppercorns is another favorite dish, but the Coupe Maison, late night, at the bar, with Champagne, with a beautiful woman (like my wife) and a few late night Campari based cocktails hopefully with the Olivarez Trio playing in the back ground, is a perfect Charlottesville moment to be enjoyed. We still get out for this ritual every chance we get.”