The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: The Virginian

Five Finds on Friday: Jess Martin

jessmartin

This week brings the annual Thanksgiving drawing for a reader to participate in Five Finds on Friday. Though Jess Martin no longer lives in the Charlottesville area, the longtime resident says she still enjoys remaining a regular source for where to eat around town. Martin’s picks:

1) Pad See Ew + Chicken Wings + Wonton Soup at Chimm. “When I heard Jay Pun was going to be a part of another restaurant venture (with Thai Cuisine and Noodle House), I was already sold. Pad See Ew lately has been my go to Thai dish but this is the best I’ve ever had. Next time I’m in town I need to try something else on the menu, but this is my favorite killer combo.”

2) Nasty Chicken Biscuit at Miller’s Downtown. “If you know me, then you know this may have a little bias. But it doesn’t. Okay, maybe a little. Miller’s has a kitchen the size of your bedroom but is one of the largest and busiest spots, pumping out food on the downtown mall. All of their food is made fresh – soups, dressings, chicken, etc. This dish is a stunner and filler whether it’s for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or late night. It’s also totally shareable.”

3) Dry Fried Eggplant at Peter Chang China Grill. “When it comes to snacks and appetizers I typically go for meats. This dish is also made with pork belly but I really dig the eggplant because it’s a nice light flavorful start to your meal and allows space for more of the delicious food there.”

4) Mac n’ Cheese with potato cake at The Virginian. “I often drove to Charlottesville from Nelson County or Harrisonburg when I was a teenager until my late 20’s and then I finally moved there. Any rainy day (or any excuse really) I’d go to The Virginian for this dish. Total comfort food, filling, and cheap. It’s top of my list on my next trip back to Cville.”

5) Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo. “You don’t need to be a giant shiny restaurant to execute the best food ever. Lampo is top notch, and Charlottesville is lucky to have a place like it. The atmosphere is comfortable and the menu is easily shareable among two people. With this sandwich, you get your protein and delicious veggies. Can’t go wrong.”‘

Dried-Egg-Plant

 

The Corner: The Virginian

Virginian

Photo by Hajung Yoo.

Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, by digital media students at The University of Virginia.  Today’s student contributor is Hajung Yoo.

The Background

If you’ve been in Charlottesville for more than a week, chances are you have heard of The Virginian. Established in 1923 by University of Virginia Alums Billy Gooch and Ellis Brown, it is the oldest restaurant in Charlottesville.

Current owner Andy McClure took over shortly after graduating UVa Comm ’01. And, in running a restaurant that once had to convert to a soda fountain during prohibition, McClure has always been mindful of the need to strike a balance between preserving history and forging ahead.

The Experience

Thus, while The Virginia is designed to be a modern, attractive bar, the décor looks to the past, evoking nostalgic feelings of all-American comfort. Dark vintage wooden booths and dim lights recall a low-key speakeasy, and the vintage photos and wall décor reinforce the visual throwback. The menu also skews to Americana, with comforting options like chicken, burgers, salads, crab cakes, pasta, and sandwiches.  Modern touches include wine and draught beer lists that are exclusively Virginian.

With three other restaurants in town (The Biltmore, Citizen Burger Bar, and West Main), McClure is fiercely proud of Charlottesville. “I think Charlottesville is outrageously unique…we do a ridiculous job in terms of food options, the experience and quality of chefs and style.”

What to Order

The Virginian’s most popular menu item is the Stumble Down Mac N’ Cheese – creamy, cheesy pasta with pepper jack under a cheddar potato cake. It’s one of Dean Groves’ favorites, too, who also likes The Rachel, which is essentially a turkey Reuben. But, if you ask the expert what to get, McClure will tell you his favorite is the steak and cheese, with thinly sliced steak, grilled onions, and American cheese on a toasted sub roll. A close second, he says, is the gourmet grilled cheese, with cheddar, provolone, and Swiss, on sourdough, grilled to a golden brown.

Two for Tuesday: Allen Groves

Groves

Note: This post is part of our guest series, The Corner, by digital media students at The University of Virginia.  Today’s student contributor is Ali Donaldson.

Tuesdays during The Corner series feature two favorite Corner food items selected by a different University figure each week. First up is Allen Groves, Dean of Students at the University of Virginia, a graduate of the UVa School of Law, and Guiness world record holder for most high fives in an hour. Dean Groves’ picks:

1) The Rachel and a side of Stumble Down Mac ‘N Cheese at The Virginian. “The Virginian is one of the few restaurants on The Corner that was around when I was a student. They have a special on Wednesdays called ‘The Rachel’ which is essentially a turkey Reuben. But, anytime I go in there, I ask them for the Rachel even if it’s not a Wednesday, and they’ll make it for me. The Virginian is also known for their side dish mac and cheese, which is a wonderful little pot that has macaroni and cheese and on top of it a spicy potato cake. So you put that combination together, and it’s incredible.”

2) Fried Egg and Cheese Sandwich with Grits at The Pigeon Hole. “I’ve been there now three times with students. It’s incredible. The grits are really good, not that soupy kind – real grits.”