The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Vu Noodles

Five Finds on Friday: Lisa Richey

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Lisa Richey, the very supportive ex-wife of Charlottesville’s most prolific restaurateur Will Richey. Lisa suggested Will provide her background:

“I have shared many of the greatest meals of my life with Lisa. We both share whatever that thing is that makes a person seek out great, authentic, well made cuisines. We have traveled extensively together, and we started a farm together. It was not to produce food alone, it was to produce food that was interesting to us in ways that we connected with. We still reach out to each other for travel tips knowing that the first priority when traveling for each of us is researching the best places to eat. Lisa’s recommendations are always at the top of my list.”

Lisa Richey’s picks:

1) Gulf Coast Salad as a Wrap from Revolutionary Soup (owned by Will Richey). “Look, I want to eat healthy, but eating a salad with a plastic fork is a bummer. The combo of shrimp, hard-boiled eggs and avocado makes this my healthy go-to lunch, and putting it all in a wrap makes it easier to eat at my desk. And yes, I do frequently order the Lisa Quesadilla. I’m a sucker for anything with goat cheese.”

2) Fried Chicken and Collards at The Whiskey Jar (owned by WIll Richey). “Sure, I love the BBQ Nachos, and The Jar Salad, but if I’m craving something from The Jar, it’s fried chicken with the honey jalapeno dipping sauce. The collards remind me of how we used to eat when we lived on the farm, but now I don’t have to actually harvest anything which somehow makes this recipe taste even better. I also adore the Creamed Spinach and Sweet Potato Dumplings. I also think The Jar is the best place for a business lunch with out-of-towners – you can get French or fusion in most cities, but the client who seems shocked at how small CHO is definitely needs the full Southern experience, sweet tea encouraged. (And yes, I am from NJ.)”

3) Dealer’s Choice at The Alley Light (founded and formerly owned by Will Richey). “I think this place has the best ambience of any restaurant in town. Robin and Chris continue to make The Alley Light shine, so much so that it’s hard to pick just one dish. However, I always start with the Anchovy Toast, as it is the perfect way to set your palate for everything that’s to come. Then I order whatever carpaccio is on the specials board, followed by something braised. Micah and team make magic at the bar. Their attention to detail, down to the glassware, is evident and joyful. I usually request some sort of high ball with a gin base, and I love how the bar incorporates local fruits and herbs.”

4)  Wine List at Cafe Frank (owned by Will Richey). “The great irony that Will’s first sit-down restaurant (The Jar) sells basically no wine wasn’t lost on us. Cafe Frank is the bistro I always assumed he’d want to run. It’s a great spot to go for happy hour and order an assortment of snacks while splitting a bottle of wine with that friend you’ve been meaning to make plans with for months. Also, the Mushroom Fritters go perfectly with a bottle of Burgundy.”

5) Classic Burger at Högwaller Brewing (owned by Will Richey). “I live right down the street from Högwaller, which may buy my future cardiologist a beach house someday. But until then, my idea of a perfect weekend day is a sauna at Rivanna River Company, followed by a Classic Burger and a Rives Street Lager. It’s just a burger, sure, but it’s the platonic form of a burger. And I love a beer that is both delicious but also low enough ABV that I don’t need to take a nap later. Mark makes awesome beer, and it has been a blast checking out the new taps each Thursday and chitchatting with folks around the firepit.”

“Wait, Other People Are Crazy Enough to Own Restaurants?!”

1) Banh Mi at Vu Noodles. “This may be the official sandwich of Apex Clean Energy employees. This is the only tofu I have ever craved and I probably eat this once a week.”

2) Clam Pizza at Lampo. “If I had a bat signal, it would be checking Instagram to see if this pizza is on special. When I was little, my grandfather made me linguine with clams for any special occasion, so you could say this flavor profile is my Ratatouille moment. Tavola’s linguini con vongole also makes me feel like I’m back home.”

3) Omakase at Ten. “Let the chef choose the fish, and feel like you’ve been transported out of Charlottesville to a city large enough to have a subway. Don’t sleep on the seaweed salad. I’m also a fan of the harami miso.”

4) Lobster Roll (Connecticut Style) at Public Fish & Oyster. “My oldest friend in town and I frequent this happy hour, splitting a lobster roll and a dozen oysters. She gets a Negroni and I go with a Negroni Sbagliato. The french fries that come with the lobster roll are ideal with the oysters, especially if you get a side of horseradish.”

5) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “Few salads are craveable. This one clears that hurdle easily, and it’s usually the reason I end up at Oakhart. Also, their tuna crudo is fantastic.”

#6: Bánh Mì – Vu Noodles

The Bánh Mì

Julie Vu Whitaker’s cooking is like magic. Though her menu at Vu Noodles is almost fully vegetarian (a fish sauce option is the one exception), she is capable of converting even the most skeptical carnivore, with umami-rich ingredients to ensure that meat-lovers won’t miss a thing.

Among the most improbable tricks she pulls off is a vegan bánh mì. While the famous Vietnamese sandwich typically relies on brawny ingredients like pâté and grilled meats, Whitaker’s version steers clear of animal products altogether. First, she toasts a hoagie roll to give the sandwich its signature crunchy exterior. Atop that she piles five spice lemongrass tofu, cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots, cilantro, light soy sauce, and a healthy smear of light vegan mayo. Add chili oil, and few Charlottesville sandwiches are as satisfying.

#6: Bánh Mì – Vu Noodles
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: Bánh Mì at Chimm Street. Vegan: Vegan Bahn Mi (sp.) at Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery

Five Finds on Friday: Casandra Rodriguez

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Casandra Rodriguez of Vegan Comforts Soul Food, which opens this Sunday March 13, and will be open every Sunday and Monday to follow. Rodriguez has formerly served her vegan soul food at markets and pop-ups, and now has a temporary home at Royalty Coffee Sandwiches and Pastries on Cherry Avenue. A permanent venue is coming soon. Follow along for updates on Instagram. At Vegan Comforts, she’s particularly fond of the Vish Tacos, made from fried hearts of palm, as well as the “Slow Poke Rodriguez,” with Field Roast chorizo, simply egg scrambled in homemade salsa, topped with feta cheeze on a homemade buttermilk biscuit. Elsewhere in town, Rodriguez’s all-Vegan picks:

1) Pho and Crispy Rolls at Vu Noodles. “I get the crispy rolls just so I can dip them in the pho, and both together are so comforting, savory, and refreshingly delicious. I literally go here once or twice a week. Highly recommend.”

2) Portobello Philly at Firefly. “When I’m craving a Philly cheesesteak and don’t feel like cooking this is my go-to spot for it. It is so yummy.”

3) Creole Beans Platter at Pearl Island. “Wooo chile, this whole meal is the perfect combo. The creole beans are perfectly seasoned and the tostones with the sauce are to die for. Don’t get me started on the rice with the garlic kale. So so good.”

4) Won Ton Nachos at Botanical. “Ryan got me hooked on these nachos. They are so delicious. The cashew cheese sauce could pass for real cheese, first of all, and the toppings were so fresh and had the perfect crisp light touch. Def will be back for more.”

5) General Tso’s Cauliflower and Coconut Rice at Bang!. “Bring back the chickpea roll things, haha, no but seriously. My favorite dish from here right now is the General Tso’s cauliflower and the coconut rice. So comforting and filling.”

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