Sunday, March 29, 2015

Petit Pois in Charlottesville

While you may not be looking for a classic French boite when you visit Charlottesville, your taste buds will miss out if you overlook Petit Pois. A tiny spot situated on the Downtown Mall treated our palate and the rest of us very well.

Petit Pois
Green is the color scheme at Petit Pois
Petit Pois Bar
The tiny bar at Petit Pois
The menu contains many French classics with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients. The menu also changes based on season and sourcing.

We experienced Petit Pois during the height of Winter and selected a couple of hearty dishes from the lunch menu.

The Steak Frites delighted. Medium rare and so tender. It was just the right size and came with a lovely side salad and delicious fries.

Petit Pois Steak Frites
Extremely tender steak
And the Cassoulet was perfection. The crock bubbled upon presentation with the white beans cooked through (thank goodness!) and chunks of chicken, duck, and sausage. The chicken was a bit surprising, but Petit Pois sources chickens from Polyface Farm and after cooking the chicken they pull it apart so the cassoulet contained large shredded chunks of tasty poultry. A wonderful meal on a day when snow still blanketed the ground.

Petit Pois Cassoulet
Hearty fare for a cold day in Winter
We had a nice French wine from Languedoc. While lunch prices were fairly reasonable given the ingredients and preparation, wine prices were a bit higher than I would have liked. But, of course, the meal begged for wine, and we succumbed.

Chateau Camplazens La Garrigue
A nice compliment to the meal

As we finished our entrees, we lingered and decided to close out lunch with a cheese plate. There was a variety of cheese options including a house-made boursin.

Petit Pois Cheese Plate
A lovely ending to a delicious meal
Ah, c'est magnifique! Very happy taste buds.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Shoryuken Ramen - Go Before It's Sold Out

It took us two tries to get in and we still had to wait for a table. But Shoryuken Ramen was delicious and well worth the effort.

From now until the end of April they have taken over Lunch on Mondays and Tuesdays. Go early. Prepare to wait. Go next door to Supper to have a drink or a brew. Get seated. Slurp those noodles and that wonderful broth.

Shoryuken Ramen
Ramen Heaven
Arriving early is key; on most nights they sell out.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Urban Farmhouse in Scott's Addition

We had lovely Country Ham and Egg Sandwiches for brunch at The Urban Farmhouse in Scott's Addition. A simple, yet satisfying meal accompanied by an iced coffee.

Ham and Egg Sandwich

We loved the open airy space and the patio for outside dining. So glad to have this Farmhouse in the Scott's Addition neighborhood.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

McCormack's Big Whiskey Grill

Yes, go to McCormack's Big Whiskey Grill. The converted Texas de Brazil dining room is a bit cavernous, so the the next time we go we plan on cozying up to the bar. Another reason to be at the bar - gazing at all of the offerings and obtaining knowledge from the bartender. While our waiter was very nice, he was not familiar with most of the bourbons and whiskies. I grant you the menu contains a goodly number, but the waiter indicated that there wasn't, as yet, an educational program for the staff (I hope that changes). I would love to be able to pair some of the whiskies with the food options.

Putting aside my picky observations, we enjoyed our outing.

McCormack's Big Whiskey Grill
Western touches add to the atmosphere of the restaurant.
As I pondered the dinner selections I enjoyed a Woodford Reserve Double Oaked, neat. Smooth with delightful vanilla tones. My kind of bourbon.

I ordered a Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich. Get your mouth in line because the bird was hot! and crispy and delicious.So nice to see (and taste!) that extra touch of grilling the bun.

Nashville Style Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich
Hot and awesome!
Great food. A whiskey for every taste. Saddle up and go west people for some whiskey and grub. Anyone want to be my designated driver?

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Lightning Strikes at Lampo

Lampo is a Neapolitan pizzaria recently opened in Charlottesville. An extremely hot wood-fired oven and wonderfully thin crust makes for a quickly cooked pizza. When we arrived it seemed like all of Charlottesville had been salivating for Lampo. The line was long for lunch despite the lightning fast oven times.

It was worth the wait. And we got to see these tasty, blistered, chewy-crust pizzas being made. By the time we sat down we decided to order two pies - Margherita and Abruzzo. The Abruzzo came topped with locally sourced pork and beef meatballs. Both were delicious and deceptively filling.

Other offerings include Panuozzi - wood-fired sandwiches utilizing the same pizza dough, salads, cheeses, and salumi. A short wine, beer, and cocktail list round out the menu.

Check out some photos:

Shaping Dough
Shaping the Dough
A Delicious Result
Right Out of the Oven
Margherita Pizza
Margherita Pizza
Abruzzo Pizza
Abruzzo Pizza

By the time we finished lunch service was over and the wait staff was still turning folks away. So glad we happened upon Lampo.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Should I expect good wine service when I am ordering a $50 steak?

Why, yes, I should.

We had delicious filets. The salad and sides were more than satisfactory. The timing of the presented food was spot on. Our bus person was prompt and courteous.

But I left extremely tweaked over this bottle of wine while dining at Buckhead's.

Chateau Cantenac

A nice Bordeaux. Not the most expensive item on the list; not the cheapest either. Our waiter opened the bottle and presented without a hitch. And then we never saw him again until it was time for dessert/coffee. I was forking over $50 for a hunk of beef and I could not get decent wine service?? I want to support local restaurants, but the upscale chain steakhouses have the service bit nailed. Sadly, Buckhead's did not demonstrate this concept when we dined. Maybe I have to order a $200 bottle? Is there a wine service monetary threshold?

Many years ago before I even started this blog we dined at Buckhead's and the waiter then attempted to steer me towards a wine that I already knew I did not like. He assumed I knew zilch and thought I was taking too much time perusing the multi-paged list. And the evening spiraled from there. We forgot about Buckhead's for a long time. When we finally returned we still experienced wine issues.

At least our waiter did not lay some wine BS on us like he did at a neighboring table.

Bottom line - if I have to pour my own wine, I want my meal to be comparably priced.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Drool-worthy Dixie Donuts

Always a yummy indulgence - Dixie Donuts.

Dixie Donut - Pineapple

A vanilla cake donut with pineapple icing (and red sprinkles). Mmmm...

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Burger Time at The Betty on Davis

The Betty on Davis offers burger specials on a regular basis. They even have a contest for the special burger on Mondays right now.

The Betty on Davis

I indulged in a Patty Melt with bacon, caramelized onions, and Swiss on grilled Texas toast.

Patty Melt with Fries

A delicious combination for my tastes. Of course, the bacon is always a favorite, but the onions added that over the top touch.  And the size ensures that you will not leave hungry.

The burger came with a choice of side. I chose the fries. Next time I might try the warm German potato salad. The fries were tired and limp. I brought most of them home and reheated the next evening attempting a revival with minimum success.

So, enjoy the cozy atmosphere at The Betty while chowing down on their creative burgers. Consider ordering non-traditional side.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

New Year's Eve at Tastebuds American Bistro

New Year's Eve at Tastebuds Americn Bistro always is a good time. Here are a few reasons:

  • Gracious owners and staff - Andrew even sported a Happy New Year necklace
  • Fabulous patrons - we all arrived in packs of two, but quickly scrunched up tables to celebrate together. Bow ties and sparkles graced the group.
  • Cherry Manhattans (with real cherries!)
  • Reasonably-priced wine
  • Delicious four course meal
  • A sparkling toast
  • Walking home just in time to see the New Year arrive

A few photos of the meal:

Ancient Peaks Merlot and Glass
Ancient Peaks Merlot from Paso Robles
Lemongrass Poached Shrimp
Lemongrass Poached Shrimp
Mixed Greens Salad with Fennel, Roasted Red Peppers, and Parmesean
Mixed Green Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Shaved Fennel, and Parmesean
Beef Filet with Buffalo Mozzarella and Mushroom Pate
Beef Filet Topped with Fresh Mozzarella and Mushroom Pate and Served with Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus Sauteed in Duck Fat
Chocolate Torte with Vanilla Ice Cream and Sherry Sauce
Chocolate Torte with Vanilla Ice Cream, Candied Citrus Peel, and a Sherry Sauce
Make a resolution to visit Tastebuds American Bistro in 2015!

Friday, January 02, 2015

A Toast to Lunch

We recently went to Toast for lunch. First time. I really liked the welcome sign (although I did not imbibe any of the tempting whiskeys - next time).

Invitation to Toast
Lots of options at Toast
The place was packed so we sat at the bar.

The Whiskey Line Up At Toast
Tempting Whiskeys
Hubby had a salad and I ate a sandwich.

Smoked Gouda Chef Salad
Smoked Gouda Chef Salad with Turkey, Egg, and Bacon
Turkey Avocado Sandwich
Turkey Avocado with Muenster on Wheat
While both were simple, they were delicious and satisfied some formerly unknown craving that we had. Hubby enjoyed the smokey Gouda and bacon. The herbed mayo and guac on my sandwich was both creamy and tangy. And I could order mashed potatoes as a side instead of fries. Right on!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Brunch at Secco

Start with a glass of Pederzano Lambrusco Secco, a dry sparkling red wine from Italy. Enjoy this festive bubbly while waiting for your brunch order.

Rave over the Biscuit Sandwich - a substantial biscuit with grilled pork belly and scrambled egg (make mine without the cheddar cheese).

Pork Belly and Egg Biscuit with Crispy Potatoes

A wonderful brunch option. Not enormous, but so satisfying. The biscuit held up to the meat and egg and did not crumble apart. I loved the pork belly. Fairly lean and very tasty.

Rave even more about the crispy potatoes. I really like potatoes and have had lots of good ones in RVA. These were outstanding. Truly crispy on the outside; soft and potato-ey on the inside. Served with a mustard/mayo sauce that sealed the deal on the spuds. If your brunch choice does not include these potatoes, order them as a side.

Choose an Armandiere Malbec from Cahors to imbibe with the biscuit.

Thank you Secco for a lovely and delicious brunch outing.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

A Trip to Country Style Donuts

I highly recommend the filled varieties from Country Style Donuts. The Glazed Custard and Glazed Lemon were my particular favorites amongst the 38 offerings.

Country Style Donuts
Open 24 Hours (Except Mondays)
Donut Varieties
A Variety of Options
A Dozen Donuts from Country Style
One dozen donuts filled with deliciousness
Happy Holidays from Country Style Donuts
Happy Holidays from Country Style Donuts

Since I don't get out this way much, these were a real treat!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Eat 33

A diner with stick-to-your-ribs offerings.

Chopped Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Corn

The Chopped Steak with grilled onions, gravy, mashed potatoes, and corn delighted on a cold day. Most folks walking in were regulars to Eat 33 and it's not hard to see why.  Open for breakfast and lunch 7 days a week.

Friday, December 19, 2014

A Mighty Fine Evening at Brux'l Cafe

Last week we headed over to Brux'l Cafe for an early dinner. We discovered all of the tables were reserved (a good sign for the place), but found a couple of spots at the cozy bar. The entire staff seemed giddy with the spirit of Christmas and this rubbed off on the two of us during the evening.

Brux'l Cafe
Brux'l Cafe in the Fan - all decked out for the holidays
The joy of going early on a weeknight is that Brux'l has a decent happy hour with specials on wine, beer, and martinis. Sweet Bubbles (sparkling and violet syrup) came my way and hubby had the Famous Dirty martini. As we sipped our bartender, Jared, took us through the highlights of the menu.

Jared was a most excellent host and as the bar filled up, he continued to give personalized service to all. He helped to make our evening very special. What really made a difference was when we were choosing a wine for dinner. Brux'l Cafe carries a very limited but drinkable selection. All wines are available by the glass and bottles range in price from $32-40. We were torn between a Bordeaux and something from the South of France. Jared thought we might also enjoy the Spanish red. To help us with our selection he poured us a taste of all three. The Spanish option won out - an Arrocal Tempranillo.

Arrocal Ribera del Duero
Jared helped steer us in the right direction for wine
Jared also helped other bar patrons figure out which draft beer would be best for their evenings. Being able to taste and then choose - fantastic!

The rest of our experience was delightful. To begin I took advantage of the evening special and had fried frog legs. The legs came straight from the fryer with a crisp coating and with the legs being meaty - a real treat. As I ate with my fingers, Chef Meers came out of the kitchen to ask how they were. Yummy!

Frog Legs
The frog legs were very tasty
Hubby ordered the Croquette de Fromage - a fried ball of cheese and potato. For me, very rich. For him, swoon-worthy. He raved about this and really liked the bit of salad on the side.

Cheese Croquette
While the croquette may look small it packs a rich flavor punch

For an entree hubby ordered the Moules a la Provencale. Dozens of mussels swimming in white wine, tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and cream. Served with a side of frites. Jared gave us more bread to take advantage of the sauce. Very satisfying.

I indulged in the L'Entrecote with Bearnaise sauce. A big ribeye topped with butter, parsley, and shallots and served with a side salad with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. A huge portion and very tender with all the flavor one could hope for. I appreciated the fact that the sauce was served separately so I could enjoy my steak both with and without the Bearnaise.

L'Entrecote with Bearnaise
Very traditional meal, superbly prepared
As we enjoyed our meal Chef Meers would pop out of the kitchen occasionally to check on diners. He seemed so happy and his vibe was infectious. At the end of our meal I got up to retrieve out coats and he even helped me find our jackets. A delicious and magical evening. I can't wait to go back and try the truffle burger.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dressed and Pressed Biscuit at South of the James

The South of the James Market may have gone into winter mode, but a fair number of vendors are carrying the torch. The Dressed and Pressed food truck offers biscuits.

Sausage and Egg Biscuit

We tried the sausage and egg version. The biscuit was a little crumbly, but good. I was surprised to see link sausage which was tasty. The best part was the very flavorful egg. A generous size for $4. I also treated myself to an Alchemy mocha. Yummy!