As usual, I have more on new restaurants, more on great places to have fun and I even have more on a new distillery. Now, I am beginning to understand why folks call me the TasteBudz moron.
MORE ON TACOS: I was over at Lalo’s Cucina (2617 W. Broad St.) this week and spent some time talking tacos with Lalo Macias. We’re doing a feature on tacos in the July issues of our Richmond Navigator magazines, and Lalo was recalling his days as a youth in Jalisco, Mexico when he would buy traditional tacos from street vendor’s carts. That’s basically the tacos he’s serving up at both his place on West Broad as well as his new Chicano’s Cucina at 523 E. Main St. Of course, all that talking worked up an appetite, so I had to eat four of his tacos. What could I do? Turn them down?
MORE ON GREAT GERMAN DINING: After I left Lalo, I visited with John Hewitt at Café Rustika Schnitzel Bar (414 E. Main St.). This was my first visit, but I can guarantee you that it won’t by my last. If I had not just gouged myself on tacos, I would have surely ordered from the appetite-inducing menu. John and his partner Sam George have just introduced new side dishes (more authentic German favorites) to the menu. And he tells me that soon, within a week or so, evidently, they’ll be making their own sausages and bratwurst right in the restaurant.
Even though I was too stuffed to eat, I could not possibly have resisted the amazing dessert, which John invited me to try. He described it as “ Chocolate layered cake drenched in kirshwasser with kirshwasser infused whipped cream and dark Morello cherries topped with shaved chocolate.” I’ve got to tell you that while my intentions were to have one bite, I had a bit more…maybe about 2/3 of the huge slice. John went on to tell me that Kirschwasser is a Black Forest liqueur made from cherries. According to German law, Kirshwasser (a Black Forest liquer) must be present in the cake in order for it to be labelled “Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. “Ours is,” he said made in house (with kirshwasser, in accordance with German law) from scratch by our chef and owner (Sam).”
Now, after four tacos and a huge slice of black forest cake, you’d think that I would have been done for the night. But what was I supposed to do when John brings me one of the restaurant’s delicious German-style rolls, known as a brötchen. Sam’s mother makes these little morsels of heaven each day. A guy sitting next to me at the bar told me that he had lived in Germany and said that Café Rustika’s brötchens are just like he had enjoyed in Germany (crusty on the outside, warm and soft on the inside). Trust me on this: Even if you don’t like German food (who wouildn’t) you have to get down there and try the rolls. Try a pice of the chocolate cake too, while you’re at it.
MORE ON A NEW DISTILLERY – I’m so excited. I’m going to a media preview of a new West End distillery Virago Spirits has begun production in its 11,000 sq. ft. space at 1727 Rhoadmiller St. This family-owned, family-operated boutique distillery will offer a range of classically-inspired, creatively-interpreted spirits and liqueurs – focusing, in particular, on rum, gin, brandy and herbal liqueurs. I’m told that later this year, a 50-seat tasting room will open where customers will be able to sample products, order cocktails, and purchase bottles for off-site consumption.
I sure hope they give me a little sample today. Next month the company will be releasing its initial offering, the Four-Port Rum,” which is a distinct blend of column- and pot-distilled rums from four ports across the Caribbean: Barbados, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Panama. According to the press release, “in order o create a uniquely Virago twist, this special blend combines the bold spice and earthy funk of British-style rums with the softer, more seductive profile of Spanish-style rums.” They sure do write pretty over there.
MORE ON FRUGALITY – Here’s something that should please our Frugal Foodies, especially if they’re also shrimp lovers. On Mondays through Fridays,m during the Happy Hour (3 to 7 p.m.) at Gus’ Italian Café in Mechanicsville (7358 Bell Creek Road), offers a half pound of peel-and-eat shrimp are just $5. Wow. Cajun tuna bites ar just $6 and Buffalo wings are only $5 And if you want something to wash it down,m domestic drafts are $3 a pint.
Out in the West End, at B.J.’s Brewhouse (12010 W. Broad St.), you can enjoy some really great daily specials until 9 p.m. My favorite is the Wednesday night burger deal. Get a loaded burger w/unlimited fries for just $10.
MORE ON MUSIC: This is the plus part of TasteBudz Plus. This is where we help you pick your musical entertainment for the coming weekend. You don’t have to thank us. Just take us out to eat with you once in while.
Friday, April 13
Maya Mexican Grill and Tequila Lounge (525 E. Grace) – Enjoy some interesting dishes such as octopus ceviche, queso fundido and chorizo and goat cheese quesadilla as you enjoy Latin Night and Salsa with Boris.
Rare Olde Times (Patterson Ave.) Enjoy R&B along with some Rock & Soul with Mo Debree. Show time is 8 p.m.
Uptown Alley – Have you ever hit the bar at this cool Midlothian bowling alley? You really should. Starting at 9 p.m. on Friday, Here and Now, a great local 80s and 90s cover band, will be entertaining. Come before 8 and you don’t’ have to pay the cover charge.
Saturday, April 14
Canon & Draw Brewing Company (1529 W. Main) – The city’s newest brewery (I think. It’s hard to keep up) will be presenting the one and only Kari Smith at 7 p.m.
County Seat (3883 Old Buckingham Road (Powhatan) – Here’s a blast from the past – John Small will be appearing along with Mark Merritt. The music gets going around 7 p.m.
JJ’s Grille (Cross Ridge Shopping Center, Staples Mill Road) – One of my personal favorites, English Channel will be covering the greatest hits of the British Invasion era starting at 8 p.m.
That’s all there is. There is no more. But if you’ll be kind enough to send me your restaurant news and your positive dining experiences, we can do this whole thing over again next week. Our email is Tastebudz@RichmondNavigator.com.