TasteBudz Plus – February 1, 2018

Well, we made it through January. Now, the real winter weather begins. It’s definitely flu and cold season and you know what they say: “Feed a cold; stuff a fever.” So, regardless of what ails you, my suggestion is to eat. Here are a few ideas that may keep you healthy over the next couple of months.

FRESH OFF THE VINE: Speaking of the weather, I got an email from Matt Fraker, owner of Branch & Vine, located at the corner of Meadow and Main. Matt writes: You’ve almost made it to Friday and survived another week without snow! We hope you’ll join us tomorrow night from 5:00-7:30 p.m. for a wine tasting!” Matt says he’ll be pouring a “lineup of lesser known varietals… things you might have heard of once or twice before, but might not be as familiar with; things that probably wouldn’t just jump off the shelf and into your awaiting arms.” I’m willing to see how far they might jump.

WHAT IS THAT WHITE ELEPHANT DOING WITH MY PIZZA: So, what does a restaurant named Pies and Pints have to do with a white elephant? I’m not going to tell you. When this cool pizza and beer place opens at 2035 W. Broad Street, probably around March 1, you can go in and find out. What I will tell you is that I have a good feeling about this place. Admittedly, at the outset, you’re going to have to negotiate that new bus construction mess, but there’s still plenty of off Broad Street parking.

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Pies and Pints is a small chain out of West Virginia tht specializes in what I hear is some truly amazing pizza along with a great selection of craft beers. I’m told that there will be 36 taps on tap. I stopped in the place yesterday to take a look around. There’s a lot of construction work going on, but the elephant is already on the wall and the large bar, seating about 25 people, is pretty much installed. There will be a separate beer garden in the back of the building and a patio should be opening in a few months.

NEW AND COOL ON CARY: The Jasper has opened at 3113 W. Cary. I stopped in the other night. The place was packed. While there’s more to this cool bar/restaurant than the cocktails, they’re reason enough to check The Jasper out. Very creative cocktails at decent prices. In fact, they advertise “Full pours, honest prices.” They even offer $5 house wines. Or, how about a nitro bourbon and ginger for $8. While the food is on the lighter fare side, they do serve my all-time favorite – French onion dip with potato chips. The Jasper is open from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week (that’s all of ‘em).

GUTEN APETIT: Hey, did you know we now have a truly German restaurant in town? Actually, it’s kind of been here for a decade. I’m talking about Café Rustika (formerly known as Café Rustica) at 414 E. Main Street. Owner/chef Sam George made the conversion just a few weeks ago, but, he tells me that he’s always been doing some German food on a menu that featured European dishes. “Lots of folks would call, asking for German food,” he says. Sam adds that the nice thing about German cuisine is that most guests don’t have preconceived notions about what it tastes like beyond sauerkraut and brats. “It’s not like Chinese food,” he says.

Sam describes Café Rustika as a cozy spot. “You can bring your first date or bring your folks.” Speaking of the folks, he says his mother bakes all the bread served there.

GET OUT OF TOWN: If you’re heading towards Charlottesville or maybe Barboursville, you might want to try a little detour and check out Gordonsville. It’s a quaint little town. One of our favorite Taste Budz, Katie Sweeney wrote and told me about a recent dining experience at The Inwood Restaurant (19095 James Madison Highway). Katie said everything she tried was delicious and that the people are so friendly, too. She had the salad bar for lunch. For $7.99, you get the salad bar, a drink and a slice of pie. The restaurant’s motto is: “We’re Not Fancy”, Just Serve Good Food!”

FRUGAL FOODIE: I had one of the best hamburgers I’ve had in many a year this week. And it

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was only $5. That’s the Wednesday all-day special at The Franklin Inn (at Cleveland and Franklin Avenues). Because of my diet, I eat my hamburgers without the bread. You can always tell a burger once you take its clothes off. This was a great half-pound juicy burger with all the trimmings. It normally sells for $10. It’s a fantastic deal.

THE PLUS: Okay, some of my favorite bands are playing this weekend. Take my advice and check some or all of these out. Saturday is the big night this weekend. Just check this out.

JJ’s Grille – It’s the English Channel at 8 p.m. These guys are the best. Be sure to ask them to do Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

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Rare Olde Times: Although this one is new to me, it sounds very interesting. Here’s the scoop: Antique Melody Show begins at 8 p.m. It’s described as “a nostalgic journey into early-American, post-parlor era music that layed the groundwork for speakeasy and lounge divas of the 1920’s 30’s and 40’s.”

Tin Pan: This is going to be a hard decision. I love English Channel, but I’m friends with Ron Moody. He and the Centaurs get the music going at 8 p.m.

Okay, that’s all I got today. Well I have more, but I’m going to wait ’til next week.  Don’t forget to come back.  And please share your dining experiences as well as any restaurant news. Email us at Tastebudz@RichmondNavigator.com.

Steve Cook
Author: Steve Cook