I mentioned earlier in the week that I had found a new favorite brunch spot in town. While there are many great brunches, I have to admit that despite my efforts not to go along with the crowd, Millie’s Diner has been my favorite. But move over Millie. ‘Cause I got a new number one.
A LITTLE BAILEY FOR BRUNCH: I’m talking about Alex Bailey, of course, the really talented chef at the new Pik Nik at 2301 W. Main. They call this restaurant a craft cocktail bar and, admittedly, GM Rob Smith is as good as they come in that category, but the food at Pik Nik is nothing short of sensational. The restaurant is owned and operated by the Palaart/Kiatsuranon family. I had an opportunity to sit down with Sukanya Palaart (Mom’s Siam) and both her sons, Sonny and Joe Kiatsuranon at Pik Nik last Sunday. Sonny is overseeing day to day operations at Pik Nik and he hinted that he may be adding a Bloody Mary Bar soon, with his own homemade pickles on the bar. He says to stay in touch through Facebook and he’ll announce that addition. On Sunday, I not only enjoyed one of my favorite dishes on earth – Alex’s scallops, but also the waffles. You have got to try the waffles. My mere mortal words won’t do justice to the deliciousness. All I will say is that if you love your taste buds, let them try the waffles. They go really well with the Lamplighter coffee served there.
Sonny and his crew are dedicated to making Pik Nik something very special. “We want to be different than any other restaurant in town,” he says. “…the food, the cocktails, our happy hour, everything.” The restaurant is now open for lunch and dinner from 10 a.m. daily. The weekend brunch runs ’til 3 p.m.
OVER AT MY NOODLE: While brunching (that sounds so sophisticated) Joe Kiatsuranon kept raving about his new GM at My Noodle and Bar (1600 Monument Ave.), Leslie Hong. Leslie, who also happens to perform with the group Haybaby, was behind the bar, apparently experimenting with some new cocktails, when Joe and I arrived at My Noodle. Being the good sport that I am, I sampled a couple of her concoctions. I especially enjoyed the Mulholland Drive, which Lesilie said was made with muddled Clementines, a house made tonic syrup and a yerba mate infused vodka. If you don’t know what yerba mate is, look it up. I had to. I would tell you, but the joy is in the discovery, isn’t it?
TUESDAY – BIG NEWS DAY: “We’re finally opening,” says Mattias Hagglund, one of the partners in The Jasper, the cool new bar/restaurant coming from HagglunD, Thomas Leggett and Kevin Liu. All three gentlemen have distinguished themselves on the Richmond food (AND BEVERAGE) scene. Mattias says The Jasper will open Tuesday afternoon at 4:45. The Jasper is located at 3113 W. Cary Street. When news of their plans was announced back in September, Mattias hinted that the food woujld focus on small plates that would complement the drinks. I wouldn’t mind complimenting a drink myself. Hey, there. You’re looking especially nice this evening.
MEET BIG HERM: While dining at The Local Eatery and Pub (1106 W. Main) recently, I ran into Big Herm. Big Herm Baskerville is a big man who runs Big Herm’s Kitchen, a small take-out restaurant at 315 N. 2nd Street. You may have seen him strutting his stuff on channel 6. I first met Big Herm a couple of years ago while I was working on an article about Jackson Ward. If you have a hankering l for some delicious Southern comfort food, such as mac and cheese or collard greens, pay him a visit. You have to try his wings. He told me that he’s looking around for a bigger place, probably In Jackson Ward. I hope that wasn’t a secret. Anyway, it isn’t anymore.
SMOKING IN SANDSTON: We got an email this week from one of our Taste Buds, Gayle Overman. Gayle told us about a place called Sandston Smokehouse, saying, “It is a BBQ restaurant – food is great and a friendly atmosphere. Prices are very reasonable.” Only one problem she said. “It’s hard to choose what’s best.” Gayle, I haven’t gotten out to Sandston but I’m going this week. Let me see if I can choose.
FRUGAL FOODIE: Okay, are you ready for some great dining deals. I’m not talking coupons. I’m talking about local restaurants that offer some really amazing weekly or daily specials on food and/or drink. First on this week’s list is Sedona Taphouse. I was in their new location in Glen Allen (5132 Wyndham Forest Dr.) and took notice of their Happy Hour. I’m pretty sure it’s virtually the same in their Westchester Commons location, but get this. Every weekday (3 to 7 p.m.) and weekends (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), they offer all of their beers (draft, bottle and can at half price. Their house wines are half-priced as well. And their small plates and shareables are just $5.
My second frugal foodie spot of the week is the Southern Kitchen at 1726 E. Main. Their $10 and $12 wines (by the glass) are just $5 each every Tuesday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. But here’s the big dea. They offer their amaing appetizers at half price during these happy hours. That includes the fried oysters, which are just $7.50. And Shane’s specialty, the handmade Southern rolls, stuffed with collards, fried cabbage and chicken are just $5 for three rolls. It’s a good chance to try a fried dill pickle, which is only $3 during happy hour.
BRING ON THE MUSIC: Okay, now for the plus part. Let’s check out this weekend’s music scene.
Tonight – January 25
The Wine Loft – The very talented Kari Smith entertains from 8 to 10 p.m.
Friday – January 26
AW Shucks – Wayne Ruotolo is another one of my local favorites. He’ll start entertaining at 6 p.m.
Ashland Coffee & Tea – It’s old school rock ‘n roll with Julius Pittman and the Revival – 8 p.m. ($10 advance/$13 at the door)
O’Toole’s – You didn’t think I’d forget the Taters, did you? The show starts at 8 p.m.
Saturday – January 27
O’ Toole’s – Popular local entertainer Pat O’Brien performs from 8 ‘til 10 p.m.
The Tin Pan – Cyrus McCormick & The Reapers get back to the roots of Rock ‘n Roll. Show starts at 8 p.m. ($10)
Okay, I don’t want to hear you complain that there’s nothing to do. Enjoy the dining and the music scene and then share your experiences with us. Email us at TasteBudz@RichmondNavigator.com.