TasteBudz Plus – July 19, 2018

I enjoyed another great meal at one of my (relatively) old favorites this past week and had a delightful time in the process. Plus, I visited a new restaurant, which will be opening in two to three weeks. More about that in a minute. But first…

MAMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN: I was back at one of my favorite Greek restaurants in all of the city, make that the world, last week. We were getting together with old friends and family and I had recommended Greek Taverna. You always worry when you make a recommendation that everyone will hate you for it. No such worries with our meal or the warm, personable, friendly service. Everyone loved it. I, of course, had my very favorite dish, the pastichio, which is a Greek baked pasta dish made with ground lamb and béchamel sauce. Everyone who tried it loved it. Their bronzini was another big hit at the table. And, while everyone raved about Greek Taverna’s baklava, my favorite dessert is their kataifi. Don’t be dissuaded by the description (shredded wheat, soaked in a honey syrup and topped with vanilla custard and sweet cream). It is an amazing dessert.

Just a side point. You know, there’s always one at every table who asks the server to take a group picture. Our server took the camera and did something I”d never seen a server do – he took a selfie.

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A NEW ADDITION FOR SCOTT’S ADDITION: I still am not at liberty to say anything because the owner of a new addition to the Addition is keeping things close to the vest. But I was in this new place this week and it may well be one of the most beautiful restaurants in the entire city. Tune in next week. Maybe I will have been given the green light. I just hate keeping secrets, unless we’re talking about my weight.

PIZZA PARTY: Your Pie, a 10-year-old pizza chain out of Georgia, will be opening its first Richmond-area location tomorrow morning at 11 in Westchester Commons. Local franchisees are brothers-in-law Robert Estevez and Steven Pearce. They’re holding a grand opening party of sorts, with free stuff for the first 50 guests. They’ll also be giving away free gelato, root beer floats and pizza throughout the day. The restaurant’s concept allows guests to customize their pies, which are made with hand-tossed dough.

MEET GEORGE JETSON: I felt as if I had time-traveled to the future when I entered the Willow Lawn Kroger grocery store this week. I had gone purposely to see what all the hubbub was about with regards to Kroger’s new Scan, Bag, Go technology. Here’s the deal. You go into the store and you pick up a scanner. Put your bag(s) in your cart and as you shop, you scan each item and bag it right there in the aisle. When you get to the self-service checkout, you simply pay for your already-bagged purchases.

Kyle Russell, the Scan,Bag, Go manager for Kroger’s Mid-Atlantic division says, “This is in direct response to what our customers are asking for, that is ways to give them more control over their shopping experience and to save them time and money. Scan, Bag, Go does that.”

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Kroger’s Plus Card discounts are built into the program and are factored in when you scan an applicable product. Since taxes are also factored into the running total, the customer knows exactly how much she (or he) has spent when they get to the register. The only exception to that, Kyle says, is if you have additional coupons that you wish to redeem.

She adds that Kroger plans to have the system in 500 stores by the end of this year with another 400 stores coming online in 2019. There’s no word yet as to when and where this will be available at other stores in the Metro Richmond area. Now, if they only had robots to take my bags to the car, my life would be virtually complete.

BUDZ BUZZ: We always love hearing from our Taste Budz out there. After we ran a TasteBudz piece in the current issue of Chesterfield Living Magazine about the freshness of the food at Bon Air Seafood (2722 Tinsley Dr.), we got a nice email from one of our Budz, Russ Ellenberg, who said, “I was so happy to see them recognized. If the opportunity comes up in the future please also mention that they will offer recommendations about preparing various fish and have recipes that they can provide.”

Gee, Russ, I wish we did have room to pass that along here in TasteBudz. Thanks for writing. BTW, if you want to share any happy dining experiences, drop us a line. We’re at Tastebudz@RichmondNavigator.com.

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FRUGAL FOODIE: I was also over at Pik Nik (2301 W. Main St.) last week. I wanted to meet the new crew. When it first opened, a year or so ago, PIkNik was one of my favorite spots. However, service-wise it took a downhill turn. I’m happy to report that owner Sunny Kiatsuranon has made some needed changes. And, from what I see, this is once again a place that I would heartily recommend. I spoke with Shelby Willmom, who is part of their new and improved team. Shelby is instrumental with shoring up their bar program. They do have a beautiful bar. She tells me that she is working on some new cocktails. PIk Nik’s Happy Hour is very good. During Happy Hour (every day 3 to 7), you can enjoy a selection of well-made craft cocktails for $5. That includes excellent Negronis and Manhattans, as well as several additional selections. But even if you’re a teetotaler, you won’t’ want to miss the HH. That’s when you can enjoy some fantastic appetizers – two for ten bucks. I got the mussels in curry sauce. They were outstanding. There must have been two dozen mussels in my $5 bowl. The vegetable dumpling chaat was also quite delicious. There are a dozen or more items on the appetizer menu including fish and chicken tacos, beef sliders and fried zucchini chips. One drink and two appetizers for $15 – makes for an excellent night out.

PLUS: Before we get to the variety of cool music/food related events over the next few days, I just want to mention what a great time I had at the Wine Loft this past Thursday night. I went to listen to Kari Smith, who performs there virtually every Thursday night, starting at 8 p.m. If you are not familiar with Kari’s smooth-as-silk song stylings, do yourself a favor and head on out there tonight. She really knows how to relate to her audience and chances are you’ll find a bunch of her fans in the crowd. Ask her to do The Luckiest by Ben Folds. That’s one of the most beautiful songs of the 21st century and Kari does a masterful job with it. Well, that’s my opinion. Now on to our rundown:

Friday, July 20
  • Cary-oke – Mom’s Siam. 10 p.m. | You may not know that Mom’s has a great bar scene. Just read our “Raising the Bar” feature in the latest issue of River City Magazine. It’s available for free pickup all over town or online at this website. Head over tomorrow evening for Friday nights for Cary-oke with Karaoke Karla.
  • John Fetherston- O’Toole’s Restaurant & Pub 8 p.m. | The incomparable John Fetherston band performs classic covers.
  • Tin Can Fish Band – Legend Brewing Company 8 p.m. | The TCFB are back on the patio with their blend of progressive folk rock and roots.
  • Whiskey Business – Rare Olde Times 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 21
  • The Taters – The County Seat 7:30 p.m. | What can I say? I love them Taters.

That’s going to do it for now. Next week, I hope to have an important announcement. No, I’m not pregnant. But this is still pretty big news.

Steve Cook
Author: Steve Cook