TasteBudz Plus – November 29, 2018

It’s a somewhat abbreviated version of TasteBudz this week. But we did have a few things that come from some of our very favorite Buds. So, let’s get the party started. Our first report comes from Lisa Puster.

WILL JIMMY STEWART BE THERE?: ‘Tis the season for miracles and what’s better than celebrating this special season, in style, at one of Richmond’s favorite bars, while supporting a good cause? Join in the fun at The Jasper in Carytown for Miracle on Cary Street, a holiday-themed pop-up bar that runs from Black Friday through New Year’s Eve.

Miracle began as a one-time event five years ago, in New York’s East Village, with restaurant-owner and Miracle founder, Greg Boehm, when his mother suggested turning his new bar, Mace, into a holiday pop-up cocktail bar. Boehm’s mom’s idea was an instant success, brought huge crowds to the bar and sparked tons of interest in recreating and sharing the holiday magic throughout the bar industry. The following year, Miracle expanded to four locations and in 2016 went international with pop-ups in Greece, Montreal and Paris. Miracle now brings seasonal cheer to 90 bar locations throughout the world, including Richmond!

The Jasper, located at 3113 W. Cary St., is the only location in Virginia participating in the festivities this year. The bar will be decked out in over-the-top decorations with a special holiday menu and seasonal-themed cocktails and shots, including a Snowball Old-Fashioned and, of course, a Nice Shot and a Naughty Shot. The Jasper will also offer holiday-themed barware, available for purchase, with some of the proceeds being donated to Action Against Hunger – “a global humanitarian organization, which originated in France, that is committed to ending world hunger,” which would be the greatest miracle of all!

Next, comes this taste-tempting tidbit from our very own Kari Smith. I say “very own” because Kari is our staff writer for Hanover Lifestyle Magazine.  She also knows her way around the county’s restaurant scene.

IT’S MORE THAN GREEK TO ME: Moussakes galaktobouriko finikia? That’s Greek to me… and to everyone, actually! I found these words on the menu of an absolute gem of a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant, More than Greek, located on the corner of Atlee Road and Meadowbridge Road (8161 Atlee Road) in Mechanicsville. Since Denise Katz purchased it in August 2018, she has kept the recipes of the former owner, but she is using her own experience – both in business and growing up in the restaurant industry – to take this spot to the next level.

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During my lunch visit, I was impressed at how the staff worked together and served their customers as if they were part of some big family that I instantly wanted to be a part of. A waitress walked around offering a tray of baklava for patrons to sample, and each time a customer entered, a manager greeted them warmly. This truly is a family affair – Denise’s youngest enjoys playing pastry chef when she’s not playing basketball, her middle child is on the wait staff – even her eldest who isn’t local is married into a large Greek family! Denise’s husband is also hands-on in the operation and maintenance of the restaurant.

For my lunch visit, I chose the Greek Pikilia for its variety – spanakopita, tiropita, hand-rolled dolmades, hummus, warm pita bread, tzatziki sauce and more. The impressive portion of food for under $10 more than filled me, and I gladly took a to-go box – there’s no wasting food THAT good! Their recipes – including their hearty soups, salad dressings, tzatziki, hummus, and dolmades – are all homemade on site. Their array of beautiful – and equally tasty – desserts would make a perfect party tray, including their best-selling Greek classic baklava.

I wished aloud that I could take some of that tzatziki sauce home, and I was delighted when Denise told me that they were working on “Greek to go” options available in the coming year, in addition to the catering options they already offer. Additional plans for 2019 include updating menus (don’t fret about your favs – they’ll be making additions, no subtractions!), parking improvements, interior upgrades, specialty coffee drinks, and possibly a food truck, to name a few!

Head over for a Pikilia of your own – or one of their best sellers, the lamb gyro – and they’ll make you part of the family, too! Check the full menu out on line.

Thanks Kari. By the way Kari will be performing tonight at The Wine Loft in Broad Street Village. The music begins at 8 p.m.

A NEW ACT: I stopped by the all (kinda) new Ashland Coffee and Tea (ACT) recently. In addition to some major renovations in the coffee shop area, the restaurant is now offering full table service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The new owners are also diligently working to restore the place to its former glory as a true music venue for the town of Ashland.

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LET THEM EAT COFFEE CAKE: I had breakfast this morning at one of the coolest and, at the same time, warmest and coziest and best-smelling places I’ve been in quite a while. I’m talking about Great Harvest Bakery and Cafe at 13541 Midlothian Trnpk. right in the heart of Midlothian. I had read Ashley Jefferson’s (our assistant editor) piece (below) and was hoping to meet the local franchisee, Kiim Buehler. Kim wasn’t in but the goodies were. I had a delightful breakfast sandwich, with cheese and ham all grilled together on whole wheat. But I was very enticed by the pastry offerings. Although I resisted, I could easily have spent the day feeding my face with coffee cakes, muffins, cookies and so much more.

There’s a cozy little fireplace, which added to the warmth and the coffee was very good, too. All in all it was a delightful experience. Check out their menu here.

Now here’s Ashley report:

When Ironman finisher, Kim Buehler, discovered a lack of healthy eating options in Richmond, she decided to do something about it. “After becoming more health conscious training for my first Ironman several years ago, I discovered a lack of healthy eating options in the Richmond area, specifically on Southside, “ says Kim. And from that decision, she opened Great Harvest Bread Co., a whole grain bread bakery that bakes their bread from scratch. Kim and her team mill their whole wheat on-site every day, creating some of Richmond’s best sandwiches, pastries and other goodies. And what’s more, they cater for small and large meetings and events. Yum!

Okay, that’s a wrap for today. We’d love to hear from you. Send us your restaurant news and/or great dining experiences. Our email is Tastebudz@RichmondNavigator.com.

Steve Cook
Author: Steve Cook