TasteBudz Plus – November 8, 2018

Okay, let’s take a look at what’s going on around town. A little food, a little drink, a little music. What’s your pleasure? I’m joined this week by our assistant editor, Ashley Jefferson. Ashley, a D.C. transplant, is certainly enjoying the opportunity to discover the city’s vibrant dining scene.

She starts us off with a piece about a place I discovered a couple of years ago. I don’t know if you’ve discovered Great Harvest Bread Co., but their breads are absolutely delicious. What I didn’t know was how healthy their breads are until I read Ashley’s piece. Here goes:

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SO GOOD. SO GOOD FOR YOU: 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 the Southside, “ says Kim. And from that decision, she opened Great Harvest Bread Co. (13541 Midlothian Turnpike), 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’re currently taking orders for their holiday rolls and pies. Yum! (AJ)

THAT’S THE SPIRIT: Mark your calendar for this Saturday, the 10th. That’s the day that Virago Spirits opens the doors of its cool, new tasting room at 1727 Rhoadmiller Street. BTW, do you know why it’s called Rhoadmiller Street? The folks over at Virago Spirits have taken an old industrial/warehouse type of building and converted it into a really great spot to enjoy some tastings of their delicious flagship Four-Port Rum. They’ll be making some cocktails with the rum. Sounds good to me. See you there? (SC)

GOTTA HAVE A CAVA: I’ve never heard of the term “Chef-Casual” until recently when I visited CAVA. Apparently, it’s used to describe restaurants that serve premium quality cuisine in a more relaxed, casual environment. If this definition is true, CAVA most definitely fits the bill. Located at 11780 West Broad Street, CAVA is the brainchild of three first generation Greek Americans, Ted Xenohristos, Ike Grigoropoulos, and Executive Chef Dimitri Moshovitis. The childhood friends wanted to bring the authentic flavors of the Mediterranean to The States in a quick and convenient way. And boy, did they bring it! The flavors of their grilled meatballs, falafel, and braised lamb are robust. And their roasted red pepper hummus, traditional hummus, and crazy feta dip are so savory that I just couldn’t get enough. Fortunately for me, their dips are on sale at Whole Foods. So whenever I’m in the mood, I can have a little CAVA at home. (AJ)

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LET’S DO BRUNCH: First came lunch and then came supper. So, it’s no tremendous surprise that when Starlite Dining and Lounge shut down this past summer with a promise of a redo, co-owner Rick Lyons, of Rueger Restaurant Group, would reopen as Brunch. Rick’s popular Lunch and Supper restaurants are located in Scott’s Addition. The new Brunch at 2600 W. Main, will be serving a brunch menu from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. day. In the evening, the space will be used for private functions. I’m told that Brunch will open officially on January 2, 2019. (SC)

DO THE HOKE POKE: Are you familiar with Poke? If not, allow me to explain. Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish that consists of diced fish tossed in sea salt. In the continental U.S., the fish is often served with rice or salad, both of which I love. So when I stumbled upon Hoke Poke in Short Pump (11823 W Broad St), I almost fell out! Hoke Poke serves responsibly sourced, sushi-grade fresh fish with local produce and original sauces. When I arrived, I was invited to “build” my own poke bowl by selecting my base (rice or salad) and the types of protein I wanted. There were several to choose from including Ahi tuna, salmon, and teriyaki chicken. Next, I was able to select my mix-ins and then my sauces. For the novice poke eater, the Hoke Poke offers several signature Chef’s Choice bowls. However, I’m a pro and I opted to build my own. I started with a large poke bowl, filled with citrus kale, ahi tuna, aloha tuna, Atlantic salmon and citrus scallops. Then, I added mango and pineapple chunks and mixed in some sesame shoyo. Finally, I topped it off with a seaweed salad and crispy onions. The combination of flavors made my mouth want to dance. And of course, that dance would be the Hoke Poke! And maybe this is what it’s all about. (AJ)

IS IT RAMEN YET? Its getting close, so close that I cannot almost taste it. I’m talking about the grand reopening of PikNik (2301 W. Main St.) as Kodo-Ya @ PikNik. The new incarnation of this popular Fan once and future noodle bar will soon become a reality thanks to the collaboration of Joe and Sonny Kiatsuranon (who have their own Thai restaurant empire in the city) with Will Richardson, formerly of Shoryuken Ramen. Will has been doing pop-ups at PikNik on Monday nights over the past month or so. Currently, the restaurant has closed its doors for a little renovation but should reopen very, very soon. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for details. BTW, I mention the Kiatsuranon’s Thai dynasty and coincidentally, Ashley files this report on the family’s Ya Ya’s Cookbook. Read on. (SC)

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SUSHI AND A MOVIE: Last weekend, my fiancé, John, and I spent a little time in Ya Ya’s Cookbook before catching a film. The thing about Ya Ya’s Cookbook is that it’s located right next to the Regal Cinemas in Short Pump (11674 W Broad St.). So, it’s easy to relax there just before a movie begins. Plus, when we show the waitress our movie tickets, we receive 50% off of an appetizer. Interestingly enough, John and I rarely take advantage of the appetizer discount because we always seem to end up at the sushi bar. And last weekend was no different. The sushi bar at Ya Ya’s Cookbook is rather unique. Instead of having bar stools for us to sit in, they have swings! I love sitting in those swings. They hang from the ceiling and cradle us like a little baby in an upright carriage. John is a pretty big boy, so it’s nice to see how he hangs in there. Even though he’s a hefty 6’3, his feet barely touch the floor! While there, John ordered the Orange Chicken dish and I, the Ramen noodles. Both, as expected, were very yummy. We didn’t leave anything on our plates. The two of us hung around the bar, literally, until we realized that our movie had already started. Ya Ya’s has a way of comforting us with good service, cozy seating and delicious food that we totally forgot about our film. Fortunately, we only missed the previews. But it was OK. We rather spend our time at Ya Ya’s Cookbook anyway. (AJ)

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A LITTLE TRAVELING MUSIC: Okay, here’s the rundown on some live music with your meal. First of all, Kari Smith. We have to start with Kari. She’s not only one of our favorite Taste Buds plus a fantastic entertainer, she is now the staff writer for our Hanover Lifestyle Magazine. If you haven’t seen her premier piece on Ana Inés King, the founder of the Latin Ballet of Virginia, you can read it online by simply clicking here.

You can also enjoy listening to Kari this evening (November 8) at the Industrial Taphouse. The music starts at 7 p.m. How often do you get to listen to a writer sing?

Elsewhere around the region:

The Taters will be appearing at the County Seat in Powhatan on Saturday (11/10) at 7:30 p.m.

The following afternoon (11/11), they’ll be at the Positive Vibe Cafe at 3 p.m.

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Another one of my favorite groups around town is The English Channel. These guys (and gal) do an amazing show featuring music from across the pond. They’ll be at JJ’s Grille on Saturday from 8 until 10 p.m.  If you go, keep requesting Bohemian Rhapsody until they do it, if only to shut you up. They do an unbelievable cover of that song, which should be in everybody’s head these days due to the new movie.

That’ll do it for this week. Send your restaurant news to Tastebudz@RichmondNavigator.com.

Steve Cook
Author: Steve Cook