Things may be looking up for Elliewood Avenue. After a string of closings—Biltmore Grill (which reopened last summer), Buddhist Biker Bar and Cantina—the Corner street is filling up again.
Chris Jones (left) and Jason Wright, pictured here with head chef Christopher Pyles, will open The Backyard by the end of the month.
In the former Buddhist spot, three Charlottesville natives are opening a restaurant and bar. The Backyard, says co-owner Jason Wright, will serve “Downtown food at Corner prices.” The restaurant plans to be salad and sandwich heavy, with good entrees—the most costly being around $16. The three-man management team also plans to have a bar menu, with drink specials and appetizers.
Does the name of the restaurant hold any significance? Not personally, Wright tells us. After a pow-wow lasting a couple of hours and because the former Buddhist spot features a large yard, the guys decided on “The Backyard.” They hope to evoke a sort of “down-home, personal kind of feel.”
We can look forward to trying out the restaurant in the next few weeks, Wright says.
Across the street, L7, a lunch and dinner spot where Cantina used to be, opened a couple of weeks ago, offering a hefty small plate menu with dishes like stir-fried bean sprouts, hoisin chicken with garlic noodles, and carmelized tuna salad with cucumber, cilantro and mint.
And down the road a stretch on West Main Street, signs for a new bakery and deli have been in the window at the former Si Tapas spot. We can confirm that Penne Lane, a New York-style deli, will open soon. Owned and run by Liz Dowd, the transplanted Big Apple eatery will offer delicatessen food “with a gourmet twist,” according to Penne Lane’s Facebook page.
Canned good cause
In other Corner restaurant news, The Happy Cook will begin hosting the first ever Chef’s Week, April 26-30. Chefs from Palladio, Maya, L’étoile and Horse & Hound Gastropub will each prepare a signature dish and, for $10, would-be chefs get the chance to pick their brains.
Happy Cook’s Steve Belcher says it will be “an intimate window into Charlottesville’s best eating establishments.” All proceeds go to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Participants in the class are also encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to donate to the BRAFB.
A few restaurant things going on this week: La Taza has a new secret weapon: coffee ice cubes; Bodo’s has upped prices by 2 percent, confirms an employee of the perennial winner in C-VILLE’s Best Of balloting (in the cheap eats division, natch). That brings the price of your bagel to 70 cents, plus tax. Revolutionary Soup is now serving breakfast throughout the week (expanding from its Saturday-only offerings), including coffee from Cafe Cubano.