Northward found

Northward found

So, given much thought to Ruckersville lately? Yeah, neither have we. The place feels like a distant and, well, trafficky universe north of the airport on Route 29N. But, despite our perhaps unfair lack of attention, Ruckersville does in fact have a restaurant scene, which appears to be expanding. We caught wind of two late additions to the land of four lanes.
First up: In the same brand-new building that houses ye olde Antiquer’s Mall (which used to be further south, in the same shopping center as Rhett’s River Grill and Raw Bar), there’s a cafe just shy of its two-month birthday: Shenandoah Coffee. Doesn’t Sheetz serve the cup of choice for many passersby (i.e., that crowd of people speeding toward D.C. with an open package of Oreos on the passenger seat)? “We’re trying to change that,” Shenandoah owner Ryan Miller says. He’s armed with “a full line of espresso drinks,” pastries, free wifi and plenty of seating.

Ruckersville’s Shenandoah Coffee is keeping an eye on the traffic.

Kind of like Starbucks, in other words. And indeed Miller was involved in opening one of Charlottesville’s Starbucks, the one on Seminole Trail across from Fashion Square Mall. But this, his first self-owned cafe, distinguishes itself by offering only locally-roasted coffees—from Shenandoah Joe and Escalera in Charlottesville, and from Mountain View in Ruckersville. Local artwork hangs on the walls and Miller promises breakfast sandwiches and live music soon (not necessarily to be enjoyed simultaneously). To our way of thinking, Miller’s best asset will be the natural connection between browsing for antiques and lingering over a cup o’caffeine. 

Next up: A marriage is like an intersection. Which is why it’s kind of nice that a husband-and-wife team, Eddie and Donna Patrick, owns a barbecue joint, Smokin’ Eddie’s BBQ and More, at the spot where Routes 29N and 33 come together. The place opened last August in a former flower shop. The Patricks are serving, says Donna, Southern-style pork barbecue they smoke themselves with their own homemade sauce. Get it in a sandwich, in a dinner or by the pound.

All the usual accompaniments—potato salad, macaroni salad, baked beans, cole slaw—are here, as are baby-back ribs on Sundays. (That must be the “and more.”) We’re told by Donna that feedback’s been positive: “Some judges from Illinois stopped by and tried everything we had and told us that we are one of the best barbecues in the state of Virginia,” she says. “That was nice to hear.”

We bet it was. And it’s nice to hear that drive to D.C. is tasting a little better these days, too.

South African sound

A nifty event is coming up on February 10 at The Shebeen on Vinegar Hill. Jeremy Taylor, a British singer and songwriter who’s had a stormy relationship with South Africa since the ’60s, will be in the house to share his song and banter. During the apartheid era, Taylor got his music banned in South Africa for criticizing that eminently criticizable system. This didn’t stop him from enjoying a lively career in Britain, and eventually the ban—and apartheid—were ended.

Check Taylor out and sup on a $60 three-course prix-fixe menu while you’re at it. The party starts at 7pm.

Quick bites

We noticed the sweet sound of Van Halen pouring out of Blue Light Grill recently, along with some burly guys carrying full sheets of plywood, so we called up Michael Keaveny to find out what was going on. Essentially nothing, he said: routine maintenance back in the kitchen. More substantial changes are in the works for Vavino, which Keaveny’s boss Coran Capshaw acquired last year: a new name and a new concept, both still under development. Look here for specifics as they come to light.

Got some restaurant scoop? Send your tips to or call 817-2749, Ext. 48.