Crazy 8s, pop-up ramen, and a fresh face: This week’s restaurant news

SMALL BITES

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Fill 'er up! Nick Crutchfield, of Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, has been working on an impressive cocktail menu. Photo: John Robinson Fill 'er up! Nick Crutchfield, of Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, has been working on an impressive cocktail menu. Photo: John Robinson

Nick Crutchfield may not hail from Charlottesville originally (Tidewater is his home), but he’s no stranger to these parts. Best bartender in C-VILLE’s 2012 Best of readers’ poll, you’ll find him shakin’ things up at Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar. Lately, he’s been working on an inventive new cocktail menu (64 drinks total!) that rivals any major metropolitan city. Each section is described by a type of cocktail and is based on body, alcohol, beer pairings, and modern versus classic. His favorite category is Friends & Family (which borrows drink recipes from bartenders across the country) and includes the WMF (Whisky Mango Foxtrot). The menu also covers Classics, Reimagined, Lighter Tipples, Drinks of the Moment, and Forgotten Elixers. Those who conquer the entire list (just not in one night!) will enjoy dinner on the house. Stay tuned for a new bar menu featuring smaller bites to nosh, so as not to get too tippled.

Ramen is having a moment. David Chang, leader of the Momofuko empire, has created what could be considered the most famous ramen bowl in the U.S.; Ivan Orkin is an American chef with his own ramen shop in Tokyo. Countless chefs have attempted to recreate the classic umami-rich, broth-based noodle soup, even if only for one night. Now we can add Charlottesville to that list. Toshi Sato, chef-owner of Now & Zen, is presenting a ramen pop-up, or a “Mini Noodle Festival,” on February 17 and 18. He’ll be dishing up a trio of Shio Ramen, Miso Ramen, and Tan Tan Ramen. Make reservations by calling 971-1177 or visit 202 Second St. NW.

A few weeks ago, we mentioned the guest chef dinner hosted by Glass Haus Kitchen featuring Aaron Silverman of Washington, D.C., and we weren’t the only ones to take notice. The Washington Post caught on, and sent food writer Tom Sietsema to write a great food feature on chef Ian Boden.

Fresh Market had its grand opening in the Albemarle Square Shopping Center on February 6, and business seems to be booming since the doors swung open, making it the ninth store in Virginia. The market features the highest quality ingredients and amiable service, with ambiance reminiscent of a specialty neighborhood grocer.

Hamiltons’ on the Downtown Mall welcomes a new chef de cuisine, Curtis Shaver (formerly of Keswick Hall and Duner’s). He has replaced longtime chef Jeanette Peabody. Duner’s kitchen will stay in the hands of head chef Doug McLeod, but owner Bob Caldwell has decided to keep the restaurant’s doors closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. After 30 years in business, Caldwell said he didn’t want to have to work seven days a week anymore. Go figure.*

Craig Hartman, chef-owner of the BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville, knows how to have a good time—and throw a killer pig-themed party. The third annual Porkapalooza is February 15 and 16 from 11am-8pm. The weekend-long pig fest features an all-you-can-eat buffet for $10 per person. Call (540) 832-0227 for more info.

*Clarification: An earlier version of this story said that Duner’s had not hired anyone to replace departing Sous Chef Curtis Shaver. Owner Bob Caldwell decided not to replace Shaver because he planned to close the restaurant’s doors on Mondays and Tuesdays. Head Chef Doug McLeod remains in charge of the kitchen.

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