After celebrating a decade in business, Pham, the owner of Lemongrass on the Corner, has been looking ahead to the next 10 years. Yoshihiro and Yukiko Tauchi, owners of Mican, a Japanese restaurant that, until this fall, had been located at York Place on the Downtown Mall, fused with Lemongrass.
Says Yoshihiro Tauchi, “[This was] a big idea of Pham. He was a longtime customer of Mican, and [is] our friend.”
“Their set menu of traditional Japanese dishes attracted me again and again,” says Pham. The Tauchis’ menu features flavors from the Kyushu and Hokkaido prefectures of Japan.
And Yukiko mirrors Pham’s praise. “[Lemongrass] stands apart from other Thai restaurants because they rely on subtle flavor to [preserve] freshness and healthiness,” she says.
Now the Tauchis are working under one roof alongside Pham, with both using the Lemongrass name. “The colors of the interior have changed slightly, and we may add a few more Mican touches,” says Pham.
Tauchi is adding sushi, donburi (rice bowl with fish) and ramen to the already-established Lemongrass menu. Due to the number of ingredients and swath of space ramen preparation requires, however, the steaming bowl of traditional noodles will only be available on the weekends for now.
“We hope to make even more menu choices, including ramen, gluten-free and vegan-friendly,” says Pham. “Right now, we offer vegetarian substitutes to our staples.”
Both owners are unified in their focus on healthy dishes.
“We like being in Charlottesville,” says Yukiko. “Both Thai and Japanese cuisines are so popular in Washington, D.C., but we are bringing it here for everyone to enjoy.”
Popping back up
L’etoile is back—but for two nights only. On November 18 and 19, L’etoile chef and owner Mark Gresge, with the help of sous chef Kelsey Naylor, will host 10 diners each night for a seven-course meal at the L’etoile catering station in Crozet.
Gresge closed L’etoile—the restaurant was located on West Main Street, next to Continental Divide and across from the Amtrak station, where Mezze is now—in 2014 after 20 years of serving French-Virginia cuisine. He’s been catering ever since, but Gresge says he misses his restaurant.
Cooking for catering is very different, much more heavily planned than restaurant cooking, Gresge says, and he misses the spontaneity of the restaurant kitchen.
“I wanted a fun evening to capture the L’etoile feeling…let’s just have a meal,” Gresge says about his decision to host a pop-up restaurant. And apparently Charlottesville diners want the same: The 20 seats sold out almost immediately after the pop-up was announced, Gresge says, adding that “the response has been graciously excessive.”
The seven-course menus will be a surprise to dinner guests—“I want to serve what I want to serve,” Gresge says—but he will likely feature some L’etoile favorites and some seasonal local produce.
If you didn’t score a seat, don’t fret: This probably won’t be a one-time thing, Gresge says. He hopes to host more dinners in the new year. We’ll keep you posted.
At the helm…Firefly has a new chef, Ted Miller. And we hear there will be some new menu items rolling out this week. …Eight is their lucky number…Devils Backbone Brewing Company is celebrating eight years of brewing craft beer in the Blue Ridge with two parties—one at its basecamp brewpub in Roseland and another at its outpost brewery and taproom in Lexington—on November 19. The Milestone 8 Imperial Schwarzbier will be on tap at both places.