Overheard on the restaurant scene: Boozy food truck, new Downtown event space, and another James Beard nod

Spiked Food Truck hit the streets in April, and is serving up dishes infused with local alcohol. Photo: Elli Williams Spiked Food Truck hit the streets in April, and is serving up dishes infused with local alcohol. Photo: Elli Williams

Spiked woos with new booze-infused food 

If you’re driving around town and happen to spot a food truck with cocktail glasses painted on the outside, no need to call the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control—he’s not actually passing out alcohol from that truck. What he is doing is serving up a menu of grub that is all infused with local beer and wine.

Spiked Food Truck, owned by longtime foodie Will Conti, hit the streets in April of this year. So far the rotating menu has featured a Three Notch’d brew-marinated pulled chicken sandwich, a vegetarian “reuben” with wine-soaked beets, and a hot ham and cheese sandwich with mustard spiked with whatever local beer he has on hand. 

“Technically I’m not selling alcohol,” Conti said. “It’s just like if any other restaurant or deli were to serve something like beer-battered onion rings. The alcohol actually gets cooked off, and it just gives it flavor.”

Conti parks Spike outside the Earlysville business park on Wednesdays, and will be at Champion Brewing Company every Sunday through June 15. To reserve Spike for a party or special event, check out the truck’s Facebook page or call 242-5495.

Commonwealth debuts new event space 

Unless you’re invited to the party, there’s nothing more frustrating on a Friday night than rolling into your favorite restaurant only to find that the entire dining room is being occupied by 100 wedding-happy rehearsal dinner attendees and an apologetic wait staff. Now, there’s at least one less restaurant in town that will give you that kind of weekend angst.

The Downtown Mall has already seen an influx of event spaces between Old Metropolitan Hall and The Space, and restaurants are starting to catch on. Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar, which opened its doors two and a half years ago, recently purchased the former Paper Ink space. Renovations are wrapping up, and Commonwealth Events and Marketing Manager Erin King said the space is ready for reservations. She expects that brides, grooms, and their respective wedding parties will be the most frequent guests in the new event space, but it’ll also be available for corporate meetings, events, and any large parties. The room’s decor is clearly inspired by the original restaurant, with the same lighting, ambiance, and overall vibe.

As for the food, King said Commonwealth’s full menu won’t be available, but buffet-style meals, prix fixe dinners, and hors d’oeuvres will mimic what’s available in the main dining room.

For more information or to make reservations, call the restaurant at 202-7726, or visit www.commonwealthreserve.com. 

Palladio receives James Beard invite

Just a week after catching wind of Parallel 38 being asked to prepare a meal at The Beard House in New York City, we find out that Palladio Restaurant at Barboursville Vineyards has also received a James Beard invitation. The national nonprofit recognizes culinary professionals and gives the food-equivalent of the Academy Awards.

Palladio chef Melissa Close-Hart, who’s already had four James Beard nods and was a semifinalist for “Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic,” will head to New York with her team in February 2015 to serve a multi-course meal paired with Barboursville wines.

We’re always keeping our eyes and ears out for the latest news on Charlottesville’s food and drink scene, so pick up a paper and check c-ville.com/living each week for the latest Small Bites. Have a scoop for Small Bites? E-mail us at bites@c-ville.com.