We at Restaurantarama have been telling you about some major shake-ups and shake-downs in the local dining scene. We’ve been dropping big names and getting all philosophical about hot spots closing and hip new joints burgeoning. Well, this week we are relieved to tell you about a person you’ve probably never heard of and a place you’ve probably never been. Don’t you just feel all clean and refreshed already? Of course, Russell Smith hopes you’ll soon know his name or at least the name of his new restaurant in Crozet, Flavor’s Café, which opened on June 8, and that you’ll soon get intimate with his “jazzed-up Southern cuisine.” Smith opened Flavor’s in the old Ombra’s Cafe space where he’d been general manager before he took over the restaurant from Ombra’s absentee owner. Before Ombra’s, Smith tried running a catering operation out of the Shell station on Preston Avenue, and before that, he perfected his homestyle Southern fare working for UVA Catering. In total, he has spent 27 years in the food service industry, yet Flavor’s is his first restaurant. And like any restaurant rookie and chef/owner, Smith is kind of a one-man show. When he’s not smoking the pork for Flavor’s BBQ sandwich with his signature “House Voodoo Sauce” or cooking up hickory-scented spiced shrimp with “secret powder,” he’s pounding the pavement to drum up catering business for Flavor’s and he’s managing the restaurant’s day-to-day operations. And when he’s not doing any of that, he’s trying to finish painting the sign for out front. Currently, the only indication that there’s delicious down-home grub like collard greens and macaroni and cheese at Flavor’s somewhat nondescript location in Crozet Square is a red banner that says, “We’re Open”—which is just about as to-the-point and free of airs as Smith himself. When Restaurantarama came a-calling, Smith simply said, “Where have you been?”
Music to our tastebuds: Flavor’s Café owner Russell Smith is dishing up “jazzed-up Southern cuisine” in Crozet.
Indeed, we have no excuse for not getting off our rear ends sooner and venturing out to Crozet country for its latest culinary development where Smith says he’s filling a local void with his casual setting and cuisine that leans toward the seafood end of the Southern spectrum. “I brought oysters on the half-shell to Crozet,” he claims proudly. And while he will gladly serve you a ubiquitous Southern fried chicken dinner, he’s much more jazzed about his Veal Oscar with Crab and Asparagus over Garlic Linguini. The one thing he can’t yet serve you, however, is a Southern-style cocktail. That’s because Smith has discovered the most difficult part of starting a restaurant—that blasted ABC license paperwork. But with Smith’s sweat equity heavily invested, Restaurantarama bets there soon will be a frosty beverage to accompany your unpretentious plate of Southern hospitality and a sign alerting you to the delicious Flavor’s awaiting inside.
Sometimes a good meal can restore your faith in humanity. Like when you bite into a beautifully assembled piece of sushi, don’t you just get all proud that we are a species with opposable thumbs? Or when you savor a plate of pasta puttanesca, don’t you just want to bow down to the person who discovered roasting garlic in olive oil is just about the most amazing flavor this side of heaven? Well, here’s another faith-restoring culinary achievement: Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar’s 10 percent Tuesdays. Every Tuesday, Orzo donates 10 percent of the revenue generated that day to a local charity. A new charity is selected to collect the proceeds from each month. In June, Orzo collected $1,213 for The Cancer Center, and so far in July, it has collected $600 for Building Goodness. Now that’s what we call eating good!
And so it’s come to this. Five washed-up celebs are trained and sworn in as police officers to serve and protect the people of Muncie, Indiana. Not kidding. The “famous” people involved are: “The Osbournes”’ Jack Osbourne; pro wrestler Trish Stratus; Wee Man from “Jackass”; La Toya “no longer the craziest one” Jackson; and, in a case of life imitating art, “CHiPs”’ Erik Estrada totally getting his Ponch on. I have no objection to reality TV producers exploiting the desperation of fame whores, but it’s a little messed up that they’re subjecting an actual police force in an actual town to this type of buffoonery. That said, if I get to watch La Toya Jackson get tazered, I am so in.
“Nashville Star” Thursday 10pm, USA
For all you haters who argue that “American Idol” contestants lack real musical ability, consider USA’s country-fried talent competition. The fifth season begins tonight, with 10 new contestants who both sing and play songs—no glorified karaoke here. Cowboy Troy returns as co-host, joined this time by Jewel, who replaces past co-hosts LeAnn Rimes and Wynonna. That’s right, Jewel—the alt-folky Lilith Fair staple who sold her creative soul by going dance pop for five seconds and has been scrambling to salvage her wreck of a career ever since. But country? Mmm, no. Perhaps our budding country stars to be can take a few notes on how not to biff the music biz thing.
“Rome” Sunday 9pm, HBO
This show totally took me by surprise. I expected an interesting historical drama and got that plus the juiciest nighttime soap since “Melrose Place.” I should have known—nobody does lying, manipulating and backstabbing like the ancient Romans. Quite literally on that last count, as we saw at the end of Season 1 with the offing of Julius Caesar. Now in Season 2, we can look forward to more of the charming, yet petulant Mark Antony; more delicious bitchery from Atia and Servilia (seriously; Joan Collins, eat your heart out); the puppet Octavian’s rise to power; and much more of a little lady named Cleopatra.
Chuck Pinnell found his calling right out of high school, when his love of art and crafting drew him to leather as a medium. After learning the trade in a harness shop in Colonial Williamsburg during the Bicentennial, he later moved to Middleburg to take over a tack repair business, mending
In an ongoing effort to support local dining establishments during the pandemic, our writers have been enjoying a variety of takeout meals from some of their favorite restaurants. Contribute to this ongoing series by sending your own delicious experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ivy Inn
Burning love: Since 1801 the life of poet Robert Burns has been celebrated with an annual meal on or near his January 25 birthday. Deemed a Burns Supper, the dinner consists of haggis (sheep or calf offal seasoned, and boiled in a bag made from the animal’s stomach), tatties (mashed potatoes),
Count to three: There’s never been a better time for a magic show. (Please Wes Iseli, make it disappear!) Iseli, a consultant for “The Carbonaro Effect” on truTV, has been wowing audiences with his magic since age 7, and gained local fame through his 24-hour fundraising shows. In Virtual Magic
Get out together: Some of the best aspects of the season are on display during a tour of Wildrock’s Winter Wonderland Trail. Track animals and learn their survival habits, get an up-close look at snowflake patterns, and play a woodland game to match gnome mittens. Small groups can make a
We are all ready to leave 2020 behind, but as we close it out, let’s take a moment to remember dining experiences, both lost and gained, in this most unusual year. Many well-known establishments shuttered their doors on the Downtown Mall during the pandemic, including Commonwealth Restaurant
Elves ourselves: It’s a festive season in a bleak year, and now more than ever, presents should be thoughtful. But let’s face it: Online shopping has become routine and boring. With all those algorithms, who is shopping for whom? The Last Minute Gift Workshop is stocked with interesting art
Seeing is believing: Close your eyes and imagine boarding The Polar Express, where everyone is dreaming of a “White Christmas” and “Rockin’ On Top O the World,” leading us to “Believe” that all will be well “When Christmas Comes to Town.” As the train conductor, Tom Hanks provides comforting
In an ongoing effort to support local dining establishments during the pandemic, our writers have been enjoying a variety of takeout meals from some of their favorite restaurants. Contribute to this ongoing series by sending your own delicious experiences to email@example.com. Tavola There are
Santa sanitized: Santa has an occupation that makes social distancing difficult. Lucky for our little ones, he’s taking precautions and offering his services virtually. Storytime with Santa is a chance to have an online chat with jolly ol’ St. Nick, no travel required. Parents can choose to
Go with Grace Cavalier Produce has put a creative twist on feeding those in need. The food distributor announced Grace’s Good Food Box Program as a way to get fresh food into homes that need it through a partnership with Loaves & Fishes, PB&J Fund, Louisa County Resource Council, and
Many of us are eagerly anticipating the chance to turn the page on what has been a unique and challenging year. However, at least one challenge remains before we can put 2020 behind us—shopping for holiday gifts. There is perhaps no better time to shop local. Not only can you avoid possible
In an effort to support local dining establishments during the pandemic, our writers have been enjoying a variety of takeout meals from some of their favorite restaurants. Contribute to this ongoing series by sending your own delicious experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org. C&O From rounds of
Miracle on Main Street: During a time when everyone’s faith is being tested, some might wonder if the holiday spirit will prevail. In the holiday classic Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle is put on trial after playing a convincing Santa Claus. His authenticity and mental health are
Making it bright: As the seasonal celebrations begin, the wine and painting classes take a backseat to making wreaths. Pippin Hill gardeners Diane Burns and Celina DeBrito lead Wreath Making Workshops, and lend expert tips on how to craft a personal tribute to the cycle of nature by sourcing
Rachel De Jong has traveled the world and rubbed elbows with its best chefs. She earned her diplôme de pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu École de Cuisine in Paris. She learned hospitality from The Inn at Little Washington’s Patrick O’Connell. And she traded dessert ideas with Ludo Lefebvre at
It was the middle of the night in 2004 when Square One organic vodka founder Allison Evanow saw her future. Evanow’s career, marketing fine beverages had taken the Waynesboro native to Spain, Mexico, and California, working for the Jose Cuervo family before entering the wine industry in Napa.
Shaun Jenkins, owner of Soul Food Joint, grew up in a pie-loving household. The weekend before Thanksgiving, his mom would make about 40 pies, and folks would stop by to pick one up after church—free of charge. Jenkins carries on that tradition by baking a bushel of his own favorite sweet
Soul food and Thanksgiving go hand in oven mitt. Traditional American fare. Humble ingredients. Big flavors. “Southern food is indigenous food,” says Ryan Hubbard of soul food and barbecue joint Red Hub Food Co. “You start with Native American influences, and you have basically a melting pot
Food insecurity in Albemarle County is on the rise. Feeding America, a national hunger relief organization, reports that while 11.8 percent of Charlottesville’s population was food insecure in 2018, that number is expected to rise to 15.1 percent by the end of 2020. Accordingly, the Blue Ridge