By the time you read this, the furor of graduation weekend, with its unholy crush of diners fresh off a major rite of passage and ravenous for a suitably memorable meal, will be over. Regular people will consider that a good thing, as will restaurateurs on their way to the bank. As for those of us around here at Restaurantarama, the departure of the newly educated means a chance to think about more grownup pursuits.
JacLynn Dunkle has about a zillion courses of yum she’d like to serve you at Fellini’s #9. Oh, and there’s wine—which, apparently, some people are kind of into.
To come to the point: There are a lot of nice outings to be had in Charlottesville, what with the plethora of wine dinners and other oenophiliac events that pepper the calendar. Take, for example, the “Wine at the #9” dinner slated for May 30 at Fellini’s #9.
What’s the deal? The dinner is a prix-fixe affair, or whatever the equivalent Italian term might be, meant to preview a new summer menu and, apparently, to fill patrons to the point of bursting. Six courses, people! Sauteed shrimp, fennel-crusted tuna, oxtail ragu, caprese salad, grilled ribeye and a mango gelato float. Plus wine, of course. Sounds positively Roman to us, and even your lower noblemen could probably swing the $60-per-person or $110-per-couple price.
Wineries themselves also host a steady parade of events—especially at this time of year, when the grapes are beginning to swell along with everybody’s desire to stand around in the sun and drink until their sweat itself can be said to have a “nose.” Just in the remainder of May, there’s a May Day Mead Tasting at Hilltop Berry Farm & Winery in Nellysford (May 26, 11am-5pm), a wine festival to benefit the SPCA at Louisa’s Cooper Vineyards (May 26-27, 11am-5pm), a Fiesta de Primavera at Mountain Cove Vineyards in Lovingston (May 26-27, 11am-5pm), a Memorial Day event at Wintergreen Winery in Nellysford (May 26-27, 10am-6pm) and a Spring Fling at Oakencroft Winery (May 28, 11am-5pm). We get pleasantly sleepy just looking at the lineup.
Open for buzziness
Perhaps, then, it’s appropriate to segue into this news: The coffeeshop component of local roaster Shenandoah Joe, which we told you about several weeks ago, is now open on Preston Avenue. We popped in for a cuppa and a look around. It’s a roomy spot, for sure: A spacious seating area at the front opens onto an even bigger roasting area in back. We liked the eclectic furniture, and there’s room for more of it should owner Dave Fafara want to add seating. We liked the coffee (ha!) table books, the coffee bean bags decorating the counter and walls, and the orange and brown tones that cosy up what is essentially an industrial building.
Too, we liked our coffee, a medium-roast variety which we can describe, in good conscience, as serious. But what we liked most of all was the rare aroma of roasting beans that floated around the shop. Caffeine-infused air? We’ll take it.
Jazzing up Belmont
The Hinton Avenue jazz club Saxx has worked its way up to a regular schedule of performances, and next-door neighbor La Taza is supplying the menu to go with the music. La Taza owner Melissa Easter says she tried for a while to offer a special Saxx menu, but that it was too much for her small kitchen. Instead, you can simply get La Taza fare at Saxx, and Easter plans to experiment with adding Saxx-specific sauces to La Taza dishes—more New Orleans, she says, than Latin.
Meanwhile, at La Taza, June will be Guatemala month, with beers and specials from that country. And, Easter vows, “It’s hard to get their good rum, but if there’s a way to get it in here, I will.”
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