Simon Davidson

Simon Davidson, founder of The Charlottesville 29, has had a passion for food for as long as he can remember. Even as a young child, at restaurants with his parents he would ask the server to allow him one more appetizer while everyone else was ordering dessert. He has eaten all over the country and all over the Charlottesville area, which he has called home for nearly all of his adult life. In his real life, he practices law at the international law firm McGuireWoods, which was founded in Charlottesville, and also writes a political law column for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. Most important of all, he says, he is the father of two and husband of one.

Nick Leichtentritt was a much loved member of Charlottesville’s food scene. Photo: Martyn Kyle

Milli Coffee Roasters founder dies at 34

Nick Leichtentritt, founder of Milli Coffee Roasters and Sicily Rose, died February 17 at the age of 34. Pursuing a passion for food and drink, Leichtentritt left a corporate job in 2012 to open the coffee shop, followed by his cannoli shop, Sicily Rose, in 2018. Both developed loyal followings, and Leichtentritt became a beloved […]

Research by J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, a Randolph College professor and beer historian, inspired a new brew based on one made more than 200 years ago. Photo: Good Beer Hunting

Thomas Jefferson—beer nerd? New Champion release honors TJ’s personal brewer

Thomas Jefferson was not an IPA guy. We know this thanks to the scholarly efforts of J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, a Randolph College professor, whose research provides a fascinating account of the work of Jefferson’s enslaved brewer, Peter Hemings, a son of Elizabeth Hemings. Jackson-Beckham’s recently published article, “Missing Ingredients—The (Incomplete) Story of Thomas Jefferson’s Unsung […]

Petite MarieBette debuts downtown with a new co-owner, Will Darsie, and lovely baked goods. 
Photo: Corbett Smithson

MarieBetter: Bakery adds downtown location

MarieBette Café & Bakery spin-off Petite MarieBette is now open at 105 E. Water St., offering coffee and baked goods (of course!), as well as breakfast sandwiches and grab-and-go lunch. Longtime MarieBette employee Will Darsie co-owns the new spot, and will manage it. The son of a chef (mom) and a farmer (dad), Darsie moved […]

Governor Ralph Northam says the New York Strip he recently enjoyed at Prime 109 was the “best piece of meat I’ve ever had.” Photo by Amy Jackson Smith

High steaks: Dining with Governor Ralph Northam at Prime 109

Where was the best steak of Governor Ralph Northam’s life? Right here in Charlottesville. Northam was in town to speak at the inauguration of James Ryan as president of the University of Virginia, and joined me afterwards for dinner. Given the occasion and guest, I chose Prime 109, which opened last month in the former […]

Alicia Walsh-Noel, Manager of Brasserie Saison. Photo courtesy subject

Five Finds on Friday with Alicia Walsh-Noel

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Alicia Walsh-Noel, manager of Brasserie Saison, which celebrates Sunday each week with  an “Eggs Benefit” brunch from 11am-3pm with live jazz and specials from the bar. A portion of proceeds goes to a different charity each month, and this month it is The Charlottesville Free Clinic. Walsh-Noel’s picks: 1) Kao Soi at Monsoon Siam. “This […]

Leni Sorensen, retired African-American research historian for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, says Virginia cuisine is a melting pot of influences. Commonwealth Restaurant's ham hock meatballs "scream Virginia," says chef Reggie Calhoun. Photo by Eze Amos

At the Table: Revamped restaurant shows off Virginia’s riches

Is there such a thing as “Virginia cuisine”? It’s an old question, and one I found myself revisiting after learning that Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar has a new motto: “modern Virginia cuisine.” What is Virginia cuisine—modern or otherwise? And, is Commonwealth’s any good? To help answer these questions, I called Dr. Leni Sorensen, who may […]

Smoked trout dip will be a new menu item when Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar relaunches with a new menu from Harrison Keevil and Will Richey Monday, September 4. Photo by Sara Miller

Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar revamps menu, under new management

Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar is getting a makeover. And, it’s bringing in some industry experts: restaurateur Will Richey and chef Harrison Keevil. Co-founder of Ten Course Hospitality, Richey has to his name The Alley Light, The Bebedero, Brasserie Saison, The Pie Chest, Revolutionary Soup and The Whiskey Jar. Keevil meanwhile co-owned Brookville restaurant with his wife before closing last year and opening Keevil […]

Matt Greene, chef, butcher and co-owner of JM Stock Provisions, says Riverside Lunch is “everything I want in a restaurant.” Photo courtesy of Tom McGovern

Why chefs indulge at Riverside Lunch

Why do so many chefs love Riverside Lunch? Don’t get me wrong—I love it too. Few things hit the spot like a Riverside burger. But this is the era of local food, where chefs preach the gospel of local sourcing and other responsible food practices. Yet they regularly allow themselves to “cheat” at Riverside. Take […]

Both judges agreed that Smoked Kitchen & Tap’s low and slow approach to smoking meat—with owner Justin van der Linde arriving to work at 2 or 3 every morning—yields some of the tastiest barbecue in our area. Photo by Rammelkamp Foto

Smoked Kitchen & Tap wins raves from barbecue judges

Food judging is a puzzle. Into the round hole of subjectivity, it tries to place the square peg of objectivity. After all, isn’t taste a matter of, well, taste? Take barbecue, a food especially prone to the whims of personal preference. Sure, there is science and skill to it. Application of specific methods, under specific […]

Tyler Teass, chef at the new Brasserie Saison, honed his modern-cuisine chops at Rose’s Luxury, in Washington, D.C., and says Oakhart Social chef/owner Tristan Wraight, right, hits the mark in new American cuisine. Wraight’s vegetarian wife serves as his muse for dishes such as the twice-charred local carrots with pea shoots, sweet and spicy pecans and housemade buttermilk ranch dressing. Photos by Tom McGovern

Oakhart Social’s chef knows no boundaries

I am old enough to remember when cooking was not cool. Before entire networks were devoted to it, cooking was relegated to the nerdy back room of public television. The prototypical chef was the bumbling Muppet Swedish Chef, while rock stars like Animal were the cool Muppets. Today, chefs are the rock stars. And, cooking has […]

Chef Angelo Vangelopoulos (left) pulled out all the stops at The Ivy Inn for Jeremiah Langhorne, whose Washington, D.C., restaurant, The Dabney, earned a Michelin star last year. Photos by Tom McGovern

The Ivy Inn’s Angelo Vangelopoulos is star worthy

What does it take to earn a Michelin star? Outside of Charlottesville, restaurants have wondered this for years. Both prestige and revenues can come from recognition by the French guide book, which is famously stingy with praise. When it released its first guide to Washington, D.C., last year, Jeremiah Langhorne’s The Dabney was one of just […]

Sultan Kebab, off the Downtown Mall, serves authentic Turkish cuisine. Photo by Tom McGovern

Sultan Kebab offers a feast for all of the senses

When I asked Lampo’s Ian Redshaw to name the best restaurant in Charlottesville, his answer surprised me. Don’t get me wrong, I love Sultan Kebab. Even when it was hidden in a nondescript location off U.S. 29 North, I named it to The Charlottesville 29, my list of Charlottesville’s essential restaurants. Now that it has […]

Chef Tucker Yoder focuses on fresh, seasonal ingredients in everything from a vegetarian spin on a Bolognese to a braised pork belly spiked with black garlic. Photo by Amy Jackson

Former Clifton Inn chef at home in meat market

What happens when a meat market hires an acclaimed fine-dining chef? Timbercreek Market is about to find out. When Timbercreek Farm owners Sara and Zach Miller opened the market in July 2015, their aim was to bring directly to consumers the same produce from their farm that had long been served at top restaurants around […]

Jerome Thalwitz, chef/owner at The Bavarian Chef, and Jason Oliver, brewmaster at Devils Backbone Brewing Company, were the perfect companions for an Oktoberfest meal at Kardinal Hall. Rammelkamp Foto

Kardinal Hall brings the biergarten to a new level

Oktoberfest may be the ultimate celebration of food and beer. Here in Charlottesville, though, the festival’s signature Bavarian fare can be hard to find. Enter Kardinal Hall. Opened last year by the team behind Beer Run, the beer hall and garden filled a gap in Charlottesville dining with food and drink it calls “Alpine.” Truth […]

A kids’ menu is unnecessary at Fry’s Spring Station, where adults and their offspring alike can share a variety of dishes including calzones, which are warm, comforting and uncomplicated. Photo by Amy Jackson

Kids can eat with the grown-ups at Fry’s Spring Station

I don’t like kids’ menus. Beyond their uniform content, what troubles me most is the message they send to kids that there are two different types of food—one for adults to enjoy and another to keep you quiet in the meantime. As a food-lover and parent, I can’t see how this helps to cultivate a passion […]

Restaurateurs Kate and Bill Hamilton enjoy the food of former employee and chef Jeanette Peabody at her Oakhurst Inn Café. Photo: Eze Amos

Jeanette Peabody finds balance in and out of the kitchen

Chef life is grueling. It’s not just the physical toll of long nights in the kitchen. It’s the psychological toll, too, of missing friends’ weddings, graduations and regular evenings at home with family. As chefs grow older and tire of the grind, many look to use their skills in ways that do not prohibit life […]

Maria Gracia (formerly of El Tepeyac) approves of the authentic Mexican cuisine at The Bebedero. Photo: Tom McGovern

The Bebedero evokes the true flavors of Mexico

Comedian Jim Gaffigan claims that Mexican restaurants seem to take the same combination of ingredients and repackage them under different names. Tortillas, cheese, meat and vegetables, he says, combine to form nachos, tacos, burritos, chimichangas and more. At many so-called Mexican restaurants, this is sadly true, giving Mexican food an undeserved reputation as slop to […]

The brunch scene at Tavern & Grocery lends itself to lingering over plates of carefully crafted food, such as the poached eggs, served with grilled asparagus, beurre blanc and roasted potatoes.Photo: Ézé Amos

Could Tavern & Grocery bring back the party brunch?

I have heard it said more than once: Charlottesville is not a brunch town. What? With Blue Moon Diner, Bodo’s, Brookville, Beer Run, Bizou, Bluegrass Grill & Bakery and Brazos Tacos, I don’t even need to leave the B’s to name great brunch spots in town. On the other hand, I do understand the perspective. There […]

Côte-Rôtie food truck’s menu, influenced by several cultures and classical French technique, changes weekly, and includes rotisserie and yakitori dishes, such as istara spedini atop Schuyler Farms arugula with a lemon-rosemary vinaigrette. You can find them on most Sundays and many Tuesdays at Champion Brewing Company, which offers its own revolving menu of new craft beers and picnic tables for dining al fresco. Photo: Tom McGovern

Côte-Rôtie champions trying new things

The first time I visited the Côte-Rôtie food truck, I knew it would be at Champion Brewing Company before long. Since opening in 2012, the downtown brewery has become the capital of Charlottesville food trucks, and hosts one almost every night. This is the brainchild of Champion owner Hunter Smith, who had seen the success […]

Clifton Inn’s current chef, Yannick Fayolle, presented an array of innovative dishes to Craig Hartman, who opened Clifton Inn’s restaurant with his wife, Donna, in 1992. Photo: Amy Jackson

Passing the torch: Clifton Inn’s first chef rates its newest

Chef-owned establishments aside, the executive chef position at Clifton Inn may be the peak of Charlottesville’s culinary ladder. In the restaurant’s 24-year history, seven chefs have worn the honor, and several went on to own top eateries such as C&O and Maya. The latest is Yannick Fayolle, a bold young chef who in October took […]

First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe supports the second annual Virginia Oyster Month at Public Fish & Oyster. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Seafood gem: Public Fish & Oyster charms Virginia’s first lady

I lucked out and married into an oyster family. My wife’s grandfather was a Virginia oysterman, her brother founded a Virginia oyster company and for decades, her family has rung in each November with a spectacular oyster roast. To me, November means oysters. Now that association is official. Under an order by Governor McAuliffe last year, […]

Hiring a local food truck as a catering alternative makes for a unique, interactive dinner party. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Party on: South Fork food truck reinvents dining at home

I grew up in the dinner party era. Among my favorite childhood memories is falling asleep to the mysterious sounds of my parents’ parties—roars of laughter, clanging glasses and high heels across wooden floors. My parents loved them, too. When preparing for their guests’ arrival, they always floated around the house with a gleam of anticipation. […]