By C. Simon Davidson, Alexa Nash and Erin O’Hare
Bellair Market’s Jefferson sandwich—maple turkey, cranberry relish, cheddar cheese, lettuce and herb mayonnaise layered between two slices of pillowy French bread—is a lunch staple for many in town. But for Charlottesville native Mason Hereford, a quirky and imaginative chef with nostalgia for all things ’90s, it’s the sandwich that started it all (he ate two a week for a decade while he lived here). Hereford’s New Orleans sandwich shop, Turkey & The Wolf, known for its outrageously good bologna sandwiches, collard green melt, tomato sandwiches and a serious allegiance to Duke’s Mayo, was recently named the best new restaurant of 2017 by Bon Appétit magazine and landed on Food & Wine magazine’s top 10 best new restaurants of 2017 list.
Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar is getting a makeover, and it’s brought in a couple of industry experts to help: restaurateur Will Richey, co-founder of Ten Course Hospitality and the brains behind The Alley Light, The Bebedero, Brasserie Saison, The Pie Chest, Revolutionary Soup and The Whiskey Jar; and chef Harrison Keevil, formerly of Brookville restaurant and currently of Keevil & Keevil Grocery and Kitchen in Belmont. Richey and Keevil have assisted the Commonwealth kitchen crew in revamping the menu, while Ten Course Hospitality will assume management of the restaurant. Commonwealth’s kitchen team, led by chef Reggie Calhoun, will remain.
The result is what Richey calls “modern Virginia cuisine,” food grounded in Virginia’s culinary traditions but also drawing on cultures that have shaped what Virginia is today. A devout pork-lover, Keevil is particularly excited about the pork rinds with pork dip and the smoked trout dip. The new Commonwealth menu launched Monday, September 4.
Tilman’s, a cheese shop and wine bar, will open later this fall at 406 E. Main St. on the Downtown Mall, in the space most recently occupied by My Chocolate Shoppe. More details to come, but Tilman’s will serve cheese and charcuterie, salads, sandwiches and snacks, plus wine and beer. It’s not all eat-in, though—if you can’t pause to sit in the sunny space that extends all the way out to Water Street, you can buy food and drink for later.
Douglas Kim, the chef who helped craft the menu at Ten when the restaurant first launched, is opening his own restaurant, Jeju Noodle Bar, in New York City this fall, and it’s been named to Eater New York’s Most Anticipated Restaurants of Fall 2017 list. According to Eater, Kim, who previously cooked at Per Se and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, will serve casual Korean ramyun at Jeju.
Last week, Jake Busching Wines launched Orphan No. 1, an experimental bronze wine made from surplus pinot gris grapes that were treated as red wine grapes (the juice is fermented in contact with the skins). The wine is a collaboration between many wine experts in town, including Busching, Joy Ting (winemaker and head enologist at Michael Shaps Wineworks), Paul Ting (Joy’s husband, and a member of the Wine Guild of Charlottesville), Priscilla Martin (general manager and wine director at Tavola) and Will Curley (wine buyer for Ten Course Hospitality and manager at Brasserie Saison). The wine is available for purchase in select locations in town, including jakebuschingwines.com and through the Wine Guild.
Four local vineyards—Early Mountain, Stinson, Veritas and Ankida Ridge—have teamed up to create the Commonwealth Collective, a collection of winemakers with their respective vintages using grapes unique to Virginia soil.
Chopt Salad opened two weeks ago in the Barracks Road Shopping Center. The company offers keep-you-full-until-dinner salads with handmade ingredients from local artisans such as MarieBette Café & Bakery.
Ethically raised meats from Virginia are the specialty of JM Stock Provisions, which has a flagship location in Charlottesville and a store in Richmond. But according to JM Stock partner James Lum III, the company will shutter the Richmond location so it can focus on expanding its wholesale business to Charlottesville and Richmond restaurants.