Hometown hero: Local chef wins big, restaurant openings at Stonefield, and more

Duner’s executive chef Laura Fonner recently won $20,000 on the Food Network’s“Guy’s Grocery Games.” Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith Duner’s executive chef Laura Fonner recently won $20,000 on the Food Network’s“Guy’s Grocery Games.” Photo: Amy and Jackson Smith

The next time you find yourself at Duner’s, raise a glass to executive chef Laura Fonner, who took home a big prize on a recent charitable rendition of the Food Network show “Guy’s Grocery Games.” Fonner will use her $20,000 winnings to help pay for her ownership of the Ivy restaurant and to support PACEM, a local organization that provides shelter—and meals, sometimes cooked by Fonner herself—for homeless people in the winter months.

New kids on the block

One new restaurant has opened—and another is on the cusp—for your dining and imbibing pleasure at The Shops at Stonefield. The taps are flowing at Champion Grill, a sports bar from Champion Brewing Company, in the former Rocksalt space, and the first franchised location of Matchbox, a D.C. venture known for its wood-fired pizza, has announced a December 17 debut.

Last call

Speaking of neighborhood bars, Tin Whistle Irish Pub will be vacating the space at 609 E. Market St. by January. 1, 2020, over lease woes. You’ve still got a minute to stop by and enjoy pub fare, a brew, and maybe some live music—and offer a fond farewell to a Charlottesville stalwart.       .

Under the stars

Bundle up and bring a blanket, because Keswick’s Castle Hill Cider is playing host to a free evening of stargazing to celebrate the winter solstice. Local astronomers will guide attendees through a presentation, and professional telescopes will be available for prime solar-system viewing. 6-9pm, December 20. 6065 Turkey Sag Rd., Keswick. 296-0047, castlehillcider.com

Lone Star State, meet Waterbird?

Waterbird Spirits is dropping hints on its social media channels that distribution in Texas might soon be a reality for the new-to-the-market canned cocktails produced by Wilson Craig and his team at the Water Street facility. Local makers doing big things—we can get behind that.

Jingle juice

Feeling festive? Head to Bold Rock Hard Cider for the release of its latest cider cocktail (no hard liquor here!), made with a blend of Bold Rock White Cranberry cider, lime, and mint. Bonus: A holiday-themed glass can be yours with the purchase of any beverage while supplies last. 11am-9pm, 1020 Rockfish Valley Hwy., Nellysford. 361-1030, boldrock.com

Bottomless tapas

Local restaurants offer many ways to ring in 2020, but we’ve got our eye on Belmont’s Mas Tapas, where New Year’s Eve brings an endless bounty of carne asada, papas bravas, and other small plates. $75 per person, plus tax, tip, and bar tab. Seatings at 5:30 and 8pm. Reservations required: call 979-0990 or email info@mastapas.com. 904 Monticello Rd. mastapas.com

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