Overheard on the restaurant scene: This week’s foodie news

Overheard on the restaurant scene: This week’s foodie news

The Downtown Grille is officially back open for business after being closed for an extensive six-week renovation. Located on the west end of the Downtown Mall, the restaurant has been serving up steakhouse-style fare for 15 years, and managing partner Robert Sawrey said it was time for a change. The entire interior, from the host stand and light fixtures to the booths and carpeting, has been modernized and, as Sawrey said, “lightened up.” The restaurant used to feel very dark, he said, and he wanted to replace the dim lights and dark-colored paneling and furniture with a more contemporary look. As for the food, keep an eye out for new items like the jalapeño-stuffed deep-fried olives appetizer, 18-oz bone-in ribeye, and coconut brownie sundae. But Sawrey’s favorite addition to the menu is the classic Maine lobster roll, a buttered bun piled high with succulent lobster meat with fresh-squeezed lemon juice, served with house-cut French fries. Hours are Monday-Thursday 5-10pm, Friday-Saturday 5-11pm, and Sunday 5-9pm. For reservations call 434-817-7080.

It’s home to hipster shows and events like Big Blue Door and Art Drinks, and the proprietors can always be found manning the bar and running food on busy nights. It started out as the Black Market Moto Saloon in 2012, and underwent a lengthy battle with Woollen Mills residents and the city over amplified music and zoning laws. Now, a few months after co-owners Matteus Frankovich—founder of the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar—and Anna Kariel changed the restaurant-bar-venue’s name to Woolly Mammoth, they’re quietly searching for a buyer to take over the business. They love the space, Kariel said, but she and Frankovich are itching to move on and implement other ideas they’ve had floating around in their heads. They’re hoping to hand the keys over by springtime.

Mark your calendars for a once-in-a-lifetime Charlottesville culinary experience. On April 13, Thomas Jefferson’s birthday, The Charlottesville29 food blog and McGuireWoods LLP will present a dinner prepared by the five chefs named the Mt. Rushmore of Charlottesville of Chefs in the 2013 Food Issue.  Ivy Inn’s Angelo Vangelopoulos, Melissa Close-Hart of Palladio in Barboursville, Craig Hartman from The Barbeque Exchange, and the duo of Tim Burgess and Vincent Derquenne with The Space, Bizou, and Bang! are coming together to prepare an unforgettable meal, but it’s for a good cause; all proceeds will benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Tickets are $250 each, and will go on sale on Friday, March 7 at 10am.  Check The Charlottesville 29 on Facebook for updates on how to purchase tickets.  And, be ready on March 7.

Speaking of the Mt. Rushmore of Charlottesville Chefs, one of them recently made a splash on the national food scene: Angelo Vangelopoulos was named a James Beard Award semifinalist. The longtime chef-owner of the Ivy Inn is among twenty semifinalists for 2014 Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic, the James Beard Foundation announced last week. The James Beard Awards are essentially the Academy Awards of the food world, and Vangelopoulos joins elite chefs from cities like Washington D.C. and Philadelphia on this year’s list of semifinalists. The list of 20 will be whittled down to five nominees on Tuesday, March 18, and the top winner will be announced in May.

We’re always tossing around ideas about what dishes to order to complement your wine and beer, but what about a glass of Scotch or bourbon? JM Stock Provisions & Supply owner Matt Greene and Maya chef Christian Kelly are teaming up to bring you a dinner of perfect pairings: meat and whiskey. On Sunday, March 2, Greene and Kelly are offering a five-course meal including butterhead salad with bone marrow croutons, and smoked bluefish with pickled mustard seeds, all served with some fine whiskey. For more details and to make reservations, call 434-244-2480.

We’re always keeping our eyes and ears out for the latest news on Charlottesville’s food and drink scene, so pick up a paper and check c-ville.com/living each week for the latest Small Bites. Have a scoop for Small Bites? E-mail us at bites@c-ville.com.

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