Ramen and donut shop makes debut on Downtown Mall and more local restaurant news

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Miso Sweet co-owners Frank and Heather Paris hope to entice Charlottesville foodies with their donuts and ramen. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto Miso Sweet co-owners Frank and Heather Paris hope to entice Charlottesville foodies with their donuts and ramen. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Ramen and donut shop makes debut on Downtown Mall

You may have noticed a sign for a new restaurant on the mall, and no, you didn’t read it incorrectly—it does say ramen and donuts.

“Because, why not?” says Miso Sweet co-owner and chef Frank Paris.

Frank and his wife Heather, who met while they were both working at a hotel in West Virginia, say they’ve always wanted to open their own restaurant.

“He can cook just about any genre of food, and I was always coming up with new ideas and concepts,” says Heather.

Inspired by a restaurant in Washington, D.C. that serves ramen—a traditional Japanese soup featuring flavorful broth, long noodles and fresh herbs—and soft-serve ice cream with “weird” toppings, Frank says he loved the idea of having a hot, comforting bowl of soup and following it up with something sweet.

“I pictured myself eating ramen and then having donuts afterward, and I had a pretty big smile on my face,” says Frank. “It’s going to convey a feeling and emotion that people can relate to and still find strange at the same time. It’s comforting.”

The couple moved to Charlottesville last fall, and everything fell into place. They had the concept, and when Eppie’s closed earlier this summer, Frank and Heather fell in love with the exposed brick wall and general quirkiness of the space.

Miso Sweet officially opened for business last Wednesday. They’re serving up donuts, Red Rooster coffee and cups of hot broth starting at 8:30am, and lunch starts at 11am. The yeast donuts all have the same base, with a selection of toppings that include a miso glaze with sprinkles and a miso buttercream frosting, neither of which are overly sweet. There’s also a glaze made from coconut milk, and another made from freshly squeezed blueberry juice. If sweet is what you’re after, go for the ooey-gooey miso honey glaze with benne seeds.

As for the ramen, the menu includes pork, chicken and vegetable broths, with optional “enhancers” like puffed chicken skin, crispy pig ear, fried corn and house-made pickles.

Keep an eye on the Miso Sweet Facebook page for menu and hours updates. Once they have a liquor license, Frank and Heather plan to add beer, wine and whiskey to the drink menu. Donuts and bourbon? Yes, please.

Baby, I’m back

It’s been a couple months since Greta Fleming put her burrito business on hold due to a short-lived partnership and promised her customers that she’d be back. She made good on that promise, and Burrito Baby is up and running once again, this time in its own space.

Located in a homey little cottage at 111 S. Faulconer St. in Gordonsville, about 20 miles northeast of Charlottesville, Burrito Baby features a simple menu of burritos, tacos, nachos and bowls. For now meats include chicken, pork and steak, but Fleming says she’s gotten so many requests for ground beef that she plans to add it to the menu soon.

Fleming, who stands behind the counter and cheerfully greets guests as they arrive, makes everything from scratch, including the pico de gallo, queso blanco and chipotle rice.

For now pico de gallo is the only salsa available, but Fleming has been playing around with different peppers and salsa recipes. She says she intentionally makes things approachable for customers who don’t want smoke pouring out of their ears (her chipotle rice has a subtle, smoky spice, and she switched from fresh to pickled jalapenos), but for those of you who dig the spice, don’t worry—she’s working on it.