Restaurant week: Oh, what a filling

Da Luca Bistro & Bar. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto Da Luca Bistro & Bar. Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

The new go-to: 12 restaurants you should know better

We all have our favorite spots. We get the quick, easy grub here; we go there for special occasions. We’re not in a rut, per se, but in a town like Charlottesville, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the multitude of dining choices. Enter Restaurant Week, where for $16, $26 or $36, you can sample three-course meals in 40 different dining rooms. It’s the best way to get a taste of what you’re missing (plus, $1 of every meal goes to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank). And, who knows? You may just find your new favorite place.

Clifton Inn

1296 Clifton Inn Dr., 971-1800

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

As if you need another reason to check out this bucolic inn, Charlottesville’s only Relais & Châteaux hotel, set on 100 acres with an award-winning wine cellar, was recently named one of the 10 Best Southern Fine Dining spots in the country by readers of USA Today. In its first year participating in Restaurant Week, the inn’s restaurant features an exquisite $26 menu (a steal!), with options such as duck liver mousse, pan-roasted monkfish and buckwheat shortcake made with peaches and blueberries. Guests can dine in the formal dining room, more casually on the veranda or outdoor porch bar or request a front row seat at the chef’s counter to watch chef Jarad Adams in action.

Da Luca Bistro & Bar

1015 Heathercroft Cir., Crozet, 205-4251

Opened by Naples, Italy, native Domenico D’Auria in 2009, Da Luca is Crozet’s go-to spot for inventive, locally sourced tapas and a great glass of wine (the well-curated list is extensive and changes often). For Restaurant Week, D’Auria offers some of the restaurant’s most popular dishes at the $26 price point, including duck mac-n-cheese, Moroccan tuna and carnitas tacos, as well as cocktails like the ginger martini: ginger liqueur, vodka, prosecco and fresh lemon.

Fig Bistro

1331 W. Main St., 995-5047

Restaurant Week is an ideal time to try this New Orleans–influenced restaurant on the Corner, recently reopened after an early summer break. Po boys, etouffee, jambalaya and gumbo are $26 menu highlights, along with half-priced bottles of wine on Wednesdays.

Fry’s Spring Station

2115 Jefferson Park Ave., 202-2257

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Opened in 2010 on the edge of Fry’s Spring, this neighborhood restaurant housed in a 1930s service station is already a favorite for locals, who know it’s an ideal spot for both date night (plenty of drink specials and romantic firepit action on the patio) and dinner with the family (kid-sized pizzas and pastas). For $16, choose from a range of dishes including fire-roasted pizzas, fresh pastas, salads and hearty sandwiches.

Himalayan Fusion

520 E. Main St., Downtown Mall, 293-3120

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

While mostly known for its popular lunch buffet ($7.99 for more food than you could possibly eat during your lunch hour), this Downtown Mall mainstay provides an elegant dinner experience both inside the candlelit restaurant or out on the patio. This week, for $16, choose from 20 traditional dishes, ranging from spicy aloo gobi to oven-roasted chicken tandoori, along with chaat, samosa or naan and dessert.

Michael’s Bistro and Taphouse

1427 University Ave., 977-3697

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Some might think of Michael’s as a Corner bar for UVA students, but it’s actually far from it—and this is the week to find out why. Michael’s goes all out for Restaurant Week, offering an entirely new menu every year. This year, chef Matt Lechmanski brings his extensive experience with Asian food into the spotlight with a focus on Korean cuisine. His $26 menu features dishes like beef bulgogi, Korean clam stew, spicy cucumber salad and mochi with housemade sorbet.

Rapture

303 E. Main St., Downtown Mall, 293-9526

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Best known as a beer and burger spot on the Downtown Mall, Rapture and its chef Chris Humphrey take Restaurant Week as an opportunity to get creative. Using local, seasonal produce, he transforms the menu into a showcase of summer, this year offering selections like watermelon gazpacho, braised bacon with pickled blackberries and a Southern-style veggie plate with okra, dilly beans, corn and potato salad as part of the $26 menu. Add beer, wine or bourbon pairings for an extra cost.

Prospect Hill Plantation Inn

2887 Poindexter Rd., Louisa, (540) 967-0844

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

A four-course dinner at this 18th century plantation on Friday or Saturday is typically well over $100, making this $36 menu one of the best deals of Restaurant Week. With a European-influenced menu spotlighting local, organic cuisine, this week’s offerings include an array of steak and seafood as well as unique desserts like vacherin (layers of meringue with berries and ice cream). Staying the night in one of the inn’s elegantly appointed rooms—all with period antiques and fireplaces—means you can roam the 40 acres of manicured grounds and gardens and say hello to the horses, sheep and chickens the next morning.

Red Pump Kitchen

401 E. Main St., Downtown Mall, 202-6040

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Opened in 2014 by Dean and Lynn Andrews, owners of Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards, this inviting Tuscan and Mediterranean restaurant emanates elegance and coziness from its spot on the corner of Fourth Street on the Downtown Mall. Highlights of the $36 Restaurant Week menu include the new Chesapeake scallops, lamb sugo with trumpet mushrooms and the popular Jefferson Julep, made with Hendrick’s gin, aloe vera, spearmint, cucumber and lemon. As expected, the wine list features unique selections from across Italy, as well as California and Virginia.

Shadwell’s

1791 Richmond Rd., 202-2568

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Named after Thomas Jefferson’s birthplace and inspired by his love of local food, this steak and seafood spot near Pantops is best known for its all-meat blue crab cakes from the Chesapeake Bay—considered by some to be the best in town. For Restaurant Week, Shadwell’s is offering bite-sized versions of the hit dish in the Northern Neck crab cake sampler, served with arugula and Chesapeake aioli. Paired with one of three hearty entrées (pork loin, red snapper or a grilled trio of lamb and local sirloin and sausage) and a dessert for $26, it’s one of the best deals of the week.

Three Penny Cafe

420 W. Main St., 995-5277

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

With an emphasis on global cuisine using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and one of the best (pet-friendly) patios on West Main, Three Penny has secured its spot among the area’s solid dining options since opening in 2014. Among the Restaurant Week offerings is paella with chicken, chorizo, shrimp and mussels as well as pan-seared scallops, seafood gumbo, the always-popular tempura asparagus and a dozen oysters for $36.

Three Notch’d Grill

5790 Three Notched Rd., Crozet, 823-4626

Opened in 2005 by Hayden and Cathy Berry to provide “something for everybody” in Crozet, this popular neighborhood eatery offers a range of cuisine, most of it sourced from local farmers and producers. For Restaurant Week (at the $36 price point), the spotlight is on dishes like pan-fried Rag Mountain trout with lump crab meat, curried ratatouille and roasted duck with griddle cakes made with Caramont Farm chevre.

Let’s do brunch

We’re taking Restaurant Week to the street! Join us for a Bluegrass Brunch at South Street Brewery on Saturday, July 18, to kick off Charlottesville’s 2015 Summer Restaurant Week. Start your morning with breakfast Blue Mountain beginning at 9am; beer and brunch specials are offered 9am-1pm at South Street Brewery, with $1 of every meal benefiting the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Stay for live bluegrass, a cornhole competition (with prizes!) and many chances to win a $50 Restaurant Week gift card. Be sure to visit the Restaurant Week table to make dinner reservations, and check out the Festy table for a Festy ticket giveaway and discounted Festy tickets. Just bring a canned food item to enter the contest!

Family style

Both you and your kids will enjoy the Restaurant Week deals at these spots.

Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar

Barracks Road Shopping Center, 244-2604

Already a family favorite for its $3 summer kids menu, during Restaurant Week, everyone nabs a great deal: $16 gets you a small salad along with a certified Angus-beef burger, chicken sandwich or veggie burger and one of the restaurant’s signature milkshakes (choose from cookies and cream, double chocolate mint, creme brulée or the popular Bars of Zin, spun with KitKat bars and hazelnut spread). And when that milkshake is inevitably slurped down by the kids? Not to worry: There’s a full bar, draft beer and an extensive wine list (including half-price bottles on Wednesdays).

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

The Bavarian Chef

5102 S. Seminole Trail, Madison, (540) 948-6505

This family-owned restaurant offers German cuisine in a lively atmosphere less than 20 miles north of town. Lederhosen-attired waitstaff, polka playing in the background and family-style sharing make this a fun outing for the entire brood. Get your fill indulging in heaping plates of German potato salad, spaetzle or potato dumplings as well as Restaurant Week offerings like summer schnitzel with grilled pineapple, tomato and Gouda. Also this week, mom and dad can add a flight of beer or wine for $9.95.

The Melting Pot

501 E. Water St., 244-3463

For $26, budding chefs will love the opportunity to load up skewers with artisan bread and fresh veggies and “cook” them in pots of cheese fondue (either tomato basil cheddar sauce or the classic Gruyère, Raclette and fontina). While parents should take the lead with any meat entrées (watch that vat of boiling oil!), the kids are back in action for the dessert course. For Restaurant Week, choose from two sauces: dark chocolate and dulce de leche or Bananas Foster (bananas and cinnamon simmered in white chocolate), and watch the accompanying plate of strawberries, bananas, brownies, blondies, pound cake and marshmallow treats disappear.

Photo: Rammelkamp Foto
Photo: Rammelkamp Foto

Sal’s Caffe Italia

221 E. Main St., Downtown Mall, 295-8484

This downtown restaurant is king of the sure-fire kid-pleasers (spaghetti, ravioli, cheese pizza) and adults will love the star of Sal’s extensive Restaurant Week menu, the Pappardelle a la Romba: For an extra $5, get fresh lobster, crab, and scallops in a vodka sauce served over handmade pappardelle. Add wine pairings, an order of homemade meatballs and spumoni for dessert, and the whole family goes home happy.

Still hungry?

Here’s what you can expect from the rest of the eateries participating in Restaurant Week.

$16

Cafe Caturra The flagship’s in Richmond, but find breakfast, brunch and boutique wines now on the Corner. Dinner, too!

Nude Food Billing itself as “farm-to-table fast food,” this new restaurant offers local, seasonal fare in a casual setting.

$26

Aberdeen Barn This family-owned steakhouse, opened in 1965, is a Charlottesville classic.

Bang! Best known for its inventive martinis (more than 30 on the menu!), the downtown restaurant offers fusion cuisine in a turn-of-the-century house.

Blue Light Grill & Raw Bar Under new ownership and now also serving lunch, here you’ll find fresh seafood, seasonal cuisine and craft cocktails.

Fig New Orleans-inspired spot on West Main Street: bourbon-glazed pork chops, Cajun jumbalaya and bread pudding are RW menu highlights.

Horse & Hound English pub fare with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients; special beer pairings available for Restaurant Week.

Orzo Mediterranean restaurant on West Main with pastas, local meats, seafood and more.

The Pointe Casual dining in the seven-story atrium of the Omni Hotel, overlooking the Downtown Mall.

Public Fish & Oyster Fresh oysters, East Coast seafood (including four varieties of moules frites) and creative cocktails in a cozy spot on West Main.

The Shebeen Pub & Braai Peri peri chicken and other South African-inspired dishes.

South Street Brewery Reopened in 2014 by the owners of Blue Mountain Brewery, find craft beer and a range of cuisine—burgers to mac-n-cheese—in a lively atmosphere.

$36

Bizou Seasonal produce, local meat and a tiny, open kitchen. Look for specials from the restaurant’s Metropolitain days during Restaurant Week.

Brookville Restaurant Farm-focused restaurant on the Downtown Mall with all ingredients sourced within 100 miles, including the chef/owner’s backyard.

Burton’s Grill Located in The Shops at Stonefield, this American restaurant is known for its allergy-sensitive menus.

C&O With rustic European cuisine and a stellar wine list, the Charlottesville classic has garnered national praise.

Downtown Grille Upscale steak and seafood on the Downtown Mall.

Fleurie Modern French fare with an excellent prix fixe pre-theater menu in an elegant setting on the Downtown Mall.

Hamiltons’ at First & Main American cuisine downtown with an emphasis on local farms.

Fossett’s at Keswick Innovative Southern-inspired cuisine in a white tablecloth setting overlooking luxury hotel Keswick Hall’s brand new Pete Dye golf course.

Maya Queen of Charlottesville’s signature Southern-French cuisine.

Oakhart Social New West Main hotspot offering tapas, pizzas, creative cocktails and more.

RockSalt Rappahannock River Oysters and fresh Atlantic seafood in The Shops at Stonefield.

Tempo Lively restaurant and bar serving French-inspired fare on the Downtown Mall.

Ten Fresh sushi, inventive Japanese cuisine, sake, cocktails and more in a modern space above Blue Light Grill.

Three Notch’d Grill There’s something for everybody at this Crozet staple—most of the menu is sourced from local farmers and producers!