Saturday, June 30, 2007

Blue Moon Breakfast

For a simple breakfast, this is the place. Dinner and dessert at the Blue Moon Diner deserve their own posts. Coffee, two eggs, toast and hashbrowns only sets you back $6. This right-sized breakfast won't leave you feeling like you want to pass out on the couch, but if you do, they offer all the rest of the usual breakfast fare helpful in curing hangovers. The food can be enjoyed at an indoor table, outside along the sidewalk, or at the counter. Sometimes they play vinyl; they always have good music. And the cash register is always watched over by a green-lit Elvis.

And for dessert there's always the Grillswith.

512 W. Main St.
Charlottesville, VA, 22903
(434) 980-6666

Friday, June 29, 2007

Hot Air Balloon

This balloon came rather close to the hospital and floated low over southern Charlottesville. The culprit has been identified.

Horse and Hound

Maya's neigbor, Horse and Hound, opened for business about a week ago (reviewed here and here). This place is touted as a gastropub. Even the sign sports the fancy moniker. And the sign is downright fancy. It's hard to miss when driving down west main.

Gourmet pub food is the best description. According to the "going places" waiter (as in "he's really going places"), the food is fried in non trans fatty acids (organic chemistry below). What nutritional difference this really makes is not clear. The calamari and fried fish were lighter than usual. Shebeen still has the most gourmet fish and chips wrapped in waxed newspaper. The Belmont, the waiter's favorite sandwich, is a fancy pulled pork sandwich, topped with dry cole slaw. The french fries were excellent. Maybe it's the batter.

There's a large indoor dining room. The bar is separate and features a row of large stools and few high tables. The outside patio is fitted with huge umbrellas which became useful when it started to rain. Compared with the smaller patio at Maya, the tables didn't feel isolated. At the same time we weren't sitting on top of our neighbors. It felt the way outdoor dining should.

For drinks they have a number of specialty beers on tap. The Guinness is the most expensive I've had in Charlottesville ($5.50), but still a good one. With O'Neill's closed for the summer, another place with Guinness on tap is always welcome. Dinner for two: $65

625 West Main Street
Charlottesviile, VA 22903
(434) 293-3365

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Big Silver Maple

In front of one ugly apartment building: 1010 Wertland St.

Sunday, June 24, 2007



Wunderkammer's relative Shentai has been stunning for a couple weeks now. I missed last summer's event, but had some idea of what I missed when I walked into Shentai. It's a carnival out of the post-apocalyptic future, but its members are people you've seen around town. The menagerie of playfulness consistently delights. A few of the performers stand out: spider girl wearing four stilts for much of the show is downright creepy, but at the end she takes part in the firedancing; Christian Breeden serves as circus barker and also the maker of bicycle contraptions; and the professional hoop dancer keeps things interesting. The atmosphere is truly overwhelming as the gypsy asthetic is supposed to be. I've never been to a Gogol Bordello show, but I imagine it is similar to this. Does this show also take cues from Burning Man?

In a bigger city (i.e. Williamsburg, Brooklyn), an event like this would have an immediate crowd, but it would be composed of the same sorts of people putting on the show. In C-ville all ages and stripes (whatever that means), including people that look like my parents, attended this event. I think this is what makes Charlottesville so great.

I could break down the structure of the show, and tell you about each of its parts, but that doesn't do it justice. If you haven't, go to shentai.

Friday, June 22, 2007


In the winter months this place looks closed for good. Then as the warm weather arrives, people appear on the front patio facing market street. The entrance is hidden on 2nd St. NW and in the winter people are huddled inside the cozy interior where numerous Steve Keene's decorate the walls. Just inside the door we were given two menus and told to find our table. With one waitress catering to all the tables outside and the few inside, this was a necessity. Even with this incredible staff shortage, the service didn't suffer. It is the food at Monsoon that matters anyway. Monsoon tops the other local Thai places. The green curry was sensational; the pad thai is a safe bet. Dinner for two: $45

Read more about the building.

113 W Market St
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 971-1515

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Revolutionary Soup

A bowl of insurrectionist soup is always a pleasure. Now there are two locations to experience the flavor sensations. Located behind Orbitz and next to 7 Day Jr. on 14th Street, the new Revolutionary Soup opened within months of the closing of the previous chinese restaurant. The name of that prior establishment is already lost.

The place prides itself on using homegrown ingredients. These are worked into excellent sandwiches, wraps, and soups. The range of ingredients doesn't make it easy to guess what the sandwiches will taste like, but they all taste good. As a comparison, the Subway next door features sandwiches much blander than anything you could get at Rev Soup. If the food all seems too healthy and organic, it can be washed down with a Yoo-hoo.

To break it down some more: the Roast Beef & Rye Wrap is heavy on the carmelized onions but redeemed by the blue cheese horse radish; the Ham & Brie confirms that any food item with dijon is guaranteed to please. The brie does overpower the sandwich, though. It seems to function better when juxtaposed to sweet things like grapes or dry things like wine.

The soup offerings change often, but this isn't a problem. You can check their daily menu changes online.

If Rev Soup #2 is successul, a wave of DTM/ Corner dual storefronts might ensue. The world would certainly be a better place if the tarot card guy could camp out in front of a Bodo's, or if a Mudhouse or Cafe Cubano were the alternatives to Starbucks on the corner.14th St NW
(434) 979-9988


108 2nd St SW
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 296-7687

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Nook

Recently the Nook (at least within the last six months) was renovated. The 1951 exterior, the restaurant's greatest asset, remains the same. The inside was renovated and an outdoor seating area has been added.

One West Main Street restaurant sports a neon "Get in Here" sign; The Nook should replace their "since 1951" sign with one that reads "Don't eat here". If coleslaw is any indication of a diner's worth, avoid the nook unless desperate. The coleslaw was storebought and sour. The BLT was tasty, but the fries were cold and the veggie burger was hardly thawed. With so many options on the DTM, appreciate the retro exterior, but keep moving.

415 E Main St
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 295-6665

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


A new addition to the row of restaurants on the north side of West Main Street opened about a month ago. The initial crowds have thinned and now each night the indoor bar, row of booths, and outdoor dining area are filled, but not overflowing. Upon sitting, the openness of the outdoor area became evident. The tables sit too far apart and there is nothing overhead. A few well-placed planters would remedy this.

Maya's bar, square and near the front window, is a great place to enjoy one of their singularly named mixed drinks. The Whippit, vodka, tonic, and a splash of grapefruit, was a good way to start the evening. According to the friendly bartender, it's his wife's favorite drink. An extensive wine list and assortment of bottled beers are available. Gourmet southern fare with a Cajun twist seemed to charcaterize the entrees which come with two sides (additional sides available for $2). The battered catfish was served with an excellent tartar sauce. Sweet potato fries and hush puppies never disappoint. The honey crusted turnips tasted like turnips. Dinner for two: $60.

633 west main street
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 979-6292

Monday, June 11, 2007

Siamese Tree

This oddity grows on the corner of Dunova Court and Stadium Road.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

C-ville Graffiti

Where Avon Street meets E. South Street, beside the 9th Street NE bridge lives one of the most impressive displays of Charlottesville graffiti. I saw two of the artists one day, spraying, backing up to see the work as a whole, and then spraying some more. With so little graffiti around town, how did they get so good at it?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Christian's Pizza

On Sundays Charlottesville slows down. Many businesses are usually closed. The crowds that descended on the Downtown Mall Friday and Saturday night stay home. Today the rains and winds of Tropical Storm Barry and the absence of UVA students C-ville seemed especially deserted. In between the downpours it was the perfect day to walk around the downtown mall.

There are few other places better than Christian's pizza to get a small bite to eat. There are the creperie and Marco and Luca's, but neither serve pizza. Christian's offers one of the few places where you can buy a single slice. Pizza Bolli on West Main also offers single slices but it always takes a while for them to prepare it and it's not very good. Christian's has plenty of pies waiting. The cheese pizzas are never in plain sight but are always available to be thrown in the oven for a warm-up. After treatment with oregano and dried hot peppers (of the pizza restaurant red pepper shaker variety), it's an excellent snack. Today the cheese was a little goopy and the river of orange grease that dripped onto the plate a little excessive, but sitting inside watching the rain come down made it all the better.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Colonial Beach

In search of the closest beach to Charlottesville, and not lake beach either, the Atlantic is just too far. As the crow flies, a bend in the Potomac just east of Fredricksburg is nearest. Colonial Beach offers the first true beach town on this brackish body of water. Around 50 years ago, this was a bustling vacation hot spot buoyed by gambling at that time legal on piers over the waters of the Potomac. On the weekends, crowds from D.C. would board boats and disembark in this paradise near the bay. Well, in time, the laws changed, barring gambling off the shores of Virginia and within years the piers burned. That seems a little suspicious to me. Predictably, Colonial Bearch fell on hard times and today is trying to revive its image. Now golf carts are allowed in the streets and the real estate market is hot, at least warming up.

From Charlottesville, taking 20 to three through Fredricksburg seems to be the best way to travel. Colonial Beach can be reached in around two hours if the traffic cooperates.

The Dockside Restaurant sits in the marina at the end of the peninsula. According to staff, the crabs used in the crabcake sandwich are caught out of that marina. This claim is dubious owing to the depletion of the Chesepeake's crabs and the lack of any vessel in the marina resembling anything but a wintered pleasure yacht. Regardless, the sandwich was quite tasty and the coleslaw a worthy side dish. Old Dominion Brewery provides a pelican mounted tap beer that complemented the greasy fare.