Tuesday, July 31, 2007

City of Charlottesville

I've added the city's website to my hometown links because there is some really useful information on there. For example, even the history of my present neighborhood is included. The search function was helpful in unearthing this important history. The manner in which the Wertenbaker house is often honored (by the detritus of parties and college life flowing down its front steps) is not mentioned in the city's historical notes.

UVA construction

Any current survey of the UVA hospital and the neighborhoods around it reveals a surfeit of construction sites. Just off W. Main Street a parking garage has sprouted within the last month. Made of prefabricated concrete slabs, it is still in the process of expanding. A stroll down 11th Street SW makes it clear how much farther this parking garage has to grow.

At the corner of Crispell and Monroe a luxury apartment is nearing completion.

The South Lawn project has created a muddy slope and pedestrian walkways through yards.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rev Soup Revisited

A recent visit to Corner Rev Soup (as opposed to Downtown Rev Soup) prompted an update to an older post. The lunch crowd today, with a large representation of undergraduates, has grown from that of just a month before. If today was any indication, once school arrives, this place will be packed.

There are a couple gazpachos currently available. Opting for the Jamaican gazpacho will not lead to regret. An assorted mixture of summer vegetables, bits of mango (i think), all chilled to perfection taste especially right on a hot summer day.

There is a daily on-line menu - awesome!

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Located in the Main Street Market building, Orzo has been cooking up Mediterranean food since February. This place hides in plain sight. A narrow restaurant, once entered, it opens up considerably. The bar, kitchen, and racks of wine make up the west wall. Tables line the east side. An overhead loft holds tables in the back. An outdoor patio is planned to open in a couple weeks.

The 150 wines are organized under helpful headings. They have an ample amount available by the glass. Wine can be purchased here at any time and the staff is very helpful. At least tonight, their special soup was a gazpacho, chilled, delicious. With the "soft and layered" tempranillo, it went very well. Homemade sausage with penne was hard to pass up. The generous portion contributed to lunch the next day. Perfect describes the salmon, served on a bed of lentil-mint-cucumber salad. Having left room for dessert, the semi-sweet chocolate pot de creme provided the perfect end to a filling meal. On this week night, the rest of the clientele were older, mostly gray haired, and there was no one sitting at the bar. Unlike the newly minted Maya, and Blue Light and Zocalo that came before it, this hasn't become a natural singles hang-out. With time and some more exposure, it could easily enter this niche. Then again, maybe Orzo is looking for people who consistently eat large meals and tip well. Dinner for two: $85

One interesting offering is Siesta and Wifi from 2-4 Tuesday to Saturday, in which a simplified menu is available, all the wines, and, of course, free Wifi. It beats sitting on the curb trying to catch a signal.

416 W Main St
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 975-6796

Brokeback 10th Street

UVA bus getting towed at intersection of 10th and W. Main with hospital in background.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Nestled in the shopping strip behind Staples downtown, Shebeen has been serving up South African fare for years. Founded by a South African with a menu developed by a South African chef, one would expect the food to be authentic. Since I have never been to South Africa, they have to be trusted. Seating is available inside or outside on the wooden, tent-covered verandah. It's a good place to enjoy a pre-dinner Guinness.

Their fish and chips is excellent and I'm not the only one who thinks so. (Check out Commentor #1's A+.) Recently feeling more adventerous, I tried the Potjie, which comes in its own three-pronged pot. This is a flavor sensation. The menu only hints at the experience, mentioning "aromatic herbs"; one of them seems to be nutmeg. The grilled salmon with mango salsa, side vegetables, and french fries was a safer bet. It was good, but with more novel flavorful dishes, it will either please the picky eater or disappoint the adventurer. Sosatie and Peri-peri shrimp skewers were heartily enjoyed.

Check out their well-designed website.

247 Ridge Mcintire Rd
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 296-3185

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Grillswith

Already extensively covered here, there is not much left to say about the history of the grillswith. There is the fact that it is as much a feast for the eyes as for the stomach, which will ache if you ingest the whole thing by yourself.

From whence springs the desire for feats of gluttony? Not sure but ordering a grillswith fits the bill. This lovely was served at the Blue Moon Diner.

C & O

At the east end of water street across from the tracks lies C & O. Its website proudly proclaims that it is the "least prepossessing fine dining restaurant in America", at least that is what a writer at the Washington Post thinks. If prepossessing is taken to mean "that impresses favorably; engaging or attractive", I strongly disagree. If it means not pretentious, which it doesn't, I would agree.

The path to the bar takes you past the gas torches into the wooden upstairs, and down the narrow (revolutionary era?) steps. Underneath the stairs hides the W.C., the coziest washroom in C-ville, and at the foot of the steps lies the stewing kitchen. The thick wooden bar dominates the room while small tables fill the rest. When it is at capacity, it feels like a rowdy saloon, except that everyone is well behaved enough to hold down the jobs necessary to pay the prices on the menu.

As it stands now, this is my favorite restaurant in C-ville, but I have yet to experience Fleurie and Oxo, so perhaps I should withhold judgement. Unpretentious does not apply to the the other two places. At C&O the updated appetizers include ceviche, beef pate, and a crabcake with tarragon and lobster sauce. These were amazing. For an entree, the steak chinoise is the most conservative choice. Being a more adventerous eater pays off in the duck breast, rainbow trout, and vegetarian pave, all excellent. Creme brulee is harder to come by in Charlottesville than in Paris. C&O delivers, while somehow Zinc does not.

C&O is known for their wine list. There is a price for every wallet. I have nothing critical to say about this restaurant. Dinner for two: $90.

515 E Water St
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 971-7044

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Too Late

The Tell-tale heart and the Mind of Poe is having a short run at Live Arts downtown stage. According to the C-ville, the initial performance was not well attended, but tonight it was sold out. Arriving at 8:03 for the 8:00 showtime was too late for admittance. We were told entering would require us to walk on the stage. The sell-out crowd was due to a large group of younger Outward Bounders. Next time we won't linger as long over our beers at Bizou.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar

The smell emanating down the stairs and onto the downtown mall is a mixture of incense, tea, and fragrant tobacco. It only grows stronger to the top of the stairs. Just inside the door rises a plaster tree. The rest of the decor borrows from East Asian traditions. Paper cranes hang in the bathroom.

Food offerings are rife with hummus. The PMT (pesto, mozzerella, tomato) sandwich goes well with any of the beers, at this time Bitburger, Stella, Rogue Dead Guy. The hummus platter is good any time of day. It would take a month at a pot a day to drink all the teas. If Soul Soother was discovered by more people, Tea Bazaar could become a Starbucks-like chain, but of course it wouldn't because the masses aren't clammering for many psychedelic asian tea house hookah bars.

This is the place in C-ville for avant-garde and experimental music. It may only be enjoyed by ten people at a time, but the music events hosted here are a major asset to Charlottesville's hipness. Which reminds me, this is a great place to play hipster bingo.

414 E. Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ryan Adams Cancelled

A pack of black t-shirt clad ushers crowded the entrance to the paramount around 8:30. The show was scheduled for 8:00 but was cancelled for an unspecified reason. According to an effusive gray-haired usher, the show will be rescheduled for September and our tickets can be used then. What's going on here, Ryan Adams? Anyway, C&O filled the gap with a goosehound and a creme brulee. Maybe next time.

More info in an email from Musictoday at 0845 on Wednesday:

    Starr Hill Presents regrets to announce that due to weather related travel delay the July 10th, 2007 performance is postponed. Ryan Adams was not able to fly into the area for his performance.

    Please hold on to your tickets as they will be valid for a rescheduled show. We hope to announce the rescheduled date within a week.

    We apologize for any inconvenience.


    Ticketing Customer Service Department
    Musictoday, LLC
    The Artist/Fan Connection
There was quite a downpour Tuesday afternoon but it didn't last for long. There were 3-4 hour delays out of la guardia and JFK, however. The band arrived by bus and a couple members were seen unloading equipment earlier in the day, but ryan couldn't make his flight. Seems reasonable. I'm just glad I didn't have far to travel to find out the bad news.

    Ryan Adams & The Cardinals' postponed show on July 10th has now been

    New Date:
    Thursday, September 13
    The Paramount Theater
    Doors: 7pm

    All tickets to the July 10 show will be honored. Ticket holders who
    cannot attend the
    September 13 show can receive a refund at their point of purchase
    anytime between now
    and Wednesday, July 25 at 6pm.
Since I can't make it, now I have to go in for the refund.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

C-ville Graffiti II

Henry Avenue Train Overpass

Saturday, July 7, 2007


Zinc is at least the third restaurant in the converted gas station next to The Main Street Market. As a French bistro the building has found its niche. Food and drink can be enjoyed in three distinct areas. The bar, which features soccer on the widescreen TV, is just inside the entrance, where the Yoohoo and tires used to be purchased. The large eating area and kitchen occupy the old garage. The outdoor patio makes good use of the space between the building and the sidewalk. When the weather cooperates, the large garage doors open onto the patio.

Being a French bistro, more is expected of the cheese plate. The endive, bleu cheese salad, pear, and walnut salad will keep me coming back. No bread was served with the meal but our helpful waitress suggested it along with the mussels in white wine sauce. The salmon on a pad of potatos was cooked perfectly. For dessert, the chocolate mousse was artfully presented. Kronenberg on tap was a nice touch. The wine list is substantial. This restaurant is not as new as a few other West Main establishments (Horse and Hound, Maya), but the good food and friendly wait staff should keep people coming back for a while.

Zinc revisited 11/10/07.

420 W Main St
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Court Square Tavern

Just south of the historic county court house and a memorial to the confederacy is Court Square Tavern. Closed a couple years for renovations, it remains much the same. The beer selection rivals any other in Charlottesville. Like the other drafts, the Guinness is served in small, medium, and large. A wide array of bottled imports are available. Any adventerous beer drinker will not leave unsatisfied. The space seems most accomodating to larger groups, in either the old-map decorated lower level or just behind the bar. A spare row of bar stools caters to the lone quaffer.

A predominantly pub food menu is available because beer can't be the only thing sold. As clarified from previous post (with help from commentators), state law mandates that 40% of an establishment's costs must go toward food. Overall the food seems pricey. I made do with Guinness, Spaten Lager, House Salad (big salad), and pretzels and mustard. Why pretzels and mustard aren't offered more often as cheap bar fare, I don't know. Parisian restaurants have this habit of leaving spicy mustard on the tables, the kind that travels up the back of your nose and makes you slap your leg.

Court Square is off the downtown mall, has an air of the undiscovered, and serves a lot of great beers. Cheers.

500 Court Square
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


It seemed the perfect day to visit this mainstay of Charlottesville's bar scene. If it is true that Charlottesville city (maybe county) law requires an establishment to earn a certain percentage of its receipts from food, this is a godsend in the case of Miller's. Indeed this place is made for drinking. It looks like a bar should look but rarely does. It's old and wooden with a high, painted tin ceiling. A long bar lines the entire west wall. There's an old upright piano up front. Two rows of tables fill the rest. Up front a built-in stage occupies the front window with the iconic Miller's neon sign. And of course Dave Matthews used to work here.

Back to the food, Miller's fried edibles are some of the best in Charlottesville, specifically, the fish and chips. A recent experience with Horse and Hound's fish and chips prompted a trip to the source. The thick fried filets of fish are almost too good. It's easy to eat too much. Their fries are some of the best around. Miller's can not be known for its service, but that's not the reason to go there. Their Guinness is the best, with O'Neill's second, Mellow Mushroom third. I don't what makes one Guinness better than another. Perhaps it's the place where it's imbibed.

The second floor feels spacious next to the main bar, but the booths against the back wall with their candle-lit shadows are cozy. Fully separated from the first two floors is the pool hall on the third floor. Miller's is one of the places that makes this town great.

109 west main street
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(434) 971-8511

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

July 4 Fireworks

McIntire is the only show in town. 9:15. Around my neighboorhood, however, celebrants have been warming up with smaller rockets for the last week and a half. Other events are Monticello's annual naturalization ceremony at 10 a.m. and display of UVA's copy of the Declaration of Independence from 9 to 5 at the Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Howardsville to Scottsville by Canoe

From the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries:

    "Howardsville to Scottsville
    Distance: 9.8 miles

    The ramp at Howardsville provides the starting point for this relatively long trip. A concrete ramp at Scottsville (reached by following the signs from Rt. 6) is located downstream of the Rt. 20 bridge, and is suitable for most boats. The river is generally wide and shallow throughout this section with many small islands. This is an easy float, but will take some time when the river is low. Smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, channel catfish, and longnose gar will provide most of the fishing action."
The river is so shallow you can see the bottom for most of the trip. For this reason, larger boats are absent leaving fishermen and tubers to populate this stretch of river. Since tubing on a slow moving river really isn't that engaging when sober, the revelers bring beer, the cooler getting its own tube. A couple of companies cater to the carousing caravans. A large outfit is based in Scottsville.
About half way down is Hatton Ferry, one of the two remaining poled ferries in the U.S. By adjusting its direction in the current, it is powered across.

Scottsville initially prospered as a transportation center for the movement of tobacco to markets and warehouses in Richmond. For a time the tobacco was transported by bateaux. The James River and Kanawha Canal eased this transport. Now the canal is gone. An earthen berm to protect Scottsville from future floods has erased the place where it used to be. For most of the canal's length, traintracks were placed along the its footpath, helping to mark the former waterway. Where the Scottsville Canal turning basin was is a park that no one goes to.