Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Shenandoah Joe

Next to the new SPCA Rummage and Martin's Hardware, in the space that used to house a cleaners, Shenandoah Joe has set up shop on Preston Avenue. Offering both a coffee shop and commercial roasting, it's a welcome addition to Charlottesville's slew of homegrown coffeeshops. What enoteca offers to wine drinkers can be found here for coffee drinkers. There's a daily brew, but some special cuppings have occurred. I didn't know what a cupping was until the recent roasting and serving of Cup of Excellence Guatemalan. With Shenandoah providing coffee to other places in town, restaurants and coffeeshops, it's not necessary to go to their location. But it's worth it. With free Wifi and every possible seating option including couch, lounge chairs, at small tables, at a big round table, and on bar stools, it's equally suitable for hanging out or getting work done. Mornings can be somewhat of a free-for-all; on weekday afternoons the place clears out and is bathed in the setting sun.

It's not advertised but if you bring back in the red bags for refills, they'll subtract 50 cents from the price.

Hours: M-Th: 6:30am-7pm; F: 6:30am-9pm; S: 7:30am-9pm.

945 Preston Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 295-4563

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beta Bridge revealed

Multiple layers of paint peel back to reveal the 1921 bridge's true colors. Not quite.

Fox Park Coffee Bar

Across from the Baja Bean patio, Fox Park Coffee Bar is taking shape. A peek through the window reveals a bar lining one wall and small tables and chairs the other. It's been a while since Starbuck's Corner domination has been challenged. A new alternative is welcome. The last challenger, Espresso Royale Caffe, which was housed in the current location of Qdoba, not surpisingly closed at least three years ago. Its gross mismanagement was tempered by its commitment to selling coffee and alcohol. The ERC was also endearingly consistent: every cup of coffee came with grounds in the bottom.

Christian's on the Corner

Expanding from its 2nd St. SW and East Main location, Christian's joins another 2nd St. SW occupant (Rev Soup) in moving to the corner. By coincedence and the restrictions of available real estate, these two franchises are again next to each other.

Christian's, previously lauded in these posts, replaces Amigo's, a Mexican restaurant that lost out to the less authentic Baja Bean.

According to the woman who waited on me at the Downtown Christian's today, the Corner location opened yesterday, but the above picture seems to tell otherwise. The facade may be one of the ugliest on the corner, the porch a garish color, but if they serve the same pizza as downtown Christian's, they'll have no trouble staying in business.

June 3, 2007 review

Also check out the pizza round-up.

1. 118 W Main St
(434) 977-9688

2. 100 14th St NW
(434) 872-0436

3. 1880 Abbey Rd
(434) 293-6750

Caught in the Light

The promotional photo being used for the upcoming show is rather odd.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bob Dylan in Charlottesville

This was first noted in the Daily Progress August 20, and tickets can already be purchased. This show, also headlining Elvis Costello, will sell out. It would have been nice to have a little more lead time. I wonder if Robert Zimmerman will eat at the Virginian like the Stones did.

On August 23 Starr Hill Presents announced the show in one of their promotional emails, saying tickets were going on sale August 25 at 10 AM. The tickets were available earlier through Dylan's website.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Pizza Pie

Charlottesville pizza joints number 19 in the recent Hook Annual Manual. One of the 19, Bambina's, used to be on the Corner but is now a sub shop. The list could use some updating and editing.

One of Charlottesville's best pizza by the slice place is Christian's. It easily may be the best, but I haven't tried every one. Then again, there don't seem to be that many. In the town center, I count Christian's, Vita Nova (awful, see below), Pizza Bolli (try again), and Cassella's as the in town pizza by the slice options.

Tonight at Christian's the line was out the door and in this larger eatery, that's quite a wait. Still, nothing beats a slice of cheese with oregano and hot peppers. Their complimentary water comes with a lemon or lime. This to me makes the perfect snack.

I mentioned Pizza Bolli before in the earlier Christian's post. My opinion hasn't changed. This place didn't make the Hook 19.

If a slice of cheese is the best way to judge a pizza place, Vita Nova also has to get poor marks (also not on the list). On the DTM in the building with the strangest facade, the one with the elevator tube, their slice of cheese was too crispy on the top, and the excessive cheese didn't hide the doughy bottom crust. Skip it if you have the patience to wait in a long weekend Christian's line.

The list of 19 includes establishments best described as Italian, and they do get double billing in that section. For example Al Dente, Brick Oven, Carmello's, Ragazzi's (ugliest restaurant award), and Sal's are clearly Italian restaurants. They may have pizza on the menu, but they aren't pizza places.

For the whole pie Anna's Pizza #5, Dr. Ho's, and Mellow Mushroom rock. Hopefully I'll have more to say about them in the future.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Continental Divide

The easiest restaurant to ignore on West Main Street, despite the sign, has been in place since 1994. Continental Divide specializes in Tex-mex food and tequila. A narrow, sometimes noisy space, in the style of the Virginian, it can get crowded and waiting for a table is common. Large booths along the wall opposite the bar comprise the majority of the seating but you can also sit crammed along the front window. "Too small, too noisy, too busy, too bad," says the t-shirt.

The Santa Fe enchilada wins for presentation and taste. The Yucatan pork tacos equal pulled pork barbeque a la Mexico. A good list of Mexican beers from Corona on down is available if a margarita isn't what you want. The widely heralded margarita isn't the least bit syrupy; it's just damn good. There is a wide array of tequila available but the house margarita is just fine.

I strongly recommend splitting an entree with someone unless you want to take home half your dinner. The servings are enormous, not to different than Mono Loco. A plate of nachos and a bean and cheese burritos dinner was enough to feed myself and one other.

Price for two: $20-40
Price for three: $35-50

811 W Main St
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(434) 984-0143

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ash Lawn Opera

Hot and humid, two words inseparable in Virginia this time of year, certainly could be applied to tonight's performance, the last of the year. As the performance started at eight, the vocalists began battle with the cicadas, who, by nightfall, quieted.

Two and a half miles past Monticello, the tree-lined lane to the main house couldn't be more picturesque. After a few curves it gives way to a field of cars and trodden, singed grass (this is August in Virginia). Seated in tight rows hemmed in by bushes, the first half presented a recognizable tune and a few budding relationships. The second half occurred while I was riding home. In trotting out an old warhorse, the opera world hopes to win new converts and entertain those who keep coming back. The guy next to me had seen La Boheme nine times. In the end, however, it's not for everybody.

Check it out for yourself at ashlawnopera.org .

Java Java

With two locations on the downtown mall (top) and along Ivy Road (with Subaru Outback and Porsche), Java Java serves up coffee for serious people. This is a working coffee shop, as opposed to the Mudhouse, which is really for hanging out. The DTM location is arranged into multiple echoey rooms that discourage raucous conversation, while the Ivy Java Java (above) is one big room. A laptop seems to be necessary for entry at both locations. The free Wi-fi encourages this arrangement. Not for getting to know someone on a first date, Java Java serves the needs of those entering the final push before finals or drafting TPS reports.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Michael's Bistro

Above Little John's and next to Plan 9, in front of the Satellite Ballroom, whose rear is wonderfully brought up by Thai Curry, is Michael's. The dark steps inside the entrance, warm in summer, especially during this last week, hardly hint at what lies above. A small bar is tucked away in the corner and the rest of the space is on two levels. Up a couple stairs, there are booths along the far wall. The center area is perfect for larger groups. And for those who can wait or are lucky enough there are four small tables on the outside porch that, if weather permitting, are the best seats on the Corner. For the Corner, this is an excellent place for dinner and a drink.

Featured above is a sample of Portobello Napoleon. The bottom layer is potato croquette-like, then portobello, sauteed spinach, all topped with tomatoes and goat cheese. It wins points for presentation.

The bison burger isn't for everyone, but to some it is a much tastier burger. A gourmet cheeseburger always hits the spot when a hearty meal is desired. Frenchfries, check.

Beers here, as remarked upon in an earlier post, are various and wonderful. Now they have the two-hearted IPA on draught (or draft) which wins fans when quaffed. The waiter recommended this over Guinness. I probably would have favored the Guinness, but there's always next time.

Dinner for 2: $55

1427 University Avenue
(804) 977-3697

Monday, August 6, 2007

Columbus Day Cville

Come October, this looks like an engaging weekend of events.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Chiles Peach Orchard

From late June through August, this is the place for local peaches. Peach picking turns out to be the hotter, more humid, buggier version of apple picking, but the results are no less rewarding. Peach ice cream is available some weekends. There are also sweet cherries (early Junes) and Strawberries (mid-May through mid-June). Other fresh produce is available in season.

To get there, take 250 west. Bear right on 240 toward Crozet. At the four-way stop just past Crozet Pizza, take a left under the train bridge. Take a right on 691 and the orchard is down on the left.

After going to the country to eat a lotta peaches, travelling a little farther down 691 brings you to the few buildings that constitute Greenwood. At the crosswoods there is an antique store where the prices are reasonable and they aren't averse to bargaining.
Chiles also offers amazing strawberries when in season.

If you want to check it out further, Chiles shares a website with Carter Mountain and other local orchards.

Kelle and George

The origin of this sign was originally unclear until I received some help (See comments). It can be seen to the west when walking on 3rd Street SE between the downtown mall and Water Street. Keller and George is a local jewelery store founded in 1875, which is now located on Millmont Street behind Barracks Road Shopping Center. The electrical line run up for an architecture firm supplanted the "R" after it changed hands.