Monday, May 19, 2008

The Box

For about a month The Box has been serving asian noodle dishes and other asian fare. It takes the place of Atomic Burrito in the same building as Live Arts on Second Street SE. The name is a little rough, but the food makes up for it. Build your own box or bowl by selecting a noodle, a sauce (yeah panang curry), a skewer (a meat, veggie, or tofu), and add-ons. Cilantro and chopped peanuts are good choices. There’s also asian slaw, which can’t ever measure up to good southern slaw, but it’s good, nonetheless. Scallion pancakes were a good way to start Chase it all down with a choice selection of bottled beers.

Currently Second Street is a bit of a wreck with the gutted façade and demolition of the Boxer Learning building making way for a future nine story hotel. With the Box’s doors opening onto the sidewalk, it’s a bright spot on an otherwise desolate short block. It was our server’s second day but she was rocking the place. A giant Mr. Miyagi portrait looms over the bar. He clearly kicks ass.

The prices are incredible: $5.50 for a small box and $7.50 for a large box. But even without the food, it’s a good place to get drinks without dealing with a crowd.

109 2nd St SE
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Next to the railroad tracks, formerly the tea room café, L’etoile is serving up the French name. This place has an exposed downstairs but some more quaint upstairs rooms with original wood floors. Full windows face the sidewalk downstairs and a deck overlooks the tracks. In the winter the front room can get drafty.

This restaurant stands at the western end of the restaurant mile. This evening they offered a salad l’etoile, mixed greens, roasted beets, Roquefort bleu cheese, red onion, pine nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. The vegetarian entrée option was Lyonnaise Potato Pierogis, tomato salad over local arugala with lemon-chive crème fraiche. For dessert there was a Pot d’crème or a coconut cake.

Two beers were on tap: a red nectar and St. George’s golden ale. The selected wine was a burgundy. The food was delicious, but didn’t seem up to the pretense.

In the dark light of one of the upper rooms, the rough-cut sugar cubes looked like croutons. That led to a surprise.

817 W. Main Street
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What Remains

With groundbreaking beginning on April 12, over three weeks of demolition have left only an elevator shaft and one brick wall still standing. A couple large Southern Magnolias did not withstand the powers of disassembly either. But it's hard to argue that what will replace the West parking garage won't be a gift to UVA and the state. The Emily Couric Cancer Center is slated to open in 2011. Here's to three years of another construction project.

Check out the Charlottesville Tomorrow Blog for descriptions of three other upcoming hospital construction projects.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Water plans

As the population here grows and knowing that droughts will occur again like that in 2002, the City and County are awaiting approval of a plan to expand the Ragged Mountain Reservoir. This decision was vetted through numerous public meetings in which four feasible options were presented.

1. Dredge the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir
2. Build a pipeline to the James River.
3. Build a four-foot crest to raise the height of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir.
4. Expand the Ragged Mountain Reservoir.

A recent Nature Conservancy letter, dated April 30, 2008, stated that organization’s reasons for support of Option #4. “Because dredging the South Fork did not satisfy the water supply needs, the James River pipeline imported water from outside the watershed, and expanding the South Fork threatened the habitat of an endangered species, the Conservancy worked to refine the fourth option.” #1 lost because dredging would need to continue indefinitely. #2 went outside the watershed – a no-no. #4 would allow for the restoration of “natural flows…to the Moorman’s River,” which the Conservancy is a bag fan of. has emerged as a vocal proponent of #1, despite the fact #4 is almost a done deal. According to the website, the Sierra Club has thrown its weight into their corner. The Hook seems to run an article every other week in support of dredging and has featured the group behind the website. Since this was the only side I had read I was in support of dredging but the Conservancy letter seems a little more grounded. They also have bought some land abutting the Reservoir that will continue to serve as forest habitat to migrating water birds. The biggest red flag for expanding the reservoir is its proposed expansion beneath I-64. This doesn’t seem like a good idea.