The building is 100 years old, the cooking traditions are ancient, but the attitude is casually youthful at downtown’s newest cafe, Thai Corner. This Jackson Ward 30-seater, at Second and Marshall streets, is a long time coming for owners Michael and Dana Ng. They see the business as a gateway to the neighborhood, and are working with the city to clean up the streets and give an owner-occupied presence to a growing food destination.
“This is about the area. We want everyone to succeed,” Ng says, reeling off the names of nearby restaurants, including his tenant at Nate’s Truck Stop next door. At Thai Corner, “we are serving good food at a reasonable price,” particularly the Thai beef noodle soup, a variation on Vietnamese pho, priced at $6.95. Stir-fried noodles, curries and rice dishes show the kitchen’s Thai-to-Chinese repertoire, a sit-down version of Ng’s successful Thai Cabin food carts downtown.
In the cafe, he’s retained a section of mottled wall color to show the building’s history, and added bamboo, burlap and warm colors in a cost-conscious updating that shows off the simple, fresh foods and fruity drinks. Thai Corner offers counter-service weekday lunch until 3:30 p.m. and may add dinner hours on First Fridays.
327 N. Second St. 343-2009.
First taste of Blue Goat: In an opening-night benefit July 6, urban gastro-pub the Blue Goat will donate all proceeds to the Richmond Children’s Hospital and Greater Richmond Stop Child Abuse Now. Tickets are $75 for a spread of hors d’oeuvres by chef and partner Kevin LaCivita, and can be purchased for cash only at Osaka Sushi & Steak River Road, or Wild Ginger. The Blue Goat opens for dinner service July 7. 5710 Grove Ave. 288-8875.
State dinner stand-up: If there ever was a reason to spend $250 for a benefit dinner, it’s the Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond’s 2011 Savor event set for Oct. 1. Chef Roland Mesnier, the longest tenured chef ever to serve the White House, promises guests they’ll get an authentic state dinner experience with all the finesse and precision a president would expect. Entertainment will be the hilariously intimate storytelling of the French Legion of Honor member Mesnier, who knows how to work a room as well as a pastry table. Some of Richmond’s top chefs will work the line; planning has been under way for more than a year. See hhhrichmond.org for details on this unusual evening and the cause it supports.
Marinara on cue: Local food blogger Matt Sadler is announcing a barbecue crawl to be held July 9. Tickets are $50 for a bus tour and tasting at some of the area’s favorite barbecue joints, and no doubt a running commentary from some of the city’s liveliest eaters. Details at themarinara.com.