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RVA Food News: Mint's new chef, Italian brunch, Stagecoach buffet + more.


Things are changing at Mint, now becoming a gastropub with chef and Food Network competitor Malcolm Mitchell, shown here with Mint owner Amy Ayers. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Things are changing at Mint, now becoming a gastropub with chef and Food Network competitor Malcolm Mitchell, shown here with Mint owner Amy Ayers.

Fresh off a stint called the Promiscuous Palate at the swanky Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., chef Malcolm Mitchell officially has landed in Richmond. He's prepping with Amy Ayers, owner of the re-branded Mint Gastropub at 2501 W. Main St., targeted to debut July 22. While the changes take place, Mint remains open but drops lunch service July 1. Weekend brunch and Monday through Saturday dinner hours will remain.

"It's interesting timing," Ayers, formerly Cabaniss, says of the pairing. "Malcolm has been to different places but our vision is the same. We want to try and bring to Richmond something a little different, a hip and welcoming place" with sharable plates and affordable libations.

Mitchell was a Food Network competitor mentored by Bobby Flay, and came on the local scene about a year ago, casting around for the right spot to open his own place. The concept went from geechee to Charlestonian to something Southern near the Hippodrome, along with a few pop-up trial runs. Ayers liked Mitchell's cooking — particularly duck meatloaf, bone marrow crostini and tequila-braised short ribs — and offered the opportunity to switch Mint's direction.

Their gastropub will serve small plates that are "fun but not off the wall," Ayers says, and offer local beers on draft, a lengthy happy hour with food specials, and items for vegetarian and gluten-free diners. A late kitchen menu on weekends will run till midnight. Mitchell will be a visible presence in the 50-seat dining room as well as in the kitchen, Ayers says, because he "likes to be available and approachable." His celebrity friends may make occasional guest chef appearances. "I love that he appreciates the whole experience of dining," Ayers says — "not just the food but the service and an upbeat staff."


Sundays with Claudio: Colapranzo, which is Italian for Sunday brunch, is now being served at Caffespresso, 1127 Gaskins Road. Hours are 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and the menu includes frittatas in a pancetta crust, scrambled eggs with rosemary baked potatoes and salami, pasta, peach bellinis and other items, all for less than $10. Claudio Ragazzi is owner of the business and offers Italian language lessons, board games, book exchanges and international conversation. 350-4504.

Coming soon: The Stagecoach is about to open at 7801 W. Broad St., No. 17. Its tag line is "for the hungry bandit in us all," with an extensive buffet and bakery in the 370-seat space, formerly an Asian restaurant. Expected to open in early July, the Stagecoach will offer Southern, Italian and Chinese dishes along with sushi and grilled meats. House-baked desserts include fruit pizza, bacon cherry pie, mini cupcakes and cookies. The lunch buffet is $7.99 weekdays; dinner is $11.99 including all day Sunday; kids' menus are $4.99-$5.99. Alcohol-free. Open daily. 308-9026.

Now Serving

Haiku Sushi and Lounge: Pho, banh mi, ceviche, tempura, rice lagers, sake, cocktails in airy modern dining room with bar, party room. Weekday lunch, dinner Monday-Saturday. 2222 E. Cary St. 658-0621.

Boka Kantina and Catering: Fusion tacos and changing chef's specials, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, hours expanding later. 1412 Starling Drive.


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