Hall of Fame

One of the city's most-acclaimed chefs, Michael Hall, ends his five-year run at The Berkeley Hotel this week to take over the dining room at the Bull & Bear Club downtown. Hall, known for his his patisserie skills, lively humor and French-meets-Southern cuisine, begins at the club in early June.

"I want to add my personal touches to enhance the dining club experience," Hall says. "It really does have the best view in the city for a restaurant and is very professional but not uptight." The club is located on the 21st floor of One James Center and has seating for 90.

Hall will add his chef's tasting menu to the club's offerings, and may set up a chef's table for a more personalized and interactive dining experience. He says he'll continue to be involved in many of the city's culinary benefit events and will finally have time to develop his long-delayed cookbook. (He had to turn down an invitation to audition for the Bravo channel's mega hit show "Top Chef," at least for next season.)

For now, he'll bid farewell to his hotel patrons, take a week of vacation, and jump into a dining club experience that he hopes will be a very long-term arrangement.

Hot Plates

Jazzbo's Rollin' Gumbo: Jamie Dickerson, a longtime chef at Dot's Back Inn, returns to the North Side neighborhood on weekends. He has a cart in the parking lot of Once Upon a Vine, 4009 MacArthur Ave., and sells his well-known gumbo, jambalaya, chili dogs, bologna burgers and other summer fare. 627-1125.

Capital Ale House Midlothian: Now serving out near Route 288, the big beer-lovers' favorite has more brews on tap (84) and on the changing beer menu than anywhere else in town. Billiards, darts, burgers and better-than-expected pub fare; indoor and outdoor wood-burning fireplaces. Lunch, dinner and bar daily. 13831 Village Place Drive in Midlothian Village Square. Call 780-2537 or visit

Williams Bakery: Now open at 3544 W. Cary St. in the former Metro Bakery. The 97-year-old family-run business began in Church Hill but moved out of the city years ago. "I've been trying to get us a location in Carytown since I was 16," says manager Summer Williams, now 23 and a fourth-generation employee. "We're excited to come back to Richmond and get a new set of people to try us." Her favorite sweet is the bakery's original-recipe Radar Bar, a devil's-food, marshmallow-cream and chocolate-iced confection that sells for $1.79.

The shop is open Tuesdays through Saturdays and stocks 200 products, mostly desserts. Everything is baked at the firm's Mechanicsville location. The new ovens and kitchen in the Carytown building are sublet to Ellwood Thompson's for its own line of baked goods. Williams recently closed her Ashland location to focus energy on the Carytown store, which opened two weeks ago with a full case of éclairs, doughnuts, pies and cakes, and no shortage of customers who recognized the family name. 612-6130.

Sur La Table: The cookware shop at Stony Point Fashion Park brings in Virginia Willis, author of "Bon Appétit, Y'all" (Ten Speed Press, 2008), for a demonstration of time-honored dishes in the Southern tradition, June 12 at 6:30 p.m. The $59 class fee includes tastes of everything from okra to fried chicken and tales of a life well-seasoned.

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