An inviting new interior, colorful art-glass lighting, upholstered lounge seating and a focal-point bar give Mosaic CafAc in the River Road Shopping Center a sophisticated new attitude for its 10th anniversary. For the first time, the business offers full table service, and the bar (with its friendly tenders) has its own appeal in an area that's ripe for a new nightlife setting.
Mosaic is known among the party crowd for unusual catered events, including themed extravaganzas with costumed servers, dramatic decorations and lavish spreads of food and drink. And while the cafe is low-key by comparison, its new design ramps up the ogle factor and gives it a character that's sleeker and more service-oriented, and more in keeping with its moderately priced, trend-conscious menu.
Mosaic has sister locations in Charleston and Suffolk, all serving local, seasonal fare. Lunch, dinner and bar Monday-Saturday, brunch Sundays 10 a.m.-3 p.m. 6229 River Road. 288-7482. www.mosaicedibles.com.
Tastes like Television
Two local reasons to watch the Food Network this week — and not for the zillionth rerun of that throwdown thing — are Ronnie's Ribs and David Hoffman. You may recall the smoky parking lot across from Millie's Diner where Ronnie Logan mans a grill full of meats on weekends. He's featured on a new TV show that former Richmonder David Hoffman is producing with Authentic Entertainment.
“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” premieres June 21 for a 10-episode run; Logan's ribs make their national debut on the program June 23. Hoffman, a 1971 Douglas Freeman grad, is a writer and producer who lives in Los Angeles. After years of wading through the pitch process, his idea for the series got the network's green light. Chefs and food personalities share their favorite food finds in a show reminiscent of VH1 countdown specials. “This is the ultimate list of great things to eat,” Hoffman says, “and it's an unusual resource for travelers. It's all over the map and there are some surprises. It's going to diners and food artisans, farmers' markets, five-star restaurants, neighborhood favorites, mom-and-pop sources, just food done exceptionally well.”
The shows are theme-based, from straightforward pizza and barbecue favorites to more open-ended categories like sugar rush, wake-up call or food obsession. There's an entire episode on bacon. Viewers won't find outlandish creations though — the network is retooling its image but still wants to be the Food Network, not the Foodie Network.
“With the advent of bloggers, where everybody can have an opinion,” Hoffman says, “there's more emphasis on food and eating than ever. In this economy, it is one thing where people can spend a few dollars and indulge.” And he hopes they'll watch the show to find new places to do so, including Ronnie's.
“The Best Thing I Ever Ate” premieres June 21 at 10 p.m., followed by new episodes Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. David Hoffman blogs about the program on www.foodnetwork.com.
Vegetarian Festival: Bands, speakers, cooking demonstrations, family entertainment and dogs welcome at this free annual event sponsored by the Vegetarian Society of Richmond and Vegan Action. “It's gotten a lot bigger,” says Brenda Morris, a seven-year festival coordinator, “and our desire is to encourage people who aren't vegetarians to give these foods a try, or at least explore it.” There's also lots of information from nonprofit and wellness groups, and a peaceful nonproselytizing vibe. Saturday, June 20, in Bryan Park on the city's North Side. www.veggiefest.org.
Amici Ristorante: Through Aug. 30, this Carytown classic has new, longer hours Fridays and Saturdays with special menu 2:30-5:30 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to midnight. Also open Sundays, 3-8 p.m. for Sunday Suppa, a three-course taste of Italy ($25) or a small a la carte menu featuring new seasonal items and traditional dishes. 3343 W. Cary St. 353-4700. www.amiciristorante.net.
Helen's: Chef John Bullen introduces a new, seasonal menu at lower prices with an emphasis on hearty comfort foods. Roasted beet salad with goat-cheese crostini, fried green tomatoes, cider-glazed crispy pork belly, Thai beef lettuce wraps, crab cake sliders, cottage pie, fish and chips, and classic vegetable sides. 2527 W. Main St. 358-4370.
The Lucky Buddha: Lucky Luau on June 19 from 5 p.m. until the pig is gone. All-you-can-eat luau buffet, giveaways and leis. $10 per person. 1421 E. Cary St. 648-5100. www.theluckybuddha.com.
Caliente: Now serving Saturday and Sunday brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., with Welsh rarebit, biscuits and gravy, creole pan scramble and cocktails. 2922 Park Ave. 340-2920. www.calienterichmond.com.