When some of Richmond's best chefs started showing up at Parkside Cafe last week, it was an indicator of their affection for chefs and owners Brian Munford and Travis Milton and their desire to see what all the chatter is about. The two-room cafe, in the former Seven Hills Market space at 3514 Forest Hill Ave., had a long build out that sparked curiosity among neighbors clamoring for a new dining option south of the river.
During its soft opening, diners swarmed in to check out the handcrafted cypress décor, the familiar staff and the surprisingly varied menu. Chicken and chickpea tamales, house-made papardelle with bacon and peas, shaved catfish with mint remoulade, pork chilaquiles, tandoori chicken, tofu with bok choy, seared meatloaf, samosas and other entrees fall in the $15 range. Sides, including a creamy cauliflower mash and spicy collards, are $3, and salads and vegetarian options are plentiful.
Desserts are catching an unexpected level of interest, Milton says, and banana beignets with crème fraîche ice cream, or apple dumplings with bacon ice cream are flying from the kitchen at $7 a pop. Munford remains at Patina Grill but assists with operations; Milton runs the kitchen and his wife Katie Milton handles the front of house with gracious efficiency. The neighborhood's embrace is mostly enthusiastic, and local food cognoscenti are expressing their approval with return visits for a taste of something different. Open daily for lunch and dinner, with weekend brunch. ABC license pending. 864-8888.
Changing hands: Cafe Rustica, one of downtown's best little restaurants, now has owners Michelle Turner and Sam George at the helm; chef and owner Andy Howell sold the business to his longtime colleagues and is overseeing a transition that's been in the works for several months. 414 E. Main St. 225-8811. caferusticarva.com.
Celebrity Room returns: After an ownership dispute, the generations-old Richmond pizza business returns in a partnership with Padow's Hams & Deli and is offering franchise rights with "minimal investment required" for new locations. Lunch and dinner hours feature stone-fired pizzas, Italian entrees and the family recipes from former owner Gus Serafim. 9864 W. Broad St. 965-6262. celebrityroom.net.
The Mill on MacArthur All-day breakfast biscuits, burgers, thin-crust pizzas, sandwiches, salads, sweets in small cafe with beer, wine and delivery. Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m. 4023 MacArthur Ave. 716-1196. themillrva.com.
Chicken Mania Peruvian rotisserie chicken, seviche, sandwiches, yucca fries, pastas, desserts in casual dining room. Lunch and dinner daily. 7524 Forest Hill Ave. 267-3340.
Crust & Cream Gyros, subs, halal meats, ice creams, desserts in small counter-service cafe. Lunch and dinner daily, open till 11 p.m. except Sundays till 9 p.m. 4610 Forest Hill Ave. 230-5555.
Ettamae's Café Tasty, seasonal comfort foods and select wines and beers in small, two-level row house with balcony. Retro feel, friendly service. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, weekend brunch. 522 N. Second St. 888-8058. ettamaescafe.com.
Boom Boom Burgers Local-foods spot for burgers and seasonal sides. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Credit or debit cards only. 1703 E. Franklin St. 555-1234. boom-booms.com.
Buffington & Wine's Pies, Fries and Franks Specialty pizzas, onion rings and fries, beer-battered franks, fried Twinkies in corner neighborhood spot. Open daily 11 a.m.-10 p.m. 2824 E. Broad St. 864-2835.
Capital Ale House This beer Mecca no longer serves Sunday brunch, and its famous Monday burger night is now $2 — still a value. Lunch and dinner daily at four locations, live music and patio dining.capitalalehouse.com.