It didn't take the current revival to convince Amy Cabaniss that Southern food would sell here. Her well-regarded Shockoe Bottom restaurant, Julep's New Southern Cuisine, charted fried green tomato territory long before the trend re-emerged with a vengeance. Now with her second project, Mint New Casual Cuisine, in the former Davis & Main space in the Fan, she's doing a less fancy version. Actually, it's chef Travis Milton in the kitchen, recently of Parkside Café and now frying those tomatoes.
Also in the mix of Mint's starters are Southern poutine ($9), cider-braised pork belly and collards ($7), fried oysters with ham remoulade ($14), and mac and pimento cheese ($6) —familiar trends. Charcuterie and cheese, peanut soup, salads and snacks such as boiled peanuts and fried dill pickle chips add some personality to bar food. Main dishes stay Southern, with fried chicken on sweet potato waffles ($16), bourbon and sweet-tea-brined pork chops with cheese grits ($18) and smoked tofu and monkfish on the lighter side.
A Rams burger goes the novelty route — it's half a pound of beef served between two grilled cheddar-cheese and bacon sandwiches ($14). A pork-belly BLT on sourdough ($9), root beer floats, rice pudding, a beignet and pie of the day, along with craft cocktails, wines and beers, round out a menu with touches that show the Cabaniss attention to hospitality and detail. The space is brightened but still very Richmond and already busy. Weekday lunch starts this week; dinner, bar and late nosh hours are nightly; brunch is served Saturday and Sunday. 2501 W. Main St. 359-9690. mintrichmond.com.
Stratford Grill changeover: Two of Richmond's established restaurateurs, Manny Mendez (Kuba Kuba) and Chris DiLauro (Bacchus) have joined forces for their first south-of-the-James project. They've gutted the former Stratford Grill, a once-smoky, 54-year-old neighborhood joint, and are deep into redesign, name selection, menu planning and the usual start-up decisions. Will it be a mash-up of Cuban and Italian? Will it open by summer? The owners aren't saying; they know the value of mystique in this restaurant-rabid climate.
Miso Asian Grill In the former Dd33 space, a family-owned sushi bar and contemporary Asian grill with bar and emphasis on healthy preparations, fusion flavors. Outdoor dining. Lunch and dinner daily. 3601 A Cox Road. 747-6888. misoasiangrill.com.
Tio Pablo Graffiti-tagged Mexican hideaway in Shockoe Bottom; tequilas, tamales, tacos from owner of Millie's and LuLu's. Lunch hours now, expanded service coming. 1703 E. Franklin St.