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RVA Food News: Bigs' Vegan BBQ, Sub Rosa Returns + More



To show vegetarians that intentionality can come from unexpected places, Bigs BBQ on West Grace Street sets a new standard. Meat dominates, but the vegetarian choices aren't an afterthought. Owner Rob Weaver has fine-tuned a recipe for house-made seitan, or wheat gluten. He got advice from the folks at neighboring Ipanema Cafe and elsewhere to create the faux pulled pork sandwich for $6.

"If we're going to do a vegetarian barbecue it has to be as good as it can be," Weaver says, and not a token bean patty. The Bigs version comes with slaw and sweet Memphis-style sauce, also made in-house.

Weaver says carnivorous men feel compelled to order the pub's big boy burger, a beef patty with barbecue on top. Briskets, ribs, sausages, chicken and pork are smoked daily and served with sauce on the side. Starters, sides and platters are priced for student budgets and a kids' menu is available.

The Bigs bar will be operational later this month with a craft beer focus and extended hours. A pool table and darts are free for customers. Murals and hand-painted filigree are in progress in the 80-seat storefront, which is open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Delivery comes via Quickness RVA bicycle food runners, with a service area from Thompson Street to downtown offices. 931 W. Grace St., 257-5460.

People who cook: Chef Carly Herring has left the Berkeley Hotel to pursue private gigs. Chocolatier Tim Gearhart of the self-named fine candy firm got recognition from Dessert Professional magazine, which calls him one of the nation's top 10 chocolatiers. Chef Todd Manley, owner of Pescados and Ironfish, made headlines in St. Croix recently for a callalloo and gumbo cook-off. Manley says he's bringing back recipes and ideas for his local establishments and notes that many Richmonders live on the island.

Sub Rosa returns: Siblings Evin and Evrim Dogu announce the reopening of Sub Rosa Bakery on Jan. 18. Their Church Hill building was damaged in a fire last year after just four months in business β€” during which they got mentions in Martha Stewart Living and Saveur magazines. For a break from the nine-month reconstruction, the Dogus toured bakeries in California to glean information and to network with fellow wood-fired oven bakers. They also ran a Sunday-only backdoor bakery take-out at neighboring restaurant Dutch & Co.

Sub Rosa will serve pressed sandwiches, soups and a signature blend coffee from Lamplighter, in addition to rustic breads and pastries. Ales and wines will be added later as this earnest young business regains its footing. Open Tuesday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Monday. 620 N. 25th St., 788-7672.

Digging in: A fast sale of the former Bogart's at 1901 W. Cary St. means a big change of face. Bryon and Nicole Jessee of dessert business Shyndigz β€” their salted caramel chocolate cake is a prizewinner β€” are expanding their concept. They'll move out of their shop at 5716 Patterson Ave. and into Bogart's in April.

In addition to the towering cakes, cookies and pastries that have earned them an ardent following, Shyndigz will add savories and small plates and extended days and hours. Shyndigz has gotten good response to weekend brunch in Westhampton and has been looking for the right location to grow the business. A side parking lot and patio are plusses.

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