The Wait Is Over
Graffiato, the much talked-about and long-awaited restaurant from "Top Chef" and "Top Chef Masters" Mike Isabella, finally opened on Wednesday in the old Popkin Tavern. Isabella saved the long, slanting wood floors, but you'll find a sleeker setup. Brushed steel bar stools and chairs, along with industrial lighting echo the mesh divider you see when you first enter the restaurant. Many of the menu items are unique to Richmond: things like crispy artichokes in Prosecco with boquerones (white anchovies), capers and lemon, and roasted bone marrow with bacon, lemon and pistachios sit alongside Washington favorites like Amish chicken thighs in pepperoni sauce and charred octopus. The enormous pizza oven will turn out pies at night, but during the day will be used to roast vegetables for a variety of dishes, including the cauliflower ravioli and eggplant caponata.
BIG Apple: Rappahannock chef Dylan Fultineer made an unprecedented (for a Richmond chef) third appearance at the James Beard House last Wednesday, Sept. 10. for "Virginia Rising Stars." The next day, Saveur magazine had him over to its test kitchen to cook lunch, where he whipped up a batch of lambs and clams, as well as Hanover tomato gazpacho with Virginia blue crab — a dish that he served the night before at the Beard House. "Chefs that are traveling through NYC will often come through and give a little demo or prepare lunch for the editors," says Saveur.com editor Laura Sant. "We all travel a lot, but we can't be everywhere, so it's a nice way for us to learn about what chefs and restaurants are doing in other places."
Smithsonian Demo: KimKim sauce creator Steve Kim will join Mezzanine Restaurant owner and executive chef Todd Johnson at the Smithsonian on Sunday, Sept. 21, from 6:45 to 8:45 p.m. The two will talk about the key ingredients in Korean cuisine and why the food recently become so popular throughout the country (if not in Richmond — yet). A demonstration will follow, with audience members participating. Tickets are $45 for non-members ($35 for members). More information can be found at smithsonianassociates.org.
Chef on the Move: Much has been made about the opening of Perly's Restaurant & Delicatessen, but there hasn't been much attention paid to the fact that chef Todd Richardson has been cooking there since the first day. Richardson, formerly of Verbena, Rocketts Landing and Casa Del Barco, quietly left his last gig at Blue Goat and just as quietly started working at Perly's. "One day, he walked through the door," says Perly's owner Kevin Roberts, "and asked if he could help." The two have been friends since their days together on the line at Kuba Kuba. "He's been more than my right hand," Roberts says. "I couldn't have gotten through the first week — and it was tough anyway — without him."
Magazine Love: Food & Wine magazine nominated Dutch & Co. as one of the People's Best New Bars. The contest is open to the public and will run from Sept. 7 to 30. Apparently, the folks at the magazine really like what Phil Perrow and Caleb Shriver are doing up there in Church Hill; earlier this year, Dutch & Co. was nominated for the People's Best New Chef award.
Savor the Moment: It's been five years and the Savor event that will be held on Saturday, Sept. 20, from 6 to 11 p.m. at the Jefferson still is going strong. This year, the Food Network's "Chopped" judge, cookbook author, restaurant owner and James Beard Award-winning chef Maneet Chauhan will bring glamour and international fusion to plates at the event. Prior to that, attendees can expect a silent and live auction, and a reception featuring offerings from local chefs, along with a few out-of-towners. Tickets are $300 and benefit the Hospital Hospitality House of Richmond, which provides an inexpensive or free place to stay for families of folks who come from outside of Richmond for medical care.
Beast Feast: Belmont Butchery's Tanya Cauthen is heading out to the country for the second annual Beast Feast on Sept. 28 from 2 to 5 p.m. VIP ticket holders can beat the lines and get there at 1 p.m. Last year's event was a meat-laden extravaganza at Patrick Henry's house, Scotchtown — if you haven't seen a whole goat slowly roasted on a spit over an open fire while sipping a craft cocktail, you can watch chefs like Julep's Randall Doetzer, Dylan Fultineer of Rappahannock, and the Magpie's Owen and Tiffany Lane, among others, roast at least one, along with pigs, turkeys and chickens. Tickets cost $50 — VIP tickets are $80 — and can be purchased at Belmont Butchery.