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Pitching Forks

Style's recent cover story, "Purveyors of Taste" (Dec.19) -- which highlighted Richmonders who have helped shape 25 years of Richmond dining — struck a nerve with reader Chuck Baldwin, whose memories of Top of the Tower restaurant were fond. "The food was not forgettable," he writes, "it was some of the best food served in any Richmond restaurant in the '70s." He recalls the soups, the service and the view of The Jefferson Hotel spires, and says that the restaurant did not rotate despite our erroneous claim that it did.

Also needing clarification is the item about Grace Place, the natural foods restaurant that put chef/owner Michael King on the map among vegetarians and others here. Although Eric Walters operated a first-floor vitamin and health-foods store in the building, he was not a part of the food-service operation, and we regret that error. Many readers say they appreciated seeing the photo of the restaurant building at 826 W. Grace St., a large Victorian-era townhouse that was demolished last year, along with much of the rest of the block.

One local restaurant owner begs to differ with the story's selection of taste influencers, ending the conversation with charges of our incompetence and malfeasance.

Another reader notes that we omitted two longtime owners from our list. O'Toole's is a local family-run legend on Forest Hill Avenue; Extra Billy's and the Harr family have operated their West Broad Street location since the '70s and are well-known for their smoked meats, family-oriented service and rustic charm. Writes employee Rebecca Leehy, "Extra Billy's customers have been coming there for years … the mayor, the governor. … Extra Billy's and the Harr family donate food to all kinds of charity functions, not to mention the awards they have won for their BBQ. … Now that's what 25 years of shaping Richmond dining is all about."

Good Calories

JFS Israeli Wine Festival, Jan. 19, 6-9 p.m., Troutman Sanders Building, 1001 Haxall Point. Tickets are $75 in advance, $100 at the door. Proceeds benefit programming at Jewish Family Services.

Chocoholic, Feb. 7, 6-9 p.m., Troutman Sanders Building, 1001 Haxall Point. Tickets are $35 to $50. Proceeds benefit CHIP (Children's Health Involving Parents) of Greater Richmond. 233-2850, ext. 118, or

Zest Fest, Feb. 9, 6-11 p.m., Greater Richmond Convention Center. Tickets are $150. Proceeds benefit Meals on Wheels. 673-5035, ext. 20, or

Meatier Media

True foodies know that a mention in Saveur magazine is worth framing. Tanya Cauthen is probably getting out the picture wire now for a shout-out in the January issue that praises independent butcher shops and their charcuterie. Cauthen's 1-year-old business, Belmont Butchery, has taken hold in the Museum District and earned a slew of followers in and out of town.

Curry Surrogate

An e-mail from reader Terri Routh waxes enthusiastic for Carytown's Cajun Bangkok, which is reviewed by Joseph W. Cates in this issue. Routh says she was addicted to Thai Curry House and "wept" when it left Carytown.

"I knew that the new place was open and slid by yesterday to see what this weird fusion Thai-Cajun thang was all about," she writes. "My family and I perused the menu outside and almost walked away. Sounded incredibly weird. Obviously one wonders how a decent chef can pull off both Thai and Cajun foods (along with more casual fare) in a way that does justice to both cultures. We decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a try.

"I have never tasted a crab cake like that in my life (though hubby says he has in Baltimore). … I have had po' boys in Savannah and Charleston, and this one was the best I've ever had.

"We got our food in less than 10 minutes. The place was relatively empty. There were two other parties, and we overheard them raving about their respective meals. [Our waiter] said that they are in no hurry to grab a ton of business as they are working out the kinks currently.

"We saw many people take a look at the menus outside the place and walk away with puzzled looks on their faces; much like we almost did. I'm so glad we have found this place."

Now (or Not) Serving

Tarrant's Café downtown is adding hours along with its much-expanded dining space. The business is now serving Sunday brunch and dinner at 1 W. Broad St. 225-0035.

Granny Wade's in Shockoe Slip is open, serving a fixed-price lunch weekdays, dinner Thursday-Saturday. 225-8550.

The Halligan Bar & Grill opens tomorrow at 3 N. 17th St. The firefighter-run, comfort-food business serves lunch and dinner daily in a unique, intimate setting. 447-7981.

Zed Café on Lakeside Avenue no longer serves weekend brunch.

Rigatoni in the Hull Street-Brandermill area has closed.

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