This week marks a full-circle moment for chef Billy Fallen, creator of the nearly ubiquitous-in-Richmond Billy Bread. He's taking back the business after selling it six years ago, and will begin churning out 1,500 loaves a week at his Shockoe Bottom restaurant, Aziza's on Main Street. “My culinary passion is baking,” Fallen says, “and it's exciting to get back to something I've always loved.” But, with the specter of 20-hour Tuesdays and a 1 a.m. daily start time, “it's the easiest job with the toughest schedule — but it's great, therapeutic work,” he says, “and bread is the foundation of food history.”
Billy Bread, which Fallen launched in 1999, is notable for its crunchy crust and hand-milled grains — spelt, rye, hard red winter wheat and wheat flour — and artisanal character. Starting Sept. 18, the bread will have a slightly different quality, Fallen says, because it will be baked in the restaurant's capacious wood-fired oven instead of the commercial kitchens of its Fan origins.
Fallen is eager to share his skills, and plans to teach a 14-day class in the art of wood-fired baking this fall. He's also got a sideline job helping enthusiasts design and install their own wood-fired baking ovens to capture the age-old, but re-emerging, food trend. And he's got more expansion in mind: Next up, but still in the planning stages, will be a line of frozen flatbread pizzas for retail sale. 2110 E. Main St. 344-1523. www.azizasonmain.com.
Feel like summer slipped away too soon? Flip the calendar to July with a glass of fresh-made ginger limeade from Umami Gourmet Coffee and Exotic Tea Shop at 6920 Lakeside Ave. You can also get it at the Lakeside Farmers' Market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. The combination of sharp ginger and not-too-sweet limeade is better than a screened porch in a thunderstorm. — Melissa Scott Sinclair
Friend or Pho: Sports on high-def screens, choice beers on tap, Vietnamese comfort foods and a friendly corner spot (former White Dog space) are the draw at 2329 W. Main St. 340-1975.
Fish Bowl Bistro: A new indoor-outdoor bar is the focal point at this sea-themed cafe in the former Relish space at 101 S. 15th St. Fish tacos, sandwiches and salads, bar nibbles, entrees and cocktails are served for lunch, dinner and bar hours daily. 562-1438. fishbowlrva.com.
Tropical Safari: A new student-food spot has smoothies, spring rolls, noodles and kebabs for its small eat-in and take-out business (former Ruchee Express) open daily at 1201 W. Main St. 354-6011.
Bouchon: We can learn plenty from the owners of Bouchon in Shockoe Slip, particularly how to take a month-long vacation in Paris, Provence and Corsica during the dog days of August in Richmond. Chef Francis Devilliers is using the trip as inspiration for a series of new menu items at his charmingly authentic bistro, including his own charcuterie, a range of rose wines, chestnuts as a featured ingredient and classic French seafood soups among other dishes. 1209 E. Cary St. 225-9116. bistrobouchon.com.
CinAcbistro: Almost complete at Stony Point Fashion Park, this franchise is in management-hiring mode. It offers wine, spirits and table service of bar snacks and pastas, seafood and steaks, along with first-run films in a clubby setting.
Closed: Bistro R and Ipanema Grill near Innsbrook, the Bruster's Ice Cream on Patterson Avenue, Shahi Kitchen and the long-running Smokey Pig barbecue spot in Ashland have ended their runs.
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