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This Week: Flatliners, Donuts and Holiday Dinners at VMFA



Meet the Flatliner
It's either sick or brilliant: 3 pounds of meat on a bun, stabbed with a steak knife, begging to be eaten or at least stared at during an eating contest at Shockoe Bottom's remarkable Halligan Bar and Grill.

Here's the Flatliner as concocted by owner Shawn Gregory and cooked by Adam White: an 8-ounce burger topped with a half-pound of barbecue, cheese, a half-pound of brisket, more cheese, a half-pound of London broil, even more cheese, a half-pound of pork tenderloin, five strips of bacon, four onion rings, slaw, horseradish-Worcestershire-mayo-barbecue sauce, served on a mammoth Cajun-butter-basted bun next to a pound of fries and a big house-marinated country pickle.

It will sell for about $20 when it goes on the menu in mid-July, with an open invitation to Adam Richman to return to town for another “Man v. Food” face-off.

The bar was a little hot for an eating contest Tuesday, June 29, but that didn't stop five motivated guys from competing for a disbelieving crowd: Chad Painter, the wrestler and stuntman who owns Wonderland and arrived with his own towel guy and a taste for shots of Red Stag; Jason Hook, a last-minute recruit who works at Bottoms Up; Rashad Penn, a cook at Gibson's Grill who said he entered because he was really hungry; Adam Rowe, a manager at Bistro 104 and an odds-on favorite; and Steven Bilski, a volunteer firefighter for New Kent County on his first visit to the bar named for the tool used by emergency workers to pry doors open.

The alarm rang, the timer started and the guys plowed into five heaping platters. It wasn't pretty but it was impressive, at least until one of the contestants disqualified himself in a way that could have ruined the other competitors' appetites — but they kept on. At the 27-minute mark, Rowe gulped down the last bite to claim a sweaty victory and a $50 gift card to Halligan. How did he feel? “Full,” he said, heading down the street to work his regular bartending shift.

As the Halligan crowd turned its attention to the Tuesday night screening of the firefighter-focused TV series, “Rescue Me,” owner Gregory offered fair warning: Next up on the menu is a new creation, the Mass Casualty.

Round about: West Enders are flocking to Daylight Donuts, the first location in Virginia at 10260 W. Broad St. They're scarfing down bear claws, pine cones, cinnamon rolls, cake and yeast donuts decorated to the nines, sausage rolls and coffee drinks. The shop, once home to Richmond Decorating, houses a bright 40-seat cafe with a drive-through window. It's open daily from 6 a.m.-9 p.m., with the baking and frying done overnight.

Owners Joanne Ellis and Lance Elwood bring a social enterprise to the business as first-time licensees. Their work with Career Support Systems inspired them to create “an ideal employer to connect people with business,” Elwood says. “We're good at placing and training people at job sites, working with the Virginia Department of Rehab Services, and at Daylight we are very flexible and can accommodate some of our clients.” They'll do situational assessments and task analysis to train workers in the operation, and have studied the similar mission of Positive Vibe CafAc to find common ground and provide jobs and training in the food industry. 

Watch for Daylight's $2-a-dozen grand opening promotion later this summer.  

Coming to the Bottom:  Miyona's Restaurant and Lounge is under construction at 1705 E. Franklin St. in the former Papa Ningo space. Owner Kevin Freeman is reworking the room to create a restaurant with a big menu, full bar and pool table. He expects to open in mid-July.

Art with taste: Another first at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is its holiday dining policy. Now that the facility is open 365 days a year, it will also offer Christmas and Thanksgiving meals in its dining rooms. Look for special menus for the occasions, and expect to reserve space well ahead of time. Ever since Amuse, the museum's fine-dining restaurant, opened in May, it's been the only place in town where lunch is booked solid every day.

Now Serving
Sprout Market & CafAc
  Fresh, locally raised fare in a small, friendly, daily-menu cafe and takeaway spot. Menu posted daily on Facebook. Shop sells crafts, comics, comestibles. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday, Sunday brunch. 1 N. Morris St. 592-5771.

Brooks Diner  Eggs, pancakes, sausage gravy and a full breakfast menu, salads and classic sandwiches in a clean, new, diner-style business. Breakfast and lunch weekdays. 1600 Brook Road. 225-8577.

The Patio  American fare with seasonal ingredients, revamped cafe with a dozen TV screens, from the team at Dd33. Outdoor dining, full bar, noted chef. Open daily 11 a.m.-2 a.m. 3601-A Cox Road. 747-8333.

Sally Bell's at the Landing  Southern classics to go at Byrd Park. Lakefront tables, boxed lunches, salads, ice cream, grilled chicken, burgers and dogs, sides and famous cupcakes. Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. till sunset, closed Monday. 204-1501.

Pescados China Street  Colorful new Oregon Hill cafe, casual attitude for serious seafood, small plates, local salads, pizza, voodoo shrimp, enchilada Acapulco, tuna, rib-eye, fish tacos, full bar. Dinner Tuesday-Sunday. 626 China St. 644-3474.

Rose & Clay CafAc  In the former Infuzion, hot and cold soups, salads, sandwiches, skirt steak, risotto primavera, crab cakes, boxed lunches. Lunch weekdays. 1401 Roseneath Road. 447-6852.

Amour Wine Bistro  Intimate setting for French fare and wines. Lunch Tuesday-Saturday, dinner Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday brunch, retail sales. 3129 W. Cary St. 353-4020.

Bellytimber Tavern  Beefalo burgers, pirogi, tortas, raw bar, vegan barbecue, full bar, kitchen open until 11 p.m. Lunch and dinner daily. 1501 W. Main St. 592-5592.

Secco Wine Bar    Tasty seasonal menu, cheeses, charcuterie, value-driven wines and beers, small and friendly hot spot. Noon to midnight daily. 2933 W. Cary St. 353-0670.

Stuzzi   Authentic Neapolitan pizzas, pasta, crostini, eggplant dishes and specials from wood-burning oven. Lunch and dinner daily. 1 N. Belmont Ave. 308-3294.

Outer Banks Seafood Co.  Southern nouvelle seafood, apps, desserts; shrimp and grits, platters, crab cakes, desserts and cocktails in casual dining room with bar, mid- to upscale menu. Dinner nightly. 11400 W. Huguenot Road, Shoppes at Bellgrade in Midlothian. 464-1835. 

Flinn's  American fare from former Cuisines restaurant, in comfy setting. Full bar, daily specials, value pricing. Lunch daily, dinner Mon.-Sat., weekend brunch. 403 N. Ridge Road. 303-6125.

Chez Foushee   Dinner service Fridays and Saturdays, seasonal cuisine with lamb, veal, steak and fish, pasta, swanky apps, desserts, sublime service in elegant downtown dining room. Weekday lunch. 203 N. Foushee St. 648-3225.

9 N. 4th Deli sandwiches, daily specials, steak and eggs, hot pastrami, salads and sides. Discount for law enforcement officers. Breakfast and lunch weekdays from 7 a.m. 9 N. Fourth St. 644-8669.

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