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This Week: Hat's Hideaway



Hat's Hideaway

How many of Hanson's fans would have fainted if they knew one of the brothers was eating a veggie burger in the cafe next to the venue where he was playing? Touring musicians are beginning to take their meals at Current, the restaurant next to the Hat Factory in Shockoe Slip. But it's locals that the cafe hopes to attract, and a big bourbon selection is one of its come-ons.

Current holds bourbon and cigar tastings Wednesdays, and on Aug. 11 will have reps from Maker's Mark and Jim Beam to help customers learn while drinking. The cafe will have special pricing on bourbon flights, cigars and pastas, and give gift certificates as door prizes. Current also plays host to a live jazz brunch the last Sunday of every month, open-mic Mondays, comedy on alternate Thursdays, and live music on weekends.

Chef and partner Barry Neal Francious' affordably priced burgers, stuffed chicken, salads and appetizers have a “something for everyone” appeal, co-owner Justin Moore says, “and we want this to be the place on the canal that everyone can come to.”

Upstairs, Off the Hookah is preparing to open in a large space adjacent to the concert venue. The canal-side Current, with its shaded patio seating a mostly undiscovered pleasure, is open daily. 140 Virginia St. 788-4284.

Parkside Cometh: Too much advance buzz might be a dangerous thing, so the following is issued with fair warning that hype should reflect reality. From the looks of it, the next destination restaurant in Richmond appears to be Parkside CafAc at 3516 Forest Hill Ave.  

It probably won't be ready for business until late September, but the building's innards are a warm, woodsy work of art. Local go-to carpenter Tom Brickman (Stronghill Dining Company, Secco) is finishing out the two-room space with pecky cypress accent walls, roomy booths of cherry trimmed in bamboo overlay, and salvaged metal accents, antique lighting and green-meets-woodgrain dAccor.

Parkside CafAc's owners, Brian Munford and Travis Milton, are taking their time to get it right — the kitchen is a floor-to-ceiling redo, bathrooms are big and accessible, and the design is one built on years of restaurant experience. But of course it's the food that matters most, and chef Milton, who will be on site full time, is aware of hot-button menu items and the neighborhood's desire for a smart new dining option. Latin street food, Indian, Guatemalan, Salvadoran flavors and smoked meats will form an eclectic and moderately priced, changing menu. The 50-seat establishment has a small window-front lounge instead of a bar.

Parkside is built in a former 1930s cobbler shop. “We found a 20-by-16-foot pile of leather shavings,” Milton says, “and they really helped preserve these old newspapers from World War II and things that we're going to shadow box for the front.”  For now, construction continues and a curious public waits for another sign of renewal near Forest Hill Park.  

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