It was a week of eating out starting with Orzo on Main in Charlottesville where I met with a charming Italian man for a glass of wine and some appetizers. Orzo, a tastefully decorated, neo- Italian restaurant, must be a hot spot for foodies because on a Monday night it was packed. I sipped a delightful full-bodied red while nibbling on perfectly cooked (a feat all by itself) calamari, lightly breaded and fried to melt-in-the- mouth perfection along with an order of muscles in broth. Great atmosphere, great food and great company inspire me to return in the near future.
Then luckily I needed to meet to discuss my current book project with someone coming from Norfolk. We met at my favorite Indian restaurant in the area, Lehja in Short Pump near Richmond. If you like a mod atmosphere and contemporary Indian food, you will ADORE Lehja as much as I do. Every meal I have enjoyed there has been wonderful but on Thursday for lunch we started with Chaat, a garbanzo bean based appetizer, Appelay Masala Salmon, juicy salmon chunks in a Southern Indian curry sauce and Saag, a creamy spinach dish seasoned with fenugreek. It was all deism and as usual I felt as though I should be rolled out from being so stuffed with good food.
Friday’s lunch with the Literary Ladies was at Milan in Charlottesville where I indulged in the Indian buffet and taught my lunch-mates to eat dessert first for better digestion. Very good and extremely reasonable for all you can eat lunch buffet.
Friday night found me indulging in a fabulous dinner at The Daily Kitchen and Bar in Carytown, Richmond. This new-kid-on-the-block situated near The Byrd Theatre (where I worked while in college and beyond) is a welcome addition to the area encouraging an unprecedented Carytown upscale in the last six months. The atmosphere is natural and airy. In fact the floor to ceiling windows were open creating a flow of outdoor and indoor space that made the line between the patio and indoor dining indistinguishable. The menu is as mouth watering as it is health conscious, offering vegan and gluten free options marked for ease of identification. I was particularly thrilled by the gluten free fried oysters. I adore fried oysters but all too often must pass on them because some idiot decides to fry them rolled in bread crumbs or panko. These corn meal encrusted beauties were nutty and crunchy on the outside while succulent on the inside- Perfecto! They were served with a green papaya slaw and garlic toum (whatever that is- it was yummy). My dining companion, who ventured to RVA with me to see Henley Street’s production of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST, a show in which we both appeared in high school a few years back, ordered the Seared Scallops with cauliflower apple puree, brussels sprouts, bacon and apple lemongrass gastrique was quite happy with his choice though disappointed that they were out of the Miso Glazed Black Cod (apparently very popular). I enjoyed the SESAME CRUSTED YELLOWFIN TUNA served over a carrot ginger puree with zucchini, rice vermicelli seasoned with cilantro, pickled ginger and soy reduction. This dish was soooooo divine that I found myself unable to stop eating it for craving the taste and stuffed my poor tummy to the limit making it painful to eat the three pathetic bites I could muster for the delectable chocolate lava cake. My advice: EAT HERE but make a reservation if possible and if not go early and eat slowly- it is very popular and deserves to be.
Next on my weekend docket a trip down memory lane with my high school thespian chum to HSTC’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at Richmond Triangle Players. They have extended the run for at least another weekend and I am glad for their success but overall I was not thrilled with the production. Sometimes a script carries a show and for me that was the case with this incarnation of EARNEST. Oscar Wilde’s wicked whit is at its best with this piece. The stinging commentary on Victorian social mores an the silliness of people in love is unmatched. That is why it is a classic. The costumes were lovely, make-up and hair were wonderful and the garden set was a fun stylized visual. But director, Jan Powell, who is the artistic director for the merged product of HSTC and Richmond Shakespeare (looking forward to whatever singular name is devised for that merger as writing two names is a tad tedious) missed so many opportunities here I was disheartened. Since I am no longer a full fledged theatre critic I will reserve my thoughts on what was wrong with the production outside of the previous comment and focus on what I liked best.
Hands down- Ian Sterns. This VCU theatre major nailed the role of the playful bachelor, Algernon Moncrief. He was engaging, delivered his lines with natural ease and was the only person I saw on stage (aside from Aly Wepplo who had long stretches of great acting interrupted with annoying goofiness) who was actually acting (aside from Aly Wepplo who had long stretches of great acting interrupted with annoying goofiness) rather than presenting some cartoonish stylized version of the craft. I saw in him a young Benedict Cumberbatch/Ben Wishaw and it will be fun to see what he does next.
Perhaps the stylized cartoonish was Powell’s objective for the show and I am simply too stupid to “get it”. At any rate, it was enjoyable and the audience loved it (not everyone is as particular or snarky as I) and it is worth seeing if you can get a ticket.
On Saturday my daughter and I declared a “do nothing” day and changed out of PJ’s only once to pick up some cider and pumpkins from Carter Mountain Orchard. We spent a lot of time watching movies and eating freshly baked chocolate cake cookies.
That wraps it up for last week.
The Culture Maven