FOOD- DISH- X-Men: Duo mark the spot in May

Back in February, Dish tried to find out what the big X sign at the Glass Building on Second Street SE was all about. We finally tracked down former Clifton Inn general manger J.F. Legault, who admitted he was opening a new restaurant in the old flower shop space, but he wasn't quite ready to talk.

Perhaps Legault can be forgiven for being a little squeamish about talking to the press. On November 14, 2003 he was awakened at 5:15am by a call from the fire department telling him the Clifton Inn was ablaze. Two women died in the conflagration. What followed was an ugly legal battle I'm sure Legault would like to put behind him.

Still, curiosity got the best of Dish and we decided to pay the X spot a visit.

As luck would have it, Legault's partner, Frenchman Francois Bladt showed up with some building samples for the workers renovating the space. A little reserved at first (very French), Bladt seemed to settle into the fact that there was nowhere to hide and that he might as well spill the beans.

"It's going to be a bar, restaurant, lounge, and we plan to open the second week of May," Bladt says, although he isn't quite as forthcoming about the menu. He says they're still trying to figure that out. But he does say that X is really going to be the name of the place.

"X can mean plenty of different things," he says. "X for the train crossing, XYZ, anything." Hmm...given the secrecy behind this project, not to mention a mysterious Frenchman, Dish can't help wondering if these guys really are X-Men.


Remember the 'Thai Lady?'

Careful readers might remember that Dish wrote about a small, little known Thai restaurant in Nelson called Thai Siam a few months back.

"Oh, we're just a little place in the woods," owner May, the "Thai Lady" told us. "People come here and say, 'I don't believe it... what is this place doing in the middle of the woods?'"

Indeed, it's hard to imagine a more remote Thai restaurant, in an area teaming with them, than her little place on State Route 56.

So imagine our surprise when Thai Siam turned up in an April 4 travel piece in the New York Post.

Although short, the mini-review was one of only three on Thai restaurants in Virginia. "A three table affair in a tiny cottage, expect stellar soups and curries," the review said.

A few other out-of-the-way favorites were mentioned as well, including Mrs. Rowe's restaurant and bakery on Rowe Road in Staunton, an area landmark that has been serving up fried chicken, spoon bread, and homemade pies since the 1940s.


Timberwood Grill makes it right

At first glance, Timberwood Grill up 29 North at Forest Lakes might appear to be another franchise like Friday's or the Bonefish Grill claiming a spot near Hollymead Town Center.

Not according to co-owner Adam Gregory. "Nope," he says. "We just named it after the street and started it from scratch."

You wouldn't know that looking at the grill's impressive design (courtesy of local architects Stoneking/Von Storch), complete with cathedral ceilings and a relaxing patio; or from looking at the nine-month-old restaurant's website, which features dynamic photography, flash animation, and a general design layout that rivals any corporate restaurant site.

As Dish found out, that might have something to do with Gregory's former job. He was a web designer.

"I like designing websites, but I didn't like being stuck behind a desk in front of a computer," he says, explaining his reasons for getting into the restaurant biz with his partner, Steve Guiffre, who also owns the Hokie House in Blacksburg. "I didn't like not being out and meeting people."

Gregory says they modeled the grill after some of their favorite places in Northern Virginia, and offer an eclectic mix of American cuisine, including crab bisque, crawfish penne, jerk port, and a filet mignon Gregory is particularly proud of.

But perhaps more importantly, they wanted to put an emphasis on service. "When I came to Charlottesville, I was amazed at how bad the service was. We really wanted to bring good service to Charlottesville. If there's something a customer is unhappy about, we do everything it takes to make it right."

X, a new bar, restaurant, and lounge in the Glass Building, is scheduled to open in May.


[The original, printed version of this story erroneously described Legault as former general manager of the Clifton Inn. At the time of publication, Legault still managed the Clifton Inn–editor.]