FOOD- DISH- Paradise on 29N?: We see Buffett & BBQ in your future

"Everybody has some kind of version of paradise," says Jimmy Buffett in a recent release (press release, not disc release). The man from Margaritaville is musing about his Cheesburger in Paradise franchise, one of which opened in Charlottesville on May 2 on 29 N.

"This is ours.. we invite our guests to enjoy time away from the real world when they drop anchor at Cheeseburger In Paradise."

Of course, Dish isn't sure the old Chi-Chi's spot on 29N qualifies as paradise (or that anybody in our landlocked 'ville is going to be "dropping anchor" there), but as far as big chain restaurants go, Cheeseburger is something out of the ordinary.

For one thing, the bright pastel colors of the building certainly liven up the neighborhood. Inside, patrons might be forgiven for thinking they've landed in the islands. A giant hand-painted mural of a tropical sunset adorns a wall, and the brightly colored Adirondack chairs feature nautical cushions. In addition, the large "tiki bar" will be serving up frozen margaritas and pina coladas, the kitchen will be cooking up plenty of fish sandwiches and Caribbean-flavored jerk chicken wrap, and even such oddball menu items as mini-cheeseburgers and chocolate nachos will be available.

And as Dish reported not long ago, they plan to have live music every night of the week. Sure, it's just another chain restaurant, an offspring of the Outback Steakhouse empire, a kind of theme-park eatery, but after a long day at the office, or sitting in traffic on 29N, a Buffet-inspired night out might just make a cheeseburger emporium seem like paradise.

Barbeque predictions

In 2003, the Hook's matchmaker sent a couple to the "brand spanking new Rivanna Grill" on her Blind Date Challenge– right after a palm reading at Psychic Readings by Catherine, that little house with the red hand on 29 North across from the GE/Fanuc headquarters. Although Catherine was right about "Tim" being a private person who doesn't open up easily to others– and told "Shannon" when she was going to meet her soul mate, she missed a few important predictions. Upon exiting Catherine's driveway, Shannon's car was broad-sided (she was okay, just smashed up her door), and three years later, the Rivanna Grill has become Dickie's Smokehouse.

That's right, there's smokin' barbecue now in the old Rivanna Grill spot, including such traditional favorites as Texas barbecue chicken on a stick,chicken and beef tamale, jalapeño corn bread, and sweet potato pie. Ah, Dish sees barbeque in your future…

Spendora's chocolate factory

Splendora's on the Downtown Mall is now offering dairy-free chocolate sorbet. According to Splendora's bossman Fax Ayres, they've been working on the recipe for about six months.

"We feel pretty strongly about chocolate," he says, "so we wanted to be sure to get it right."

As might be guessed, this is Splendora's first attempt at a no-fruit sorbet. Using water, coca powder, chocolate liquor, and other magical ingredients, Ayres thinks they've come up with a low-calorie treat that rivals their regular, dairy-based gelato.

So, what's next at Splendora's? Purple Gobstoppers that taste like summer and make your face turn blue?

Spendora's Chocolate Factory: now serving up chocolate sorbet with no cows involved