FOOD-THE DISH- Mystery restaurant: New place adds to Belmont renaissance
Restaurateur Adam Frazier outside his yet-unnamed restaurant in historic Downtown Belmont.
PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR
It looks like historic Downtown Belmont's culinary renaissance is continuing to blossom. Joining Mas, La Taza, Saxx, and Belmont BBQ will be... well, we don't know yet, but let us explain.
Dish recently noticed some construction going on across from La Taza and Saxx at 824 Hinton Avenue, and decided to investigate. Turns out the first person we approached on the site was soon-to-be restaurateur Adam Frazier, who says his new restaurant is in its very early stages. Indeed, Frazier says he hasn't even settled on a name for his new place, or the cuisine or theme, although he does hint at a local food, southern-style angle. For now, Frazier says he's focusing on the extensive renovation of the building.
It's a unique and beautiful old property, built in 1912, according to city records, and was home to Ready Restoration, a furniture repair and restoration business, and more recently a place called Creature Gallery, which featured the wildlife photography of Hal Brindley. He once attempted to open a wine bar where "people could browse wildlife photography and have a sip of wine," according to a 2006 entry on his website.
Frazier says he began renovations a few months ago, and can't say yet when his restaurant will be open. Despite how small the building looks from the outside, a walk inside reveals quite a bit of space. The restaurant will be on two floors, with bars both upstairs and down. Frazier also plans to convert an existing lighted display case into the bar downstairs, and he has already built outdoor courtyard seating along the side of the building. Eventually, he imagines there could also be seating on the large second-floor deck.
If genes were the secret to restaurant success– and who knows, maybe they are–Frazier is off to a good start. Formerly a catering director for Marriott Hotels, he moved here about four years ago to work with his uncle, Dave Simpson of the famed C&O, which has managed to survive for longer than most of us can remember.
"I learned a lot about how to run a restaurant in Charlottesville at the C&O," says Frazier.
Indeed, Dish can't think of a better model to follow.
Chef Alex Montiel of Cocina del Sol– with locations in Crozet and Charlottesville– reports that his Brasserie Montiel & Coffee House has finally opened. Originally, Montiel had told Dish he was opening on the weekend of August 25, but Dish has learned to add at least two weeks to any proposed opening date. And that puts Montiel almost right on time!
After a "soft" opening last weekend, where friends and family put Montiel through his paces, the brasserie officially opened on Monday, September 17.
As Dish previously reported, Montiel's is the first local so-called "brasserie," that mainstay of the French streetscape where a passerby can not only sit casually and have a café crème or a demi, but can also order a filet mignon with haricots verts, pommes frites, and a fine bottle of wine from an attentive waiter. Whether Brasserie Montiel & Coffee House can live up to its name, however, remains to be seen.
"I think it's going to be a real fun place," said Montiel before the opening. "I hope it will be a place where people can come to relax and enjoy themselves."
Looking for a French-inspired gastro-pub sports bar? You're in luck! Lately, Zinc on West Main has not only become a place to watch European soccer and rugby matches, but American football as well. Because Zinc's bar is detached from the main dining room, chef-owner Thomas Leroy says, it's the perfect set-up for watching sports.
"There's always a sport on at Zinc," says Leroy. Although not open for lunch any longer, he says people are welcome to show up early for dinner or a drink. "Our doors are always open for anyone who wants to watch," says Leroy.
While Leroy, a Frenchman, says they give priority to European soccer and rugby (France is currently hosting the rugby world cup, and Zinc is offering several games live and tape-delayed, he says), he's slowly being seduced by American offerings.
"I'm not a huge fan of American sports," he says, "but I must admit being an addict of fantasy football... I can't help watching the games on Sunday. And I do love college sports, because it seems to me to be more about pride than money."