FOOD- THE DISH- Local motion: 'Peasant' bistro set to rock Belmont

Last September, Adam Frazier was too busy renovating to bother with a name for his new Belmont eatery. But now The Local is scheduled to open in March.

Last September, we told you about a new restaurant coming to downtown Belmont, but at the time it didn't have a name. Now it does: The Local.

The brainchild of Adam Frazier– who may have learned a thing or two from his uncle, Dave Simpson of the C&O– the Local will occupy the old Ready Restoration and Creature Gallery space (right between Crush, the new wine shop, and Belmont Bar-B-Que), which has been extensively renovated. Indeed, months ago it was evident how cool the space was going to be– the restaurant will be on two floors, with bars both upstairs and down– but when Frazier finally opens sometime in early March it should be really spectacular. 

"We want to create a great neighborhood restaurant where people don't have to spend a hundred bucks to get a nice meal and a bottle of wine," says The Local's newly hired chef Matthew Hart. "There's a real lack of restaurants in town that are reasonably priced."

To accomplish that, Hart says they'll adopt the bistro or trattoria model, focus on simple rustic "peasant food" done right, using as many in-house ingredients as possible, and keep entrees between $12 and $15.

"Belmont is such a great neighborhood," says Hart. "And the space is very interesting."

Hart says they're shooting for a soft opening on March 4 and a full-scale debut on March 6, but he says that could change. At first, it will be dinner only, but he says lunch will soon follow.

Let's see: Mas, La Taza, Saxx, Belmont BBQ, Crush, and now The Local– looks like Historic Downtown Belmont may start giving the Mall a run for its money.  

North by Northside

A world away from Downtown Belmont, another new restaurant is trying to establish itself. The Northside Restaurant in Ruckersville, in the old Bull Durham's space (which used to be the old Colonial Truck Stop), opened on December 1.

For a time, owner Darren Barry owned the Corner Amigo's, which is now home to Rev Soup, but he decided to take a gamble on the big space up north when Amigo's lease ran out.

In fact, he says he's planning to hold truck and car shows on the big lot.

"We want to have a lot of outdoor events here and become a community meeting place," he says. 

As for the food, Barry says that involves a little bit of everything. "It's like a steak house, but with Italian, French, and Southwestern food, too," he says. "There's also a nice lounge– and we serve breakfast!" 

Eventually, Barry says, he'd like to have live music at the restaurant, but for now there's a nice juke box and a DJ on Thursday through Saturday nights.

Barry admits it has been "a little tough out here now," but he's anxiously awaiting the exposure he'll get halfway through 2009 when the new, $18.5 million, 117,000 square-foot Lowe's opens across the street, as well as a Wal-Mart Super Store up the road. 

"There's a lot of growth happening up this way," he says.

Fast food with a conscience

Chipotle Mexican Grill (ours is in the Barracks Road Shopping Center) recently announced that it served more than 52 million pounds of naturally raised meat in 2008. Unlike most fast food joints, Chipotle uses naturally, humanely raised beef, pork, and chicken fed a vegetarian diet and not given antibiotics, added hormones, or growth-stimulants. 

"We're changing the way the world thinks about and eats fast food," says Steve Ells, founder, chairman, and CEO of Chipotle. "There was a time when only the most demanding chefs were using this superior quality meat at the most expensive restaurants, but now we're committed to making it available and affordable so everyone can eat better." 

To do that, Ells says Chipotle spends more money on its food (as a percentage of its sales) than any other fast food restaurant. The restaurant's goal is to serve 100 percent naturally raised meat in all of its nearly 700 restaurants. Currently, all of them serve naturally raised pork, but only 80 percent serve naturally raised chicken, and about half serve naturally raised beef. Our Charlottesville Chipotle serves all three, naturally. It's a vision Ells calls "food with integrity" that began in 2000. 

"It's a great example of how one company's philosophical commitment to support sustainable farming can help change the food system in this country," says local Chipotle spokesperson Katherine Smith.



Hello ~
I'm following up on the two phone messages I have left regarding the possibility of making a reservation for 14 for dinner on Saturday, May 22nd. (My daughter is graduating). - So, I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that you can fit us in.

Many thanks,
Kate Rossier