FOOD- THE DISH- Tears on Water: after nine years, upscale Oxo closes

Kim: We were "tired."

Dish is sad to report that the rumors are true– Oxo on Water Street is closing.

"OXO bids you farewell," say owners John Haywood and Alice Kim in a statement to the Hook. "....having OXO Restaurant was one of the most rewarding experiences of our lives, but we are now burnt out, craving time off, not enjoying this recession, and needing to participate in life outside our restaurant bubble.  So we are changing gears."

Nine years ago, Haywood and Kim moved into the space on Water Street occupied by Julian's, an "odd little Italian-Mexican" restaurant, recalls Kim. Before that its was a Brazilian-inspired restaurant named Brasa.

"Brasa was actually the first tapas restaurant in Charlottesville," says Kim. " The concept was so new that when some people heard "tapas restaurant" they thought it was "topless restaurant." 

Oxo's minimalist white-on-white interior belied the color and flavors bursting from the plates. In addition to being one of the first– if not the first– to put a few seats overlooking the chef, the restaurant innovated until the end including some "After Dark" events that had been spicing up the late-night scene, most notably a "Bondage Party" in April, which featured a cage filled with professional-looking women with whips and grinning young men. 

And as many know, Kim was the brains behind the popular Artini parties in the Ix building, the first of which in 2006 many considered the party of the year, if not the decade. Indeed, like the setting for a celebration of the Apocalypse, 500 guests danced the night away while a thunder and lightning storm raged outside, with torrential rains coming down through the gaps in the roof of the old textile mill. Some described the scene as "other-worldly." The following year bartenders at the event served over 4,000 drinks as bikini-clad painted dancers (and one shirtless boy) served drinks while circus performers spun fire and whirled hoopla-hoops. 

No wonder the National Gallery of Art came knocking.

Back in April, Kim accepted a gig organizing special events at the Gallery, an opportunity that she described as "too intriguing" to pass up. 

"Working at the Gallery revealed how burnt out John and I had become running the restaurant," says Kim in an email sent from her new office in DC. "While we absolutely loved it, we were also tired of how the restaurant affected our personal and family life. And, this non-recession recession was really stressful. Basically, an opportunity came up, and we took it."

"I can't say enough about the staff we had," says Kim. "They are fabulous spirits with generous hearts. And let's not forget, incredibly sexy!"

Horse & Hound party a 'steal'

The folks at Horse & Hound GastroPub will soon be celebrating their first birthday, and so they're inviting us over to steal their glasses. That's right...on Friday, June 20 the West Main eatery plans to have a "Steal Your Glass Party" with live music and free apps from 5pm to 7pm. Festivities will also continue on the weekend, with live music Saturday night and at Sunday brunch.

"We will have one glass to 'steal' and it will either be the Bitburger glass or the Hennepin glass, we are not sure yet," says co-owner Brooke Fedora.  "We will also be having Martinis specials."

Hmm... is it still stealing if they let you? Maybe they should at least have someone chase us down the street!

  Deep Palate: Hungry in Scottsville

Our undercover contact in Scottsville, "Deep Palate", sent us a missive recently about the food scene in the little hamlet by the James. "It has been a while since I sent you an update," DP says. " It may be due in part to a prolonged period of starvation..."

Apparently, restaurants have been closing right and left. Now, Minor's Diner, which seemed to be doing okay and had just opened a breakfast buffet, is history, and so is the spot it once occupied. The owner, says DP, gutted the building of all its restaurant equipment and has turned down offers from other restaurateurs. 

The Dogwood Cafe at Lake Monticello is poised to rent the space formerly occupied by Magnolia's on Valley Road, and a cigar bar known as the Horseshoe Bend Tavern is scheduled to open in September.

Finally, Donna's Place, a cafe on Valley Road owned by Joe Hale and his wife Donna, is for sale. Joe, says DP, is also the owner of the IGA, which will be closing in anticipation of the opening of a new Food Lion. The couple has purchased another IGA in Martinsville and will be pulling up stakes. Donna's, says DP, was only open for about year.

"Boy, am I hungry," says DP with a sigh.

Local food scene: Area farmer's markets

Of course, we're all familiar with the Charlottesville farmers' markets– the one on Water Street and the one at Meade Park– but there are a few other far flung why not do your own little shopping experiment?

Forest Lakes: Tuesdays, 4pm to 7pm, in the South Recreational Facility parking area.

Waynesboro: Wednesdays, 3pm to 7pm, downtown at the pavilion in Constitution Park. 540-649-4594.

Nelson County: Saturdays, 8am to noon, on Route 151 in Nellysford. 434-244-2399.

Staunton: Saturdays, 7am to noon, at the Wharf lot on Johnson Street downtown. 540-332-3802.

Verona: Wednesdays, noon to 5pm. at the Market dock in Augusta Government Center on Route 11, 540-332-3802.

As an added bonus, the Staunton market will feature demonstrations from local chefs. Here's the line-up: June 21, 9am: Ian Boden, Staunton Grocery; August 23, 9am: Doreen Bechtol, Shakespeare Actress/Gourmet Chef; September 20, 9am: David Zawhorodny, Zynadoa.

All (or at least most of) this food news was first reported online. Check it out at