FOOD- THE DISH- Belmont beauty: Mas turns 6, wise beyond its years
When it comes to fashion, Dish cares more about how a salad is dressed than a staff. But we would be remiss not to admit that we're quite taken with the bowties, little black dresses, and cryptic t-shirts donned by the perennially fashionable staff at Mas Tapas. Dish recently found out what owner/chef Tomas Rahal had in mind when he ordered shirts with "PCPC" and "Bacon wrapped love" on the fronts, and we're not sure if we're in on the joke or if the joke's on us. But we like it.
Turning six this month, Mas is at an age where it's comfortable in its own skin, especially with a solid review under its belt from the Washington Post's Jane Black (who also took to Rahal's sense of humor in screenprinting). In 2008, Mas introduced us to Jamón ibérico, cured ham from Spanish pigs that eat a diet of mostly acorns. The restaurant was chosen as the party venue for the band Modest Mouse after it played the Charlottesville Pavilion in June. Rahal continues to cultivate relationships with local farms and small-production growers, and he calls it a "record year" for the harvest, and, we hope, awareness of the importance of sustainable farming. And we haven't forgotten that Rahal clued Dish in on a story or two.
"There is one phrase that sticks in my mind about Mas," says Rahal, reflecting on the last six years,"...retro-innovation. The act of practicing and refining traditional food preparation while maintaining the 'hand-crafted' qualities inherent in small, artisanal shops and farms. We practice this in every aspect of our operation."
In typical fashion, Mas will be celebrating its sixth anniversary in style on Sunday, January 25. from 8pm to 2am with DJ Quarter-Roy. Dish had the pleasure of attending "M5," the fifth anniversary party, and we have this advice to offer: block out your calendar on the morning of the 26th to prevent any early meetings from being scheduled, wear something unrestrictive and chic for excessive eating and dancing, set an aspirin and a glass of water on your kitchen counter, bring a camera, and take a cab home.
"As always we like to show our appreciation for what great customers, friends and staff we have," Rahal wrote in an e-mail announcement, "and this is the night above all others." Yes it is.
Dish shouldn't editorialize (New Year's Resolution, maybe) but we think the community responds well to restaurants that are unique to Charlottesville and to restaurateurs who wouldn't have it any other way.
During a year in which many restaurants will be struggling, Rahal says the ones with the most regular, return customers will be the ones to survive.
"Our motto, like the legionnaires of old Rome is still 'strength and honor,'" he says, "caring enough to not let down your co-workers or customers is crucial."
New Menus at l'etoile
L'etoile on West Main, which is currently the top-rated restaurant on our online Foodfinder, is offering up two menus local foodies might be interested in: a winter three-course dinner for $27 that they will be offering throughout the winter, and a special Valentine's Day menu that will run that entire week (Wednesday through Sunday), "for those whose schedule might conflict with the actual day," says chef/owner Mark Gresge.
Sí Tapas wine dinner
On February 11, chef Joshua Hutter will be creating seven courses of progressive Spanish tapas to be paired with seven wines, so appoint a designated driver! In addition, there will be commentary from wine specialist Carol Colby from Republic National Wine Distributing. Dinner starts around 8pm and it's $45 per person, which includes food, wine, tax, and gratuity. Contact Sí Tapas at 202-0234 for more information and to make reservations.