FOOD- THE DISH- Local's Corner: Simeon serves, diner opens, Ants march
In case you don't know already, the funky stone building on Route 53 that was home to Brix Marketplace has a new tenant–Simeon Market. Karen Laetare, who ran Brix Marketplace before opening Brix Terrace Café, an Italian-inspired restaurant right next to Hallmark at Pantops Shopping Center, closed the Brix Marketplace after eight years to focus on her new gig– running the Monticello Café at the new Monticello visitor's center. That turned out to be Simeon Market chef/owner Bob Heck's good fortune.
"I always thought the building was such a neat place," says Heck, a Baltimore Culinary College who moved here in 2000 and has cooked at Farmington Country Club, Prince Michel Vineyards, and most recently at Zinc. "I always thought that if Karen ever decided to leave I'd love that spot."
Late last year, his wife spotted a for rent sign on the building.
Heck describes the Simeon Market as a " hybrid bakery/deli" serving up chef-made baked goods (scones, crumb cake, brownies) and gourmet sandwiches (smoked salmon on foccacia with capers and red onions, ham and brie with dijonaisse dressing), all made with local ingredients when possible.
In fact, Heck plans on having something called a "Local's Corner" section in the shop where local farmers can sell their produce. "It will be a kind of miniature farmer's market," he says.
"I've been in the food service industry my whole life," says Heck, "and I'm very much about the farm-to-table, slow food movement...I was doing that out in California before they started calling it that. I've always believed in using fresh, local ingredients... and letting the food speak for itself."
Ants marching on Mono Loco
When the Dave Matthews Band returns home April 17 for their JPJ show, the first here since the loss of sax player Leroi Moore, the Ants will be marching down to Mono Loco after the show.
Last year, AntsMarching.org, the DMB fan community, held their first annual AntsMarching.org After-Party in West Palm Beach, Florida, which drew 600 happy fans over two nights. This year, the fan group plans to descend on downtown Charlottesville after the show, and according to organizer Joe Maliszeski, it could be even bigger.
"Last year, the party venue was 20 minutes away via a toll road, and we still had 300 people each night," says Maliszeski. "But Mono Loco is only a stones throw away from JPJ, so it may be quite big."
Maliszeski says that the folks at Mono Loco will be setting up a second patio and clearing out the "alley" next to the building for the party. He also says that DMB band manager Coran Capshaw' s Red Light Management is securing some rare early DMB recordings for the event to set the mood. In addition, Starr Hill Brewery (another Capshaw venture) will be offering specials on its hand-crafted beers for the event. The official DMB fan association, The Warehouse, will also be partnering with the Ants to give away prizes and have a special contest, and the whole party will be broadcast live on ustream.tv. And continuing the DMB empire theme (Capshaw also owns the restaurant), Mono Loco will also be serving up some tasty treats made with produce from Matthews' Best of What's Around farm.
"We're excited to go back to Charlottesville," says Maliszeski. "We went to the shows in 2006 and loved the city and the atmosphere. I think this year will top it, especially with the after-party."
If you'd like to attend, Maliszeski suggests you RSVP on the site's After Party page at www.antsmarching.org.
Sam's Kitchen becomes the Cavalier Diner
In recent weeks, Sam's Kitchen across from Bodos on Emmet Street quietly disappeared and was replaced by The Cavalier Diner.
Sam's had been a fixture in Charlottesville since 1994, when it opened in the Howard Johnson's on The Corner, then moved to the old Hoo's Kitchen spot on Emmet Street. A remodeled Sam's Kitchen opened in 2001 after an attic fire the year before destroyed much of the building.
Sam's was a working person's hangout, also known to UVA kids for its good, cheap eats and all day breakfast– the kind of place that made it the perfect stop for politicians, such as former governor Jim Gilmore (R), who made a stop there last summer in his ongoing bid for John Warner's (D) senate seat.
As it turns out, The Cavalier Diner won't be much different than Sam's. According to co-owner "Elizabeth," who claimed she could not reveal her last name due to a noncompete clause in the sale of a familiar local restaurant that she and her husband had owned for 20 years (how they hope to keep that one a secret is beyond Dish), the Cavalier Diner will serve no frills food "like you'd get in grandma's kitchen" and breakfast all day. And for all you working folks– you can call in your meal so it will be ready when you get there.