FOOD- THE DISH- </span><i>Pomme frite</i>: French jewel rises from the ashes<span class="s1">
Fans of Pomme, the French restaurant on Main Street in Gordonsville, were shocked to see the "apple" of their dining desire burned out and boarded up about three months ago. They e-mailed Dish frantically. What's happened to Pomme? Why are the windows smashed?
Indeed, we could understand their anxiety– Pomme's quiet elegance, small town location, and uncluttered menu, served up by one of the top chefs in the world, according to the Maitres Cuisiniers de France, is about the closest we can get to Provence.
For weeks, Dish called Pomme's number, only to be told that "due to unforeseen circumstances" the restaurant was closed and that their message box was full. Finally, a woman with a charming French accent answered the phone.
"There was a fire in the apartment upstairs," says Maryvonne Gasparini, wife of chef-owner (and the top chef honoree) Gerard Gasparini. "But it was the water the fire department used to put it out that damaged the restaurant."
After repairing the extensive water damage, Pomme re-opened on November 17.
"We're happy to see our customers again," Maryvonne says of the restaurant's loyal following. "But, of course, we'd be happy to see new ones as well."
Blue Bird flies away
Walking down West Main Street, Dish was shocked to see a sign on the front door of the Blue Bird Café reading, "Due to circumstances beyond our control" the restaurant was closing "permanently." Say it ain't so!
If you're an old-timer like the Dish, you remember when a young lady named Margaret Thiele opened the Bird down at Allied Plaza in the late 1980s. She moved it to West Main in the early 1990s, in the old Gaslight Restaurant spot, and it was one of the first nouvelle cuisine restaurants in town.
Since the early 1990's, the Blue Bird Café had been– along with the Blue Moon Diner and the now-closed Southern Culture– a West Main landmark known for its outside seating and sumptuous brunch menu. Since then, the restaurant has gone through a series of owners, all of whom carried on the tradition, which included one of the most extensive menus in town.
Present owner Chuck Hancher, who owns an accounting firm in town, says he decided to close the Bird December 1, but wasn't comfortable giving Dish any reasons for the decision. When we asked if the Bird might fly again, Hancher wasn't quick to say yes, but he did say that he and his partners were "waiting on alternatives."
In May, Dish spoke with partner Brent Pye, who hinted at the possibility that the Bird was having a tough time.
"The Blue Bird is facing some very tough competition these days," said Pye. "Indeed, with so many restaurants in town now, it's not enough anymore to be good; you gotta be great!"
New spot joined in lights on!
When touting the opening of Orzo in the Main Street Market recently, we said the new Mediterranean-style restaurant would finally keep the purple food emporium open at night. Well, it turns out that Café Milano has been open at night– seven days a week– for the last two years, 'til 9pm in the winter and 10pm in the warmer months. D'oh!
Our source is none other than former Dish writer Christina Ball, now the owner of Ecco Italy/Spain, a language school that holds classes in the purple-painted Market. Ball also notes that the Seasonal Cook's classes and her own language/culture/food classes have kept the lights on at night for a while.
"Of course, I'm thrilled to have Orzo here and open at night," says Ball, "so my students and instructors have a place to go for a glass of wine or dinner after class! Our night-lights are small, but they're pretty bright!"
Now if only we could get an espresso or some specialty cheese after midnight!
On December 1, the owners of the Blue Bird Café posted this notice on the front door.
Blue Bird of Dining Happiness: opened on West Main Street in the early 1990s, the Blue Bird Café was one of the first nouvelle cuisine restaurants in town.