Communist evolution Tea Bazaar embraces Reds

 When Dish tried to join the masses at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar's "communist lunch" last week, we discovered that it was already history. Why make such a novel idea passé? Matteus Frankovich, who happens to be the most mellow connoisseur we've ever met, was glad to explain the evolution of his nearly three-month-old "brewery" on– or, more appropriately, above– the Downtown Mall.

"We've been letting the place evolve naturally," he says, "and offering food throughout the day and evening seemed more in-tune with both our customers' wishes and the nature of a traditional Chinese teahouse." We wondered if the outrage expressed by some community members (letter to The Hook, "Communism isn't cute," October 17) played any part in his decision to oust communism from the menu. Though he did intend for his revival of outdated social-political movements to "provide contrast to today's nationalist fervor," Frankovich says such reactions had "no direct influence" on the change.

Politics aside, hungry tea lovers can now order from both a "daily cuisine" (hearty Indian dal and rice, buckwheat sesame noodles, a "Goatherder Supreme" snack plate) and a dessert menu whenever the bazaar is open (Tues-Sat, 11am­11pm).

Not only that, but thanks to a new ABC license and more, slowly steeped decisions, patrons can now sip the fragrant port and dessert wines in the dimly lit, cushioned "harem"– though tables and chairs are also an option. By offering a limited selection of high-end dessert wines, and emphasizing the subtle, sensual, and seasonal pleasures of the tasting experience, Frankovich hopes to keep his tea haven from becoming another (crowded, noisy) Blue Light Grill.

But what if you happen to be in the mood for a wine that's less precious than an Oremus Asju or a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise (both $8)? Well, there's also a more affordable house red called– what else?­ Reds ($4).

A sign that communism lives on in spirits, each Reds cork is imprinted with a picture of a different communist leader. Pure coincidence? Frankovich assures us it is. This Zinfandel-Grenache– Barbera blend is made in new-agey California, a long way from old-world China.

If we were going to hibernate through the winter, this cozy, eclectic, and utterly laid-back tea (and wine) bazaar is probably the place we'd pick, too. Especially now that we can drink and eat the day away.

 

Boudreau's is (Hickory) smoked out

 Got a hankering for some seafood gumbo, jambalaya, or chicken fricassee? If so, don't expect to satisfy your craving at Boudreau's anymore. While driving past this Cajun cuisine and live music hotbed on E. Rio Road last week, we noticed that the sign had been changed to "Wolfie's Bar and Grill." In terms of culinary sophistication, it may be more of a regression than an evolution, but the fact stands that, as of last week, Boudreau's is now the home of Charlottesville's newest Old Hickory rotisserie smoker.

We called native Mississippian and restaurateur Allen Powell, who started Boudreau's five years ago with his wife, Suzi, to find out why he made the switch from hot sauce to barbecue sauce. Was Cajun losing its spice? "Not at all," he told us, "I just needed a new toy."

When we rang, just a few days before Thanksgiving, Powell's new toy was in the process of smoking 100 turkeys (he says it can fit up to 200). What else can this baby do? Hickory-smoked ribs, St. Louis chopped barbecue, chicken, and Carolina-pulled barbecue are just a few of Wolfie's BBQ options. Oyster and catfish (fried) platters are some of the un-smoked specialties, which can be enjoyed along with the restaurant's newly painted murals and mahogany floors.

So what are customers saying about the new Southern eats? "They're lovin' it. They're cravin' it," Powell says proudly.