Hungry? Deliciousness is coming your way

Okay, so I'm sitting around trying to think about what to write for this week's Dish and the food photos from the restaurants participating in the Hook's Restaurant Week from January 12-27 start coming in. Looking particularly tasty is a surf and turf entrée from Burtons Grill with a small mountain of exquisitely seared scallops, gleaming at me in all their tender delicacy. Oh, I'm a goner. And now I can't stop thinking about them. In fact, I'm salivating right now! Clearly, the phrase "Restaurant Week" has begun to have a Pavlovian effect.

And really, that's what Restaurant Week is all about. Anticipation. Making your reservations early, and savoring the date and time, without spending a bundle.

Of course, you might have noticed some confusion surrounding the first RW of 2013, as a so-called advertising and "solutions agency" that has decided to ride the Hook's coattails by promoting its own "official" Charlottesville Restaurant Week following the Hook's week-long event. Now, they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, and really, we are flattered, but many of you have called or emailed asking what's going on.

Hey, it's free country, and we wish that "solutions agency" the best of luck, but come on, dudes. We even had to shut off comments on a previous RW story because they kept spamming us with their event. Get a life. Or at least get more creative!

Sorry, had to get that out of my system.

Of course, we can't be responsible for your experience that following week, or if the restaurants listed will even honor the promotion, but we can guarantee that our hand picked line-up of excellent restaurants, many of them seasoned RW participants, will be ready to serve you, and they include: Ristorante Al Dente, Balkan Bistro & Bar, Bang!, The Bavarian Chef, Caffe Bocce, the Old Mill Room at the Boar's Head, Burtons Grill, da Luca Bistro & Bar, Horse & Hound Gastropub, l’etoile, The Melting Pot, Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar, and The C&O Restaurant.

What's more, a dollar from every meal served during the week will go to the Local Food Hub, an organization that has just about single-handedly made it possible for area restaurants to load up their menus with locally produced meats, cheeses, and produce.

In addition, Dish is excited to be putting together a special issue of the Hook on January 17 that will have everything you need to know about, and get excited about, for the only Charlottesville Restaurant Week that really matters–-the original one!

Oh, Man, we are already getting hungry. 

Stay tuned: keep up with what's going on with Restaurant Week by visiting its official website at or its Facebook page at

Café Europa space closing
After 20 years, Café Europa's location on The Corner is closing. Years ago, when I first came to Charlottesville and lived on The Corner, many of the people I first met were met over some delicious Mediterranean cuisine at Café Europa, and the eatery's departure will punch a big hole in The Corner's foodie landscape. But have no fear. Owner Fotis Vavelidis says that Europa Catering will continue on serving meals for small groups and large events, and will even be taking the cuisine you've become accustomed to "in new directions."

"In the last 20 years we have made many friends and it has been our pleasure to serve you," says Vavelidis in an email announcing the closure. "We are deeply appreciative of your patronage and are happy that our Mediterranean cuisine has found a way to your heart."

The feeling is mutual, Fotis. And we wish you the best.

Mockingbird closes, too

Here's another sad and surprising development: Mockingbird in Staunton has closed. Apparently, they closed up last Sunday. Back in 2009, when the restaurant/music hall opened on Beverley Street, it survived a two-hour fire, and later survived the departure of its founder. What's more, Governor Tim Kaine stopped by the day before the restaurant opened during a trip to Staunton to promote arts in the region, saying, "I think using art as a drawing card for Staunton is great." We thought the place was invincible. Alas, we received this:

“We want to thank you and the entire community for your support,” the owners said in a release. “We have a wonderful staff that has been committed to serving you, and we want to thank them and commend them for a job well done.”

Over its relatively short run, the "Bird" featured some of the hottest "Roots Music" bands in Virginia, including Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Nathan Moore and Old School Freight Train's Jesse Harper, to name a few.

"I have come from Greensboro, North Carolina many times to see shows at The Mockingbird, and my only disappointment was the poor turnout for Simone Felice," says 'bird fan Hester Petty. "Good food. Good staff. Good music. You folks don't realize how lucky you were to have such a great music hall in your town."

Rumor has it that the current owners are looking for someone to take over the space and music venue, so there's a chance it could rise from the ashes once more. If you're interested, give them a call at 540-213-8777.