FOOD- THE DISH- Cups of Joe's: Local roaster opens espresso bar

Shenandoah Joe's owner Dave Fafara invites customers of his new expresso bar to visit the on-premisis roasting facility.

Whether you know it or not, you've probably been drinking locally roasted Shenandoah Joe coffee. Since 1995, the company has been supplying numerous area restaurants and businesses with its beans. Two years ago, SJ brew even showed up in the Mocha Porter, a winter beer made by Star Hill Brewery. 

During this time, local shops including Mudhouse, Java Java, and Greenberry's (the latter of which has its own roasting operation) built businesses in our coffee-lovin' hood that have become neighborhood institutions. Now it's Shenandoah Joe's turn.

In mid-May, the roasting company finally opened its own shop on Preston Avenue near the Washington Park pool. According to SJ owner Dave Fafara, the outpost has been three years in the making. 

"You want to find a place where you know it will work," says Fafara. "This is a great location and a good addition to the community."

Unlike other shops, says Fafara, SJ has its roasting facility on the premises, which means customers will have unique access to the various brews.

"We're roasting right there on the spot," he says. "People can come back with their cup of coffee and talk to us while we roast."

That access also means that customers won't have to settle for what's been brewed.

Unlike other places, where you have to drink what they have out, Fafara explains, you can choose from any of their 25 coffees, and if they don't already have it made, they'll brew it for you right there.

"We'll even brew custom mixes for you," Fafara says, then playfully adds, "All we ask is that you don't adulterate the coffee by hammering it with cream and sugar."

Zinc now offering "gastro-lunch"

Zinc c0-owner Thomas Leroy informs Dish that the new West Main "gastro-pub" is now serving lunch from 11:30am to 2pm.

"Seeing the type of foot traffic that Feast and Orzo have from the Main Street Market, with their proximity to the Downtown Mall, we thought this would be a good addition," says Leroy.  

As for the food, Leroy says they'll be drawing heavily from the top part of their dinner menu, which includes onion soup, steak tartare, the quiche du jour, and, of course, the Croque Monsieur/Madame. In addition, Leroy says he'll add daily specials and a "tartine of the day" (basically an open-faced sandwich, he says) with a topping change every day. 

In keeping with the Franco/Brit theme, the elemental eatery will also be broadcasting a lot of European sporting events, which usually air live during lunch hours or in the early afternoon. With Bastille Day, July 14, fast approaching, Zinc may be a place to storm.  


Cage-free Omni

It's not often that a hotel restaurant gets a Dish nod, but the changes being unfurled at the Omni deserve a mention. According to local Omni spokesperson Paxson MacDonald, breakfast at the hotel on the Downtown Mall is now going to be an organic affair. In fact, the whole corporate chain appears to have taken the "slow food" route. 

"Omni Hotels has completely revamped their breakfast with cage-free eggs, organic cereals and coffee, all-natural meats," says MacDonald. "Plus, fresh pastries from Albemarle Baking Company." 

Indeed, according to a press release, Omni Hotel's "The Art of Breakfast" initiative is an attempt to salvage the reputation of the hotel breakfast. Instead of corn flakes in a box, a thumbnail-size muffin, and stale coffee with non-dairy creamer, they'll now have Eggs Benedict and Florentine with the help of hens allowed to roam freely at a small family farm in Port Washington, Wisconsin. In addition, the bacon and sausage hails from the Maverick Ranch in Colorado, where pigs are apparently treated like kings, not swine.