Food News: Creativity at Vagabond, farm-to-table meals, Chang, and Dad

Don’t worry, biscuit news will still exist in another format. READ ON!


Well, our days together here are numbered reader friends, and that means I’ve shed lots of melodramatic tears this week. It also means I won’t be able to finish the Better Know a Biscuit series in quite the way I had intended. But I haven’t gained 10 pounds for nothing, and I’m going to finish this thing if it brings on Type 2 Diabetes, dammit!

So, fellow biscuit-lovers, I will publish the third and final installment in the series on Monday, June 27th on my oft-forgotten company blog, and if all goes as planned, I’ll start consistently updating that blog in a vain attempt to fill the RVANews-sized hole in my heart. If that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll just have to eat more biscuits. I mean, right?


“What am I going to do to shake things up?” Vagabond chef Owen Lane found himself asking, as he so often does. He knew he needed to do something unexpected, so the notoriously creative chef asked, “What isn’t anyone else doing?”

What he came up with was getting out of his kitchen’s comfort zone and creating a different menu every Monday night (starting last week!), highlighting whatever culinary destinations happen to inspire Lane and his crew.

“It’s a chance to get my staff to do research, borrow books of mine,” says Lane. “It helps them move down the road quicker than they thought they would by opening them up to new things.” With one Road Trip Food Carnival (Latin America) already on the books, Lane says the kitchen has bounced around menu ideas from Japanese to a traditional American backyard barbecue. “I want people to know they can come in here and have a good time,” says Owen, who’s toying with the idea of turning the Creole night into an all-out crawfish boil.1

This upcoming Monday, Vagabond will journey to Italy, and Lane says they’re working on the 10- to 12-item menu now, which may include a smoked pork cheek agnolotti with cured egg yolk and beet puree, as well as a lamb meatball with marinara, basil oil, and parmesan crisp, and a few other surprises. “Doing the same thing all the time, you get bored,” says Lane. “So it’s about having something for us to do and have fun.”


If you like the idea of eating expertly-prepared, hyper-local food to support a good cause (or two), grab your wallets and mark your cals:

On June 22nd, at Ellwood Thompson’s Beet Cafe 2, Shalom Farms will bring the fresh produce, and Ellwood’s chefs will work their magic on it, creating “a locally-sourced, seasonal meal meant to nourish our community, showcase our chefs & Shalom’s amazing produce, and support the programs of Shalom Farms.” Tickets are $55 each or $100 per couple and include three courses with beer or wine pairings with each course.

Then on Sunday, July 10th, Sub Rosa Bakery will host a benefit dinner for the revived Birdhouse Market, with Sub Rosa’s Evrim and Evin Dogu, Tomten’s Autumn Campbell and Brian Garretson, and Paul Winston of Dutch & Co. preparing the multi-course, market-sourced meal. This one is going to be special folks; so much so that I wouldn’t have told you about it had I not already secured my own tickets.


In it’s-a-wonderful-time-to-be-alive news, Peter Chang’s newest location is now open for business at 2816 W. Broad Street in the newly restored Hoffheimer Building. The concept for this location, according to Chang during An Evening with Peter Chang was to try to marry his ultra-popular Szechuan specialties with an exciting beverage program, something Chang admits he hasn’t done much of in the past.

To that end, this location hired Derek Salerno to consult on and oversee the beverage program while the restaurant gets up and running. Salerno, who you’ll soon be able to find behind the bar at Shagbark, had this to say: “For the mixed drink menu at Peter Chang, above all, I tried to focus on lush, cooling flavors to complement the food and the summer season. There is a little influence from Chinese flavors as well as a nod to the tiki tradition of many American Chinese restaurants. A drink that I’m excited about is our sesame-washed gin with cucumber tonic. I made it to imitate the cucumber salad Peter has on many of his menus. It took me a while to get the sesame flavor at the right level, but it is now a refreshing, cooling highball.”

And meanwhile in Southside, the second location of WPA Bakery opened yesterday morning, meaning I’m hardly ever more than five minutes away from canelés and Counter Culture coffee, a true sign of having made good life decisions.


Sugar Shack is turning the big 0-3 this Saturday, and they’re celebrating with free photo booth pictures and raffle prizes ranging from skydiving to sweet-frogging.

And, on June 25th, Ardent celebrates their two-year anniversary with a beer-fueled block party, featuring some choice live music, food trucks, brews, and collabo brews.


It’s almost Father’s Day, and typically, I’d create separate content on how to celebrate your old man with plenty of food and/or drink, but we’re running out of time here, so how about this:

Three Great Things You Could Give Your Dad To Eat Or Drink

  • Bawlt shrimp: Strangeways Brewing and Yellow Umbrella Provisions are teaming up to host a proper shrimp boil with all the fixins, plus chicken wings and, of course, beers.
  • WHISKY: I don’t mean to put all dads in a box here, but if I did, I bet those dads would like some whisky in the box. Virginia Distillery’s Virginia Highland Malt Whisky just won a gold medal at the 2016 Los Angeles International Spirits Competition, and doesn’t your pop deserve the best?
  • Little House Green Grocery’s Fiery Father Box: Blow the lid off your dad with “Crunch Dynasty’s traditional spice mix, Apinya Thai Food Co.’s hot sauce, The Essential Table’s spicy jam, and hot sauce from Speedy’s Hot Sauce.” Head over to LHGG’s Facebook page for a chance to WIN this collection of capsaicin.


New to market, it’s Gordy’s Hot Chili Spears pickle brine in a can because life is so, so good sometimes!


Catina’s hours can be fickle, and the service is curt; but those sandwiches are worth any insult to your ego that you have to suffer. They’re easily, absolutely the best in town, and they’re $3.50 each, buy five get one free. And who among us doesn’t need six bánh mì?

My Signature Move is to get a couple (OK, six) bánh mì and a pack of spring rolls from Tan A and then find a nearby park for a vietnamese picnic with Pocky for dessert. Now you do it too! See you there!?


If we must part ways, at least I can leave you with this…

  1. Lane was unsure about the popularity of a crawfish boil, so if you happen to see him after reading this, assure him that we will all be there with bibs on! Or maybe tweet at him using the hashtag #yesplzcrawfishboil 
  2. Ellwood Thompson’s is now a B-Corp! Cool! 
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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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