Food News: Fancy food trucks, fancy pig-in-a-blanket, fancy deep-fried doughnuts, fancy sodas, and just burgers

Apologies in advance for making you burst into tears of dining frustration because you’re reading the Internet instead of eating delicious local cuisine.

Photo by: Redbirds


The Richmond food truck scene is just a few weeks away from welcoming its newest member. Devin Setnar and Miles Huber have teamed up to launch Redbird’s, a food truck focused on Southern signatures reimagined as street food. Think shrimp and grits cakes and boiled peanut hummus.

“We want to be the first to bring restaurant-style composed plates to a truck,” says Setnar. Their seasonally-inspired chalkboard menu will feature dishes that Setnar misses from his home in the slightly-deeper South: “Southern food is my soul…and what my soul wants to eat right now.” He’s talking about whole hog BBQ, pimento cheese, pickles, and fried chicken…you know, The Food Groups.

Raleigh transplant Setnar has been cooking since middle school. And after graduating from Johnson and Wales in 2007, he’s been in kitchens from Paris, France to Raleigh, North Carolina. Setnar worked briefly at Graffiato’s Richmond location before reconnecting with childhood friend Huber, who was the GM of Sugar Shack Donuts at the time. Setnar and Huber decided the timing was right to start a business together and set off to do just that.

The name Redbird’s has three roots: the duo both sport big ol’ red beards; it’s Huber’s dad’s pet name for his mom (Aww!); and the state bird of both North Carolina and Virginia is the cardinal. Their noticeably red-bird-free logo was designed and illustrated by Sure Hand Signs’ Ross Trimmer. Setnar says the truck will be open for business in the next few weeks, pending health inspection. The plan is to vend at Hardywood and other breweries for the summer, transitioning to college campus and catering in the Fall and Winter.


Metzger Bar & Butchery has made it through a full calendar year in business, as of this week, and the Union Hill outpost shows no signs of slowing down. Just this week, the Wall Street Journal published chef Brittanny Anderson’s recipe for Bratwurst in Rye Pastry with Malted Mustard. It’s basically the fanciest pig-in-a-blanket you will ever come across, more of a pig-in-an-Anthropologie-duvet, and aptly suited for your entertaining purposes.


Chef Philip Denny sat down with Richmond Magazine’s Stephanie Breijo to spill the goods on his new restaurant, Castanea, set to open in mid-July. Denny describes an internationally-inspired menu that allows the chef to flex his culinary muscle in any way he sees fit, including but not limited to a full dinner menu from tapas to desserts, a grab-and-go counter with sandwiches and salads, a myriad of housemade gelato flavors, and monthly back-porch brunches. Plan on multiple visits if you want to absorb all there is to offer at this Shockoe Bottom spot.


The Richmond Times Dispatch has not one but two stories about woman-owned food businesses this week, and that news trend pleases me greatly. First is Mister Softee (Or, more accurately, Ms. Softee, as the Richmond-based franchise is operated by Christina Freeman, who is, in fact, not a man at all), which tours the city during the hottest days of the year providing much needed ice cream treats for anyone within earshot of the truck’s happy tune. RTD writer Holly Prestige also profiles Three Sisters Cheese Straws, makers of the dangerously addictive cheddar snack, now in their fifth year of business. The secret to their success: a simple, time-honored recipe that everyone remembers but no one wants to make for themselves.


Ardent Craft Ales’ Beer Brunches are back, starting this Sunday (and again on July 26th and August 30th). Bring your kids, dogs, and appetites for Ardent’s newest beer releases, Pizza Tonight’s brunch pizzas, and Greenleaf’s Pool Room’s ice cream sandwiches.


I’m telling you now, you’re going to want to carve time out of your calendar for these things: First is The Jackdaw’s pop-up at Shoryuken Ramen. How fitting that a restaurant born from pop-ups would host the first-ever Jackdaw pop-up dinner! The menu promises steamed buns and congee and A DEEP FRIED DOUGHNUT WITH SOY MILK HORCHATA. Sorry for yelling, but you try conveying that information with anything other than a maximum level of excitement.

And speaking of excitement, the very next evening, Heritage is a hosting a five-course “Southeast Foraging Dinner” to benefit The Lustgarten Foundation, an organization seeking a cure for Pancreatic Cancer. If you appreciate the idea of someone stumbling across your dinner while on a walk in the woods, you’re going to want to lock down your tickets now. Special guests include foraging expert and author Chris Bennett as well as local foraging experts Steve Haas and Nancy Baker. Heritage chef Joe Sparatta will cook alongside Lee Gregory, Brittanny Anderson, Owen Lane, Randall Doetzer, and Bryan McClure. Guests will receive a signed copy of Bennett’s book Southeast Foraging and a handmade ceramic vase made by Heritage server extraordinaire Mary Tripplet. Call for tickets: 804.353.4060


Southern Foodways Alliance members will descend on New Orleans this weekend for the SFA’s Southern Symposium, which returns to NOLA after ten years. The SFA has been building up to the big show with a wealth of Big Easy coverage over the past few weeks, including an oral history of its French bread, the story of the over-100-year-old Dixie Brewery, and a guide to Vietnamese spots in the Crescent City. Required listening while you make your way through this reading list can be found on this SFA New Orlean’s Spotify Playlist, which features some great stuff from The Meters, Dr. John, and Earl King, despite a notable lack of my man Mystikal and bouncemaster Big Freedia.


If you’ve ever had one of Dutch & Company’s “Kitchen Door Dogs,” the gourmet hot dogs available for one hour every week, you know it’s a dogge deserving of hype. Consider combinations like “andouille with dates, smoked tomato sauce, and crispy shallots” and “lemon pork hot dog with fermented pepper romesco, arugula, and manchego.” Dogs such as these demand a beverage that can stand up to big flavors and meaty bites. This is one time when a Diet Coke simply will not suffice. Dutch & Co.’s Saturday sodas pass the test admirably. Recent soda flavors have included clementine dill, lavender melon, and my personal favorite, cherry honeysuckle. Fair warning: It’s hard to go back to “normal soda” after introducing these to the mix.


Everything’s coming up burger thanks to Style Weekly’s RVA Burger Week, now in its third year. If you’re just now finding out about this, you may be too late to experience all 37 $5 burgers from the 31 participating restaurants, but it doesn’t mean you can’t try.


VAFoodie is about the all the amazing food our fair state has to offer, from farmers markets to food trucks to fine dining spots. The photos, whether original or re-grammed are captivating, and all the food is within a few hours’ drive.1

  1. This one’s original photo credit: @gloriagrigorutsa 
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Stephanie Ganz

Stephanie Ganz thought there would be pizza.

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