One step inside The Epicurean Bistro & Wine Bar and visitors are transported to a French village complete with tiled awnings, lampposts, and yellow-brick walls that ascend into a sky-like ceiling. The authentic French atmosphere was created by founding partner Claire, a French-Canadian and consummate traveller, and French-born executive chef Dominique Brialy, whose training has taken him all over the world. Working together, their restaurant was named named Best French by Metroland in 2012, won the Award of Excellence in 2013 from Wine Spectator, and earned a mention in the inaugural edition of Best Chefs America. They pour attention into the eatery's details, from the rustic wall sconces to the sage-scented parsnip purée that accompanies the roasted venison. Claire's husband and business partner Sandy has curated a wine cellar filled with 2,200 bottles from every region of France and internationally sourced varietals that complement every meal. Guests may also order from a full bar that features an extensive craft and imported beer selection, as well as an array of whiskeys, single malts, and bourbons.
The Meat House strives for community involvement by promoting local events and charities and serves up a selection of organic, all-natural, grass-fed meats to calm carnivorous cravings. Meat options include freshly butchered beef, lamb from the Midwest, Virginia-bred pork, and exotic meats such as buffalo, alligator, and ostrich—or as it's more commonly known, the megachicken. Customers can run up meatometers with marinated steak tips ($19.98 for 2 lb.), and poultrygeists can enjoy the clucking curse of lemon-and-pepper chicken breast ($11.98 for 2 lb.). The Meat House's premium proteins are dressed with signature marinades, using a process first conceptualized by a team of synchronized-swimming bovines.
Simplicity. That's the most important ingredient in all food according to Honest Weight Food Co-op. So to understand what makes their products stand out, it's better to look at what's not on the nutrition label. No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives. No antibiotics, hormones, or other non-food ingredients. The team at Honest Weight Food Co-op works with local farmers and producers to make sure their standards are met in every product.
That's been Honest Weight Food Co-op's modus operandi since its founding in 1976, and the efforts of the members-owned organization have proved successful. The co-op has expanded into bigger and bigger spaces over the years, until they finally arrived at their current Watervliet Avenue location in 2013. The building brims with fresh meats and fish, in-season produce, natural groceries, and household items such as light bulbs and laundry soap (which also come from eco-friendly, responsible suppliers, naturally).
In addition to storing vast amounts of grocery items and prepared meals, this expansive space also makes it possible to host events ranging from juicing classes to reiki sessions. Honest Weight's outreach programs send educators to local schools to teach about healthy living, and the co-op partners with WAMC public radio to host Food For Thought evenings of food, film, and discussion, at least when attendees are done chewing.
Via Fresca takes its name form the Italian word for “fresh,” and a commitment to fresh ingredients can be found in every dish the gourmet Italian market and eatery serves. Tender circles of fresh mozzarella pair with tomatoes on cold sandwiches, and freshly sliced Boar’s Head meats line paninis on artisanal ciabatta bread baked in house. Inside the cozy dining area, glass display cases sport specialty desserts such as tiramisu, flourless chocolate cakes, and coconut macaroons. Patrons may opt to dig into housemade crab cakes on the outdoor patio, order meals to serve families back home, or cater special events such as 6-foot-sub-eating contests.