So we learned a while ago about Verbena’s closure and the new Fan House opening in its place. Here’s Style Weekly’s take:
Fan House You can tell it’s a different place even from the outside. What was Verbena, at Floyd and Robinson, is now Fan House, the brainchild of director, musician and entrepreneur Sunny Zhao. The filmmaker, who grew up in a restaurant family in China, made a dramatically fast change to the building’s interior, adding a large bar downstairs crowned by Lady Godiva, a reproduction of an 1898 John Collier painting. Red and black accents throughout the space give off an equally sexy vibe and cinematic street view. The staff is beyond psyched: Joe Jenkins, general manager, and Reece Roberts, a chef formerly of Franco’s and Cabo’s, worked closely with Zhao to bring his unique and perfectionist vision to life.
The menu pairs East-meets-West flavors with down-ticket pricing. It includes things as varied as fresh Japanese tofu for $3, Asian beef kabobs for $5, smoked, grilled ostrich rolls for $12, Zhao’s signature dumplings for $10, banana-leaf-wrapped pot roast with jasmine rice for $12, and sea bass with wasabi mash, bok choy and cuke salad for $25 — an early hit with first-week diners. Desserts include a must-order bread pudding and diced, spiced mango in pastry. Bartenders on both levels are pouring a concise list of wines, sakes and creative cocktails for crowds that descended as soon as the red neon “Open” sign came on last week.
There’s more in the works. Outside dining and brunch begin soon, a sushi room will be added to the back, and a 35-foot canvas upstairs is about to be painted by 35 undiscovered Richmond artists, depicting their views of the Great Wall of China from beginning to end. “This is to recognize that they’re all talented,” Zhao says, “and that they may be known someday.” He knows whereof he speaks. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Fan House, 2526 Floyd Ave. 612-8888. www.thefanhouse.net.
And, from RVA Foodie, a sneak peek inside the new restaurant opening up in Border’s old spot at Plum and Main. Hoping to open late March.
Bellytimber (Victorian for “food”) The space brims with potential, in large part thanks to the additions being made by Randy and his carpenters. Like the gargantuan bars at Can Can and NY Deli that attract customers like (bar)flies to honey, Bellytimber weighs in with this wooden behemoth. This rustic style seems like a theme developing around the place, from booths styled by the same carpenter who did Stronghill, to the sturdy woodwork of the new entryway installed to prevent the gusts of wind that harshed Border patrons sitting near the door.
Old regulars from the Border are sure to notice the additional light pouring into the bar from the windows where Randy poked through walls previously bricked up since the building was built in 1870. All around the windows you can see what looks like artsy decoupage, but it’s actually layers of paint and wallpaper from the previous generations of owners. So, the history of the location will be on display in the belly of the old Border.
Sprout Market . . .Also cropping up is Sprout Market and Café at 1 N. Morris near VCU campus. The restaurant will serve carry out food with locally sourced ingredients. According to a message on its website, the owners previously operated All Star Market and Deli on Lombardy Street but closed it to open Sprout. The market will also sell beer and wine.
Been to the new Fan House? What did you think?
Planning on stalking Bellytimber to be one of the first to dine there?
Can’t wait for Sprout Market since I’m really missing All Star’s yummy sandwiches. Anyone else?