Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Exploring the New at SIx Burner

I don't know how I did it, but I went out for some leisurely eating and drinking and then went to a show and I am home and it's barely past 11:00. How in the world did that happen? And why didn't I stop for a nightcap on the way home?

Because I hadn't been to Six Burner since before they closed down for a two-week vacation, I felt the need to see what was up with them. In fact, lots had changed, including the kitchen staff under Philip Denny (which I'd had a heads-up about) and the menu (which was a pleasant surprise). With a new emphasis on small plates, I was excited to find a dozen small plates ranging form $6 to $10, with only the foie gras topping out at $16.

With so many choices, I needed some time to decide. Since it was Tuesday (half off all wines by the glass) I started with the Broadbent Vino Verde while I can still get it. I know some restaurants around here have already taken Vino Verde off the wine list (you know who you are because I've already given you crap about it) but, come on, it may be September, but it was still 90 degrees today! In fact, T. came over and we bonded over the beauty of Vino Verde as the easiest of all summer sippers. Bearded men know things.

To my surprise, Six Burner had a new bartender, Mike, a charming guy who quickly introduced himself and made me feel welcome. He had been trained by my favorite 6B bartender, Josh, so his charming ways came as no surprise.

I asked for his references (Joe's Inn and Sam & Omie's, of all unlikely places and actively recruited by owner Ry) and T. was quick to explain to Mike who I was and what my role at 6B was ("When she comes in on days other than Tuesdays, it throws us all off. But she does it anyway.").

Mike has been in RVA two years longer than I have (having moved here because he fell in love and got married), so we enjoyed talking about the changes we have seen in the scene.

He told me about his years working on the Outer Banks (no matter what shift he worked, there always seemed to be time to hang out at the beach he said) and we compared our memories of the evolution of that area.

Perusing the latest Flavor magazine, I enjoyed the article on Acacia and was most surprised to see the piece on Blue Duck Tavern, a restaurant I'd visited with a big city critic friend a while back, here. It was interesting getting another viewpoint on a place I'd been.

Remembering that evening, one of my favorite touches had happened after I sat my bag on the floor; our server had scooped it up and set it on a small stool to keep it off the (presumably) less-than-pristine floor. That's a big city attention to detail that I can't imagine in Richmond Or perhaps our restaurant floors are just cleaner.

Six Burner's new menu deservedly got all my attention. From bacon-wrapped fried house made pickles to red snapper crudo, I had a tough time choosing. It was the last item that finally grabbed me and wouldn't let go: the braised rabbit, potato gnocchi, figs, roasted shallots, Parmesan and cocoa. Comfort food, a tease to fall and the figs that are so amazingly good right now all made for a dish even a rabbit-hater would love (and actually I'm quite fond of rabbit).

Next time, I'm thinking the fluke sashimi. Or perhaps the Olde Salts raw oysters. So many delectable choices!

Requesting a glass of the Brandborg Pinot Noir, Mike misheard me and brought a glass of Eola Pinot Gris by mistake. Turns out they were out of the Pinot Noir anyway, so instead I got the La Paradou Grenache/Syrah and found it a lovely accompaniment to my rabbit. When Mike brought another glass unbidden, I didn't complain in the least. What's $3.50?

After several hours and watching the restaurant fill almost to capacity and begin to clear out (except for the first date couple at the table behind me and their conversation was so endearing I couldn't help but eavesdrop), I knew it was time to hit the road if I was to hear live music tonight.

The Camel had three bands playing, but I'd unfortunately missed the first, Quiet Eyes Road, plus part of the second, Vessel, by the time I got there. Vessel could best be described as hardcore vocals with softcore/emo instrumentation. I'm as emo as the next girl (actually probably more so), but half a set was probably plenty for me.

O'Brother, on the other had, were rock/indie/ambient, for lack of a better term (so no screaming). The volume was a bit more than my eardrums would have liked, but they ranged close enough to post-rock's swelling and diminishing volumes to keep me happy. The crowd was clearly devoted to either the band or the sound; I'm not sure that it mattered which on a Tuesday night.

The lead singer explained that he was having vocal issues, so the set would be short. Clearly apologetic, he promised that the band would make it up to the audience the next time they played here. The set was probably a half a dozen songs or so and then they were through; thus my unexpectedly early night.

Which is probably just as well considering how early my bed began vibrating this morning due to the gas line repairs. The workmen are always so sweetly apologetic when they see me (must be that heart-to-heart we had a while back about their noisy wake-up calls), but it doesn't change the fact that they're out there way before I'm ready to get up.

Maybe O'Brother did me a favor after all. Thanks, guys.

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