Brews and bites done right

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar.

I was happily surprised by the tavern’s rustic decor, dark wooden tables and chairs, and bold, hanging flower baskets. An iron awning drapes the patio area, matching iron accents throughout the restaurant. It was a far cry from a chain restaurant or what you might expect in a strip mall located near the corner of Pump Road and Ridgefield Parkway, a very suburban area.

I started with a local beer - Strangeways Honey Saison - one of the 24 beers on tap. My friend got a Dark and Stormy from the Mixology menu. Wines are sold by the glass and bottle.

Although the brussel sprouts ($6) are a side dish on the menu, we ordered them as an appetizer. They were served in a sweet and spicy sauce in an iron skillet. Although tangy, the brussel sprouts ended up drenched in a puddle of the sauce, taking on too much of its flavor.

True appetizers (called snacks) range from $4-6 and include beer bacon almonds , kettled walnuts, marinated olives, malt vinegar pork rinds, blue cheese dates, and the pickle plate.

We moved on to the main dish which we shared: a whole rotisserie chicken ($24) with a side of Mexican street corn, or grilled corn with queso fresco and cilantro.

When it arrived, we gasped at the size of our whole chicken and cheese-coated corn-on-the-cob. The juicy chicken was cut into quarters, golden brown, and tender. One piece in, and I was getting full.

One-and-a-half cobs of corn awaited us. I bit into one, expecting more from the cheese and seasonings on top. The cheese was fairly flavorless and I couldn’t decipher what kind it was.

The menu offers small, medium and large plates as well as meat and cheese boards ($15). Small plates range from $7-12 and include tavern fries, plancha flank steak, fried calamari and cherry beer-braised sausage.

We asked our server to choose our dessert from a selection of chocolate-hazelnut cake, apple pie in a jar, or beer a misu (devil’s food cake).

She brought us the apple pie ($5) served hot in an iron skillet with a streusel topping and vanilla ice cream. This classic dessert was delicious, but expected and average.
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Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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RVA Rocks! Fall Festival will take place from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Hyles Baptist Church, 7220 Courthouse Rd. in Chesterfield. There will be a rock painting contest for all ages (bring a painted rock to enter) as well as trunk or treat, face painting, games and a rock hunt (bring a flashlight). Food will be available for purchase. Admission is free. For details, visit Full text

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