Last night, the 2300 Club hosted a cocktail party to introduce new executive chef Michael Hall, and I stopped by. Hall’s arrival is perfectly timed, as the club is about to undergo renovations in preparation for its 50th anniversary celebrations beginning in May.
2300 Club board president Tom Yeaman was a large part of Hall’s move to the club. A resident of Rocketts Landing, Yeaman frequented Hall’s last restaurant, M Wine Bistro, and had met him several times through his involvement with Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the oldest and largest food and wine society. Yeaman said he knew Hall had worked in club atmospheres including The Bull & Bear Club and the Berkeley Hotel before, so he thought he’d be perfect. “I said, ‘Michael, we need you here.’” Hall said he had several job offers, but after an initial interview with the 2300 Club turned into a 3-hour meeting, he knew this was the right fit.
The 2300 Club’s new menu will feature Hall’s favored style of Southern-French cuisine. “I started my career at The Butlery, which was a French restaurant, and my mom taught me Southern cooking,” he says. “We’re going to do some fun things.”
The party featured a slew of Southern snacks. My favorites included light-yet-sharp smoked Gruyère cheese straws; a rich, savory cheesecake filled with tomatoes and topped with chive cream cheese; and dainty russet potatoes filled with ham mousse.
The club’s new menu features dishes like seared scallops with caramel-corn pudding, braised short ribs with spinach-and-chicory-garlic-sauté served with whipped Yukon potatoes, and wild-blackberry-marinated rack of lamb with European-butter-whipped Yukon potatoes, broccolini, and king carrots topped with a grape port reduction.
The 2300 Club started in 1964 as a place for preservationists who lived in Church Hill to hold meetings and luncheons. It was originally located in the space now occupied by Patrick Henry Pub and Grille and later moved to its current home fashioned from four row houses. After the renovation, which will take place in early April, there’ll be updated meeting facilities, as well as the current event spaces and gardens for weddings, cocktail parties, business lunches and more. Membership requires a $250 initiation fee with $50 monthly dues and a $50 monthly food minimum after that. “I call it the best-kept secret in Richmond,” Yeaman says. “It’s comfortable — small enough where everyone knows who you are.”
Last night, the Virginia Governor’s Cup Awards for 2014 were announced with a ceremony led by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and a tasting at the John Marshall Ballrooms. The main event was followed by a progressive after party at Pasture and Rappahannock to kick off Virginia Wine & Dine Month and Love by the Glass, a special celebration of Virginia wines that runs throughout the month of March.
The big winner of the evening was The Williamsburg Winery’s 2010 Adagio, which beat more than 400 Virginia wines to take the Governor’s Cup. This blend of cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot was well structured and fruit forward, with a lingering finish — the balance of flavors and smoothness made it clear why it won. Eleven other wines were honored as part of the Governor’s Case and more wineries received medals — check out the full list of winners here.
Next to the wineries, the staffs at Pasture and Rappahannock were the stars of the evening. At Pasture, Jason Alley designed a host of food pairings to go with the award winners, and chef Brian McClure ensured they were executed to perfection. At Rappahannock, chef Dylan Fultineer came up with a variety of delicious concoctions to sample with specific wines. Oh yeah, there were also fire breathers, Cirque de Soleil-style acrobatics demonstrations, and a dance party to the tunes of Steady Sounds. Plus, Elby Awards co-host Jason Tesauro and Barboursville Vineyards sommelier got the crowd going with a jammin' poetry slam.