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>> RESTAURANT WEEK RETURNS TO THE 'BURG!
Eighth annual Old Town Fredericksburg Restaurant Week kicks off a year of change in local dining scene

 Sample some of the area's best cuisine, starting this weekend. Above: Wood-fired pizza at Castiglia's.
FILE/SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 1/17/2013

BY KURT RABIN

It's a temptation to hibernate during the winter months, but if there's one annual area event worth venturing out for, it's Old Town Fredericksburg Restaurant Week.

That's right! It's time again to get stirring, and one can't help but be aroused after catching a whiff of the exciting dishes the chefs of the city's select restaurants will serve during the eighth annual Restaurant Week. Beginning this Friday and running through Monday, Jan. 28, bistros, delis, wine bars and historic inns will be presenting palate-pleasers, everything from fresh seafood to Colonial-inspired favorites to all-American fare.

Two-course lunches will be offered for just $10.13, and three-course dinners will cost $20.13, a price to match the new year!

Participating restaurants include Bistro Bethem, Capital Ale House, Jake and Mike's, and 14 other great dining spots.

Get your schnitzel fix at Bavarian Chef or feast on homemade pasta at Renato's, wild-boar Bolognese at Poppy Hill or shepherd's pie at Colonial Tavern, or satisfy your sweet tooth at Eileen's Bakery.

No matter where you dine, you won't have to break the bank to do it. "Ten bucks for lunch," said Christian Renault, chef/owner of La Petite Auberge. "You spend more at Arby's."

Fredericksburg's vibrant dining scene boasts more than 30 chef-owned restaurants, and it promises to become a whole lot more vibrant during the new year. (Can you say "sushi lounge"? How about "rooftop dining"?)

When the chef/owners were asked about their plans and resolutions for their businesses, they all expressed firm intentions for the new year. They ranged from the self-effacing (Foode's Beth Black: "We're just trying to make it till the weekend") to the downright determined (Bistro Bethem's Aby Bethem: "To get the other place [Vivify Burger & Lounge] open. We're shooting for April now.")

At La Petite, where improvements were made last year to the restaurant's exterior, renovations are planned for its interior, including new carpeting and an update to the look of the entranceway.

Sunken Well Tavern will be experimenting with a new "micro menu," according to owner Steve Cameli, while Fizzlebottom's will soon offer chef Justin Cunningham's house-made pulled pork and soups from scratch, such as curried cauliflower.

Kybecca has said goodbye to its retail wine store and is busy restoring the space it once occupied. Owner Rebecca Thomas promises a whole new concept under recently hired chef Wade Truong. Along with more bar and table seating, Kybecca will feature wine dinners, chef's tables, after-hours DJs, old-fashioned cocktails and even vintage drink glasses.

Poppy Hill's chef Scott Mahar plans on changing up his menu more frequently. He'll offer a base menu with a sprinkling of seasonal offerings like quail, and gravlax salad, as well as a weekend pasta-tasting menu.

Without exception, all participating restaurateurs are looking forward to the next 10 days. Foode's Beth Black said Restaurant Week is all about "restaurants celebrating each other and what we do."

Kurt Rabin: 540/374-5000
Email: krabin@freelancestar.com


What: Old Town Fredericksburg Restaurant Week Where: Participating restaurants include Bavarian Chef, Bistro Bethem, Brock's Riverside Grill, Capital Ale, Castiglia's, Colonial Tavern-Home of the Irish Brigade, Eileen's Bakery, Fizzlebottom's Cafe, Foode, Jake & Mike's, Kybecca Wine Bar, La Petite Auberge, Poppy Hill Tuscan Kitchen, Ristorante Renato, Sunken Well Tavern, Tru Luv's and Virginia Deli. When: Jan. 18-28 Cost: Two-course lunch, $10.13 per person; three-course dinner, $20.13 per person. Reservations not required but are advisable on weekends. Info: See visitfred.com or call Fredericksburg Visitor Center at 540/373-1776. Call the individual restaurants for their hours and daily specials, or to make reservations.