Sean Wight is slowly gaining a reputation as Augusta’s mad food-scientist, the Alton Brown of the Garden City, if you will.
At Frog Hollow Tavern and Farmhaus Burger, Wight is known for relying on mostly locally sourced products, pickling his own fruits and vegetables, creating concoctions like bacon jam and Woo sauce (his own Worcestershire sauce). He puts fried eggs on top of burgers and tequila in milkshakes, so Wight is clearly unafraid to conduct experiments in his kitchens-laboratories.
Now, with the opening of his third venture, Craft & Vine, in mid-February, Wight has proven that his quest to find or create a better products through experimentation and innovation extends to drinks as well as food. This bar and eatery with a big-city feel may hearken back to Prohibition-era times, but nonetheless relies on the latest advances in technology.
Case in point is Wight’s purchase of several of Napa Technology’s WineStations. Described as the Wall of Wine by some patrons, the WineStations look like sophisticated beer taps: four bottles of wine are encased in a stainless steel device that connects each to a tap. Above each is an LED display that allows the server to dispense wine as needed.
The advantages are many. The WineStation keeps bottles from spoiling for up to 60 days and the display pours the same amount each time, serving it at the perfect temperature.
Wight said he invested in the sophisticated preservation system because it allows him to offer 40 wines by the glass. Spoilage issues keep most restaurants without the system from being able to afford offering so much variety.
And they do offer variety, he told the Metro Spirit shortly after Craft & Vine opened.
“We offer everything from affordable, unique varietals to some big Cabs that you would normally not be able to buy by the glass,” he said.
Much like Sheehan’s during the evening, the Purple Cow on Monte Sano has become the hangout of choice during the day for Hill dwellers, and it’s not difficult to see why. During the morning hours (they open at 7 a.m. on the weekdays at 8 on the weekends), they serve Illy coffee products and pastries at reasonable prices in atmosphere that invites guests to linger. Go at around 9 a.m. on Fridays and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a seat.
About midday, the Purple Cow fires up the fro-yo machines, offering six flavors and a toppings bar that keep kids from neighboring schools and their parents coming back for more.
It’s not just their food and drinks that keep customers loyal, though we can’t wait to try their suggested treat: fro-yo topped with a shot of espresso. It’s the employees that make coming to the Purple Cow such an enjoyable experience. Visit only a few times and they’ll have your drink order memorized. Have a child out sick from school? We’ve seen them start the fro-yo machines at 8:30 a.m. just to give the child a little treat. That kind of service will keep them in customers’ good graces for a long time to come.
And, finally, some sad but not surprising news for long-time Augustans: Shangri-La Chinese Cuisine has moved to 3847 Washington Road in Martinez. Construction for the new Whole Foods looks to have forced most tenants out of the Washington Crossing Shopping Center and those who haven’t moved, such as Outback and Bonefish, are rumored to have seen a drop in business. Fortunately for Shangri-La, they had a gourmet buffet location to move into, but diners used to the restaurant’s artfully presented Chinese food wonder if this tradition will be preserved after the move… or whether they can still get one of Shangri-La’s fantastic Mai Tais.
by Amy Christian