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Dining Jason Alley Brings Greener Pasture to Richmond Dining

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Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 11:33 am, Thu May 23, 2013.

Update: Pasture opening moved from Wednesday, Nov. 23 to Friday, Nov. 25

“I want people to feel like they are getting out of town when they come here.”—Chef Jason Alley on new his restaurant, Pasture.

“I want to make (Pasture) the kind of place I’d like to go to.”—Michele Jones, managing partner, Pasture.

Pasture, located between 4th and 5th on Grace Street, officially opens the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The former Montaldo’s building, owned by legal eagle cum restaurateur Ry Marchant, is a sparse runway for Jason Alley’s Southern Foodways Alliance inspired cuisine.

Ry Marchant, owner of Six Burner restaurant in the Fan District, grew up in a fashion-forward family. His father was president of Miller & Rhoads department store, located in downtown Richmond. Renovating a high-end women’s apparel store into an urban restaurant fits into Marchant’s hopes for new life on downtown Grace Street.

“Whatever is exceptional in quality and design must be offered to Montaldo’s customers.”—Lillian Montaldo

The same might be said for Pasture. Meat and produce will be as local as possible. All beer will be on tap, to reduce landfill waste. Soft drinks are Maine Root, a fair trade certified soda made with cane sugar. Wines will be local, organic, biodynamic or low-impact packaging in design, meaning higher quality wines with fewer bottles to recycle. The restaurant, like its name, intends to offer green grazing.

“Naming the restaurant was a long process. We wanted something easy to remember and evocative of the concept. Although I hate the term ‘farm-to-table,’ we will be focusing on local product. The idea is a small-plate, or ‘grazing’ concept,” Jason Alley said.

Pasture will be different from Comfort, Alley’s other venture with partner Chris Chandler, in that all the plates coming from the kitchen will be fully composed, but sized smaller to share.

“We will put the dish out the way I want the dish to be enjoyed,” Alley said.

“Every restaurant I’ve worked at in the last 10 years—people want to sub out their sides and share plates. People are more adventurous eaters now,” said Michele Jones.

“It (small-plates) allows you to control what you want to spend. Grazing dishes run from $4 to $14 a plate,” Alley continued. “We will have a burger and fries on the menu, but the only main courses per se, will be something like a really big porterhouse or a whole fish, meant to be ordered for the (entire) table to enjoy. It’s not going to be a super regular appetizer-entree-dessert type of menu. We want, and expect, a lot of sharing.”

But will guests be confused by the unconventional? Michele Jones intends to explain the ordering process like this: “You are grown-ass people. Eat however the hell you want. You never know, you might want dessert first.”

For now, Pasture’s dining room is empty. The sparse walls, warmed by a palette of log fence brown and black with a dash of kelly green, wait for guests to add color. The bar is a blank slate, bottles of bourbon and scotch are invisible, glassware is hidden in drawers.

The requisite mirror behind the bar reflecting glittering rocks glasses and jeweled necks is absent. Like a closed vanity waiting to open, the bar needs guests to unhinge it. Without guests, the room is cold and unfussy, not exactly elegant, but interesting, like a lone, closed daisy.

Pasture opens for dinner Wednesday, Nov. 23. Hours of operation: Monday through Thursday, bar opens at 4 p.m. and dinner service runs from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with bar snacks until midnight. Friday and Saturday dinner service is extended another hour until 11 p.m. and bar snacks run until 1 am. The restaurant will be closed on Sunday.

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