Almost every time we travel, we are introduced to something new on a tip from a local. Such was the case during our last trip to Charlottesville when someone recommended Bizou. Housed in a former dive bar on the Downtown Mall, this eclectic restaurant was the “find” of our last trip. Much from the old bar remains; red leather booths, juke boxes and old time theater posters on the walls. But that is where the similarities end….this place is serious about food and wine.

Arrive early to enjoy a cocktail. The Rouge Rita is a Sauza Gold, Cointreau, fresh lime-agave sours, red wine float. The Bizou 75 is Botanist’s Herbal Gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon and Potter’s Grapefruit Hibiscus Cider. Both fantastic drinks. There’s also about 10 wines by the glass and a nice selection of beers and ciders.

Take your time with the menu because there’s lots to try. Start with the Dinner Company rolls with honey butter. Then try the Mushroom Tart with shiitake, crimini and Portobello mushrooms, caramelized and pickled onions, arugula, parmesan, balsalmic reduction drizzle..all in a puff pastry. For entrees, the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin was served with a crispy ricotta gnocchi, braised kale and a Dijon cream sauce…so good. Can’t resist meatloaf on a menu and this was fantastic served with smashed potatoes, chipotle ketchup and baby greens. Dessert was a Lemon Curd crepe with warm berry compote and vanilla ice cream.

The Wine Spectator Award winning wine list has some wonderful choices and the pricing is very fair. There’s even a separate list of about 12 wines all priced at $45 and a Champagne list of a dozen wines priced from $32. We enjoyed a glass of a 2017 Molise Campi Valerio “Fanni” with the mushroom tart and a glass of 2015 Cotes du Rhone Village, Plan du Dieu Domaine de L’Arnesque with the meatloaf. Perfect pairings.

Serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Outside patio seating.