Balliceaux: Walking The Walk

by | Aug 25, 2009 | COMMUNITY

There’s a lot of talk about being green these days. Repurposed materials, recycled materials, carbon-neutral business practices, locally sourced products and other claims can often be proven to be utter hogwash (or, more appropriately, greenwash). Few local organizations can make a claim to be truly environmentally conscious, and even fewer restaurants are up to par in a town that seems some days to be run more by Sysco. Still, Richmond does have some shining stars. Ellwood Thompson provides a bounty of locally sourced foods & organic products, The Edible Garden sources all of their food locally, and there are many nonprofits that encourage and enable socially and environmentally conscious practices. New retail spaces and restaurants open in the area on a regular basis, however, few put forth the effort that Balliceaux has.


There’s a lot of talk about being green these days. Repurposed materials, recycled materials, carbon-neutral business practices, locally sourced products and other claims can often be proven to be utter hogwash (or, more appropriately, greenwash). Few local organizations can make a claim to be truly environmentally conscious, and even fewer restaurants are up to par in a town that seems some days to be run more by Sysco. Still, Richmond does have some shining stars. Ellwood Thompson provides a bounty of locally sourced foods & organic products, The Edible Garden sources all of their food locally, and there are many nonprofits that encourage and enable socially and environmentally conscious practices. New retail spaces and restaurants open in the area on a regular basis, however, few put forth the effort that Balliceaux has.

balliceaux

balliceaux

The vast majority of materials used in Balliceaux- the stairs, chairs, and almost all of the wood fittings in the restaurant- are repurposed, mostly from a boardwalk in New Jersey. The majority of the appliances were bought used. Owner Lainie and Steve Gratz went through considerable effort to make sure that the dining rooms, bathrooms and hallways are naturally lit by skylights, vastly reducing the amount of electricity used during most of the day; artificial light is barely needed until the sun is set. The ceiling is made of cork, a renewable wood source that’s actually good for the environment to harvest if done responsibly. All hot water is pre-heated via solar heaters installed on the roof, so hot tap water needs to be heated only a fraction more than it already sits. The edible fare offered is to be locally sourced, as well, with a stated “farm-to-fork” mentality. Executive Chef Russell Cook and Sous Chef John Elliot (both formerly of Millie’s) have crafted their menu around local & seasonal availability with the intent of offering a dynamic and fresh palate.

balliceaux

Balliceaux is not just a socially and environmentally responsible eatery. The interior design is simply breathtaking, a complete departure from Richmond’s usual offerings, and although quite modern, it is in no way tired or repetitious of popular design tactics- wood and concrete meet gracefully to create a space that is warm and clean. Design cues come from Gratz’s expansive world travels, mostly on the sea, and include porthole-style wall applications containing images captured by the owner and printed on amber. Those who were familiar with the previous tenant’s aesthetic will be pleasantly surprised to find that while the aesthetic is completely different, the flow & ease of movement through the structure remain easy and natural, perhaps more now than before.

balliceaux

balliceaux

It is also important to note that local music man Chris Bopst will be bringing in various types of music. To keep with the history of the building and offer a local venue for good Jazz and local bands, providing that late night atmospheric back room feel. Most importantly its a great environment to enjoy some amazing food in the surroundings of a building that Steve and the whole crew went to extraordinary lengths to make special.

words & images : Ian M. Graham

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




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