For the past year Richmonders have been flocking to their Tasting Room, Merroir, in Topping, VA on the banks of the Rappahannock.
When John Smith explored the Chesapeake Bay in the early 17th century he was quoted as saying that oysters, “lay as thick as stones.” Oysters once anchored – literally and figuratively Virginia’s mighty seafood industry. After decades of decline, the health of the Bay and the oyster population is finally on the mend.
Rappahannock River Oysters (RRO), established in 1899, is currently owned and operated by cousins Ryan and Travis Croxton, great grandsons of its founder. RRO is one of the leaders of the Bay renaissance and the proliferation and growth of the native Virginia oyster, Crassostrea virginica.
RRO farms three varieties of oysters in the bay, each with a unique fl avor profi le influenced by their “merroir,” or the make-up of their watery homes. Factors like salinity and mineral content inform the taste and texture of the oysters.
RRO has received accolades from chefs near and far, providing oysters to high profi le celebrity chefs like Tom Colicchio and Eric Rippert as well as many Richmond restaurants. And for the past year Richmonders have been fl ocking to their Tasting Room, Merroir, in Topping, VA on the banks of the Rappahannock.
Come late September, the cousins Croxton will open a new restaurant, named Rappahannock, in downtown Richmond, at 322 East Grace Street, an emerging restaurant mecca, a few blocks from Richmond CenterStage and just down the block from their good friends at Pasture. They have already set up the menu, the dining layout, and have even made use of refrigeration services to help them get started as well.
While the restaurant has yet to be named, it will be in the capable hands of Chef Dylan Fultineer. A graduate of the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts, Fultineer cut his chops in several well-known restaurants. He worked under the tutelage of James Beard award winning chef Paul Kahan at Chicago’s Blackbird where was promoted to sous chef. Later he cooked at the Hungry Cat in Santa Barbara, known for its inventive seafood menu.
“The concept will revolve around fresh seafood – nothing fried — and our menu will involve our dearest and most respected friends in the food industry, whom we’ve gotten to know over the years dealing with the best restaurants in the world,” explains Ryan Croxton. “Most of these people are both pioneers of and beacons for ‘do the right thing.'”
We’re simply lucky enough to have them at the table with us.” When asked about opening a restaurant in a market where other restaurants source his product, Croxton extolled their positive intentions of, “helping to elevate the Richmond food scene. That’s not something a single restaurant can do, so I’m really excited about the opportunity to work with all of Richmond’s restaurants to make this area a true mecca.”
Article from Issue #16