Special/Signature Issues » The State of the Plate

Best New Restaurant/Best Design: Balliceaux

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Balliceaux's interior design is stunning, and its experienced staff takes pride in bringing new and exciting ideas to Richmond diners, drinkers and music listeners. Owners Steve and Lainie Gratz opened the business last year in the former Bogart's space at 203 N. Lombardy St. and immediately found a following.

“My experience has been consistently awesome,” critic Joseph Cates says. “The redesign of the space is breathtaking; it's maybe my favorite dining room in town now, especially when you factor in the music. And they managed to build it pretty green too, capitalizing on salvage to create something that actually is urban chic. Waitstaff is on point. The food is imaginative. The menu is remarkably flexible and not overpriced.”

Balliceaux earns Tess Autrey Bosher's vote “because it brings a completely new vibe to the Richmond dining scene,” she says. “The dining room is urban but fresh, the menu is unique but accessible, and affordable. I like their use of local ingredients, and some of the desserts are off the charts. It's got the cool factor in spades, and some real substance to boot.”

Don Baker appreciates Balliceaux's intimate, romantic setting, communal table and friendly staff. But he notes that there's room for improvement. “The service is spotty, the menu confusing, with nothing for children.” But, he says, “the food presentation matches taste, and the standouts are the pork belly, coq au vin, rockfish, and pickle plate.”

It feels like Soho, says John Haddad, who gives high marks to the bar and specialty drinks [see “Letting It Linger,” p. 32]. “The vibe is hip and the menu has interesting and unusual combinations,” he says. “Although I have had some uneven food experiences, I did love the tandoori cauliflower, pork belly and morta torta. The service is better than most places in town, and the Web design is well done.”

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