Lots of local restaurants have faithful followings, but few go to the lengths that owner Chris Lyles has done for a couple of his consistent customers at The Track, Carytown's fine-dining classic. There, for the past dozen years, Richard and Carolyn Alford have come for dinner almost every Friday night, to the same booth -- B1, in the corner near the bar — where Lyles installed little brass plaques inscribed with their names. The menu even carries the Alford salad: greens, Gorgonzola, sliced beets and candied pecans in an herb vinaigrette.

"He spoils us," Carolyn says of Lyles' VIP treatment, which included adding a small light fixture to make it easier for the 43-years-married couple to read the menu. Chef Owen Lane usually knows what they'll order even without it — soft-shell crabs in season, lamb when they're not. "We get kidded," Richard says, "but I can promise you this — The Track has remained consistently among the best places in Richmond to dine." And the service, he adds, is marvelous.

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