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The Usual



A menu that's familiar downtown but less so in Westhampton will feature seafood pot pie, lobster mac and cheese, steaks, fried oysters and hand-cut potato chips. Also, a full bar menu will be served until midnight, something new for the area.

The small bistro is being remodeled; local artwork and a fountain are being installed; and in a few weeks the spot will serve lunch and dinner daily except Sunday. Elverston, who sits in with three local bands, says the place will be musician-friendly and eventually feature live music. 5806 Grove Ave. 288-4885.



Derring-Do

Richmond hasn't seen sushi like this: peach coulis with pecans and sweet potatoes, beef carpaccio with pickles and fries, and other fusion-style rolls that are a few steps removed from the usual. That's one way owners Hunter Haglund and Tucker Graham are positioning their Fan district business, Sushi Ninja, which serves lunch, dinner and late-night at 204 N. Robinson St.

Haglund, former owner of Wadi magazine, calls Sushi Ninja fine-dining lite "because we understand that it's still the Fan," he says. "This is quiet simplicity, with superior presentation, ingredients and knowledge, and the fish is flown in fresh." Even better, Haglund says, delivery drivers are dressing as ninjas, "but minus the masks -- and driving scooters."

That's not the extent of the pair's plans. Graham, who owns three Shockoe Bottom bars, and Haglund also have two Tiny Diners in the works ("very small diners characterized by rough-sawn timbers and simple, cheap goodness," Haglund says of the two urban locations he's building) as well as a banking district restaurant to be called The Falcon and The Phoenix, serving imperial fusion cuisine in an American Deco environment.

"There's no better time to do it than right now," the 29-year-old says of opportunity in Richmond. "I want desperately for people here to fall in love with their own city; we want to make the grass greener here, to help people see how incredible this place is."



Starters and Asides

Six Burner: Joseph Formica of The Wine School leads an April 14 class on varietals of the Pacific Northwest. ABC on/off license allows the restaurant to sell wine directly to the customer. Also that week, an April 17 benefit dinner for the Virginia Home includes a four-course meal for $45 per person. 1627 W. Main St. 353-4060.

Dot's Back Inn: North Side landmark diner gets exposed April 14 at 10 p.m. on the Food Network. Owner Jimmy Tsamouras cooks, regulars shoot the breeze, and that blond guy eats it all up on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." 4030 MacArthur Ave. 266-3167.

Cabo's Corner Bistro: Celebrating 10 years in business; live music nightly, details at www.cabosbistro.com or 355-1144. Allison at Broad. 355-1144.

Down Under Lounge: New menu, new management, new attitude. 11 S. 12th St. 225-8117. www.downunderrl.net.

Comfort: Now serving Sunday brunch. 200 W. Broad St. 780-0004. www.comfortrestaurant.com.

Mezza Restaurant: In the former Casablanca, a Mediterranean/American menu; seats for 50 with a patio coming. Kebabs a specialty. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday, dinner Sunday. Hookah area. 1106 W. Main St. 355-3655.

Savor: Acclaimed caterer Ellie Basch opens a coffee shop this week with sandwiches like the Elvis, the Java tempehwich, various grilled cheeses, her award-winning citrus salad and other temptations. Rostov coffee, Flour Garden pastries and breads, local ingredients, fresh soups and to-go dinner entrees. Inside the Corrugated Box Building, 201 W. Seventh St. in Manchester; open weekdays. 527-2867.



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