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Short Order

This Week: More new tastes than you can shake a salad fork at.

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Saving Grace
It's months away from opening, but a new downtown dining destination is in the works with two familiar faces at the helm. Ry Marchant, owner of Six Burner restaurant, and Jason Alley, owner of Comfort, are teaming up to present a new Southern small-plates restaurant at 416 E. Grace St.

That's the former Montaldo's, the women's clothing store. Marchant has fond memories of the area because his father, John, was president of Miller & Rhoads, another shopping icon in downtown Richmond.

The new restaurant, on the ground floor of a 1923 building with Spanish revival lines and big windows, will seat about 100 people with more at the bar, and serve some of the more exotic foods that Alley has immersed himself in studying through the Southern Foodways Alliance. Crispy pig's ear salad with champagne vinaigrette, pig's feet Wellington and pickled tongue will cozy up to more familiar fare such as deviled eggs and house-ground burgers. “I don't want it to be pigeonholed as chicken and dumplings,” Alley says, “so it will be more nose-to-tail and more current, but with something for everyone.”

Construction is in progress, with architect Sanford Bond's design and Alley's wife, Mercedes Schaum, doing a “slick but earthy, industrial revolution” style of design, Alley says. Marchant, a lawyer and substitute judge, says his 31 years in law are giving way to the more creative world of restaurant ownership.

This project will be the first to open in the Grace Street corridor; the former plans for Pie have been scrapped and a new tenant is being sought for that corner space. Marchant hopes to open his yet-unnamed business — tentatively called Pasture — by the end of the year.

More new tastes
Point of perch: One thing that will set the new Xtra's CafAc apart is its second-floor balcony view over Cary Street. The cafe, a three-generation family affair, is under construction above the Bangles and Beads shop at 3322 W. Cary St., and will have an art deco-styled interior. Look for more details as they get closer to a summertime opening.

Dine On
Special occasion at Sensi: The world's oldest winery, Antinori, gets top billing at a wine dinner April 29 at Sensi Italian Chop House, 2222 E. Cary St. Six courses, including pastas and beef tenderloin, complement the Antinori and Tormaresca wines. The tariff is $65 per person, all inclusive; reservations are required at 648-3463. 

Flavors of Spain: Six Burner Restaurant holds a Spanish dinner April 29, 5:30-9:30 p.m. It's a four-course menu for $40 with optional wine pairings for an extra $20. These dishes aren't usually seen in Richmond: foie gras y queso; pulpo (octopus) with chorizo; oxtail and tripas stew, and flan with wild berries. Reserve at 353-4060. sixburner.net.

Mother's Day fare: Belle Vie European Bistro will serve its regular dinner menu and specials May 9, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Of special note is a dessert surprise by Karine. 1244 Alverser Plaza in Midlothian. 379-3338. bellevieva.com.

Stick figures: When the folks at Sticks Kebob Shop asked registered dieticians to evaluate their menu, they got good marks for heart-healthy options. All five kebobs, a couple of sauces and six sides made the cut, based on the American Heart Association's guidelines for calories, total and saturated fats, sodium and fiber. Sticks is at 1700 Willow Lawn Drive, and its entire menu's nutritional information is at stickskebobshop.com.

Now serving
The Empress
, 2043 W. Broad St., 592-4000. Open daily from 6:30 a.m.-1 a.m. Owner Melissa Barlow, a sculptor, celebrates a grand opening April 28 in the redesigned space that once held Enoteca Sogno. “I'm a Buddhist and a hippie at heart,” Barlow says, “so I tell my chefs to put intention and love into everything that goes out.” Chef Carly Herring turns out breakfast until 4:30 p.m. daily, and crepes, panini and salads with choice local ingredients at midday. By dinnertime, sautAced calamari, beef carpaccio, quiche, lamb chops and duck breast are served with flavorful sides and priced for less than $12. Dessert includes chocolate soup with grilled fruit, which Barlow suggests sipping along with 20-year-old tawny port. She has 45 wines, including many exclusive to Richmond, and plans to add more. “I like pushing the palate,” she says.

3325 West CafAc, in the former Acacia spot at 3325 W. Cary St. 353-1145. Lunch of moderately priced sandwiches, salads and pizzas served Monday-Saturdays until 3 p.m.  

Nuevo Mexico Restaurante, 3088 Stony Point Road, 320-1385. Big menu of seafood, chicken and beef dishes and the usual combo platters for lunch and dinner daily. Friendly servers, spacious bar and tucked-away dining rooms. nuevomexicorestaurante.com.

Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene?  Send it to shortorder@styleweekly.com.

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