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Patina Grill

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has been doing interesting things since it opened back in mid-1998 in the Wellesley area. Chef-owner Brian Munford graced the kitchens of several illustrious Richmond eateries — Millie's, Zeus Gallery, Havana '59 — before opening his own place. He also spent a decade of good culinary time on the coast of northern California, which has been a hot fire of innovative cooking for at least a couple of decades. It's perhaps not surprising that Chef Brian offers a very interesting menu.

The space that Patina occupies, home to at least two previous restaurants, has been simplified so that textures and materials are the main decoration. The copper tabletops and candle lanterns add interesting warmth as mirrors add a sense of space. The result is simple and unobtrusively sophisticated, as is much of the food.

I enjoy sampling innovative food and Munford clearly has a good understanding of several cooking styles. Fusion has been a hot culinary fashion for the last several years and Munford's offerings seem to stem from instinct and intuition rather than a desire to create something different. The results seem perfectly normal and most add a new dimension. Even if you're a basic-food person, you may find that what at first seems strange is really rather nice.

3416 Lauderdale Drive 360-8217

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