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Pomegranate; Cabo's Corner Bistro

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At Pomegranate, the newest eatery in Shockoe Slip, chef-owner Kevin LaCivita combines French and Italian elements with fresh American ingredients in the same kind of creative fusion cooks have been doing with Asian ingredients and techniques for years.

A cup of cream of pumpkin soup ($3.75) didn't seem exactly like a harbinger of spring, but it was a good place to start. A salad of baby greens, Gorgonzola cheese and candied pecans is dressed with an unusual vinaigrette, flavored with ginger ale and vanilla bean ($4.25). A roasted quail, stuffed with delicate mascarpone cheese polenta, and served with fava beans and a rich sauce ($7.25), is a wonderful and hearty beginning.

The main courses ($15.95-$27.50) are about equally divided between seafood and meat, with at least one vegetarian entree. A guest was pleased with two double-rib lamb chops, colorfully presented on cheesy polenta, strewn with diced vegetables and moistened with a well-balanced demi-glacé sauce. A last-minute special, consisting of a beef filet on a potato cake and topped with a crab cake, needed more than the demi-glacé to pull the flavors together. Rockfish on shrimp risotto was topped with crisp, fried spinach, which added a needed texture and color to the dish.

The ambiance at Pomegranate is casual but stylish and urban; the servers are knowledgeable and professional. Add some good food, an interesting person or two, and you've got a nice evening. — Davis Morton

Pomegranate Bistro
1209 East Cary Street
Lunch: Monday-Friday 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner: Wednesday-Saturday 5:30-10 p.m.
643-9354



Looking over menu you get the idea that chef Chris DiLauro plans his menu with interest and with a respect for the individuality of his ingredients. His primaries are classics — veal, rockfish, pork, duck, salmon and chicken — and his secondary ingredients offer an interesting twist and rarely get mixed up in more than one relationship at a time.

Though I usually avoid salmon, which has become as ubiquitous as the boneless chicken breast, I was attracted to the intimacy of Cabo's description: "Seared Atlantic salmon embraced with pancetta" ($19). Who wouldn't want to be embraced by pancetta? The pancetta clutches to the salmon like a honeymooner, yet neither item loses its personality. The dish is plated over French lentils with a roomy oyster cream.

Other items on the menu include: sauté of rockfish "resting" on toasted cornbread, black-eyed peas and spicy crayfish butter ($18); sirloin of buffalo with wild mushrooms and tomato ragout finished with roasted garlic ($25); scaloppine of veal with brown butter, lemon, capers and artichokes ($22); and the lone vegetarian item, whole roasted yellow pepper filled with brown rice, couscous, apricots, eggplant and black olives "accented" with beet vinaigrette ($17). The most interesting salad is the locally grown arugula with a truffle balsamic vinaigrette, oven-dried tomato and Parmigiano reggiano ($7).

Good coffee and a green-apple bread pudding capped with a web of melted white cheddar cheese ($6) made for a robust finale. — Noel Patrick


2053 W. Broad St.
Dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5 p.m.

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