The spider roll (soft-shell crab rolled in seaweed and rice, $5.95), Manhattan roll (eel on top with shrimp tempura and flying fish roe inside), and the yellowtail ($2.50) and tuna ($2.50) sashimi were excellent. Take advantage of the combos ($8.95 - $25) for the best value.
I never failed to pause and admire the precise cuts and flourishes of color on the plates. Akida is a comfortable, no-nonsense restaurant that eschews glitz, opting instead to deliver delicate food and exemplary service. Randall Stamper9039-3 W. Broad St.
Richmond, VA 23294
Lunch: Monday - Friday 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday - Thursday 5 p.m. - 10 p.m.,
Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. - 11 p.m., Closed
SundayCafe Bella ($$)
The new owners of Café Bella have tried to revamp the image of its predecessor, Belle B, but some of Belle B's problems linger. Cafe Bella has a Sisyphean task ahead it's already on its second cook.
Given our fondness for the uncommon, we were drawn to the mahi-mahi, crab, duck, snails, lamb shank and an interesting concoction of goat cheese and artichokes called "artichoke pie," the only standout in our 12-dish feast.
Other than the artichoke pie ($14), an inventive layering of roasted red peppers, goat cheese, spinach and herbed ricotta in a homemade pastry crust, our entrees failed to inspire. The braised lamb shank over white beans was cooked to exhaustion and the roasted half duck ($16) was crispy, rubbery and accompanied with cinnamoned carrots instead of the advertised fennel (a selling point).
An equally disappointing array of desserts ($3-$5) closed out our meal.
Still, some of the side dishes promise a brighter future. If the management will allow the chef latitude to move in a direction well known to him that is, New Orleans-inspired Cajun and 86 the potato salad, Cafe Bella should have potential.
Gideon K. Pollach and Patrick Getlein1223 Bellevue Ave.
Monday - Saturday dinner 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; bar munchies Friday Saturday from 10 p.m.-11 p.m., bar open until 11:30 p.m.