News & Features » Miscellany

Regional

Let's Eat: 2001 Critic's Choice

comment

3325 W. Cary St.
354 6060
Lunch Tuesday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Dinner Tuesday-Saturday 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Dinner entrees $14.95 and up
Reservations suggested

Creativity and elegance define Acacia, an upscale dining choice for either lunch or dinner in the heart of Carytown. Paramount to its appeal is its outside terrace made for dining on balmy nights when a light breeze sweeps down Cary Street ruffling the linen tablecloths and reminding you of why you live in a warm climate. There's just nothing like al fresco dining when the weather's right.

Acacia's menu features basic elements styled in their special way. Appetizers on a given night might include roasted sweet-potato soup or maybe confit of duck leg served with homemade gnocchi, sautéed apples and brown-butter balsamic sauce. Entrees include Acacia's takes on sea trout, grouper, rockfish, tuna, beef, pork, chicken, lamb and cannelloni. I've never been disappointed — I've had tender braised shank of lamb, topped with rosemary sauce and served with garlic mashed potatoes, and I've sampled grouper with grilled asparagus, red wine onions and roasted fingerlings. All superb.

Though it is located in an old church, Acacia has a modern thing going. You feel like maybe you've just checked into The W, one of those ultracool new hotels popping up in New York and San Francisco. And the food is far, far away from Southern home cooking. I applaud Acacia's bold approach and relentlessly tasty fare. — C.B.




1915 W. Cary St.
Dinner Tuesday-Thursday 5.-9p.m.; Friday-Saturday 5-10:30 p.m.
$16.95-$23.95
359-4781
Reservations accepted

Longevity and consistency are seldom-reached goals in the restaurant industry. The Track, an unassuming restaurant in the heart of Carytown, will soon go into its 24th year, having achieved longevity by providing dependably good food and service. Owner Chris Liles, who has put on an apron in the kitchen when he has needed to, has worked with a number of chefs over the years. While the accents have sometimes changed, the quality has remained high.

The Track has long showcased the traditional delights of Virginia waterways. Shad roe shows up as a special as soon as the shad start their run, soft-shell crabs are an early-summer specialty, rockfish is often a summer delight and succulent crab cakes, when available, are about as good as they get around here. A copious bowl of mussels, fragrant with garlic and wine, is among the best I've had, and I'm likely to start with it no matter how enticing the other appetizers. And carnivores will find plenty to command their attention, from traditional beef to lamb shanks and duck.

Seating less than 50, The Track, unlike many small restaurants, keeps the decibels at a level so that conversation can flow easily. Though the restaurant is casual, crisp napkins, tablecloths and soft light add an elegant note, and service is informed and amiable.

For a bet on good food, The Track is a winner. — D.M.

Add a comment