If you can take your eyes off the giant Buddha in back, you might notice that Sushi-O in Midlothian amps up the usual hushed sushi-house designs for more interactive glamour. On video screens and outsized photos by Allen Wass, four of the employees — in full geisha face makeup — flash lips and eyes for a rotating montage of images that change with the seasons.
Also spiking up the new cafAc's personal touch is a communal table that seats 14, a red Avonite bar that seats another dozen, and banquettes and patio tables to handle the overflow, which was considerable at an opening-night party last month.
Architect Bruce Perretz calls the space “sleeker, noisier and more fun” than the typical project — designed to build a comfort level for suburbanites still deciphering the menu. The cafAc's Web site explains the basics of Japanese cuisine with photos and descriptions — and yes, there's steak and other fare for the sushi-averse.
Manager Stephanie Hagen is fond of the spice-rubbed lamb chops, and says Malaysian chef Ken Liew's light, flavorful sauces set the menu apart, as does chef Andy Wu's sushi — including the popular 007 roll (shrimp tempura with fresh lump crabmeat and yuzu sauce). The beverage list needs no translation; signatures include the ohh! martini and the sex n Singapore.
Sushi-O serves lunch weekdays and dinner Monday through Saturday; the bar opens at 4:30 p.m. Closed Sundays. 1228 Alverser Plaza, Midlothian. 897-9878 or www.sushiova.com.
Waiting in Westhampton
It's been a bit of a slow spell for Westhampton-area food news, but that changes starting this week. Three wine-oriented destinations are opening, and all build on established local businesses that emphasize casual affordability and food savoir-faire.
First up is CafAc Caturra at 5811 Grove Ave., a stunning, lodge-like space with stone fireplace, hefty timbers, well-furnished nooks and terraces. House-roasted coffee, pastries, house-made soups and sandwiches are offered, as are wines by the glass or bottle. The business opens this week and serves daily.
Across the street, in the former du Jour and Escabar space, Gary York is launching Coast, an American seafood restaurant. York's wine bar on West Broad Street, Enoteca Sogno, has been a favorite of food and wine cognoscenti who appreciate the owner's well-traveled knowledge of Italian vineyards and authentic cooking techniques.
Barrel Thief Wine Shop & CafAc branches out from Short Pump into a comparably chic space at 5805 Patterson Ave. in the former A.R. Bevans clothing shop. Barrel Thief co-owner Ned Wheeler says the business will focus on Italian wines (Short Pump's selections lean toward French), and will follow the same cafAc formula with a select, locally sourced menu of light fare and retail-priced wines. It should be on track for a late September opening. www.barrelthiefwine.com
Avenue 805: Beer dinner with Williamsburg Ale Werks Sunday, Aug. 24, 6:30 p.m. Sliders, gumbo, baby back ribs, pear and goat-cheese tart and other foods will be paired with beers and ales. $39 per person plus tax and gratuity. 805 N. Davis Ave. Reserve a spot at 353-2505 or www.avenue805.net.
Acacia to Go: One of the best deals in fine dining is temporary and comes with a tour. Chef Dale Reitzer is preparing Friday night dinners for pickup at the not-yet-finished Acacia Midtown at Cary and Robinson streets — by reservation only, $20 a person. Recent seafood dinners got raves from his fan base, and Reitzer is glad to give a sneak peek of the restaurant. 354-6060 or email@example.com.