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At the Starting Gate in Glen Allen

A neighborhood restaurant with a horse-racing theme comes to Glen Allen next week, when former Tobacco Company comptroller Jack McGrath opens his first venture, JJ McFarley's, at 10298 Staples Mill Road.

The nonsmoking 130-seat space surrounds a horseshoe-shaped bar and focuses on a hearty comfort-food menu. Dinner is served nightly, and luncheon service is set to begin next month. Larry Newth, formerly of the Dominion Club, manages the house, and executive chef Norman Alford presents the menu, which runs from Reuben and crab cake sandwiches to meatloaf, salmon and portobello sauté, stuffed shrimp and other bistro-style dishes, all under $16.

Croaker's Gets a Sister Business

Now being built-out in Jackson Ward is an addition to the Croaker's Spot food empire, entering its sixth year and still drawing crowds. Owner Neverett Eggleston III is preparing to open On Rye Delicatessen four doors down from his fish restaurant, next to the Hippodrome Theater at 522 N. 2nd St. The space used to house a coffee shop, DoSe.

Five kinds of rye breads will be featured on the deli's Reubens, sailors and traditional and vegetarian sandwiches. Hot daily specials such as baked salmon and chicken wings will rotate on the menu, and natural ingredients will be the kitchen's focus.

High-end beers and wines, a side patio for events and intimate seating for a dozen or so diners will add something different to the area, operations VP Enjoli Moon says.

"There are various deli mainstays in the city, but in the heart of downtown there aren't many authentic options," she says. "We're excited to see how people feel about us, and we hope to continue the Croaker's Spot legacy with a different food concept."

Look for an opening in early March.

Indian Makeover on Midlothian

Longtime Indian restaurant Passage to India introduces a revamped interior and a renewed emphasis on healthy northwest Indian cuisine that diners can watch being prepared in the newly equipped open kitchen.

Clay-oven dishes, marinated chicken, lamb and seafood, and vegetarian curries are prepared in the Punjab tradition. Luncheon is served weekdays, dinner Monday through Saturday, at 6856 Midlothian Turnpike.

Wear Red to Lunch

Mellanie True Hills, author of "A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life," is keynote speaker at Go Red for Women Luncheon Feb. 1. She recounts her life-changing experience with emergency heart surgery and offers guidance for stress reduction and healthy living.

The Richmond Marriott event features a heart-healthy menu from the Go Red for Women cookbook and a silent auction. Tickets are $100. Contact Carolyn Smith at 965-6590. S

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