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Skilligalee; Johnson's Grill

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If you like to get your steaks at a steakhouse and your seafood at a seafood place, then is your kind of restaurant. In today's climate in which excellent fresh seafood is readily available at countless restaurants, it is tempting to dismiss a place like Skilligalee as obsolete. However, there are dishes conventional seafood restaurants take seriously that few others do.

Though its fare emphasizes the time-honored, Skilligalee has made a few concessions to trendy cuisine. Amidst appetizers such as oysters Rockefeller ($7.95), and steamed clams ($7.95), and entrees such as crab imperial ($19.95), baked flounder, stuffed with crabmeat ($18.95), and the extravagant whole Maine lobster stuffed with crab imperial ($36.95), there are few a novelties. Take, for example the mildly innovative oysters Chesapeake ($7.95) baked with cheddar, wasabi and bacon.

In addition to its regular entrées, Skilligalee allows diners to choose a fish from its fresh fish selection to be blackened, broiled, sautéed, grilled or fried, and then sauced with a choice of ginger-teriyaki, tomato-basil cream or picatta with mushrooms.

Entrees come with a choice of two side dishes. We tried collard greens, baked apples, spoon bread and fries. None was outstanding. Still, side dishes like this are always fun, even if a little reminiscent of cafeteria fare.

If the prospect of pricey seafood classics in a subdued comfortable atmosphere appeals to you, then Skilligalee is worth a visit. But, if you like your seafood dishes a little more au courant, then you'd do better spending your dollars elsewhere.

— B. Ifan Rhys



There's nothing fancy, or even remarkable, about , which sits humbly a few blocks behind the open-and-shut restaurants and clubs of Shockoe Bottom. But since it opened 30 years ago, Johnson's Grill — or Mrs. Johnson's, as it is more affectionately known — has been a refuge for a family of regulars.

Johnson's lunch menu of fundamental, orthodox Southern home-cooking is geared to those who like fast decisions, fast service and a cheap lunch. There are only a handful of items, and none of them is more complicated than the briefest of descriptions will complete: fish, country steak, liver, pork chops, spareribs, meatloaf, chicken (breast, leg). Each is available either as a sandwich ($2.50-$4.25) or dinner plate ($4-$7.50).

Get the dinner and you get to choose two vegetables: mac and cheese (it's a vegetable 'round here), lima beans, pickled beets, greens, mashed potatoes, corn pudding, black-eyed peas, stewed tomatoes, coleslaw, honey carrots, cabbage, potato salad, yams and string beans. For an extra buck or so you can add a vegetable to a sandwich order.

Food comes to your table on plastic divided cafeteria plates with Mrs. Johnson's soft and buttery yeast rolls on the side. Homemade peach cobbler and some nonhomemade items round out the dessert offerings.

— Noel Patrick

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