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Sunday's more than hints at the tropical theme but fails to offer any real island flavor.

On the Beach

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I am directionally challenged, and finding Sunday's for the first time wasn't easy. (Note to Brandermill: Some signs within the community would help first-timers find the restaurant!) After a few wrong turns, I found Sunday's, tucked away in front of a gorgeous lake.

I felt swept away, as if I were on vacation. There's an outdoor deck (with a huge bar that probably sells tons of frozen daiquiris in the summer), a boardwalk, a "beach" and — the day I visited — plenty of sunshine. It's a great location for a romantic meal, a calm business lunch, or for catching up with a friend, which is just what I did.

We ordered a glass of wine (we were delighted that several Virginia wines were available) and started perusing the menu. Despite the boardwalk and the "beach," the blatant nod to the tropics seemed odd: Jamaican habanero wings. St. Martin burger. Aruba shrimp-salad sandwich. Huh? This is Virginia. Then I realized that the names of the dishes all enhance the idea of a getaway.

We started with St. Barts' burritos ($7.45), which are crispy-fried and filled with smoked chicken, black beans, mushrooms and Monterey Jack cheese. They have absolutely nothing to do with the French-speaking island for which they're named. But who cares; they were delicious. Pizza ($8.55 to $10.95) is also a popular starter and comes big enough to share. We chose the fresh tomato and basil pizza, which was tasty indeed.

We followed with house salads ($3.45), which were fresh and generous. However, we weren't impressed with the dressings we chose: The sun-dried tomato vinaigrette tasted prefab — full of preservatives and thickeners — and the honey-mustard dressing was overly sweet.

Lunch entrees range from $6.95 to $15.95 and run the gamut: There are sandwiches, main-course salads, pasta, burgers and a selection of fresh fish dishes. I didn't try a burger ($6.95 to $7.95) but I will next time. They looked fabulous: big, juicy, gorgeous burgers — a carnivore's delight. (The St. Martin Burger, by the way, has Southwestern flavors, not tropical ones, as its name implies. Strange.) My Trinidad tuna ($13.95) was perfectly cooked and went beautifully with Asian-flavored soba noodles, which were positively addictive. My guest ordered the lunch special, seasoned grilled shrimp on a bed of rice ($6.95). The shrimp was dry, too salty, and the accompanying rice was bland and lacking in personality. We filled up on my soba noodles instead.

Well, almost. We still had room for dessert. Do not — I repeat, do not — miss dessert (all $4.45). Creamy New York-style cheesecake topped with strawberries and wonderfully gooey pecan pie with bourbon-butterscotch sauce are great choices for the unadventurous. The blueberry white-chocolate bread pudding sounds odd, but is one of the best bread puddings I've ever tasted; it's dense, comforting and utterly delicious. The Elizabeth cake — a chocolate roulade with cream-cheese filling — is pretty and festive and not too sweet. We left Sunday's full, content, and happy not to be dressed in skimpy resort clothing.



Sunday's Waterfront Restaurant
4602 Millridge Parkway
744-2545
Lunch and dinner Monday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday, Saturday
11:30-10 p.m., Sunday brunch 10 a.m.-3 p.m., dinner 3 p.m.-9 p.m.

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