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With packaged-tasting bland food, our reviewer couldn't wait to get out the door.

Red, White and Brown

I went to Julian's twice to make sure that it was bad. It was. I have been told that the restaurant's Broad Street location is a Richmond institution. Maybe so, but the West End spot on Three Chopt is an abomination.

As far as I can tell, there are no standards in the establishment I visited. Rarely is a dining experience poor from beginning to end. Usually there is some high note. My dinners at Julian's were disappointing exceptions to this rule.

On a Saturday the voluminous dining room was nearly full. On Monday it was busy for a Monday. This is a testament to the fact that many people will pay for mediocrity and keep coming back for more. I won't bore you with a detailed description of entrees and preparations. At Julian's you have three choices: white, red or brown. I had a little of each.

White is olive oil and garlic. The garlic is shaved, one of the few — maybe the only — nice touches. My Linguini Clam Sauce (whoever writes the menu needs a lesson or two in grammar and adjectives) was supposedly tossed with cherrystone clams and an olive-oil-and-garlic sauce. In actuality, it was drowned in a half-pint of oil and peppered with salty gray gristle. It cost $12.95. It felt like highway robbery.

Red is marinara. This was served with my calamari appetizer. It was the harbinger of doom during my first visit. Other than being red and chunky it bore little resemblance to marinara. It was bland. And red. I have dubbed the calamari "McSquid." It was overly breaded, deepdeepdeep fried and tossed on a plate. It looked and tasted like thick, round french fries. For $7.50, I would expect so much more. The crab dip, also $7.50, had a hint of crab flavor and was served with abnormally shaped chunks of hard bread.

Brown is "brown gravy." It was served with dry chicken. It also seemed to be supersaturated with salt and applied with wild abandon. I don't want to think about brown any more.

Entrees come with soup or salad. The soup du jour on one evening was seafood bisque. This suggests many species of seagoing creatures in a thick base. I detected a few clams and some green bits (possibly okra or green pepper). The base was bland. Remove the lumpy bits and it could have passed for canned tomato soup. The salad was made of white lettuce, carrots, pale purple cabbage, cucumbers and some red onion slices. What can I say? It was cold. It came with vinaigrette on the side. It signaled that I was one step closer to the door.

The Grilled Salmon Picatta ($13.95) looked as if it had been pounded flat. It was slapped down on a plate and bathed in pale yellow liquid. I counted seven capers. There was no "presentation" to speak of with any meal I had. Check please.

I must comment on service. And here I speak directly to the wait-staff at Julian's. First, carry a pen when waiting tables. Your customers should not have to lend you theirs. Second, when you ask if your guests need a few minutes more to consider their choices, give them a few minutes instead of 45 seconds. Third, when delivering a Parmesan-cheese shaker or other condiments to a table, be sure to wipe the marinara sauce off the containers before placing them on the table. You all seemed to be on high-speed autopilot, and it was offensive.

Everything about this restaurant suggests a "from the package to the plate" approach. I can think of nothing to recommend it.

Julian's Restaurant ($$)
11129 Three Chopt Road
Monday - Friday 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

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