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Zoom Zoom has everything it takes to make a great business lunch spot except a focus on the fundamentals.

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From what I could glean, I think the story behind goes a little bit like this: A man goes to college in North Carolina where he falls in love with a little place called Zoom Zoom. Maybe he lunches there. Maybe he shoots pool over a few beers in the evenings. Later, he leaves college behind, but the memories of his favorite spot remain. To his grave disappointment, he never finds another place to measure up, and he starts to dream about opening his own place when he retires. One day, he learns with interest that Zoom Zoom in North Carolina has closed its doors. When his wife, maybe a little reluctantly, agrees to go along with the plan, the decision is all but made. I may not have the details right, but I bet I'm pretty darn close. He works the kitchen, and she runs the floor. She reels off the specials with the enthusiasm only a proprietor could have as she pours coffee into an oversized mug. You want very badly to like this place. It's a cozy wood and brick affair in Shockoe Bottom with oil paintings of sidewalk cafés and street scenes adorning its walls. A large back-lit stained-glass sign hangs behind the bar bearing the name of the now infamous "Dewey Cheatem & Howe" firm, and Tiffany's-style lighting fixtures glow warmly above wooden booths. Convenient to the downtown business district, Zoom Zoom seems a good candidate for the business lunch. And Zoom Zoom, it would appear, takes its lunch seriously, or at least, their sandwiches are priced in a manner that suggests a level of seriousness. Most are more than $7. Zoom Zoom offers grilled sandwiches like the patty melt, the grilled club and the French dip, and deli-style sandwiches like roast beef, corned beef and tuna salad. In addition there are the usual salads, burgers and a few daily specials such as lasagna or popcorn shrimp. No trendy surprises here. It's a place that strives to excel with basic familiar food rather than pushing the envelope of creativity. This is not a criticism, merely an observation. Here is a criticism — if eschewing fickle trends and instead serving very well-executed classics is Zoom Zoom's goal, it misses the mark. Though Zoom Zoom has a handful of salads that are meal-size, I'd focus on the sandwiches. The only noteworthy thing about Ang's Traditional Greek Salad ($7.50) was that it did not come with dolmades as the menu advertised. It did, however, come with arrestingly large quantity of feta cheese from which, in my view, the salad did not benefit. As for the sandwiches, the items that accompany them are less than exciting. The fries were limp, mealy and otherwise unremarkable. Sandwiches also arrive with two martini olives, a deviled egg, and a dill pickle. In my view, it is an exceedingly difficult challenge for any sandwich made with mediocre bread to be anything but a mediocre sandwich. But even though the rye on which I requested my Hot Pastrami sandwich was decidedly mediocre, the sandwich came astonishingly close to overcoming this deficiency. It had a delicious and ample stack of hot juicy pastrami piled as high as the sandwich was wide. Nevertheless, without better bread it didn't seem like $7.35 sandwich to me. Unfortunately, the sandwiches didn't get any better. If the Pastrami Sandwich missed by a hair, the Veggie Sub ($6.95) was way off mark. A variety of vegetables were grilled on the flat top, placed inside an inferior sub roll, and slices of cheese were awkwardly melted on the exterior of the sub. The vegetables were passable but the bread was not and the whole thing seemed slapped together by a cook with nothing but scorn for the meatless sandwich. An allegedly "traditional" Reuben ($7.25) arrived on the same mediocre rye, grilled on the flat top and soggy with sauerkraut juice. Here, the kitchen committed a serious faux pas, a mortal sin, a stinging insult to the venerable tradition of the Reuben. They substituted ham for corned beef. I'll say no more. Dessert was markedly better. A pear cake ($2.95) was made in the style of a carrot cake only with pears substituted for the carrots. It was moist, delicious and large enough for two. As I polished off my pear cake, the proprietor brought my bill, accompanied by a mini-size Mr. Goodbar and a miniature Christmas tree. A rather odd touch but one that exemplifies the enthusiasm this couple has for their restaurant. In the end, however, it would serve them well to direct a little more of that enthusiasm towards producing consistently good fare. If they did that, they'd have great little place called Zoom Zoom that could generate the loyal regulars that its namesake presumably did.

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