Last year's mediocre trip to Rowland Fine Dining during Restaurant Week was not enough to deter me from trying a new Richmond eatery in 2007. After a very tough decision, I chose Zeus Gallery Cafe, which is only six blocks away from my place of residence. It's sad to think that I hadn't given it a chance before last night, because now all I want to do is go back.
Despite unbelievable October warmth and humidity, the walk to Zeus was pleasant. On the way, I was reminded of another local business that I haven't yet experienced, the Belmont Butchery, which is already a year old. It's also a popular little shop, and I'm guessing it has the same type of feel as the Zeus Gallery Cafe - that of an endeared neighborhood locale.
The owner (or manager) who greeted us was personable and accommodating. He explained that there was going to be a large party in the room where our table was, and that he could try to move us if they became too noisy. I overheard him talking to the couple at the two-person booth next to ours; he wanted to make sure they were full after their three courses, because their portions are bigger when it's not Restaurant Week.
Our server was just as pleasant and helpful, which isn't always true of restaurant staff during this particular week since the fixed price menu can hurt profits. She informed us of two items off the menu - a filet dish and spectacular sounding salad with figs, prosciuitto and goat cheese - before pouring our Dievole Sangiovese.
Although I was tempted by the $11 salad, I settled for organic mixed greens with pumpkin seed brittle and a house vinaigrette as my starter. Cilantro calamari and butternut squash and apple soup were also appealing options, but I decided I should get something healthy out of the meal. Davy had the calamari, which was tender and flavorful, followed by filet meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans. I'm not the biggest fan of meatloaf, but his dinner was moist and tasty.
My flounder stuffed with crab meat was rich and delectable. A light lobster buerre blanc covered the plate, and the fish rested on a nest of tomato coulis and swiss chard cous cous. I'm not sure if cous cous can look like pearl pasta, or if the kitchen decided to serve the dish with a slight variation from the menu. The swiss chard also looked and tasted more like pesto, which was not a problem considering I will eat pesto on just about anything.
As the large party next to our booth started getting rowdier, we had a short but satisfying dessert course. I had gone back and forth between the Belgian Chocolate Pate and Tiramisu, but in the end I can never resist trying tiramisu, and Zeus' did not disappoint. The waitress brought a respectable piece with two layers of airy lady fingers sandwiching a thing smear of espresso-flavored mascarpone. The bottom component of the tiramisu was a healthy dollop of the coffee cream, which I happily finished. Some of Davy's warm granny smith cobbler also found it's way into my mouth, and I have no complaints about that.
There's a good chance that my next visit to Zeus Gallery Cafe will be soon after Restaurant Week ends. The restaurant has been established for more than a decade (maybe even two) in the Museum District, and it took me way too long to discover it. Plus I'm long overdue for browsing the Belmont Butchery, and I wouldn't want to shop there on an empty stomach, would I?