In opening a second location of their 2-year-old restaurant, Eurasia, co-owners David Edelen and Jerry Flowers — along with partner and chef Dave Brue — decided to take the show on the road from Virginia Beach to Gayton Crossing Shopping Center in western Henrico County. In doing so, they put together an attractive oasis of casual, modern elegance, complete with a patio suitable for al fresco dining in nice weather. The restaurant's globally inspired fare (as one might expect, given the name) ranges in influence from Europe and Asia to America.
But with a gaggle of local spots already in the same sort of restaurant "groove" in terms of atmosphere and culinary fusion, standing out for Eurasia won't be so simple as merely opening the doors for business; exceptional quality and value must be consistently evident. And thus far, unfortunately, they aren't. In some cases, offerings that look great on the menu aren't that impressive when they actually hit the plate. The tartare combination of fresh tuna, cucumber, sweet mango and crispy wontons, for example, begins with great promise, only to fall well short in actual execution. Uneven knife work here yields a sloppy, unappealing mishmash of various-sized pieces and really does a number on what should be a delicately textured dish. Scant acidity and seasoning didn't help matters either and ultimately failed to do justice to the ultra-fresh fish.
Similarly, the "nine-minute miracle" — Eurasia's version of chocolate soufflé — neither performed taste-bud-tickling feats nor hit the table in nine minutes flat. While light and airy, it lacked the sort of ultra-moist, wonderfully chocolaty goodness found in more appealing versions. It seemed about as much like a mini molten chocolate cake as anything else, and both chantilly cream and crème anglaise could do only so much to elevate matters.
Still other dishes delivered the dreaded double-whammy of execution flaws and over-pricing. Eight dollars bordered on ridiculous for the roughly cup-size serving of mealy heirloom-tomato gazpacho. Similarly, $8 just didn't feel like a good value for an uninspired, rather insipid lunchtime mélange of farfalle pasta, asparagus, arugula, green peas and macadamia nuts. Matters would have improved had there been more than two of the delicious grill-mark-accented shrimp perched on top.
Satisfying, though absent any wow factor, was the chicken panini. Crisp pear slices played nicely here with creamy brie, sweet red-onion marmalade and juicy slices of chicken breast.
The entrées I sampled had their moments but also failed to truly sing. Terrific were both the shoestring frites and a side salad of crisp watercress and multicolored tomatoes served alongside the flank steak, but the slab of meat could have been better with more salt and pepper and a heavier sear. The fact that the rosemary demi-glace lacked the concentrated, piquant flavors usually found in such sauces didn't help.
Crisply browned and loaded with sweet, super-fresh chunks of crab, the crab cakes were great. But again, not all was as it should be. This time it was overcooked, under-flavored lemongrass rice and a somewhat strange (albeit fresh and crisp) medley of watermelon, bell pepper, bean sprouts and chives holding things back.
A better finale than the nine-minute miracle is the cobbler. Here, beneath a crispy, golden-brown oatmeal crust, lay an enticing, piping-hot mix of fresh peaches and blueberries with just the right balance of fruitiness and sweetness.
Undoubtedly, Eurasia has some things going for it: fresh, appealing environs; a friendly staff and some interesting menu ideas. Here's hoping that execution improves, because in Henrico's West End, there's certainly room for another high-quality, nonchain dining establishment.
1308 Gaskins Road, 740-2525
Soups, appetizers and salads $4 to $12. Sandwiches $8 to $15. Entrées $16 to $25.
Desserts $3 to $8.
Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.