Steve Hedberg photo
Bananas Foster, Rowland Fine Dining, 2132 W. Main St., 257-9885. This dessert is a wild concoction of chocolate, bananas and big wafer wheels that looks as remarkable as it tastes. (pictured)
Tempeh Rubenesque, Ipanema Café, 917 W. Grace St., 213-0190. Don't think vegan; don't even think vegetarian. Categories break down with one bite of this sandwich's deeply flavored, soy-steeped tempeh topped with grilled cabbage and a dollop of classic Thousand Island dressing.
Sashimi Napoleon, Wild Ginger, 3734 Winterfield Road, 378-4988. Layering sashimi, tuna, goat cheese and olive tapenade on a fried wonton makes for a winning combination.
Southeast Asian-Style Glazed Ribs, The Boathouse at Rocketts Landing, 4708 Old Main St., 622-2628; The Boathouse at Sunday Park, 4602 Millridge Parkway, 744-2545. These succulently tender Niman Ranch ribs are a dynamite starter complete with bold green onion, sake, sesame, soy, garlic and ginger flavors.
Fish Tacos, Tarrant's Café, 1 W. Broad St., 225-0035. Tarrant's does an amazing grilled mahi mahi, which is really a deconstructed fish taco, with all the flavors and none of the mess. Accompanied by guacamole, corn relish, and rice and beans, it's great to look at.
Creamed Spinach, Buckhead's Restaurant & Chop House, 8510 Patterson Ave., 750-2000. This side dish with smoky bits of bacon has just the right amount of cream to impart richness. Topped with nicely browned Parmesan cheese, it's an excellent accompaniment to the steaks and chops.
Crab Cakes, The Belvidere at Broad, 506 W. Broad St., 344-0644. Order this appetizer if you want to have some of the best crab cakes in town. These are pan-seared, made with fresh, jumbo lump crab meat with little or no filler. A smidge of Asian slaw and a spicy Thai aïoli counter the crabmeat's sweetness.
Foie Gras, Verbena, 2526 Floyd Ave., 359-3122. After a bad day, there is no better way to indulge yourself than to stop at the upstairs bar and get the foie gras du jour. It's always inventive, always good — and a martini or some sweet Sauternes help with the mood adjustment.
Moules Frites, Belle Vie, 1244 Alverser Plaza, 379-3338. Plump and tender, the mussels are prepared five delicious ways, from the traditional wine, herbs and tomatoes to a cream curry sauce, and they come with excellent fries.
Fried Lake Trout, Croaker's Spot, 119 E. Leigh St., 421-0560. The batter is crisp, the trout flaky and the seasoning perfect.This dish makes Richmond a seafood town.
Tres Leches Cake, Kuba Kuba, 1601 Park Ave., 355-8817. Owner Manny Mendez' mother makes an authentic cake that is sweet, rich and positively swoony. There is a chocolate version, but go for the vanilla, which is so moist as to be almost custard-like.
Mashed Potatoes, Chez Max, 10622 Patterson Ave., 754-3464. Chef Alain Lecomte accompanies many entrées with a perfect pyramid of mashed potatoes garnished with a ring of crispy potatoes, sliced thin. The artful whole is finished with a sprig of fresh rosemary.
Kona Coffee-Crusted Filet Mignon, Old Original Bookbinder's, 2306 E. Cary St., 643-6900. Steak and coffee rolled into one. Perfectly cooked at more than 1000 degrees for a texture and taste worth living for.
Captain Crunch Fried Shrimp, deLux Diner & Lounge, 2229 W. Main St., 353-2424. It might sound strange to pair breakfast cereal with seafood, but it turns out the sweet crunch of the crispy fried-shrimp appetizer with a rum-and-garlic sauce is worth getting up for.
Smoked Plate, Davis & Main, 2501 W. Main St., 353-6641. This starter of trout and pork tenderloin with Vermont cheddar and lingonberry jam contains a happy collision of tastes and textures.
Sautéed Butternut Squash Gnocchi, Stronghill Dining Company, 1200 N. Boulevard, 359-0202. Tossed in sage butter, these pillows of potato-pasta perfection are airy, providing an ethereal pairing for the leeks and oyster mushrooms accompanying them.