Once you've found the Bamboo Café, you'll find it harbors few secrets and no gimmicks. The atmosphere is uninspiring yet simple and comfortable; the American and sometimes cross-continental menu is predictable but executed consistently. And when it comes to service, Bamboo ranks high.
We arrived on a Monday to a blackboard selection of specials including chicken, pork, beef and seafood ranging in price from $9.95 to $14.95. The tuna carpaccio came drizzled with a sweet teriyaki sauce with mandarin orange over jasmine rice ($13.95). My friend ordered the oven-roasted skewers of mahi-mahi in basil butter topped with a red pepper pesto over jasmine rice ($14.95).
Though the restaurant appeared to be busier than normal for a Monday, the entrees were served punctually. The tuna was moist and moderately fresh, although the teriyaki sauce was a little overpowering for my taste. The rice and broccoli helped balance the dish, and I enjoyed my meal thoroughly. My friend's dinner also had an excellent presentation. The mahi was roasted at an appropriate medium-well and seasoned delicately; its natural flavor was slightly stronger, suggesting its moderate freshness. Her plate was left as clean as mine, with no room for dessert, or "pie," I should say. Aer Stephens
Bamboo Café 1 S. Mulberry St. Sunday - Saturday, Lunch/Brunch 11 a.m. - 4 p.m., Dinner 6 p.m. - 11 p.m., Everything but entrees 11 p.m. - 1 a.m. 353-1609
The menu at the Richmond location of this regional seafood chain offers an extensive collection of seafood dishes that are either deep-fried or served with a half-hearted Cajun or Low Country twist. The entrees, which don't exactly push the envelope on creativity, feature selections like blackened catfish ($12.95), deep-fried seafood items like a shrimp-and-oyster platter ($13.50), a shrimp scampi pasta ($11.95), a few sandwiches, and the mandatory chicken and steak offerings to accommodate the inevitable seafood hater.
It isn't that the food is bad, though a few items could have been a lot better, it's just that none of the dishes with the possible exception of some desserts rise above adequate. We've all been to a few places like this that are saved by some other attribute, such as being at a waterfront or having some appealing nautical feel. Not the Blue Marlin. The plain interior is decorated with a little neon and a few prints. It feels like a hotel breakfast room with its beige vinyl booth benches that sink so low you want to ask the waiter for the Yellow Pages. B. Ifan Rhys
Blue Marlin 7502 W. Broad Street Dinner: Sunday - Thursday 4 p.m. - 10 p.m., Friday - Saturday 4 p.m. - 11 p.m.
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