Acacia’s Spunky Sibling 

Dale Reitzer’s new Six Burner is the neighborhood spot he’s always wanted.

After five months at his new outpost in the Fan, Reitzer is well on his way to creating the kind of neighborhood haunt he originally wanted at Acacia, where regulars come in two or three times a week for a meal or a drink at the bar.

The place is run by two Acacia veterans, chef Lee Gregory and manager Michele Peake. It’s an unpretentious, 70-seat place (where the Lighthouse used to be) with track lighting, ceiling fans, a brick wall and tables without cloths.

While no entrée is more than $20, the food is definitely uptown. Six Burner uses the same high-quality ingredients, supplied by local purveyors, as Acacia, and the food is cooked with the same skill — if with a little less artistry.

A friend who happened to be at a nearby table on one of my three recent visits declared his soft-shell crabs the best he ever had eaten. (His companion used the same words to praise her arugula salad, festooned with melon, farmer’s cheese crostini and a champagne vinaigrette.) My crabs also were exceptional, tastier than some I had a few days later at Acacia.

The secret, chef Gregory modestly explained, is in the product. All he does is dust them in flour, sauté in oil and butter, and provide mustard sauce on the side.

Reitzer drives to Urbanna twice a week to pick up the velvety soft-shells. “There’s a four- or five-hour window when the crabs are at their softest,” Gregory said, “and our crabber sets them aside for us.” Those that are a little harder usually wind up being fried.

Other dishes at Six Burner were also a cut above standard neighborhood grub. A hangar steak — the cut that overlays the filet — was properly roasted medium rare in a red wine sauce. A saffron citrus broth enhanced the flavor of a braised rockfish, which was appropriately moist and flaky.

Other entrees, priced from $12 to $19, include chicken cutlets, pork chops, crab cakes, salmon, lamb, scallops and shrimp.

The dinner menu includes po-boy sandwiches, designed to make regular customers feel free to stop in without ordering a big meal. Half-orders of homemade pastas — gnocchi and tagliatelle — also are available.

Several appetizers, from $5 to $9 and each large enough to share, were beyond ordinary.

A salmon tartar, looking a bit like chicken salad, was flavored with lime juice, capers, shallots, and soy and sesame oil. Warm goat cheese, silky smooth, shared a plate with roasted red peppers, garnished with roasted shallots and garlic. One innovation that didn’t work as well was a cucumber sauce that accompanied lightly battered calamari. The squid tasted better with the traditional marinara sauce.

At lunch, leg of lamb on a baguette with caramelized onions, Gorgonzola and cucumber sauce made for a hearty sandwich. So, too, did roasted portobello with fresh mozzarella, red pepper, spinach, garlic and mayo. The pickles that come with the luncheon sandwiches are made in-house. So are the desserts, which often include chocolate pté, goat-cheese cake, crÅ me caramel and fresh berries over sorbet.

It’s obvious that Reitzer is enjoying his new fatherhood. He originally planned to cook at Six Burner only on Gregory’s night off, but instead he’s spending more time there than at Acacia. S

Six Burner ($$$)
1627 W. Main St.
Dinner: Monday and Tuesday 5:30-10 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday 5:30 -11 p.m. Lunch: Monday through Friday 11:30-2 p.m.
Closed Sunday.

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