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Metro Grill; Paysanne Restaurant 

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Metro Grill

Open now for about three years, Metro Grill is a noisy place on weekends. The atmosphere changes during the week, when the hip music is turned down and the comfortable high booths create an intimate atmosphere. The menu at Metro Grill, like many places up and down Robinson and Main streets, espouses at least four different themes, none of which is true to its tradition.

First there is the Tex-Mex theme found in dishes such as the panhandle quesadilla appetizer ($7.25). If you are looking for more of a Caribbean theme, there is the pork loin Caribe ($12.95). The ever-popular down-home food with an uptown price can be found here as well, including shrimp n grits Randolph ($13.95) and Smitty's mac n cheese ($14.95). Ultimately, though, no matter what tradition is called forth, the lasting impression in many of these dishes comes from four ingredients: cream, wine, cheese and garlic. The immensely rich crepes Margaret (a sort of French-Texan dish?) - stuffed with lots of shrimp, salmon and Monterey Jack cheese in a Chardonnay-tomato-sour-cream sauce - were enjoyable in their own quirky way.

For a three-course meal for two with no wine or beer and a decent tip ($10), you will pay around $55. ItOs hard not to judge Metro Grill alongside more upscale restaurants close to the same price range. - Kevin Finucane

301 N. Robinson St.
(804) 353-4453
Dinner served Tuesday - Sunday from 5 - 11 p.m.
Sunday Brunch 11a.m. - 3 p.m.

Paysanne Restaurant

The newest eatery in Shockoe Slip cooks with a slight French accent but has strong roots in the old American neighborhood-diner tradition.

You could fashion an interesting meal from the starters, salads and sandwiches ($4 - $14), which include the seemingly prosaic tomato soup with grilled cheese to the more exotic mahi-mahi Reuben or luxurious foie gras with onion marmalade. Among the salads, the Gorgonzola-walnut salad with pears and Virginia ham is a symphony of flavors. Comfort food is writ large in a dish with chicken and macaroni-and-cheese or braised short ribs.

Sauteed mahi-mahi atop a lush mushroom-shrimp risotto takes fish and rice about as far as they ever need to go (and I'd go back to have that combo again). A simple grilled pork chop, a meaty porterhouse cut, is cooked perfectly au point, painted with an orange glaze and a touch of cumin. The accompanying cakes made with cheddar cheese and grits can change a mind about that oft-maligned grain. Paysanne reflects our new culinary sophistication by offering the familiar, but with some interesting twists and turns. - Davis Morton

1421 E. Cary St.
Lunch: Monday - Friday, 11:30 - 2
Dinner: Monday - Thursday, 5 - 10;
Friday - Saturday, 5 - 11
343-3900

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