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Southern Grille and Akida

For instance, the cornbread and biscuits at the Grille are sweeter and more cakelike than I prefer; for others, I'm sure they're exactly right. Fried chicken used to be the staple on every Southern table and obviously is still wildly popular. I like the version here, described as "cast iron pan-fried."

Tender and moist inside, its batter is thin and crisp ($9.95). Crosscut short ribs of beef ($9.95) are meaty and tender, obviously slow cooked, and served with a good sauce that's perfect with a side of mashed potatoes. Other entrees ($6.95 - $11.25) range from a plate of four side dishes to a grilled 12-ounce steak.

For Southerners, Southern Grille is on an increasingly short list of places to get traditional food — whether it's a part of your normal diet or a nostalgic trip. — Davis Morton 550 E. Grace St. (at Sixth Street) Mon. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Tuesday - Friday 11 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Sat. 4:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. No credit cards.

Akida ($$) Service — its importance cannot be overstated. Justin, Nicole and chefs Johnson and Kevin, you are excellent hosts. And the sushi and sashimi were superb. I've spent plenty of money on "spicy disappointment rolls" in the past, so my date and I decided to play dumb and let the good people at Akida help us. Justin assured us that drinking sake before, during and after would be appropriate and suggested the pepper tuna roll ($7.95).

Chefs Johnson and Kevin recommended the Manhattan roll ($9.95) and the dragon phoenix roll ($7.95). We took the lot.

Akida's fish is delivered daily from Maryland except for the yellowtail, which is flown in from Japan. Akida's sushi doesn't taste the least bit fishy and the sashimi (fish sans rice) has enjoyable shades of texture and flavor. The spider roll (soft-shell crab rolled in seaweed and rice, $5.95), Manhattan roll (eel on top with shrimp tempura and flying fish roe inside), and the yellowtail ($2.50) and tuna ($2.50) sashimi were excellent. Take advantage of the combos ($8.95 _ $25) for the best value.

I never failed to pause and admire the precise cuts and flourishes of color on the plates. Akida is a comfortable, no-nonsense restaurant that eschews glitz, opting instead to deliver delicate food and exemplary service. — Randall Stamper

9039-3 W. Broad St. Richmond, VA 23294 762-8878

Lunch: Monday _ Friday 11:30 a.m. _ 2:30 p.m.

Dinner: Monday _ Thursday 5 p.m. _ 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. _ 11 p.m., Closed Sunday

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