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Who better to brag about a son's accomplishments than a proud father like Michael Gooding, who reminds us that son Chris has revived The Ranch in its former location at 1600 Brook Road. The neighborhood restaurant returns home after Paul's Southern Cooking closed shortly after opening at that location. The Ranch, long a staple for daytime eating on the North Side, is getting modernized while retaining its Southern charms. Ribs, fish, seasonal vegetables, fresh cornbread — the menu is classic comfort food with sandwiches, salads and full breakfast platters. A few tables with umbrellas out front give more sidewalk eating space to the area, a couple of blocks from the main post office.

The Ranch serves breakfast and lunch weekdays, and as Michael says, the food prepared by his son is as "tender as a mother's love."

David Hughes, who sold Grafiti Grille last year, brings his creative chefing to a new incarnation of La Petite France at 2108 Maywill St. in the Westmoreland area. Owners Karol and Tamara Gajda say they're retaining the traditional French sauces perfected by Chef Paul Elbling, as well as the over-the-top fancy décor of the restaurant, at least for now.

With the addition of Hughes in the kitchen, diners can choose from fresh, seasonal specials or classic menu favorites. For example, foie gras French toast is served with a poached pear and port wine syrup; pan-seared sea bass comes on a langostino risotto cake. And the place, once so smoker-friendly the dining room was a haze, has quietly gone smoke-free — another sign of a changing city and clientele.

Over at The Glen restaurant at the Virginia Crossings Resort north of the city, Todd Keegan is the new executive chef. His work at Indian Yacht and Country Club on the Northern Neck taught him the value of Atkins-friendly dishes among the golfing clientele, so he's got health-conscious items among the upscale comfort foods now served a la carte. Stewed scallops on corn pudding with peppers, onions and bacon might not qualify as light eating, but a seared ahi wrap with fruit and pecans is a popular alternative. A seafood buffet on Saturday nights is another crowd-pleaser in a quiet setting that's off the usual circuit.

New to downtown lunch-seekers is Down Under Restaurant & Lounge, on the lower level of 11 S. 12th St. The weekday-only bistro serves burgers, salads, soups and, in what we hope is a typo in a recent ad campaign, old sandwiches. S

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