Short Order 

The Great American Grill is no ordinary hotel eatery.

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Critical Mass
As CenterStage helps Richmond work up its appetite downtown, nearby restaurants hope to be noticed by audiences before and after the shows. We've mentioned Gibson's Grill, CafAc Rustica, T-Miller's, Penny Lane and Capital Ale House. But even closer, just across the street from the new performing arts space, the Hilton Garden Inn operates the Great American Grill in the former Miller & Rhoads department store building.

What distinguishes this hotel eatery from others in the national chain is its Richmond-focused menu, a culinary homage to the fare that fortified shoppers in the departed store's beloved tearoom. Club sandwiches, deviled crab, Brunswick stew, layer cake and other signature dishes give local character to the grill's menu, best accompanied by iced tea and obliviousness to the brightly lighted, spanking-new setting. At dinner, steaks top out the entrAce choices in the $20 range; hearty salads, soups and sliders are $10-$15. 501 E. Broad St. 344-4300. Lunch and dinner daily; dinner only on Sundays.

Drinking With Dinner
On tap: Can Can celebrates Oktoberfest early. Look for a special menu, live music, draft beers and prizes Sept. 27, 5 p.m. until last call. 3120 W. Cary St. 358-7274. www.cancanbrasserie.com.

Act fast: There may be a seat or two left for a wine dinner at downtown's elegant Bistro 27 on Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m. Francisco Carrau will present wines from Bodegas Carrau, one of Uruguay's oldest vineyards. The $70 fee covers tax and gratuity for a five-course meal by chef Carlos Silva, featuring seared scallops, duck confit salad, stuffed quail and pork tenderloin scaloppine, all paired with wines, followed by a chocolate tart with marinated strawberries for dessert.

Downtown brunch-seekers can add Bistro 27 to their list starting Oct. 3, when the restaurant will serve a still-being-determined brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Bistro 27's early-start menu on Fridays and Saturdays from 5-6:30 p.m. will offer a three-course prix-fixe menu for $20, just in time for the opening of CenterStage downtown. 27 W. Broad St. 780-0086. www.bistrotwentyseven.com.

More wine in midtown: Acacia puts on its September miniwine dinner Sept. 30 with Katie Dorazio of Michael Downey Selections. A three-course, three-wine Taste of Italy menu has arugula salad, ravioli, and entrAce choices of sea bass or boar. Tariff is $35; tax and gratuity are additional, and reservations are required for this popular event. 2601 W. Cary St. 562-0138. www.acaciarestaurant.com.

Date night special: Dinner for two at Zen Asian Bistro costs $39.95 for a bottle of red or white McWilliams wine, two soups, a starter, two entrees and a dessert. 11400 W. Huguenot Road in Midlothian. 379-7295. www.zenasianbistro.net.



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