Side Dish 

What's happening in the restaurant business.

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David worked in the finance industry for a few years before deciding to enter Johnson & Wales culinary school in Rhode Island. Now he's working with his father (whose local holdings include partnerships in three Pizzeria Uno shops as well as the six-member Peking Chinese chain) to develop a new concept with an entirely different menu.

The contemporary, Asian-influenced décor is being designed by Helen Reed Hayes, whose restaurant work in Washington, D.C., and Newport News includes upscale steakhouses and other establishments. "Richmond hasn't seen a design like this," she says of the new bistro, which is set to open by mid-October.

Grape Report

Two dozen women, 10 types of wines and a blind varietal tasting — it could only be a rainy Monday night at Fleming's and a second anniversary party for the local chapter of Women for Winesense, a worldwide group dedicated to learning about and enjoying wine.

Led by sommelier student and wine sales rep Sara Guterbock, the group sampled sauvignon blancs, syrahs, Bordeaux and even pricey bottles of so-called Baby Cristal, the Louis Roederer brut premier champagne, one of the hits of the night. By then, the sound level had risen a few decibels as members guessed — correctly — the regions and wine-making methods for most bottles.

Guterbock coached them in assessing a wine by color, bouquet and taste, clarifying the distinctions between growing regions and fermentation methods, and helping them discern their personal favorites from 10 vastly different bottles. The Le Baron de Brane Margaux, a red Bordeaux, was a premium 2000 vintage that captured attention for its earthy, smooth qualities.

Wine-speak was in evidence, of course, with references to buttery notes and crisp finishes and intense minerality, but conversation steered as well toward marriage, restaurants and life, with generous laughter subdued only by the earnestness with which many of the members took to their task. The group adjourned, sated with Gorgonzola puffs and crab cakes and elegant flights of wine, until the next monthly meeting. For information, contact www.womenforwinesense.com.

Bastille Bacchanal

Francophiles suggest it's not too soon to plan for Bastille Day, but this year they need to adjust their calendars. Instead of celebrating on the traditional July 14, Can Can Brasserie and Carytown Merchants will hold a daylong fete on Saturday, July 15.

Look for wine tastings, a fashion show, a waiter's race and a batard (French bread)-throwing contest. See www.cancanbrasserie.com for details.

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