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Organic Interest

A new North Side café has ambitious plans to bring healthy cuisine to the neighborhood.

Zed Café at 5109 Lakeside Ave. is part of a wellness center at BodyZenSoul salon and spa (formerly Tanglz). It offers breakfast and luncheon fare now, with dinner on weekends set to begin in the fall.

Owner Lisa Granger says availability of organic foods is a determining factor in what the café will serve: "We don't compromise on quality, so we have a small menu with a fairly narrow scope that keeps a creative element in the kitchen at all times. Our goal is to offer the highest quality organically grown food we can source."

She and chef Tom Vigue will feature chicken and fish along with house-made soups, dressings, bakery items and produce. Granger's favorites include the salmon burger with a special herb mix served with lime guacamole, and a Napa cabbage salad with chili-lime vinaigrette.

The eco-sensitive café uses as few disposable items as possible and is striving to become a certified organic café. Zed Café sells Counter Culture coffees, Rishi teas and prepared organic foods to-go daily except Sundays. 261-5656.



Patio Triumph

It took years to win approval, but ­Caliente! owners Dave and Courtney Bender say they're pleased that Richmond City Council recently approved their plan to open a patio at their restaurant at 2922 Park Ave. — the first outdoor dining spot in the Museum District.

Once they established community support, provided parking, agreed to restrictions and attended numerous meetings and hearings, the Benders negotiated to keep peace with the neighborhood association and fulfill zoning requirements. It wasn't easy or efficient, Dave Bender says, but he's satisfied that he can extend his business to the outdoors, even if it means closing at the specified hour of 10:30 p.m.

"We've proven ourselves to be a good neighbor," he says, "and we're trying to help the neighborhood get rid of the Devil's Triangle image and become the desirable location we know it can be."



New Soul

To pigs' feet lovers and those with a craving for rice pudding, Levelle Thompson says his new restaurant "is like no other soul food place in town. This is upscale with big-screen TVs and live jazz." He opened L's Soul Food Restaurant and Lounge at 4917 Nine Mile Road earlier this year. It serves lunch and dinner daily except Mondays, and offers fresh lake trout, turkey wings, barbecue meat loaf and homemade desserts in a 65-seat, nonsmoking restaurant. Jazz and R&B bands play on weeknights. 622-4990.



Thai Again

Where Bangkok Café used to be, at 10445 Midlothian Turnpike, new owners and chefs have established Siam Paragon. Look for soft-shell crabs, panang curry and other Thai standards and dessert specials at the small eatery, which serves lunch and dinner daily. 272-9011. S



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