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Stripped-Down Sibling 

Bookbinder’s new spinoff restaurant has freshness down pat.

The grilled skewers ($9) are an odd combination. A kabob of grilled shrimp with smoked chicken and bacon tries to accomplish too much in one bite. The Bookie’s lobster roll ($10) seems more on the right track. Resembling a Chinese egg roll, it is full of lobster chunks, but could benefit from a lighter, crispier spring-roll wrapper instead of its heavier egg-roll casing.

Most seafood entrees are served with a side of seasoned rice, while meat options (steaks, pork chops and chicken) are served with garlic-chive mashed potatoes. The seasoned rice is a big disappointment — cafeteria-style, oily and bland. An array of family-style sides, including jumbo onion rings, creamed corn and spinach, are offered and are preferred.

The Bookbinder’s Grill crab cake ($25) redeems all. An unusually large, single crab cake, it overflows with flaky, lump crab and is baked to perfection. Topped with a spicy remoulade and tartar blend, this dish is the clear standout. It’s simple and fresh, with the flavor of sweet crab dominating every bite. A baked brook trout ($16) is also stuffed with crab, but drenched in an overpowering horseradish dill sauce.

Seafood Puttanesca ($18) scores big with its overflowing mix of shrimp, fleshy (not overdone) clams, mussels and calamari rings. The chunky tomato sauce is filled with garlic and capers, but the flavorless, canned, black olives just can’t contend. Whole, pitted, kalamata olives are a necessity here. A lobster tail stuffed with crab special ($27) is a good investment. It’s a decadent choice and an excellent pairing with the South Australian Yalumba Viognier ($7 a glass) or the South African Indaba Sauvignon Blanc ($6).

Desserts are simple. A key lime pie ($5) tasted tart and vaguely sweet as it should, while a chocolate turtle cake ($6) was dry and flavorless.

Lunch is offered Monday through Friday, featuring entrée salads like grilled lemon pepper salmon over greens ($10), a swordfish club sandwich and fries ($11) and crab ravioli ($11).

Bookbinder’s Grill has freshness down pat. Its seafood is of high quality, and it shows with an hour-plus wait for a table during the week. With some tweaking in the kitchen and a more inviting dining room, Bookbinder’s Grill can both find its own new customers and help fans of the downtown location cope until that restaurant reopens in late summer. S

Bookbinder’s Grill ($$$)
1244 Alverser Plaza, Midlothian
379-3338
Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday – Saturday 5 p.m. until 10 p.m., Sunday 5 p.m. until 9 p.m.

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