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The Blue Bottle; Metro Grill 

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The Blue Bottle, which is open for dinner only on Fridays and Saturdays, has an unpretentious interior and the comfortable feeling of an established place that's on the urban edge of what's happening.

Managing the food for a restaurant that is open only two nights a week must be a daunting challenge to freshness and profitability, but the key is probably the very circumspect and limited menu.

We chose a 1998 pinot noir from a better-than-usual wine list and foie gras in a complementing sauce with chestnuts, blackberries and delicate baked cabbage ($11). We also shared a fresh salad ($5) of mesclun and romaine. The salad was too good and too large for us to finish. After our luxurious beginning, butter-poached lobster ($23) was perhaps too much in the same vein, although our other choices were hardly thrift fare, and as good as they sounded, roasted vegetables with garlic mayonnaise ($15) didn't suit our cravings. A dry-aged strip steak ($25) and pan-seared venison rib chops ($27) were delicious. A certain minimalism prevailed through our meal. Nothing was omitted, nor was anything added that didn't need to be there. — Davis Morton

Blue Bottle
200 W. Broad St. (at Jefferson Street)
Dinner: Friday - Saturday
644-9445

Open now for about three years, Metro Grill is a noisy place on weekends. The atmosphere changes during the week, when the hip music is turned down and the comfortable high booths create an intimate atmosphere. The menu at Metro Grill, like many places up and down Robinson and Main streets, espouses at least four different themes.

First there is the Tex-Mex theme found in dishes such as the panhandle quesadilla appetizer ($7.25). If you are looking for more of a Caribbean theme, there is the pork loin Caribe ($12.95). The ever-popular down-home food with an uptown price can be found here as well, including shrimp 'n' grits Randolph ($13.95) and Smitty's mac 'n' cheese ($14.95). The immensely rich crepes Margaret (a sort of French-Texan dish?) — stuffed with lots of shrimp, salmon and Monterey Jack cheese in a Chardonnay-tomato-sour-cream sauce — were enjoyable in their own quirky way.

For a three-course meal for two with no wine or beer and a decent tip ($10), you will pay around $55. It's hard not to judge Metro Grill alongside more upscale restaurants close to the same price range. — Kevin Finucane

Metro Grill
301 N. Robinson St.
(804) 353-4453
Dinner served Tuesday - Sunday from 5 - 11 p.m.
Sunday Brunch 11a.m. - 3
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