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The Blue Bottle; Sidewalk Café 

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One of the newest restaurants in town has set up shop in an area not usually associated with a good dinner out, or lunch, or breakfast for that matter. But The Blue Bottle, a come-as-you-are coffee-house bistro and rotisserie does all three—very well—six days a week from inside its space on the corner of Broad and North Jefferson at the edge of Jackson Ward. The Blue Bottle serves old-concept, straight-ahead bistro fare: food that's big, richly flavored, simply prepared and served in bounteous quantity. If they have it, do not miss the fresh and imaginative shrimp-and duck-stuffed corn tortilla appetizer. And if you like calamari, The Blue Bottle has the best I've had in Richmond: soft, fresh with the lightest of batters. Our entrees included spit-roasted half chicken with steak fries ($6.95); coq au vin teeming with button mushrooms and melting off the bone ($11); duck breast, rich and rare with a generous edge of fat and served over bourbon-mashed sweet potatoes and asparagus ($16.50); and a 2-inch-thick spit-roasted chicken salad sandwich ($5.50). The best part, though was that when the bill came and we divided by six, without much subsidizing each of us owed just $25, making this one of the top-three value meals around, possibly unrivaled in quality for price. — Noel Patrick The Blue Bottle
200 W. Broad St. on the corner of Jefferson & Broad
644-9445
Monday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Closed Sunday
The inhabits a small and pleasantly weathered Fan building with tile floors and wood siding. Countless patrons have worn patches of finish off the wooden tabletops, and cigarette smoke colors the wall decorations. The menu features all the basic inexpensive fare you'd expect in a little neighborhood joint - nachos, a handful of large spaghetti dishes, subs, sandwiches, burgers and a smattering of beef, chicken and steak entrees, but Sidewalk's menu goes a little bit beyond the basics. If you're in the mood for a casual meal but can't tolerate the kind of place where servers bearing goofy grins introduce themselves with the rehearsed phrase "and I'll be your server tonight!" try the Sidewalk Café instead. It may not be superlative in any category - but it satisfies like an old pair of jeans. Just don't order the "Slobodian Sandwich" ($1.50), it doesn't really exist, and it'll expose you as newcomer. — B. Ifan Rhys Sidewalk Cafe
2101 W. Main St.
358-0645
Monday-Saturday, 11a.m. 2 a.m.
Sunday 9:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
Brunch Saturday and Sunday until 2:30 p.m.
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