The Collegian
Friday, August 14, 2020

To dine or not to dine: Balliceaux

Balliceaux is a spunky gem of a restaurant, with a menu that offers new American cuisine. Located in Richmond's Fan district, the restaurant is a unique departure from many of Richmond's more traditional Southern or European restaurants.

The decor and layout cannot be classified under one design genre. The door of Balliceaux opens into the front dining room: a long and narrow room lined by booths on either side, featuring a full bar in the back.

As you walk through the first dining room, you pass a partially exposed kitchen on your right and enter into a second dining room. This room features another full bar, booths, small tables and one long family-style table that can seat up to 14 diners. The ceilings are two stories high and walls of exposed brick are dimly lit by an eclectic array of hanging lamps. Diners dress in upscale casual to enjoy the creative menu at Balliceaux.

Executive Chef Russell Cook formerly cooked at the well-known Richmond eatery Millie's Diner, and has a created a menu at Balliceaux with something to satisfy every palate. The menu is divided into three parts: "field and forest," "farm and pasture" and "waters" - each with

its own soup, salad, starter and main course.

The "field and forest" section features vegetarian items, such as a pickle plate appetizer and a horseradish pea dish with potatoes and cabbage.

The "farm and pasture" section of the menu indicates dishes that include meat, such as free range coq au vin and crispy seared pork belly served with caraway slaw and cornmeal spaetzel.

Finally, the "waters" section of the menu offers a new interpretation of seafood dishes. For the seafood entrees, Balliceaux offers a "shrimp pepperpot" with white yams, roasted peppers and coconut milk, as well as a crusted rockfish served with thinly sliced sweet potatoes and an almond parsnip sauce.

I started my meal with a creamy white macaroni and cheese, topped with slices of duck breast. The pasta was delicious, and although the duck breast was slightly dry, the sheer creativity of the dish compensated for the imperfect poultry. My meal continued with a pan-seared

rockfish topped with herbed hazelnut gremolata and surrounded by smooth and creamy whipped rutabaga.

The fish was perfectly cooked and the flavorful topping was a nice accent to a mild fish. I topped off my meal with warm and toasty churros served with a chocolate-coffee dipping sauce. A pumpkin cheesecake and toasted coconut cake are also offered on the dessert menu.

Balliceaux also features an extensive and innovative drink menu that offers all of the classics along with eight seriously original Balliceaux cocktails.

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Balliceaux's distinctive menu offers a new twist on gourmet American cuisine. Prices are moderate, with most appetizers between $8 and $12 and most entrees between $15 and $22. Every dish is new, inventive and unlike any other dish you will find at another Richmond restaurant.

To complement the creative menu and modern atmosphere, an eager staff is happy to serve you. Our waitress seemed to pop up out of nowhere to make sure we were enjoying our meal. She was extremely friendly and seemed genuinely happy to be serving us. Balliceaux is well staffed with plenty of servers and bussers to accommodate two very decently sized dining rooms.

Balliceaux is definitely a restaurant with a lot of character, and it attracts patrons with a lot of character as well. The menu is unique and the environment is worth checking out. Great for couples or small groups of friends, Balliceaux is a progressive dining experience with innovative, delicious food.

Contact reporter Brigid Beitel at brigid.beitel@richmond.edu

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