Zeus Gallery Richmond VA
Had a very disappointing evening at Zeus Gallery tonight. This is the first time I've been since they expanded the dining room several months/a year ago. I had read a post on the board some time ago that warned it was not the same restaurant - new, inferior chef and new, disinterested wait staff. I chose to give it a shot, with warm memories of this being my favorite restaurant in town back 2 years ago before the wife and I started cranking out kids and just generally became unable to go out and enjoy grown-up meals.
Anyhoo, we made the requisite reservation and had no problem getting our table at 8:00 (in fact, there were several open tables). Couldn't tell whether there was only one or if there were two wait staffers, but we sat for at least 10 minutes before placing a wine order. The bottle came fairly timely, but the promised bread didn't arrive for nearly 10 more minutes thereafter. For those of you familiar with Zeus, it is a small place - and our waitress (very pleasant, by the way) ambled by several times without comment. Not a huge deal, but things tend to start adding up.
There are some speakers mounted up on the wall, but no background music. I only noticed this because the tinny sounds of the boombox playing back in the kitchen were just audible enough to be a little annoying.
Our appetizer, advertised as homemade ravioli stuffed with chevre and served with a pancetta reduction sauce (?) arrived. Three emaciated and flat pillows sunken in an unrecognizeable liquid well, broth of some kind, I guess. The pasta was hard and chewy and the 'chevre' was virtually nonexistent. There were some gummy bacos on top, but they were fairly flavorless. My optimist of a wife commented that she wasn't quite prepared to grade the appetizer an "A" There's the understatement of the evening.
After we were left to stare at the congealing broth for 5, then 10, then 15, then 20 minutes with not so much as a refilled waterglass from our waitress, our entrees made it to the plate. I had the BBQ braised shortribs over collards and mashed horseradish potatoes. The meat was good - tender and well rendered. Some fat, but to be expected. The bbq sauce was a bit cloyingly sweet, and somewhat overpowered the meal. The spuds were good, not great. The greens were nondescript. The old lady ordered the 'wild norwegian salmon' with baby bok choy, morels, ramps and fingerling potatoes. She was pleased - fish a bit overdone but the flavors were nice. I had a nibble of morel and thought it had a pleasant earthy texture and taste.
Again, we sat for quite a while with empty wine glasses before our (again, very pleasant) absentee waitress appeared with the blackboard of dessert choices. We considered them, but by the time she returned, the thrill was gone and I had laid my credit card down on the table to put an end to it all.
Richmond is a nice town. There is some decent food here. Granted, there is no hip scene to speak of, and if you go to dinner past 8:00 you're liable to find a half-filled place with no buzz. That's nobody's fault except the citizen populace in general. Still, it would be nice to go to a restaurant that is serious about food and the dining experience, with a wait staff that is professional, informed and generally gives a damn about what they're doing.
I'm also believe Zeus has suffered since the expansion and the subsequent leaving of the chef, Jeanne and Laura...two great waitresses. We had brunch there a while back and while the food was good, we had the same service experience you did. I think (especially with the recent staff issues) the expansion has been detrimental to the place overall. And like you said, there are plenty of good eats around the city.