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January 2004 Majestic Cafe

The cooking is American with an emphasis on the South.

Reaching back 50 years to the original Majestic Café, the renovators of this space recreated a delightful place. The restaurant was closed for 22 years until it reopened in 2001. Today its art deco façade, skylights, and cherry paneling draw full houses. Small black-and-white photos of the original line the walls. In charge is chef Susan McCreight-Lindeborg, formerly of the Morrison-Clark Inn. The cooking is American with an emphasis on the South. Quality has slipped in the past year, but it remains a good place to eat.

The best appetizer on several recent visits was a gratin of oysters, Virginia ham, and crackers, but golf-ball-size deep-fried chickpea fritters with a green-yogurt sauce were not far behind. Curried smoked-salmon soup was understated; a tart of sweet potato and country ham and sage with an apple salad was all right.

The story was similar with main courses. Successes included the braised rabbit leg with mashed potatoes and walnuts and the grilled balsamic-glazed salmon. At $24.50, the rib-eye steak with Yukon potato croquettes tasted fine but was undersize. Boston-style grilled pork loin with baked beans and brown bread was dull. For dessert, the spice cake was better than the soft roasted pear and the chocolate-peppermint puff. The short wine list is okay, but a bottle of red wine was brought to table too warm.

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