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June 7, 2013
El Burrito - 401 N. Great Neck Rd, Renaissance Place S/C, Virginia Beach 757-486-2312
This week’s lunch adventure- El Burrito at the Renaissance Place shopping center. It is newly opened and was pretty quiet for lunch time, but once people start getting a taste of the burritos that will change. The interior (pics included) is large and comfortable, with a choice of cushion seats or tables/chairs. The complimentary chips arrive with a slightly spicy white bean dip (these are getting harder to find in many Mexican restaurants these days) and salsa. I ordered a #4 Lunch Special ($6.95) complete with Beef Burrito, Chile Relleno, and Pork Tamale, and the Beef Burrito stole the show. Its good! They offer a number of “Build Your Own” Burrito options with the Burrito Loco ($14.95) and if they are anything like the lunch sample I had they have to be delicious. Add to this options like “Hokies On Fire” (The Ultimate Nacho), Sizzling Fajitas ($10.95), and Ribeye Steaks ($9.95-13.95), and the menu hits on all the standards plus more. The menu is full and includes special sections for kids and vegetarians, as well as a half page of Margarita choices. Desserts include favorites like sopapillas and xangos, ice cream sundaes and churros. Waiter service was slow this day, which wasn’t crowded, but the management was attentive and made up for it. I mentioned at the end of the meal that my chile relleno was cold and they brought a to go plate complete with sides- which was very amenable as I wasn’t expecting anything in return. All in all a good new restaurant and we recommend you give the Burritos a try! ~
May 12, 2013
Braise - 3333 Virginia Beach Blvd
BOBBY’S BACK and better than ever with BRAISE at 3333 Va Beach Blvd at the Harris Teeter complex in Forbidden City’s old location. We caught up with them opening night and the only thing we can say is “DELICIOUS”. Bobby Huber has built a solid reputation for quality and taste at fair prices and Braise is no exception. When you enter from the front, they have a large bar and dining area which leads to the main dining room in the back. Everything speaks quality from the table settings to the silverware, and there was a lot of care put into the little things, like carpet below and acoustic dampening tiles above, which keep the noise down nicely. The wine selection is large and the by the glass prices are great-we arrived at 5:30 and a decent sized glass of Zinfandel listed at $4 and netted less due to the hour.
The bread arrived with two rolls and a delicious section of foccacia bread and gave. The starters ($9-$12) ranged from Pot Stickers (Chicken, Shitake, Bobby’s Way) to Pork Bobbaque w Cornbread/Cheddar to Smoked Fish Deli and Eastern Shore Clams w/Fennel &Roasted Garlic. Next on the menu, “Low & Slow Meats/Stews/Stuff That Swims” with choices ($21-$30 avg) ranging from Smoked Pork Chop (w/Latkes, Apple Butter) to Braised Lamb Shank to Horseradish Tuna, to Big Ass Bone-In Ribeye, to name just a few. They also sport a special section for Veggies and some great salad choices. We ordered the Pot Stickers starter as a light meal and every bite was flavorful-it also paired very well with the Zinfandel. We’re definitely coming back for that Braised Lamb Shank.
~The Restaurant Channel/HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
May 10, 2013
The Landing Zone - Independence Blvd/Edwin Dr Area, Virginia Beach
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
Mix one former Marine 1 pilot (Jeff Marshall) and 1 Dominican Chef (Clarisa) who really likes what she does with a top notch server (Michele) with a good location not far from Va Beach Town Center and you have THE LANDING ZONE, a new Dominican-inspired restaurant and bar that really delivers on delicious food and great service. They open every day at 11:45 and here’s what we like about them: they have some serious bread ovens in the back that can kick out anything from mouthwatering Panini breads to rolls, they keep the restaurant and bar separate with a 5 foot wall, they offer linen tabletops, they are friendly and fast-but best of all, the menu offers some great choices.
Clarisa provides inspired Burritos, Tacos, Fajitas, and specials, like her Bandeja Paisa and Mahi Mahi in Meunier Sauce, as well as delicious BBQ Ribs, Salmon, and Lemon Basil Chicken. Then there are all types of plantains, sides, salads, and burgers. For me it came down to two choices: 1) Croissant de la Casa (7.99): Turkey, smoked Gouda, lettuce, tomato and avocado on a fresh baked croissant or the Cubano (9.99). slow-roasted Cuban pork, tender juicy ham, pickle, Swiss cheese and yellow mustard on home made Cuban bread (Panini style). I asked Clarisa what made the bread Cuban style and she answered, basically, “me”. I have to admit, that Cubano was pretty good and the bread was a big part of it. And what you have to like about Paninis is that there’s no grease like you would get from some grill tops. Try the Landing Zone the next time you’re seeking a truly delicious lunch or dinner!
May 4, 2013
Froggies Cantina by the Bay - Shore Dr, Virginia Beach
YOU CAN’T MISS FROGGIES CANTINA BY THE BAY on Shore Drive with the German Tudor exterior and banners waving and with that alone Bill & Debbie snagged another customer for lunch. There’s lots of seating choices and the restaurant is well decorated and well-lit, offering a wide selection of brews and drinks. The service is excellent and the breakfast/lunch menu ($3-$8 avg) is well stocked with favorites, like Biscuits and Gravy, Veggie Omelets, Shrimp and Grits, Chorizo and Eggs, Tadpoles Breakfast Sandwiches, Corned Beef Hash, Prime Rib Sandwich, Fajita Salads, Wild Bill’s Chili, She Crab Soup, and all kinds of Tacos, Burgers (Black Bean included), and wraps.
For me it came down to a choice between the Prime Rib Sandwich (Blackened Prime Rib stuffed into a hoagie roll and drizzled with a side of horseradish) or a Shrimp Po Boy (deep fried shrimp topped with slaw and fresh greens in a roll or wrap). The Shrimp Po Boy turned out to be a good choice for two reasons-one, the cole slaw is delicious and combines as a sauce and the shrimp was perfectly cooked to crunchy without the fried taste.
On their website you can check out the nightly specials which range from Yappy Hour for dogs Mondays 6-8, to Lobster Tuesdays ($14.95) to prime Rib Wednesdays to all kinds of specials and entertainment most other nights.
Check them out at www.froggiescantinabythebay.com. 757-216-3300.
April 26, 2013
Chow Restaurant - Colley Av, Ghent/Norfolk
We (as in me hungry enough for two) stopped by Chow on a cold and rainy Monday in April, which pretty much describes every day so far this year.
Chow has been getting a lot of good reviews so we thought we would add to the mix, and Chow is pretty good.
The restaurant is clean and well lit inside, with ample bar, table, and booth seating, and the service is good. The menu is the wall behind the bar, which, if you’re sitting at the bar, is pretty handy. The background was 70’s music and somehow Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes works. Maybe I just like that old stuff.
The list an eclectic array of Appetizers, Salads, Sandwiches, House Specialties, Dinners, and Weekly Specials and the mix is great between comfort food, veggie choices, seafood, and off the wall.
Speaking of off-the-wall, we ordered the Grilled Honey Peanut Butter, Banana & Bacon Sandwich on Sesame Seed & Poppy Whole Grain Bread. Weird as it sounds, it works!
Here’s some of the other items you’ll find, and if my pictures of the wall menu come out you’ll get a few more: Pot Liquer & Cornbread, Local Oysters, Chicken Livers, Fried Chicken, Pork Belly, Bone In Ham Steak, Country Fried Steak, Black bean Burger, Pimiento & Cucumber, Fried Green Tomatoes, Crab Pot Pie….and the list goes on. Most lunch between $8 and $11, dinners north of that at about $17-$21. Micro beers on draft. Full Bar.
April 6, 2013
757 Crave On the Harbor - Portsmouth
We stopped by Crave early in April to take in some of their 180 water view and enjoy a lunch offering from the menu, and wanted to take a minute to give them a solid recommendation. First-they replaced the old "The Deck" restaurant that sits on an island of pilings with a ships store in a marina off Crawford Parkway in Olde Town Portsmouth. Your GPS will end at 10 Crawford so look for the oval "NAVAL HOSPITAL" sign on Crawford and turn into the parking lot across from it. This feeds into a narrow parking lot close to the boats, and you can't miss a boardwalk lined with white vinyl rails. Park, and follow the boardwalk, first to the small building that houses Jarret Bay Yacht Sales, and then left a hundred yards or so through the marina to the restaurant. Its scenic and makes a great start and ending to a destination meal. The restaurant is on the second level and offers what has to be one of the most scenic restaurant views anywhere in Hampton Roads. The menu is eclectic and serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner, with choices which vary from 3 egg omelettes to seafood, steaks, and pasta. A few items: Lumpia, Hattreras Clam Chowder, Fish & Chip Baskets, Chicken Rockefeller, and a She Crab Soup they are pretty proud of. We can say that the Drunken Monkey Sticks (pork tenderloin) were delicious as an appetizer. The Ribeye steak at $16.95 looked pretty good and the wine list was decently priced, with glasses starting at $6. Crave is owned by Chef/Owner Rohn Sitjas, who owns this one and a new Crave out in Va Beach off Great Neck Rd where Kokoamos was. We highly recommend Crave fort the cuisine and the view. A first class choice when you want to try a new restaurant that offers a unique experience. Don''t forget the camera.
~Hampton Roads Dining Guide/The Restaurant Channel
Aug 8, 2012
Something Different - Urbanna VA
When we spotted the 3 page review of this little country bbq spot in one of the Washington papers months ago we made a note to stop by if we were ever in the area
and we’re glad we did. It called Something Different Country Store & Deli and its located at 3617 Old Virginia Street at the intersection of Rt 602 & 603 just 2 miles north of Urbanna. Be prepared not to be impressed by the building or décor, but by the food, which is cooked with a thorough respect for great taste. First item ordered-The Texas Brisket w/Brisket Sauce on fresh roll made from scratch that morning. The slow cooked brisket, the roll, and the sauce combined with a Paulaner beer from the cold section really tasted great. Then there was the dry-rubbed and slow smoked bbq ribs (1/3 rack) which fell off the bone when you touched them with a fork. Add the She-Crab soup (pretty large cup of delicious authentic she crab w/crab roe and sherry), and the Kickin’ Chicken, which is barbequed and seasoned with Caribbean spices, and we had quite a feast going on the 100 year old butcher block table with the milk carton seats (seen in pic).
The food is delicious-and there’s plenty of menu items to check out-like the Angus tri-tip beef (we had a sample-its delicious), the pit-cooked Country Ham…well, you get the idea. They also have omelets, smoked salmon, Cajun doughnuts, Eggs Mornay, homemade country sausage, peach cobbler, and Brandy Alexander ice cream, to name a few. Its definitely something different! Tell ‘em you found them in the Hampton Roads Dining Guide.
June 8, 2012
Norfolk Chophouse - Norfolk
Great Taste. Excellent Service.Wonderful Ambiance. We were blown away
by the Calamari starter (Thai Chili Sauce, Mung Bean Sprouts/Banana
Peppers) and the Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes (Old Bay Mashed
Potatoes,Grilled Asparagus,Remoulade), which had no filler, a
delicious taste which sometimes is missing in crabcakes, and was
excellent. The wine selection was first class and the service was
friendly and extremely capable. The Chophouse is a redone 1928
structure and the owners here did a beautiful job bringing it to life.
There is a room upstarirs for 50 with TV and bar for groups. If you're
planning on dining in the Norfolk area put this one at the top of your
June 3, 2012
Pho 79 - Norfolk
I tried this restaurant yesterday and it was definitely a great choice. It opens to 21st street in Norfolk’s upscale Ghent section, and there is parking in the back as well. It is well furnished, bright and airy. The menu gives you lots of choices, and although Pho Noodle Soup is one of my favorites, I opted for the Pork Chops and Rice and wasn’t disappointed. The Pork Chops came with sides of lettuce, tomato, a hefty serving of rice, and an interesting dipping sauce that complimented the chops and rice perfectly. They also carry spring rolls, shrimp, beef, and chicken skewers, a rice & vegetables dish, Korean BBQ Short Ribs, Chicken Curry, delicious Hu Tieu (Noodle Soup with a pork bone broth), Vietnamese Baguette Sandwiches, Iced Coffee, and “Bubble Tea”, which is the new craze in 15 or so flavors. Its better than any Smoothie I’ve ever had. The prices are decent and the service is great. ~Hampton Roads Dining Guide
18 May, 2012
Bad Ass Coffee - Virginia Beach
Located at 18th & Cypress in Virginia Beach this little yellow block building fools you from the outside. Step through the door and you are transported to Hawaii and some of the most delicious coffee and cuisine you'll find anywhere. Lots of healthy choices abound here, and the Kona coffee is very good on a cold rainy morning. They can knock off all your Starbucks drinks, so don't hesitate to ask if they can make your favorite. You'll also want to ask them about the legend of the Bad Ass Ones and how that all got started. ~HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
18 May, 2012
Aldos - Virginia Beach
Aldos Italian Restaurant in Virginia Beach is a local landmark and has carefully maintained its superb reputation since 1988 through good service and excellent cuisine. Its the kind of restaurant you want to bring out of town guests to or to celebrate a special occasion. First class all the way! ~HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
18 May, 2012
Abbey Road - Virginia Beach
The first thing that impresses you (after you get past the 20 foot high Beatles wall murals in the parking lot) about Abbey Road is the spaciousness and warmth of the interior. Beatles record collectables and memorabilia line the walls, the seating choices are great, and the menu, which features quality Seafood and American cuisine, is chock full of favorites ranging from Oysters Rockefeller Bisque to Seafood Jambalaya to Prime Rib au jus. Vegetarian and Lite fare options abound. They also feature the largest selection of domestic and imported beer in Virginia, organic wines, their own custom line of collectables, and breakfast until 4pm for you late risers. There’s live entertainment (usually acoustic, and usually very good) almost nightly. If you’re visiting the Beach for the first time-put Abbey Road at the top of your list for a nice evening out. ( TIP: If you’re a steak lover-try the Abbey’s Marinated Steak) ~HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
18 May, 2012
Freemason Abbey - Norfolk
Located in a 136 year-old renovated church, Freemason Abbey Restaurant has been a local’s favorite in the heart of downtown Norfolk for 20 years. The atmosphere is elegant but casual, so there is no need to feel underdressed. They pride themselves on reasonable prices, appealing to not only those celebrating special occasions but also those who enjoy dining out often. A definite "Must Visit" in Norfolk! ~HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
18 May, 2012
Prime 103 Steakhouse - Virginia Beach
Prime 103 is a new addition to the Beach, is local family owned, and has been getting rave reviews for excellent service and their uncanny ability to deliver prime quality cuisine at comfortable prices. Put them on your 'A List"of restaurants to try! ~HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
18 May, 2012
Eurasia - Virginia Beach
Eurasia is truly a food and wine lover’s gem, and the perfect place to get away from the beach bustle, kick back, and enjoy the company of friends in a casual atmosphere. The chef creations are unique, the food is delicious, and the folks at Eurasia treat everyone like family. If you are visiting the area, put Eurasia at the top of your dining list. ~HamptonRoadsDiningGuide.com
December 6, 2011
Orlando's - Virginia Beach
Orlando’s is an eclectic lounge/bistro located in the Renaissance Place shopping area on Great Neck Rd. in Virginia Beach serving Chef-Inspired breakfast and lunch items prepared by experienced chef Paul Goodson. The restaurant has a couple of different personalities, one being a comfy lounge bistro/bar featuring a steady mix of Sinatra/Buble/Dino, the other being that of a linen tablecloth sit down and relax type of dining room. The menus, especially the breakfast menu, is loaded with a variety of delicious and different choices, ranging from Backfin Benedict to Cobbler Stuffed French Toast, and the lunch menu has 16 different types of custom burgers, ranging from “The Californian” (Fresh burger with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and roasted red peppers then sauced with a light but zesty cucumber ranch) to the “The Jose Burger” (Turkey Burger topped with mushrooms and swiss cheese), which I had to try, never having tried turkey in place of hamburger. The Turkey Burger is, in a word, DELICIOUS. The cheese and mushrooms were very tasty, the turkey meat was thick and juicy, and the burger literally dripped with savory flavor. The fries are house creations and way above average. Orlando’s caters, so if you’re looking for a new source for delicious fare this would be a great place to start.
They are open early morning til2pm, they have a kids menu, and the number is 757-306-1106.
September 23, 2011
Berret's Seafood Restaurant and Taphouse Grill - Merchant's Square
It was a drizzlySeptember Sunday night last week when four of us wandered into Williamsburg’s Merchant’sSquare in search of a good meal. We could hear a band playing Sousa a blockaway-they were celebrating Constitution Day weekend in a grand style. Despitethe rain and cold, the outdoor patio of Berret’s Taphouse Grill lookedinviting and they had radiant heating units on the ceiling so we gave it a try.The menu at Berret’s is inviting-lots of unusual seafood choices mixedwith favorites- but their special for the evening, “3 CrabSpecial”, sounded even better, so we ordered 4. The 3 Crab Special consistsof their award winning Crab Cake topped with more Crab Salad and a pre mealtreat of She Crab Soup. Delicious! Highly Recommended.
September 23, 2011
Grumpy's Bar & Grill - Kempsville
Grumpy’s has takenover where Yukon Steak used to run things and they are doing a fine job fromour perspective. The interior is family friendly and big, with fairly privatebooth seating available if you’re trying to avoid autographs, and theyserve breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day with a smile. The menu is chockfull of delicious appetizers and entrees which include everything frombeer-battered mushrooms and wings to Crab cake sandwiches and seafood combos.They have lots of seafood choices, including steamed shrimp by the pound andfried oysters. I ordered the least expensive dish on the lunch menu, which wasthe BLT, which featured Applewood Smoked Bacon, and it was great. The bread,tomato, and lettuce was fresh, the bacon was tasty-which is all you can ask.The service was very friendly and fast, and it cost 4.99. That’s hard tobeat. Try this place any time of day when you’re near Providence SqShopping Center in Kempsville.
September 23, 2011
619 Cantina - Olde Town Portmouth
We stopped by 619 lastweek and it was like walking into a San Diego taco shop- everything was California Mex-Beachright down to the state flag. 619 is owned by a Navy Diver who has a good sensefor successful menus. He might think about getting Guy Fiere (Diners,Drive-In’s and Dives) to stop by to try some of his chef’screations- it all looked good. Most of the menu was a Build-Your-Own and youare encouraged to use a marker on the plasticized menu to denote your choices. I skipped the marker method and ordered the San-Dee-Ago Fish Tacos and theywere delicious. They used lightly blackened tilapia, tangy mango sauce,shredded cabbage, a slice of lime, and maybe a few other items I missed- butthe tacos were jumping with flavor and I will order those again next timeI’m in town. Highly recommended. Saves a trip out west.
September 23, 2011
Mi Casita - Virginia Beach
Mi Casita is a very enjoyable Mexican restaurant in Virginia Beach where you can find excellentdining choices and friendly service in a warm and very South-of-the Borderatmosphere. We ordered a Pina Rellena, which is their fresh pineapple halfstuffed with choice of chicken or steak strips, fried with pineapple, redonions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Its topped with Mi Casita melted cheese,and you can request different sides, which we did. We also ordered a VegetableFajita, which my wife said was delicious.
The Pina Rellena was very good and I will be back for that one anothertime. 5 Stars to these guys.
September 13, 2011
Edible Thymes - Virginia Beach
Edible Thymes is a small gourmet lunch and dinner restaurant tucked into the corner of Chambord Commons that faces Laskin Rd. and shares the same retail space with the Chambord Commons shops at the intersection of Great Neck and Laskin Rds in Va. Beach. The co-owner /Chef Darrell Stokes promptly introduced himself and brought me a menu. A short conversation revealed that they had just recently opened and that Darrell’s goal with Edible Thymes was to offer customized catering as well as a gourmet dining experience at a casual price, using made from scratch items entirely fresh and local. I ordered a Curry Chicken Salad Wrap which came with a side dish of chilled pasta and both were good. Most lunches were in the 8.00-10.00 range, which was reasonable.
You can judge the interior, which is well furnished, by the pictures provided.
We recommend Edible Thymes for a relaxing indoor or outdoor lunch or dinner.
August 21, 2011
The German Pantry - Norfolk
The German Pantry has been a Norfolk favorite for years and it got even better with new ownership about one year ago. Its located in a small strip center on Va. Beach Blvd about 6/10 of a mile west of Military Hwy. If you are staying at any of the airport or military highway hotels its about 5 minutes away and well worth a visit. The restaurant is cozy, friendly, and offers a delicious array of German specialties like Schnitzels, Saurbraten, and Black Forest Ham. I stopped by for lunch on a Friday and ordered the everyday Lunch Special (served all day), which is your choice of one or two home brats (bratwurst), with hot German potato salad, and red cabbage in place of the sauerkraut. They give you a bowl of pretzels to enjoy while you’re waiting, and the German music relaxes. This meal goes in my top 5 all time favorite lunches. The red cabbage really brings the meal together, and the German potato salad is the best I have ever had.
The meal rocks! For beer lovers, they carry over 75 brands of world famous bottled beers and German beers on draft, and they sell those branded draft glasses if you’re looking for a good gift idea for a friend. In the fall they put up a big tent in the back and bring in the entertainment for their Octoberfest celebration, which is a real party all weekend.
August 20, 2011
Aloha Hawaiian BBQ
I stopped at Aloha Hawaiian BBQ at the end of a lunch hour-there were 5 other tables seated. The restaurant is clean and well lit. They have a walk up order counter with the choices on the wall behind the counter. I ordered a Seafood Combo entrée which offered Mahi, Shrimp, and BBQ Chicken. My ordering seafood was my first mistake- keeping in mind this is a BBQ restaurant. It took ten minutes to get the order- the time most likely due to the cooking of the fish and shrimp portions, which were overdone and had no taste. The mahi arrived in very thin wafers which were all breading and very little fish. The fried shrimp was fried to a crisp. The skinless BBQ chicken was very good, tasting like it had been marinated well and cooked to just the right tenderness. The server was very nice and recommended that I try the marinated Kolbi beef (Korean) next trip. My second mistake was taking the red “ketchup” bottle and pouring it on my fries. After a few fries I took a second look at the bottle, turned it around, and noticed that it was indeed a red plastic ketchup bottle but it had a “hot chili sauce” label on one side.
I will give them a second chance but will avoid any seafood items next trip, and ask for a small container of ketchup with your order. There might be a small fixings bar up front but I didn’t see it.
July 21, 2011
Parklane Tavern - Hampton, VA
On a business trip to the new Peninsula Town Center in Hampton I stopped by the new Parklane Tavern (formerly The Pub) for lunch and a review. The interior is large, the centerpiece being the hand carved bar area which is massive, and it is comfortable, offering booth and table seating with upholstered chairs.
The background music was vocal jazz with some classic stuff like Cab Calloway so it’s relaxing. A server named Luke offered a drink and was quick to name a few favorite picks for lunch when asked- his was the Magner’s Corn Beef Sandwich- a house cooked corn beef brisket steeped in Magner’s Cider, thinly sliced and served with tavern fries and a fried pickle. Being a big fan of corned beef, I gave this one the nod and went about studying the menu for this review. The menu serves as the Lunch and Dinner Menu, and it features ‘Small Plates” like Tavern Wings, Salami & Cheeseboard, Bavarian Pretzels, Tavern Pizza, Calamari & more, “Sandwiches” that include the Corn Beef I ordered, Alpine Chicken Sandwich, Capra Portabella Salad, Panini of the Day, Chicken & Apple w/ Brie Paninis, and many more creative ideas. The “Large Plates” featured Fish & Chips, Shephard’s Pie, Whisky Cracked Pepper Steak, 12 Rub Bone In Chop, London Broil, Mash Bourbon Chicken, and more. The wines averaged about $7 a glass and they have a good selection, but it only starts there. They offer a large beer, wine, and drink list with a full compliment of everything from Single Malt Scotch selections to a long list of tavern favorites. There were at least 20 pages of drink selections in the tabletop drinks menu. Note: they are also serving Sunday brunch 10am-2pm with signature mamosas. Brunch starts at 5.95. And speaking of prices, the sandwiches range from 8.95 to 9.95, the dinners average 9.95 to 14.95. The lunch portion I am getting is large, as I see as lunch is now reaching the table. (Break for photos and lunch). If you’re a corned beef fan, this will be one of the best you have ever tried. Remember this corned beef is home simmered in Magner’s Cider. It was soft, tender, juicy, and very, very tasty, especially since they paired it with a slice of cheese and a light coat of dressing. The toasted rye bread complimented it perfectly. The fried pickle, which I originally mistook for a tavern fry, was excellent, and the tavern fries were perfect. Most restaurants overcook their corned beef. One of the best corned beef sandwiches I ever had was at Carnegie Deli in New York, and this outscored it by a long shot. WOW. I’ll be back. Probably to try that 12 rub Pork Chop and some of the draughts. Enjoy!
July 15, 2011
A & J Mongolian Grill - 2915-17 Shore Drive • VA Beach, VA • 757.226.8588
We stopped by A & J Mongolian July 12 to check it out for lunch and it was excellent. The restaurant is new (grand opening banners still hanging out front) and provides a nice addition to the Shore Drive group. The interior is well lit, with comfortable booth seating, and clean. I was immediately offered a choice of egg drop or hot & sour soup upon seating, and they also brought two pieces of homemade Chinese sesame bread, which were tasty. They have one grill top and the usual selection of noodles, meats, vegetables, fruits, salad greens, cookies and desserts. The only seafood was imitation crab- it would be nice to see shrimp offered. Using a ladleful of every sauce, the outcome is predictably good. They offer 6 types of beers, including Sapporo and Itchiban. One trip lunch is 6.99,unlimited is 8.99.Dinner goes up $2. If you are passing by Shore Drive/Great Neck Rd area between 11am and 3 it makes a good lunch. Dinner is 3:30-10 or 11 depending on the day of the week. Enjoy! Pictures Included.
July 8, 2011
Second Street - An American Bistro (Williamsburg)
We always like to visit Colonial Williamsburg a few times a year. It’s just a short drive from our house and makes a nice day trip of shopping, sightseeing and of course, dining. We usually make our visits later in the season after the tourists have vacated the town. Our most recent visit came on a Sunday. After maxing out our shopping budgets, we popped into Second Street American Bistro for a hopefully delicious end to our busy day.
Second Street has been a staple of Williamsburg since the mid-eighties but up until about five years ago, it was nothing more than a local beer and burger joint. Local dive no more, today Second Street is a full service restaurant, richly decorated with warm tones, clean lines, an indoor water fountain, and quaint outdoor patio complete with an outdoor fire-pit overlooking the nicely landscaped property.
With a casual dress code, the dining room on our visit was full of guests including families, tourists, and locals. Upon entering the restaurant, you are greeted with a dessert case fully stocked with the evening’s dessert selections which tempt you to save room for later. The bar is separate from the dining room and offers plenty to drink, a spacious seating area, and about 20 bar stools. Our bartender Jenn was friendly and well trained on the wine menu which was not too extensive but well balanced in regards to selection and price. After enjoying a few of Jenn’s “Tres Agave Organic Margaritas” we inquired about purchasing a bottle of wine to bring to the table. Being a Sunday, we were informed that wines by the bottle were on special for half-price. We had no idea and were ready to pay full price (not that we’re complaining.) We appreciated the tip.
After being seated by the hostess, we were greeted promptly by our waiter. Service was good but tight. Our dining experience felt like we were being served according to a textbook, not a waiter truly enjoying himself.
Our dinner started with the Corn and Crab Chowder and the Calamari “Fingers”. The chowder was served piping hot, loaded with crab, and well-seasoned. The calamari, breaded in Panko was typical of what you would expect when it comes to calamari.
As we enjoyed our appetizers, we reviewed the menu and given the number of great sounding dishes on the menu, I’ll admit it was a challenge. All entrees were attractively priced and the menu was divided into “comfort foods”, “pastas and grains”, “sandwiches/burgers” and “adventures”. Out of all of the Williamsburg restaurants, Second Street probably has a menu that is not only plentiful in selection, but interesting and affordable.
Placing our order, we went with the waiter’s recommendation of the Waygu Kobe Burger which he said, “was made with Japanese beef!” He may have been slightly misinformed on the source of the beef as “Wagyu” literally translates into “in the traditional Japanese style” and “cow” – which means it could come from just about anywhere. Another friend ordered the New York strip while another ordered the signature crabcakes.
The food arrived attractively presented and as ordered. The New York strip ($29.90) was well seasoned with molasses and spices and cooked perfectly. The asparagus risotto was creamy and al dente giving us the impression it was made to order. In high volume restaurants, risotto is often made ahead of time and held until a guest orders it, saving time but sacrificing both taste and texture. We all agreed the dish hit the mark. The 2nd Street Signature Crab Cakes ($28.90) came broiled and loaded with crab meat. The cakes were well seasoned, adorned with a micro-green garnish and placed atop a pan seared gnocchi and sautéed vegetable. The Waygu Kobe burger ($16.90) looked great to the rest of us but the guest who ordered it commented that it was a tad dry. Given the price tag, he had expected more.
Overall service was good and Waygu burger aside, the food shone bright for us that evening. If one is compiling a list of top restaurants in Williamsburg, I would add this one up towards the top.
Second Street – An American Bistro
140 2nd Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185
June 27, 2011
El Taco Loco
Sun and sand aside, the one thing Virginia Beach never runs short of is Mexican restaurants. You could stand anywhere and literally toss a soft taco in the air and watch it land on the roof of one. Sure, any one of them can be fun every once in a while despite their nearly identical menus yet inconsistent dishes, hurried service and sometimes cheesy atmospheres. The predictability is almost enough to put you to sleep.
Fortunately, we now have El Taco Loco to wake us up like a shot of tequila to the face.
Open only for about 16 months, El Taco Loco already has two locations. The newest location just opened in the Hilltop Shopping Center right next door to the Melting Pot and across from Fire & Vine. Admittedly tough to find, the flagship El Taco Loco is located on Virginia Beach Blvd. on the side of a strip mall between Bonefish and Sam’s Club.
The atmosphere of the Virginia Beach Blvd location is comfortable and modern with trendy Latin dance music keeping things lively through your meal. At peak hours, the dining room can be loud and boisterous. At one point through the meal, a joyous celebration of cheering and clapping erupted from the kitchen. Exactly what was being celebrated, we had no idea. Our server playfully rolled his eyes and smiled as if it wasn’t the first (or last) time that had happened. The El Taco Loco wait staff is efficient, friendly and cheerful. A friend had a question about an item on the menu and called over a waiter who was passing by. The waiter pleasantly took the time to answer questions and even returned with additional salsa and tea refills for the group.
A large party room is located in the back of the dining room available for large groups and children’s birthday parties. Friday and Saturday night’s feature live music and local DJ’s. Feel free to walk in and snag a table any day during the week but be warned that Friday and Saturday evenings at El Taco Loco are very busy. Reservations are recommended. The tile-floored dining room is open, rich in colors and features a mix of booths and tables. Brightly painted walls in deep hues of orange and red. One wall is adorned with traditional Latin abstract art, while another displays a print of Dos Equis’ spokesman, otherwise known as “The Most Interesting Man in the World”. He is of course, urging you to “stay thirsty my friends…”
And speaking of “thirsty”, the bar features 18 bottled beers available, 9 of which are Mexican imports and a standard selection of spirits. Happy hour specials are offered Monday through Thursdays from 4:00PM to 6:00PM. Several televisions are mounted above the bar and are visible from the dining room for those interested in the latest sports scores. The cocktail menu features a handful of creative cocktails including their own version of the famous Mexican hangover cure, the “Michelada”. Bridging the gap between a beer cocktail and a savory cocktail, the inclusion of this drink on the menu is simply one of many examples of how El Taco Loco is not your typical Virginia Beach Mexican restaurant.
The menu is large and features innovative appetizers, salads, and entrees as well as the standard Mexican restaurant offerings such as quesadillas, tacos, burritos and fundidos. Overall, dishes run small to large with many suitable for sharing. Seasonal specials are offered nightly which is a nice touch and chips, salsa and white sauce are offered at the start of every meal. The tomato salsa was bright, zesty and our bowls never ran empty. The Tableside Mexican Guacamole ($7) was wheeled out on a cart and prepared fresh right before our eyes. Our waiter sliced, pitted and scooped the fresh avocado from its peel and plopped it in a large wooden bowl. Without saying a word, he held up each ingredient (garlic, vinegar, jalapeno, pepper, lime, cilantro, and pomegranate seeds) before dumping it in the bowl, as if silently asking the table whether or not we wanted it our guacamole. We of course, wanted it all. After a quick taste test by the table, the guacamole was placed in the center of the table. Fresh, perfectly seasoned and plentiful, the guacamole appetizer was enough for the table to enjoy. After preparing our guacamole, the waiter made his way through the dining room making several other batches. The grilled avocado appetizer ($1.99) was recommended by the waiter and came served on shredded lettuce after being lightly seasoned and grilled. The creamy nuttiness of the avocado was complimented perfectly with the slightly charred crust. After passing one around the table, the rest of us quickly ordered our own. It was an impromptu treat. The Chicken Fajitas ($13.99) were brought to the table on a sizzle platter alongside healthy portions of rice, shredded lettuce, Pico, sour cream and freshly made guacamole. The Mexicano Rib entrée ($12.99) is one that you won’t find on other local Mexican restaurant menus. The ribs were meaty, uniquely seasoned and tender. Served with Spanish rice and a refreshing pineapple salsa, the dish was a hit. The only misstep of the outing would be the Taco Soup ($8.50). Clearly listed in the “Soups” section of the menu, it is merely a bowl of ground beef, tomatoes, beans, corn and olives. Not being a “soup” at all in my opinion, the dish was heavy and greasy and needs to be reworked.
El Taco Loco is a fun addition to the Hampton Road’s plethora of Mexican restaurants. It offers a refreshing break from the ordinary and will surely get better as this new concept settles in.
El Taco Loco - Pembroke
Virginia Beach Blvd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
El Taco Loco – Hilltop
1564 Laskin Rd - Ste 176
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
June 4, 2011
Bings Place - Can't Get Enough
Simply love this place since they opened. You really feel welcome almost like family and the food is spectacular. Can't help to order half the menu however each time. Making a decission is just too rough. The prices are very reasonable as well. Friendly entertaining night out. They are closed however Monday and Tuesday so keep that in mind.
SECRET SQUIRREL REVIEWS
June 4, 2011
Shelton's Big Grill - Good food, good price
Was in the mood for burgers today and seeked out Shelton's to try. The food was wonderful. The Chuckwagon Sandwich and the Carolina burger are delicious. Was so tempted to try a hot dog but I think that will wait until next time. Also tried desert. They were offering Chocolate meringue pie when I went and it was some of the best pie I have ever had. Also it was only $175!!! I know the website says all entrees are under $10 but thats only because thats as low as Urban Spoon goes. It's actually all under $5. Definitely give them a try if your in the mood for a burger, dog, or other sandwich. Cheap and very fresh.
SECRET SQUIRREL REVIEWS
June 22, 2011
Flip Flops Grill & Chill
NO WORRIES MON….Flip Flops has the grill and the chill going and its all good!
We chose a seat on the patio deck at an umbrella covered table and in a few seconds our
server Chelsea arrived with a menu to get everything started. Flip Flops Grill & Chill,
the proud creation of Kris and Camy Thurbon, is located in Red Mill Commons and has
a nice corner location which makes the patio a good choice. They have a colorful and
well lit Caribbean-inspired interior and the outdoor patio is comfortable, with piped in
Caribbean music hitting just the right note.
The menu offers an interesting choice of items that make you want to come back a
dozen times to try them all. On the appetizer side, Warm Flat Bread, Caribbean BBQ
Shrimp Nachos, and Calamari with an Aioli side sauce jump out at you. The calamari is
delicious and the sauce is outstanding. For Soups & Greens the choices include Curried
Corn & Lobster Bisque, Baby Arugula Salad, Mandarin Orange, Avocado & Tomato
Salad and more. We asked Chelsea what her 4 favorite lunch entrees were and she was
quick to respond- the Chicken & White Cheddar Wrap, the decidedly West Coast BBQ
Fish Tacos, the Blackened Tuna Wrap, and the Turkey Club, with turkey, bacon, lettuce,
tomato, Swiss cheese, ligonberry mayo, and honey Dijon on grilled sourdough. I think
it was the ligonberry mayo that got me, but that was the choice, and wow! That’s a good
sandwich! To make it even better, it comes with sweet potato fries. Making notes from
the menu while enjoying the meal, dinner entrees range from $13-$24 and include items
like Bacon-Wrapped Salmon, Cajun Bourbon Shrimp & Scallops w/ Penne, Sugar &
Spice Center Cut Pork Chops, Brandy Apple Ham, and other unique twists. We asked
Kris about vegetarian choices and he pointed out some of the ones on the menu and said
they are also very helpful with regard to making special request items, like black bean
burgers, provided it’s not on a crowded weekend nite.
Another thing we liked- House Merlot or Chardonnay $5 a glass and frozen drinks at $7,
which is pretty decent pricing for drinks.
We highly recommend this restaurant! Have fun…
June 13, 2011
SMITHFIELD STATION, SMITHFIELD VA
We had a 12:30 reservation at Smithfield Station for Father's Day and they proved once again to be a great choice for a special family outing. The restaurant is large inside with lots of seating choices and a water view but we chose our favorite spot on the outside deck, which overlooks their dock, the waterway, and the marshlands, to which we had 180 degree view. They have really built up the complex with hotel rooms, gift shops, and a lighthouse style B&B for boaters and travelers. I ordered a Country plate of their specialty fried chicken on top of a slice of Smithfield ham, mashed potatoes with gravy, and green beans for 8.50. Pictured with these are the Crab cake and Fried Flounder lunch entrees, both of which were enjoyed. The prices are reasonable here, the service is great, and the view is hard to beat.
June 13, 2011
Thai Arroy is a little Thai Restaurant (”Arroy” means “delicious- you can now add another language to your list) located at the corner of Birdneck and Laskin rds about 5 minutes from the Beachfront. The people here treat you like family, the interior is warm and inviting. We enjoyed two meals last night- “Green Duck”, which was a delicious concoction that included roast duck and steamed broccoli, and Shrimp Kha Tiem Prik Thai, which is shrimp sautéed with ground pepper, fresh onion, garlic and scallions and served with broccoli. Both were mouth-wateringly good. We seek out good Thai restaurants at least once every two weeks because the flavors are so unique and intense. The sauce that came with the crispy spring rolls was so good I used it on everything.
Thai Arroy has a little strip center location, but there’s lots of parking in the back and the visit is worth it. The prices on dinner entrees runs about $15-$18 and you get large portions. Enjoy!
June 8, 2011
The Peppermill Diner & Bar - Colley & 41st Ghent/ODU
The Peppermill occupies the old Retro Diner location at the 41 block
of Colley Ave a minute or two north of the Ghent downtown area. I
stopped by for lunch on Tuesday June 6th and when I asked how long
they’ve been open the answer was “We’re celebrating our one week
anniversary”. Sometimes reviews can be tough when a restaurant is
newly opened but this one has all its ducks in a row and the Ghent/ODU
area lucks out with yet another good new restaurant, this one from the
owners of Press 626.
The diner is clean, well lighted, attractively set up, and the servers
are all chipper and friendly. The background music is 60’s and the
menu is 21st century, loaded with breakfast and lunch choices for
vegans and vegetarians as well as the classic diner fare, like the
Blue Plate special. Breakfast is served all day and the menu offers a
wide choice of breakfast items from the Early Bird Special at 3.99 to
the Smoked Salmon Benedict and other chef-inspired breakfast entrees
The menu sported a full selection of coffees, lattes, shakes, floats,
wines, beers (I spotted Norfolk’s O’Connor on tap), garden burger
varieties and sirloin burger varieties, and much more, but not so much
that it was confusing. The one that got my attention was the Fried
Green Tomato Sandwich with lettuce and herbed mayo on wheat bread.
Veggies take note to ask for this without bacon. The sandwich arrived
with chips and a pickle.
It was VERY good, right down to the herbed mayo.
Two more notes- Happy Hour is M-F 3;30-6:30 and Friday nights are Fish Fry.
Enjoy- this is a good one!
June 7, 2011
Lynnhaven Fish House
My family visited for dinner on a Monday night and we were treated to a seat near the window facing the pier and Bay. It was great to see the pier has now been restored after the damage done by a Nor’easter some years ago.
The service was prompt and excellent throughout the meal. One of the specialties here is a choice of maybe 8 kinds of fish filets that you can have cooked with your choice of about the same number of different sauces/toppings. I started to order the Red Snapper, choosing a roasted red pepper vodka cream sauce to pair it with when the server pointed out I could get that filet herb crusted with the same sauce as a menu item, and for a little less. It was good call.
After salads, the Snapper arrived still crackling from the heat and the meal was delicious.
The filet was thick and done perfectly. The vodka cream sauce provided the perfect compliment.
We also ordered Broiled Jumbo Crabcakes and the Yellowfin Tuna and both were excellent. My Snapper was 21.99 and many of the meals averaged about $24-28. The restaurant was packed by the time we left at 6:30- not bad for a Monday night.
June 1, 2011
Lola's Caribbean in Ghent
We stopped in for a business lunch Tuesday May 31st. Lola’s, which is owned by the Plaza Del Sol ownership group, occupies the former location of Ibiza on 20th street.
They have a nice outdoor patio for dining and drinks, and a unique interior. The Lunch Menu carries a few Caribbean- influenced choices while the dinner menu carries a wider selection of Latin entrees. The lunch menu features starters, salads, sandwiches (one of which was Cuban style), and flatbreads. Our server Brittany was friendly and provided excellent service- the restaurant has a pleasant interior design (see pictures) and the seating is comfortable. I chose a Dominican Style Chef Salad, which consists of seasonal greens tossed with a very tasty house dressing served with boiled potatoes, sliced boiled eggs, tomatoes, Spanish olives, fresh avocado, mozzarella, bits of smoked turkey, honey baked ham, and bacon. The salad was very good and it was a large plate. Price $8.95.
For a business lunch it was comfortable, not crowded, and service was fast.
May 31, 2011
Fire Brew at Red Mill (Va.Beach)
“With their first restaurant opening in Virginia Beach this past March, owners Dean and Sue Gonsior have created “Fire Brew” and per the website, “Fire Brew” is a restaurant that prides itself on cooking over an open flame and its full service bar and giving the guests a show along with it.
Upon entering the lobby of Fire Brew, guests are greeted by an 8 foot stone partition wall adorned with two decorative water fountains and an electric fireplace with gently flickering flames. As they wait for a table, guests can sit comfortably in any of several suede couches or chairs. Considerable effort has been put into the décor of the restaurant and the results are lovely. The high-ceilinged dining room is vast and features wooden table seating for roughly 100 guests. Patio seating is also featured for those guests who wish to dine “al-fresco” under large umbrellas. The wooden floor is beautiful but bounces conversations louder than a whisper from one end of the room to the other with ease.
The cooks can be seen hard at work during dinner service as the kitchen is open and located in full view of nearly every guest. Cooks working the rotisserie or the stone oven are fun to watch, especially during a busy dinner service. Featuring approximately 25 different wines, Fire Brew’s wine station is a unique concept and allows guests to put money on a “credit card” and “purchase” wine by the taste or by the glass. Guests can also order through their server as well. A method I much rather prefer. The full service bar features a decent selection of beer and spirits. Guests seated at the 20 seat bar have full view of the open kitchen or the three televisions mounted above the bar.
Fire Brew’s one-page, front and back printed menu is priced conservatively but is somewhat predictable in flavor combinations. Diners looking for more adventurous cuisine will need to look elsewhere. The menu features a small selection of appetizers including chicken fingers that our server mentioned were made from scratch. In addition, the menu features the standard offerings of soups, salads and sandwiches including a French onion soup, Caesar, Cobb and Greek Salads as well as a French dip, Club and Apple chicken sandwiches. Entrees include everything from pizzas, pastas, chicken, pork, beef and seafood.
Our first visit to Fire Brew was on a Friday evening. After a short wait for a table, we were sat by the hostess at a small table for two by the bar. The restaurant was busy and the service staff was buzzing about weaving in and out of tables. The dining room was loud with conversation and busy with guests making their way to the wine station located in the center of the dining room. Our server, while very busy, was smiling and friendly. Drinks were delivered quickly, questions were answered and an appetizer order was taken.
The Roasted Vegetable Flatbread appetizer was enjoyable as the vegetables were seasoned well and perfectly roasted. The crispy flatbread was also drizzled with herb pesto and feta cheese. Both of us ordered small Caesar salads with our entrees and wished the dressing was made from scratch as opposed to poured out of a bottle. We both commented on the needless addition of tomato to our Caesars which traditionally are served “sans-tomato”. (Looking back, the menu clearly states that tomatoes come on the Caesar.) A group of four ladies celebrating a birthday next to us all ordered regular sized salads and could be overheard commenting on the generous portions and freshness of greens and vegetables. The Lemon Pecan Salmon hit the table looking wonderful but was slightly overcooked. The bread crumb and pecan crust was toasted nicely and the tomato-basil-butter sauce was a very nice compliment to the roasted fish. A bowl of ricotta-filled Vegetable Ravioli was also enjoyed and featured crispy roasted squash, zucchini and mushrooms. Sauced with a robust marinara, the dish proved tasty but too heavy to finish in one sitting. Despite the tempting dessert tray that the servers brought to each table at the end of the meal, we opted not to partake.
While service is adequate, Fire Brew leaves the diner with a lot to watch while waiting. The food will meet the expectations of a casual diner and is well priced for the quality. The wine station is a fun option that allows the diner to get up and move around a bit. As an extremely young restaurant (less than 4 months), experience will bring improvement. With that experience, Fire Brew can become a real gem amongst the Redmill area restaurants.”
HR Dining Guide Tip – Text 89074 to join Fire Brew’s mobile marketing club and receive promotional texts and coupons.
May 23, 2011
Pierce’s Pit Bar-B-Que… Has The Right Stuff
I stopped by Pierce’s Monday night around 6pm while working in the Williamsburg area. I have been hearing about Pierce’s Pit for years and decided it was time to try them out out. The eating area is spacious and clean, and the counter is walk up style and order by number. Maybe 10 different styles of baseball caps bearing their logo are visible behind the register and I was sorely tempted to grab a souvenier, but my turn came to order and my concentration turned to ordering a large BBQ sandwich with fries. The good smells of pork BBQ and sauce, and the sixties oldies playing in the background sort of put me in a food trance. Framed mementoes and newspaper clippings cover the walls- at my table an article showing Paula Dean visiting Pierce’s pit grabbed my attention until my number was called. Starting with the fries, which were crinkle cut and old fashioned style delicious, and on to the BBQ sandwich, the first thing I noticed at first bite is that they have their own sauce and it is delicious. No “16 sauces to choose from”- they just put their own on that pork and it is worth the trip from first bite, even if you’re coming from New Jersey. The pork kind of melts in your mouth, which you don’t often find with pork BBQ, which sometimes goes down in dry stringy clumps. This has all the right stuff and is done perfectly. Go and enjoy.
May 23, 2011
Steinhilbur's - Thalia Area, Virginia Beach
We had guests from out of town, so my family and I took them to
Steinhilbers'. That is where we always take guests. The location,
and the restaurant itself, are so lovely, and the fried shrimp ( we
always order those) are so great. People always love the place, and
it is always crowded, no matter what night you go. B.T.
May 23, 2011
Caramelo Restaurant & Bakery Va Beach
A recent vacation to the Dominican Republic left me with many fond
memories such as the white sandy beaches, hospitable locals, and lush
rain forests. Oh, and the food. How could I not miss the food? The
cuisine of the Dominican Republic is rich with Latin American, African
and Spanish influence. The result of which is a cuisine bursting with
fresh, big and bold flavors. Thanks to Caramelo Restaurant & Bakery
opening up at Loehmann’s Plaza in Virginia Beach, I no longer have to
purchase a plane ticket to get my “mofongo-fix”.
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, there are plenty of
opportunities for you to stop in and experience the cuisine of the
Dominican. During a recent lunch visit, a friend and I asked the
server for a good recommendation. Immediately they responded with,
“the mofongo”. Mofongo is fried green plantains which have been
seasoned with garlic, pork cracklings and olive oil. It WAS a good
recommendation and we enjoyed the mofongo with a side of grilled steak
pieces. In addition, a platter of fish tacos offered a nice light
touch to our lunch. The mahi-mahi was lightly seasoned, grilled and
served inside warm flour tortillas. A tangy aioli and a few spritzes
of lime wedge provided just enough zip. Served with white rice, the
lunch took me back to my recent vacation.
The restaurant is cozy, comfortable and features a plush couch for
informal dining. The bar serves wine and beer and allows you to watch
the cooks busy at work in the kitchen. While you’re there, make sure
you take a look at the tasty treats displayed in the bakery cases and
keep them in mind for your next special event.
Caramelo Restaurant & Bakery
4000 Virginia Beach Blvd
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
May 22, 2011:
Drive just a mile past all of the bright lights of the Virginia Beach Town Center and you’ll see “The Chef’s Table” nestled in an unassuming small strip-mall on Independence Blvd. Serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, the menu is extensive and features both American and Italian dishes. The Chef’s Table features a creative martini list as well as a wine list of mostly California and Italian wines (a few Australian wines are intermingled).
We arrived at the Chef’s Table late in the evening on a Wednesday night. As the last guests of the evening were wrapping up their meals, we were graciously greeted by the dining room manager Lisa and taken to our table. Our server was attentive and efficient. Realizing that the local rockfish season was coming to a close, we were excited to hear that one of the nightly specials was a grilled rockfish with asparagus pasta. After enjoying an appetizer of Jerk Rubbed Crabcakes with Pineapple-Mango Salsa, we took advantage and ordered the local rockfish special and a Greek Salad with Grilled Dill Salmon. The rockfish was perfectly grilled and was accompanied by a slightly tangy lemon-wine pan sauce. The Greek Salad was crisp and fresh and topped with a nice filet of wild salmon. While slight, the only complaint was that after ordering the Greek Salad, our server gave us a choice of dressings. When we requested the obvious “Greek dressing”, we were told that they did not carry Greek dressing. Our server did hit the nail on the head with her wine recommendation of the 2008 Conundrum White Table Wine. The wonderfully bright and robust wine paired well with both the rockfish and the salad.
As we finished up our meals, it was getting late and nearing closing time, we decided to pass on dessert. We enjoyed both our dinners and the gracious hospitality. Because of that, we will be back very soon!
May 15, 2011:
"Serving up it's own version of American wood-fired cuisine since 2007, nationally award-winning Fire & Vine has become a dining attraction for both locals and out-of-towners. A truley unique concept to the area, Fire & Vine's menu is centered primarily around the utilization of wood-fired cooking techniques (hence the "Fire") and serves a wide variety of steaks, poultry, seafood, and wood-fired pizzas and flatbreads. Also featuring a do-it-yourself gourmet salad bar, guests can enjoy wood-grilled fresh vegetables, uniquely composed salads, mixed greens and a wide selection of dressings, oils and vinegars. The atmosphere is that of a rustic wine cellar with a modern twist, Fire & Vine showcases a 5,000 bottle climate-controlled wine cellar, over 50 wines offered by the glass, and over 20 different wine "flights" which allow the guests to sample 3 different wines (hence the "Vine"). Considered to be somewhat of an "insider tip" of the locals, Fire & Vine offers happy hour 7 days a week and special deals are offered to those guests sitting at the bar, including $5 wood-fired pizzas and $5 selected martinis. Deals not available in the dining room so get their early to snag a bar stool. Fire & Vine is a true gem for both "foodies" and wine-lovers alike."
HRDining Guide Favorites - Sonoma Flatbread, Fried Green Tomatoes, Wood-grilled Salmon, Wood-grilled Boneless Pork Chop, Prime Ribeye
- HRDining Guide Staff
May 13, 2011:
Espeto Na Brasa- Downtown Norfolk: 3 Visits There and Still the Best!
May 13, 2011 -
"I have dined at Espeto Norfolk with family on three separate occasions, the most
recent being March 2011, and the service and cuisine was excellent each time.
For a fixed price you can choose from 13 cuts of meats which are brought to you
on skewers by the servers, and offered from rare to well depending on the side of
the cut. They have an upscale antipasto table with hot and cold options that can fill
the need of any vegetarians. The interior architecture is stunning, reminiscent of a
May 11, 2011:
Yukai Buffet at Regency Hilltop Va. Beach- Largest Sushi Buffet By Far in Hampton Roads
"You can choose endless types of sushi from the round table buffet or try American/Chinese/Hibachi from the back buffet tables- its all good! One of the salads to look for is the Salmon Skin salad, which isn't always there, and it is delicious. I go for lunch often and usually get the sushi, which is always fresh because the sushi chefs are replacing the trays constantly during busy lunch and dinner times. It is an impressive buffet and the food is delicious! It is located in the Regency Hilltop Shopping center on Laskin Rd (31st st 5 minutes from the beach)."
May 19, 2011:
Katana Japanese Steakhouse in Norfolk’s Ghent: Extra Attention Given To The Little Things...
"Conveniently located in Norfolk's historic Ghent, Katana has earned a reputation for excellence. The interior is warm and inviting, the Hibachi chefs are entertaining and skillful (ask for "Tiger), the staff is very friendly, and the cuisine is excellent. Extra attention is given to the little things here-from the selection of the dipping sauces at the hibachi tables to the delicious pre-meal soups and salads. The sushi is fresh and flavorful- our favorite-the Volcano Rolls."
April 19, 2011
Chester’s Upper Deck at the Beach: Beach Music is Back...
April 19, 2011
" and its at Chester's Upper Deck at 16th & Atlantic at the Beach front all year long! Enjoy terrific dining (best crab cakes anywhere) and Dancing (Shag, Western Swing, Ballroom on Saturdays create your own). With two dance floors and live bands pumping out the legenday beach sounds of groups like The Tams, The Rhondels, and The Embers, its all reminiscent of the famous East Coast beach nightclubs of the 40-s-50's-60's. The fun and great dining is open to everybody-so bring some friends and family and have a fun evening!"
May 19, 2011
The Cellars at Church Point Va. Beach: Put This One at The Top Of Your List!
"Located in the tastefully decorated cellars of the historic Church Point Manor House in Virginia Beach's Church point area, the award winning Cellars Restaurant is the perfect destination for a truly unique and enjoyable dining experience. With outdoor seating (in season), an extensive wine list (boasting over 250 varieties, and a delectable menu, the Cellars is sure to please every palate. If you are visiting the area the first time be sure to put the cellars and the Manor House B&B on your list!"
BAJA - SANDBRIDGE
Best place in Sandbridge
by Joe D. ( Urbanspoon)
April 23, 2010 - Likes it
This is a pretty good little restaurant / pub located on the very south end of Sandbridge. The restaurant proper is in the main building and it also includes a small bar and room with a pool table. There is a second bar out back that's basically a giant screened in porch for lack of a better description. When the rear bar is open during the spring & summer there's always a nice cool breeze from either Shipps Bay behind the place or one coming off the Atlantic on the other side of Sandpiper Road. They have lawn chairs, bands and all sorts of activities.
Baja serves a little bit of everything with maybe a slight lean towards seafood. The menu while basic has everything from shell fish, burgers, ribs, tacos, pizza, etc. If you read my reviews, you know I went for the pizza.
Pizza's here are offered in two sizes 12" and 14". Go for the 14" as it's definitely the better value. Tonight we had one with pepperoni and mushrooms. When the pie arrived I thought it looked a little under cooked, and in the center it seemed that way as well, however I think it was kinda soggy from the sauce more so than not leaving it in the oven long enough. The dough was fresh and the crust was light and chewy. This pie fits right in the middle. There's nothing spectacular about it that would make me want to come back week after week, at the same time it's a well built pizza that is tasty and gets the job done.
If you're looking to do something a little different this spring, take a drive and head out to Sandbridge and try them out. I think you'll enjoy it.
DOC TAYLOR’S - OCEANFRONT
by ASRoma58, (Urbanspoon)
April 17, 2011 - Likes it
This restaurant has little to no signage out front but don't let that fool you! This is a great breakfast spot, worth not only one trip but multiple! Great, friendly staff unique seating in what looks like a retrofitted home / restaurant it is a great place where the locals hang out. They have a reasonably priced menu ($5 to $10) featuring unique dishes like the "ray ray" (fried egg, bacon, and garlic cheese and parmesan fried tomato over a onion bun). Try it out!
TAUTOGS - OCEANFRONT
by Brent (Urbanspoon)
May 17, 2011 - Likes it
It's not that this is the only great restaurant at the beach. There are many outstanding places such as Eat, Eurasia, Zoe's, and Terrapin that are highly regarded, and have oustanding food. The problem there, however, is that walking into a place such as these (I call them "tablecloth and wine glass" restaurants) means spending a good chunk of your evening and your wallet. It's an "experience", and walking in and ordering a single dish or appetizer would probably leave most feeling guilty, and the waitstaff like you are wasting their time and potential tip money.
This is why some of these nicer restarants suffer in this economy. Some people do have the money, and do want the experience, especially if it is a special occasion or something...but there is a trend in America over the last 10 years (especially evidenced by the popularity of shows like Diners, Drive-ins and Dives) that more and more people just want the quality of food without the frills. Can we just walk into a place dressed casually, eat an incredible meal, even if it's only a $12 one (and by that I don't mean something that came vacuum packed in a bag from the Sysco truck), tip graciously and get up and leave without the frills?
This void is finally being filled by places like Rt. 58 Deli Diner, Citrus, El Taco Loco, and of course Tautog's, and their breakfast cousin, Doc Taylor's right next door.
Both restaurants are inside nondescript building that look like old houses. Both have a no frills rusticness and charm. Tautog's boasts a few sparse tables crammed into it's little front room (and an adjoining picnic table area that looks like something set up for a hasty workplace fish fry). You get the feeling nobody could care less if you came by yourself and ordered a dessert and coffee or a 5 course meal. Or if you stayed for an hour. The food is oustanding, fresh and seasonal. I won't go into descriptions, because the menu changes and I have never had a bad meal here. The prices are so good I would almost consider them underpriced.
It's a model for the way dining is going in this country, and what people are looking for.
PS - a note about kids. The last time I was here my wife and I were seated next to a family with a noisy kid. Obviously tourists are here with their kids, and want to eat good too. But that is no excuse to ruin things for the entire restaurant. Please be considerate to others and stay in and order room service if your child is not old enough or does not have the temperament to sit still and quiet.
IL GIARDINO - BEACHFRONT
by Peanutgallery (Urbanspoon)
January 05, 2010 - Really likes it
Il Giardino sets the standard for Italian cuisine well beyond the Hampton Roads area. A pleasing atmosphere of a genuine Cucina Italiana highlighted by the fully operational brick oven on the main floor. Beautiful flow of piano bar, outside meal patio to the main dining room, your experience will bring you back time and time again. You will find all meals well portioned and flavored to the peak of perfection. If you have not had your fill between the appetizers and your main meal... stay away from the desert offerings as they are huge, freshly made, and killer in taste.
This is THE restaurant to bring your clients or out of town guests to make that lasting impression.
MAHI MAH’S - BEACHFRONT
Just a few points shy of awesome
by Heidi, Atlanta (Urbanspoon)
April 10, 2011 - Likes it
I visited with a party of 5 on a very busy off-season Sunday evening. The bar was definitely hopping and the restaurant seemed bustling. The service was great - very attentive!
I had the seaweed salad. It was tasty and crisp, although slightly overdressed. The tuna tataki was good, but the fish could have benefitted from a little extra seasoning prior to searing. Without the soy, it would have been very bland.
Other guests had excellent things to say about the she-crab soup, pepper-seared tuna (although a bit overpriced), shrimp & grits and chicken rigatoni. The portions of these were very generous.
Crab-stuffed chicken would have been a hit, but it was sadly overcooked. It's saving grace were the huge lumps of crab accompanying it.
I have been here many times before and will continue to return. I can always count on the sushi to be fresh and tasty.
BEACH BULLY BBQ - BEACHFRONT
What a turn around!
by Joe D. (Urbanspoon)
April 07, 2011 - Likes it
So I just posted a review for a catered lunch from them last week... I'm getting ready to post another one...
What a turn around. Today we had a catered meal that was a double entree full of their regular Carolina BBQ in one bin and and Chicken BBQ in the other. It came with buns, plates, etc. and a ton of baked beans and potato salad. Damn it was good!!!!
Now this was a spread worth writing about. Basic and right to the point! Great Job Beach Bully!!!
TERRAPIN - OCEANFRONT
Finally a place to be proud of
by Reuben (Urbanspoon)
November 15, 2010 - Likes it
Our reservation made on open table worked very well. We arrived a little early but were seated immediately in the perfect spot. The internet menu is a little outdated, there were also several truffle specials running. We started with perfectly seared foie-gras and a truffle Mac and cheese, very creamy and warm. Bone in Fried Chicken entrée was so tasty it reminded me of my grandmothers Sunday dinner. The truffle pork belly I had was super good except some parts we a little tough. Wine pairing was superb even by the glass; wine selection is familiar and priced well. A romantic restaurant with superior staff, menu, and special food offerings we have been looking for. The atmosphere is perfect for fine dining. We will do the tasting menu next time.