Saturday, June 27, 2015

Toast Bar - Norfolk, VA

Toast, how we love thee...
Tuna Melt
Today was our first experience at Toast.  We liked Field Guide, have heard great things about Handsome Biscuit and figured this had to be another endeavor in food excellence.  Located in a spacious, new-old (read: hip, renovated) building at the corner of Colonial Avenue & 24th Street.  We were greeted by a very pleasant guy I recognized from Field Guide.  We grabbed a booth by the window to get ready for what would be one of the best lunches we have had.  The server was extremely helpful with the menu and any questions we had (we ask a lot if you remember). 
I debated between three savory toasts, the Tuna Melt, the Eggy Weg and the Egg Salad.  After the three starving parties at our table agreed to split the Tuna Melt as an 'extra', I settled on the Egg Salad with lime chili oil and kimchi, based on that being the more unique of the two egg toasts, according to the server.  Our third musketeer ordered the Texas Pig with peppers, micro greens, pickled onions and sour cream, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  She was slightly nervous about the Tuna Melt (she does not like tomatoes) but we convinced her to give it a whirl and she could not believe how much it tasted like bolognese.  We thought the same - this is a winner.  The egg salad was creamy, not too heavy and with the lime chili oil and kimchi had some texture.  I find egg salad needs something extra to balance the softness of the eggs and mayo.  
Egg Salad
Texas Pig
 All of that led us to dessert, the main attraction.  In reality, we had looked at dessert first and Laine and I could have lived in just that BUT to give a fair review, we wanted to eat a 'real' lunch first.  The server recommended the churro which sounds really good but we had our hearts set on the Tres Leches and the PNUT.  The Tres Leches is 'lighter' if a dessert of bread, condensed milk and butter can be called light.  We went 'all the way' with the PNUT by adding the recommended malted chocolate ice cream.    This dynamic combo consists of peanut butter, homemade jam, ice cream and chocolate chips on top of the waffleloafle bread, a Toast specialty for their sweet toasts.  This was out of sight and put us over the edge.  We had all had one and a half regular toasts and split the two desserts so I would say we can give a well-rounded review...Toast is wicked good and we will be back, soon.  As Laine mentioned, this would be a good spot for post-ODU football game dining.


The premise is that each dish is served on top of a piece of Toast, hence the name. The thought of this brought haunting images of chipped beef on toast to mind, but after checking out their Facebook page, I decided to give it a try. Toast is just across the railroad tracks on Colonial Ave, close to Handsome Biscuit. It’s nice to see businesses exploring options and succeeding in Park Place. They have their own parking lot (bonus) and a cute outside dining area. The outside dining is right next to the street and the parking lot, making it a little less appealing. Since our lunch coincided with a torrential downpour, we opted to dine in.  There is counter seating overlooking the outdoor eating area, about 15-20 seats around the bar and several booths. It has a solid urban vibe with exposed brick and minimalistic décor. I like the look of the open kitchen with the large brick archway.

The menu is very interesting, with a lot of variety and very reasonable pricing. They have eggs, chicken, tuna, pork, beef, bacon and vegetarian selections. There is a bar, so mixed drinks and brews are available. Since we had to return to our jobs working for the man, I tried their in house Ginger Beer. It was awesome; very crisp tasting and sweet like a Sprite, but with the added zing of ginger.

The portions are hearty. As a first timer, you might think that the entrées will be “less than” a sandwich, but you would be wrong. They are “greater than” the average sandwich! The delicious bread is at least one inch thick, with a hearty crust. It is, of course, toasted. Next, your choices are piled high on top. It can only be eaten with a fork and knife. I liked that they provide an oversized serrated knife. This lets you cut all the way through the toast without destroying your dish. 

All of our choices were stellar. The Tuna Melt is very unique. The server warned us that it tastes more like Lasagna than a Tuna Melt. Say what?! He was right and I am still not sure how that can happen! When it was all said and done, my heart belonged to the PNut. It sets the new standard for dessert decadence. We will be back.

Toast Norfolk
2406 Colonial Ave
Norfolk, VA 23517  

Beverage -5

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Supper, Norfolk, Virginia

Finally, Norfolk has a restaurant with a rooftop!  Supper, opened by the group that owns Public House, Bardo, Still and Gosport Tavern, made it's debute last weekend.  We stopped to have a look at the new, soon to be hot, spot.  The decor is by far, some of the best in town.  Very nice lighting, subway tile behind the downstairs bar and low and behold, the rooftop, which will be the apple of this restaurant's eye.  The seating is aplenty both downstairs and up and there are bars on both floors.  We decided on the upstairs bar for a drink and appetizer.  The homemade pimento cheese and seasoned Ritz crackers appetizer is large and very, very good.  The drink menu has many bourbon and whisky cocktails along with a couple versions of the Bloody Mary, a slush drink and a few gin and vodka drinks.  I decided on the House Lemon-Aid, which was tart and tasty.  Supper also has a varied draft and bottle beer and wine selection.  



This weekend, we decided to have our first full dinner at Supper.  Fortunately, reservations are available since I think this is going to be the new place on everyone's mind.  We arrived at 6:30 and it was steady, not packed yet.  We were seated within five minutes on the rooftop, which we requested of course.  I once again ordered the House Lemon-Aid, my soon to be husband opted for the Slush (bourbon) and my mom went with the Snowbird Ricky.  My drink was excellent and decently strong as it was the first time.  The Slush is a pretty large cocktail served in a mason jar glass.  The Snowbird Ricky is served with a nice, pink slice of grapefruit.  I might have that on our next visit.   We decided on the pimento cheese again and added a Caesar salad to our appetizer course.  I must mention the cornbread croutons in this salad - order it just for those.  For our main course, mom chose the lamb chop with sugar snaps and the carrot casserole, I ordered the grilled corn entree which comes with a biscuit and mac and my partner went with the pork chop including creamed corn and roasted fingerling potatoes.  We also ordered a side of the cornbread and biscuits and extra sides of the mac n cheese and the creamed corn.  We should have read the menu closer as my entree came with the mac and my partner's came with the creamed corn.  Thinking we both wanted our own of each, we threw in the extras...leftovers!  Lesson for next time, the meals (and sides) are large enough you really can share them without feeling slighted.  I'm not usually a sharer but this even makes sense to me after seeing the portions.  

Service was very good.  These servers are running those stairs constantly but our food came out in just the right amount of time and everything was as ordered (read: no mistakes).  Everyone loved their food, loved their drinks and really loved the atmosphere, especially when the stringed lighting came to life.  
The crowd grew while we were there.  Both bars were full and most of the tables on the rooftop were taken when we departed.   It is most certainly the new hip place to be in Norfolk and it is very exciting that the Supper folks made the investment in the restaurant idea but also in the rooftop.  I hope this spurs others to add rooftops to their restaurants where possible.  Supper plans to keep the upstairs open as long as the weather cooperates and also plans to open for lunch in the coming months.  The upstairs allows a meal to start with a setting sun and end with hip string lighting, guiding your courses.  



Supper is open daily 5pm-2am.
319 W 21st Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23517
(757) 383-6800 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cinghiale, Baltimore, Maryland

Cinghiale receives an A+ on all counts.  I dined there recently while visiting Baltimore on a recommendation from a friend of a friend.  We arrived early and sat at the bar.  I enjoyed their Cinghiale signature drink composed of Aperol, orange juice and zest.  This was very refreshing and the Aperol balanced out the juice well, a tad bitter, a tad sweet and just right.  My other half enjoyed a Margarita before the house Pinot Noir at dinner and enjoyed both.  While sitting at the long and luxurious bar, we enjoyed watching the gentleman in charge of salumi and antipasti preparation hard at work.  That is where I first saw the house bread which I knew would occupy our table.  The salumi was shaved with such precision to a delicate width; the plates were a work of art.  

We were seated in a cozy corner in main dining room.  This section is away from the hustle and bustle of the bar area.  Had we had our preference, we probably would have chosen the dining room in the bar area, but being that this was our first visit, we did not know the table arrangement.  Along with the house bread (some sourdough and some thyme) I spied and olive oil, we started with the Ricotta and House Made Crispy Potato Chips.  This ricotta was wonderful and and also was a nice accompaniment to the bread.  We also had the Arugula Salad with Candied Lemon and Parmigiano.  A simple, light green salad is always the way to start a heavier Italian meal.

For the main course, I had the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce.  This was a restaurant week special previously that was so popular, according to our server, the chef added it to the regular menu.  I felt fortunate and this dish was so unique.  There was even a light cookie crumble atop the pasta.  The portion is fair, any more and the sweetness may become tiresome.  My partner selected the Lasagna Marchigiana and the Mortadella with Mostarda Cremona.  We took most of the Mortadella home but it gave him the side of sausage he needs with every Italian meal.  The Lasagna was a hit, and rich, so there were also leftovers. 

Last, but certainly not least, the dessert menu was present.  All of the selections sounded divine but I immediate chose the Caramel Semifreddo with Coffee Gelato and Hazelnuts.  I love semifreddo and do not see it that often.  Therefore, I must always have it and Cinghiale's version was met with top approval.  I left the Brûléed Bananas on the side for my partner since bananas repulse me but typically, they are on top of the dish.  We also ordered a bowl of Malted Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut gelato to share which was a good decision.  

Cinghiale is a restaurant but clearly, they specialize in service.  Our server knew their selections front, back and in between and helped us narrow down our choices.  She was also eager to provide a few recommendations for the rest of our sight-seeing weekend.  I love the decor the restaurant presents as well.  It reminded of of Balthazar in New York City, another favorite.  High ceilings, elegant wood and tile that balances out the look.  With a vibrant crowd, everything comes together perfectly.  


822 Lancaster St, Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 547-8282