Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Public House - Norfolk, VA

The Public House, Norfolk, Virginia Logo The talented owners of Bardo and Still opened the much anticipated Public House earlier this year.  After months of serious renovation, Public House opened to welcomed arms of the Ghent community. My initial visit was a few weeks into their opening and I had a shot of cherry vodka and the Apple Cranberry Crumb Strudel which comes with goat cheese ice cream. The ice cream made this dessert unique. If you like goat cheese, go for it. Service was good this night, but I had heard a few people mention it was a little spotty during the first week or so. I had wanted the Moon Pie dessert as that had gotten good reviews, but PH was out of that a few other things that late in the evening so close to their grand opening

My next outing involved dinner. The meal began with the Antipasti which was good and I chose the Butternut Squash & Quinoa for my meal. I thought this was a great lighter option at PH and very different, definitely one of my favorite entrees there. My dining companion enjoyed the opposite, the Waffle-Battered Chicken Breast, which comes with a blueberry maple syrup. He said it was good, but was not as enthralled as the server expected. At the beginning of our meal, I asked the server to save a Moon Pie for us. I was on a mission to have this dessert. Presented on a rectangular plate, two chilled moon pies are drizzled with white and dark chocolate sauce as well as a cut strawberry. I was pretty amazed by this, but it is does not come out soft and gooey. Because it is chilled, the marshamellow center is more firm than some would expect. Similar to the entrees, I was overly pleased and my companion was not wowed. He did enjoy a few O’Connor’s brews, which are always offered at PH. Service was fine this time, but it seemed to take too much time for things like water refills. We sat in the dining room in the back on this occasion and I wonder if that had something to do with it (see my patio dining experience below).

My third experience at PH was on a Friday night. My friend, Chrisselle*, and I sat at the bar because there were two seats available and the wait for a table was 30 minutes. She ordered the Butternut Squash & Quinoa after I raved about it, while I opted for the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. We split the Blue Collar Mac & Cheese and an order of the regular fries. The mac & cheese is very rich, superb and has a sharp, delicious bite to it. After relaxing for a while, I caved and ordered the Cheesecake of the Moment, this moment being an orange one. I loved this - orange is my new chocolate. The bar is full and there are quite a few people standing around drinking and socializing. I like it - feels like a bigger city restaurant/bar, which is typically my preferred atmosphere if I am out to see friends and hobnob.

The Public House dish: Apple Cranberry Crumb StrudelThe Public House dish: Blue Collar Mac and Cheese

The Public House dish: Butternut Squash and Quinoa

Charlotte* and I ventured into PH on a Thursday a few weeks ago. She had not yet dined there and of course, I was ready to go back since this was my new favorite place. I had eyed the Chick Pea Burger on the menu and decided that was the calling of the night. Served with Granny Smith Apples, as all of the sandwiches are, this ‘burger’ is a great vegetarian dish and preferred by quite a few PH employees from what I gathered. The Charmoula, a traditional Moroccan sauce, that topped it was nothing less than spectacular. I added a slice of provolone for good measure and was ecstatic about my meal. Charlotte ordered the Roasted Pork Tenderloin which was wrapped in Applewood bacon and served with mashed potatoes and Parmesan encrusted corn on the cob. I tried the corn, it was top notch and something to definitely try on the grill at home. Charlotte was overly pleased and even had leftovers for lunch the next day. We decided to share the Cheesecake of the Moment, which was a Strawberry Nut variety, topped with a bacon caramel sauce. Since I do not eat bacon, they gave Charlotte the full sauce and gave me caramel sauce. That worked really well and I appreciated the accommodation.  The cheesecake was decadent as it had been the previous time I ordered it. I like this ‘of the moment’ business - something new all the time.

The Public House dish: Chick Pea Burger

The Public House dish: Fried Green Tomato Sandwich

The Public House dish

Chrisselle and I decided to head back up to PH on a Wednesday evening, this time we chose to sit outside. We were seated immediately, but apparently, there was a communication breakdown between the hostess and the wait staff, so we did not see our waiter for about 10 minutes. We were not in a hurry, but it was a tad irksome. When our waiter did come over, he apologized profusely and our service was stellar after that, so we did not hold a grudge. We started with the Asparagus Fries which are of the tempura style - deep fried goodness. I really liked the lemon aioli but like cowbell, the dish needed more sauce. PH has a few salads and I decided to give the Shrimp & Spinach salad a try, substituting the Gardein Chicken for the shrimp. I like that they have Gardein on the menu to use on a lot of dishes if you are not a carnivore. The avocado cucumber dressing makes this salad. If you are starving, do not order a salad, but if you are looking for something lighter, this one is a good choice. Chrisselle ordered the Slow Braised Short Ribs, which came with asparagus and mashers.  Like Charlotte’s pork tenderloin, this dish is large, in charge and not for the faint-hearted. We were full and skipped dessert for once, but still left happy and satisfied.

The Public House dish: Asparagus Fries

The Public House dish: Gardein Chicken and Spinach Salad

The Public House dish: Slow Braised Short Ribs

Next up was lunch with Laine.  It was Friday and we were ready to get out even in the rain. Sticking with my goal to try everything vegetarian on the menu, I sought out the Gardein Chicken Sandwich. Clint, the manager we chatted with, said the curry carrot relish made this sandwich worth trying. He was right and PH does not disappoint with the variety of sauces in their dishes. It had a little heat but the sweetness of the carrot balanced it perfectly. I decided to have the Gardein fried (you can also choose regular chicken and then grill or fry either). Gardein fried pretty well, I must say. I had raved about the Moon Pie to Laine, so that was on order with Clint. It was even better than the first time I had it. Laine and I talked about it non-stop for about a week to everyone that would listen. Much Moon Pie Love here and we will have another very, very soon. The plate was beyond clean when we finished. Service was good and we enjoyed our talk with Clint, a super nice guy.

The Public House place settings

I have lost count of my visits and I made it to brunch finally a few Sundays ago. Nikki* and another good friend were my company. I had been out late the night prior, but my crankiness subsided slightly when we entered PH. I was excited about brunch and knew I had to have the Pancakes of the Moment (remember, I love the ‘of the moment’ theme). Blueberry was the flavor and the honey butter and jam made the deal sweet. I tried the Fried Grit Cakes as well and those are good, but not greasy, as some traditional grit cakes can be. These come with crab meat for an additional $5, which is how our friend had them. She enjoyed that version as well. Nikki ordered the Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich and said she was not that thrilled. I know Laine thought the BBQ Salad was great the week before, so maybe it was an off day for BBQ.

The Public House
1112 Colley Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23517
(757) 227-9064
Open every day 11AM - 2AM
To view their website click HERE

The Public House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Path - Norfolk VA

Path Restaurant ExteriorOne of my favorite sayings is ‘[insert action here] seemed like a good idea at the time’. This applies to life so frequently, as it did for our experience at Path. Laine and I were pretty excited to try this newer place, a 100% vegan restaurant in Norfolk. Initially, they only offered delivery, which I thought was a tad odd, but by the time we ventured to the Ghent location, they had dine-in service. Having no worries in the world about this adventure, we convinced our friend, Emma*, to tag along, though she was timid about the faux meat business and I do not fault her here, as some of the faux stuff out there can be pretty bad.

It was a nice Friday, as we hopped in the car to head to Path. At the time, it was situated in a tiny structure on Boissevain Avenue. I know this building was a hair salon at one time, as my mom has visited pretty much every salon in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and I believe it may have also been an art gallery at some point. Street parking was a limited but we found one spot, thankfully. We did not need that hurdle with what we were about to endure. We walked in and were greeted by the lone employee, who was pleasant but not overly friendly. I immediately spied the empty dessert case and was perturbed as Path is always posting photos to their Facebook page to showcase their temping desserts. Where were they? Nervousness could not explain my state of mind at this time.
Path dish: 'Chicken' Salad

We had perused the menu beforehand, but took another look and went for it. I was torn between the ‘Chicken’ Salad and the Raspberry ‘Chicken’ and finally settled on the former. We had a choice of Cole slaw or potato salad, of which I chose the slaw. Apparently, the vegetable chips and fries were only offered at the Path location situated inside The Edge, near ODU. They have the fryer there, along with desserts and other things that were well out of our reach this day. Then the menu advertised bread, but all they had was wraps. The gal said the bread was white and did not have much nutritional value, and these vegan wraps were better - please update your menu. I prefer bread over a wrap, but what was I going to do, the choices were dwindling by the minute. I was bugged and Laine was right there with me. Emma went with the Club which has tempeh bacon along with the faux chicken and the potato salad - two faux meats for the timid one!
Path dish: Club Sandwich

While I appreciate the effort to eat all natural, I need my diet soda, the all chemical drink alternative. No go at Path - the choices were Dr. Pepper (no diet!), bottled water, a drink with the word grass in the title and the now infamous Kombucha tea. Because I have an aversion to regular soda or drinks made from carrots, grass and such and I’m not a fan of paying for water when we have decent tap H20, I gave in to the Kombucha, but only after Laine and Emma chose the same. It came in cute dark glass recycled bottles, which had hand-drawn designs. Emma and I opted for the last two bottles of the hibiscus haze flavor, which was okay, but I like regular iced tea better...especially after we were hit, or rather smacked, with the price - it’ll put you in a haze. To round off the meal, we ordered a lemon pound cake topped with coconut shavings.
Path Kombucha

We encounter the coupon debacle pretty often. You think you are getting a deal, but what you get is hosed. Not every time, but Laine and I have definitely had this experience more frequently that we would like, and Path is another example. I had a coupon worth $20. I figured we might pay another $10 for the three meals. As she rang up our food...and tea (this is important), I almost choked. $45 for three sandwiches (each about $8), one lemon cake ($5) and then the darn tea. That means that the three bottles of Kombucha ran us somewhere between $13-$14. For that price, a drink needs alcohol in the ingredients and as I stated, we did not think this was a revolutionary drink. We all stared at each other, forked out too much money and went outside to sit and wait for our food. For a place that does not cook anything, only heats up, the prep time for our food was lengthy. Our food arrived and while my sandwich was quite good, as was Emma’s, we both were disappointed in how little ingredients were in our sandwiches. The contents were about half of what you would expect inside a wrap. The sides of vegan slaw and vegan potato salad were tasty, especially the slaw, which was very fresh, but unfortunately, our overall experience was less than stellar at Path.
Path Kombucha Teas
We cut the lemon cake back at the office and that was actually wonderful and for $5, it is a deal and easily feeds 2-3 people. I just wish we had been able to try some of their other desserts as well, such as the many different flavors of donuts they promote on Facebook. The vegan donuts were what really caught my eye.

I have another coupon, so Laine and I will try Path again, but we will have to travel to either their location at The Edge or a newer location on 35th Street, which seems to have replaced the Boissevain address. The gal who took our orders this day told us to to to The Edge before 10pm, the time it becomes shady. Interesting marketing to warn your patrons about the times to NOT visit your other location. We were surprised that Path would put itself in a college bar, but maybe they get enough business from Edge supporters that want a vegan alternative. We will not be lured into buying any Kombucha ever again, though, and if prices had been posted (they were not anywhere in the restaurant or online), we would never have purchased it - we should have asked but who knew it would cost that much for tea! For almost $5 a pop, I can think of a lot of other things I would rather drink, preferably something with alcohol. Hopefully, the veggie chips, fries and donuts can help Path make a comeback for us. To be continued...


If I were to construct a top five list of worst restaurant experiences, this would be on it. In their defense, they did close this location about a week later, which is probably why they were out of so many things. However, food supply was only the tip of the iceberg.

I am not going to rehash what Alex so perfectly describes, but the whole “no bread, no dessert, no soda, no fries” thing was a pretty big let down. Right then I should have redirected the group to a nearby favorite, but we chose to persevere. Stupid. Seating inside was two, 2 top tables and it was rather warm, so we chose to dine outside. They had one table out front, again with only two seats. Shortly after being seated we realized it was located in a driveway, which doubled as access for the rather busy business next door. Excellent. I can eat my healthy, vegan food whilst I inhale exhaust fumes. I'm not sure this is "a kinder way" to dine.
Path dish: Cheese Melt with Fresh Watermelon

Path dish: Cheese Melt

 We were the only group dining in that day, but the food did not arrive quickly. We were pondering our teas and getting a bit antsy when the food started to arrive. I had ordered a cheese melt with fresh fruit as a side, and the watermelon looked perfect. The wrap looked like a brown paper bag that was burnt on the corner. I have long ago learned that you cannot necessarily judge food by the appearance, so I dug in with gusto. If I were to construct a list of top five worst sandwiches, this just might make #1. There was almost no cheese on my cheese melt, and what was there was not melted. The generous portion of mustard on the other hand, was strong, spicy and overpowering. All this was rounded out by a lonely little slice of apple and a chunk of tempeh. It was inedible. The lone cook/server/cashier did not say a word when she removed my full basket of picked apart wrap. Thank goodness for the lemon poppy seed cake. My one third of that cake, which was excellent, got me through until cocktail hour when I tried to drink away the memory of lunch. (It didn’t work.)
Path dish: Lemon Poppy Seed Cake
Alex may have to knock me unconscious and drag me by the hair in order to get me to try Path again.

P.S. I was not a fan of the tea either.


Path Restaurant SignPath
617 W. 35th Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23508

Path @ODU
4814 Hampton Blvd
Norfolk, Virginia 23508

Path Norfolk on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 30, 2011

No Frill Bar and Grill - Ghent - Norfolk, VA

Alex and I have been hitting our old favorites hard recently. Today we took a ride out to one of our Ghent Favorites, No Frill. It was nice to see a break in the rain and humidity, so we jumped at the offer for outdoor seating. The view added to our dining entertainment later in the meal as we watched a moron drive the wrong way down Spotswood. Unbelievable. I was hungry today and scanned the appetizer menu for something to eat before I ate. I pondered the Creamy Artichoke Dip ($7.99) aloud, and Alex said it was awesome. That's all I needed to know. In addition I ordered the classic house specialty, Funky Chicken Salad - Grilled chicken, bacon, Swiss cheese, mixed greens, fresh veggies 10.99. This is also available as a sandwich for $8.99. Alex had the Asian Portabella Salad - Teriyaki grilled mushrooms, mixed greens, roasted red peppers, mandarin oranges, red onions, crispy rice bowl, sesame-orange-ginger vinaigrette 9.99. If you are a loyal reader, you know by now that Alex always has to tweak her orders. She likes this salad with a veggie burger on top. The always accommodating team at No Frill doesn't bat an eye, and her order comes out right every time. Pictured below is our order. Their portions are beyond generous. After the three of us obliterated the dip, we still had to find room for our enormous salads. Don't worry, we were up to the task.
No Frill Bar and Grill dish: Creamy Artichoke Dip
Creamy Artichoke Dip and a bazilloin Pitas

No Frill Bar and Grill dish: Asian Portobello Salad with Veggie Burger
Asian Portobello Salad with Veggie burger add on

No Frill Bar and Grill dish: Funky Chicken Salad
Funky Chicken Salad
Alex and I suggest you visit No Frill  frequently.
Original Post 2/25/09
No Frill Bar and Grill LogoNo Frill Grill. The place you head for a consistently good meal at a great price. Helpings are generous and service is fast. Laine and I ventured to Frill last week. We also brought a No Frill virgin, my friend Briana*. There was a line, which is not unusual, but remember two things, the wait is never very long and you can always sit at the bar. We opted for the bar since we needed in and out service in 45 minutes. The bartender's attentiveness was as good as a waiter or waitress at a table. I ordered the Grilled Pita Quesadilla. Frill serves this as an appetizer or an entree, with the entree including a side for only $1 more. That's a deal and I chose the poppy seed cole slaw. This is one of my favorite sides and measured up as usual. Briana ordered the Funky Chicken Sandwich, one of Frill's all-star menu items. This is the perfect blend of chicken, bacon, tomato and Swiss cheese on your choice of bread (they suggest sourdough). The sandwich is grilled and served with a side. Briana chose the garlic mashers. She loved the sandwich, but said the potatoes could have been better. If I remember they are not overly creamy, which is also my preference. The food came very quickly and our server brought our bills at the same time, which was helpful with our limited time frame. The menu includes a variety of salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers and entrees. Some of my favorite items include the Spotswood Salad, which has blue cheese, granny smith apples and caramelized raisins and almonds, the Funky Chicken salad, the salad version of the sandwich described above, the Spotswood Melt, a burger with Swiss and cheddar cheese, bacon and grilled onions on grilled sourdough bread, the crab cake sandwich, the chili and the onion rings. I must promote these, the onion rings are to die for! Frill is always busy, which is a testament to its quality food, bright and helpful service and long-standing reputation as one of Ghent's best restaurants. I have to admit I have eaten there three times in one week and even twice in one day, if that says how much I enjoy a Frill meal. I highly recommend No Frill Grill for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. It is a great place to go before your next movie at the Naro.


Alex and I were stunned when we realized that we had never reviewed No Frill Grill. Why? Well, for starters, Alex would eat there 6 out of 7 days if her schedule permitted! Further, in our humble opinions, it is one of the best places to eat in Ghent. (Never been to the beach location, sorry). The menu has a lot of variety. Even your pickiest eaters can find something of interest. And, as Alex says, they are consistent with their service and preparation. Lunch last Friday at the Grill was fairly typical, except that I snagged a parking spot right by the front door. Thank you parking gods! There was about 10-12 people waiting to be seated, so eating at the bar was a good move. I arrived late, but Alex had my back when I called in my order (to her!). I ordered the Asian Portobello Salad. I realize that some of our loyal readers get tired of hearing about salads, but this one is a doosey! I must have told Alex about 100 times how good the mushrooms were. Service at the bar was great. She was friendly, but not overbearing. Being a bit on the short side, I sometimes find sitting at a bar uncomfortable, especially when I am not being anesthetized by martinis. However, they have really comfortable chairs, not stools, so I didn’t feel like a toddler with dangling feet or an octogenarian with a back ache. I could go on and on, but you get the point. If you haven’t been to No Frill Grill, put it on your short list of places to go, things to do. You’ll thank us (if you know who we really are;)!


No Frill Grill is located at 806 Spotswood Avenue in Ghent and at 1620
Laskin Road at Hilltop and is open Sunday-Thursday 11am-10pm, Friday
and Saturday 11am-11pm. A brunch menu is served Sundays 11am-3pm.


*Name is changed

No Frill Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Lizard, Located in Prince Books

 Last Wednesday's lunchtime outting led Alex and I back to the Lizard Cafe. There is something innately cozy about a cafe in a book store.  On this particular day the cafe was unusally quiet and uncrowded. Perfect! A peaceful sabatical from work, no matter how brief, can be just the shot in the arm we need on some days. I tend to be a creature of habit with my orders in restaurants I frequent, but on this day I was ready to break out the of the box. Here is what we ordered:

The Lizard, inside Prince Books dish: Taster Sampler
Taster Sampler $7.95. Tuna Salad, Chicken Salad and Hummus. The hummus is really good, chunkier than most, which I like.

The Lizard, inside Prince Books dish: Butternut Squash Soup
Cup of Butternut Squash Soup. Served with a hearty side of bread.

The Lizard, inside Prince Books dish: Large Butternut Squash Soup
Bowl of Butternut Squash Soup. Substantially larger if your appetite can meet the challenge.

The Lizard, inside Prince Books dish: Main Street Salad
Main Street Salad $7.85
I was really happy with my sampler, and quite full when it was gone. I enjoyed my soup. Although Alex liked it, she did mention it was not her favorite. "Lighter than most, not as much cream" was her comment, which may be why I liked it more! The Main Street is a repeat for her. She suggests ordering the dressing on the side, as "once or twice it had slightly too much." Overall, we give the Lizard Cafe in Norfolk two thumbs up and recommend it as a safe lunch bet.
Click HERE  to see their menu.

Original Review Posted 10/8/08

The Lizard, inside Prince Books dish interior
Located at 109 E. Main Street, The Lizard is the new cafe in Prince Books. Specializing in "seasonal fare from the local farms of tidal Virginia", they offer sandwiches, wraps, salads, soup and dessert daily for lunch. We made our first trip for lunch on Tuesday, again with our buddy Brianna*. The interior of the cafe is cozy. Rich green and orange colors are used on the walls and booths. The tall, old windows get southeastern exposure, permitting lots of natural light and warmth to pour in. Finally, a place to eat that isn't freezing! In an odd case of role reversal, I had a plethora of menu questions for the server, who was great. Not only did she answer my questions about various ingredients, preparation methods, etc., but she also brought out samplings of three different mayo spreads they use on their sandwiches.

After ordering and switching, I ended up with the Season's Best Salad, topped with Chicken Salad. Their Chicken Salad boasts roasted almonds and curried peach chutney. It is very subtly seasoned. No big chunks of peach and nuts. It's one of those dishes where I would have been scratching my head trying to figure out what was in it, had I not already know. Nor is it overly "mayonnaised", making it a nice light salad addition. The vegetable salad was really fantastic. The dressing was homemade vinaigrette, seasoned with basil. About half way thru the salad it became a bit too oily for me, but Alex really liked it. They make their own bread and it accompanies the salad. It was a hearty white bread with slight herbal seasoning. I usually avoid bread, but found myself munching on it in spite of myself. Nice to go somewhere that will give you bread without having to request it. Brianna* got the Cheesy Cheese sandwich, and it looked to die for! She said it was awesome and I watched her eat every bit of it. This is a gal who usually only eats about 1/2 to 1/3 of her lunch. Their other signature sandwiches look good too, using interesting ingredients like Artichokes, Surry Ham, lots of cheeses and as mentioned above, flavored mayo.

Overall, I was very pleased with The Lizard's food, ambiance and service. The partnership with Prince Books only adds to its appeal. I highly recommend The Lizard as a downtown lunch destination.


The Lizard.  What a great name.  Laine and I had scoped out a few places new to us for this week's adventures and The Lizard was one of them.  We swung by the day before and did a little reconnaissance. Grabbed a menu, checked out the clientele and pre-approved the atmosphere.  Everything looked promising, but you can never be sure these days.  Don't judge a book by its cover, right?  I do not follow this lesson very well.

The place is cute.  It has been slightly altered from its former occupant and in a good way.  While the restaurant is small, The Lizard makes great use of space with numerous window booths and a few stand-alone tables.  They even have a few chairs for guests waiting for take-outs.  Nice touch since there are many Downtowners who grab their lunch and head back to the office.  We had a nice window booth which was very comfortable.  Our waitress was friendly and patient, even after Laine asked ten questions.  While usually my area, Laine's questions were well warranted.  We saw some things like 'yogurt mayonnaise' and just had to have a little more explanation.  I ordered the season's best salad with chicken, mixed greens, cucumbers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, feta and Kalamata olives.  The salad dressing, a basil vinaigrette, was a nice touch and a new taste for this traditional Greek salad.  They also had tuna as a meat option for that salad, but were out of that yesterday.  Chicken salad and tuna salad are other choices to add.

Everything that came out looked fantastic.  There are traditional sandwiches, such as the roast beef and turkey or some new choices, such as the mushroom and artichoke or the Surry ham and cucumber sandwich.  Brianna* had the grilled cheese (aka the cheesy cheese) and Laine and I were both staring wide-eyed and thinking how good it looked.  There is also a soup every day, as well as homemade (killer-looking) dessert.  Prices are very reasonable.  We all checked out between $10-13 each.

The tagline on The Lizard's menu reads 'seasonal fare from the local farms of tidal Virginia' so we are supporting our local growers.  Laine and I like to support area businesses. Hours are Monday-Saturday until 5pm.  There is not a website for The Lizard, but you can view it on Prince Books' site at http://www.prince-books.com/

While you are in there, peruse the Prince Books' selection.  It is another opportunity to support our local businesses.


The Lizard on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

219 An American Bistro, Norfolk, VA

Alex and I probably go to 219 once or twice a month and our friend Brianna tags along on most of these trips. 219 is a solid Granby Street restaurant. The food is always good. Always. The prices are very reasonable and their specials are downright deals! Below is pictured what we had today. The quiche was interesting because all the ingredients were layered versus mixed together. I rather liked that. The egg layer was unbelievably smooth and creamy. The bacon was a little bland and I would have liked a bit more, but I can't complain for $6.99. When we were walking into the restaurant a buddy of ours was outside eating the Meatloaf Sandwich. The seed was planted in Brianna's brain and that is what she ordered. (Alex and I helped her with the generous portion of fries). Alex stuck with her lastest favorite twist of the Southwest Caesar Salad. Everyone enjoyed their entrees.
Our server was David. He was quick and did a great job keeping the beverages full. All in all, a great lunch.

219 An American Bistro Dish: Canadian Bacon and Spinach Quiche
Canadian Bacon and Spinach Quiche with fresh fruit - Daily Special $6.99

219 An American Bistro Dish: Meatloaf Sandwich
Meatloaf Sandwich (with tomato sauce on side as requested) with Fries $13.99
This is same price as Lobster roll, but check it out. It is a substantial sammy!

219 An American Bistro Dish: Southwest Caesar with Portobello
Southwest Caesar with Portobello $6.99 for Caesar plus extra for chicken, portobello, etc.


Original Post 7/21/11
Laine told me that one of our friends really likes 219’s Southwestern Caesar Salad ($6.99), so I decided to give it a go this week during lunch.  The restaurant week options did include an appetizer size of the this salad but with nothing in the entree category, I had to order off the regular menu.  One mistake 219 made with their new regular lunch menu was nixing the Asian Noodles with Tofu.  First, I wanted to try that dish and never did.  Second, it was supposed to be a really great entree.  Third, the tofu could be added to any salad or used as a substitute for chicken, shrimp or fish in some of the other items.  I hope they reconsider that change.  Tofu is not complicated to keep, nor is it an expensive item to keep on hand.  Without this as an option, I requested a portabella be added to my salad just to give it a little something.  The $2 up-charge was very fair and beats the time I was charged $3 for fries - I’ll never get over that and 219 never responded to my email after Laine was only charge $1 for a substitute side.  I digress.  This is one of my new favorite things at 219.  The salad is much larger than I expected and while tofu would have been a great addition (hint, hint, 219), the portabella sufficed (a few more slices would have helped).  The roasted red pepper and chipotle dressing makes the dish.  
My friend ordered the Vegetarian Lasagna (around $8.99), a newer menu item that caught my eye recently.  I did not try it, but it was a large portion and looked divine.  It is certainly on my ‘soon to try’ list.  
This was not my idea, I promise, but my friend thought we should order a dessert since he knows I have a sweet tooth.  How could I resist and I had yet to try 219’s Red Velvet Cake ($6.99).  It is a standard piece of cake but they serve it sitting on the icing side.  A little odd, but it does a lot for presentation.  You do need to knock it over, as cake is usually served, to eat.  The whipped cream was homemade, as it should be, and we had no problem finishing this delectable find.  
I was disappointed that 219 did not have a vegetarian restaurant week entree option, as they have some good ones on their regular menu, but I had a great salad and dessert and a nice lunch overall.  Service was stellar and our waitress was right there to refill my iced tea each time I downed a glass (this is a feat on its own).  
~AlexI hit 219 for lunch on Tuesday with my regular Tuesday lunch buddy, Brianna. We go here fairly regularly as it is one of Brianna's Granby Street favorites. I have NEVER seen it as busy as it was Tuesday. They were turning people away. Every table was seated, including out door seating and bar area. The Restaurant Week lunch menu completely unimpressed me. Roast Beef Sandwich or Chicken Salad Sandwich....YAWN. Blackened Fish? I am not a fan of anything burnt. However, the specials peaked my interest, and I ordered the Fish Tacos with Black Beans and Rice. Brianna ordered a Bacon Cheeseburger, selecting American Cheese. Moments later the waitress returned to let her know they were out of American Cheese. Out of American Cheese, well that is just un-American! What is it with restaurants running out of food!? She opted for provolone in its place, and we got on with our gab-fest while we waited for our orders.
219 An American Bistro Dish: Fish Tacos
Fish Tacos with Black Beans and Rick
219 An American Bistro Dish: Bacon Cheeseburger
Bacon Cheese Burger
I anticipated a wait due to the crowd, but our meals came out very quickly. The Fish Tacos hit the spot, and Brianna enjoyed her Burger too. Here's the best part. The total on my check was $7.79. Yes, that's correct. The special was $6.99 and included my beverage. Considering the crowd, our waitress Grace did a phenomenal job keeping drinks topped off, delivering requests to the table and handling the check. All in all, a very nice lunch.

219 An American Bistro
219 Granby Street

Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 416-6219
Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri 11am-11pm; Sat 5pm-11pm

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Steinhilber's - Virginia Beach

Updated 9/19/11
A rainy Saturday of errands had my husband and me at the VA Beach Town Center. After going to see a movie we decided to eat dinner there too before heading back to Chesapeake.  Steinhilbers was my first and only suggestion. I know it is not really a Town Center restaurant, but it is close enough for me. Off we went. The parking lot was jammed at 6:30, and with no reservations, I feared a wait. However, we were immediately seated in a side room, which is often reserved for parties. It was perfect; quiet and empty! Our meal was excellent as always. The service was on point and unobtrusive. Usually I go for seafood, but Saturday I had a hankering for meat. Here's what we had.

Steinhilber's dish: 10oz Prime Rib
10oz. Prime Rib

Steinhilber's dish: Bone-in Veal Chop
Bone in Veal chop, stuffed with spinach, feta, roasted pecans and panchetta. Served over horseradish mashed potatoes.

Steinhilber's dish: Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake. The photo does not do it justice!

Steinhilber's dish: Carnegie Deli Cheesecake
1/2 Slice of Carnegie Deli Cheesecake. This is about 4" wide by 4" tall. Humongous!
Steiny's never fails to please. It remains one of my favorite local restaurants!

Original Posting 8/10/2009
Steinhilber's exterior
The story goes that in 1935 restaurateur Robert Steinhilber decided he needed a break from the hustle and bustle of big city life in Norfolk, and decided to move to the country. He didn’t have to go too far from home back then. Exquisite waterfront property was still available in abundance along the shores of the Lynnhaven River. Robert settled on a nice chunk of acreage that was formerly the Lynnhaven Golf and Country Club, bordering the Thurston Branch of the river. I am guessing that he must have been a “Type A” workaholic, because 4 years later he opened the restaurant Steinhilber's on his piece of tranquility.

I know quite a few locals who have never eaten there, and I admit that sometimes I forget about it too. It’s one of those “out of sight, out of mind” places. You don’t see Steinhilber's unless you are going to Steinhilber's. The location is prime real estate. (I think that one of the biggest let downs of this area is that there are so few great restaurants with water views.) Unless you are seated at a window table for two, the view is actually pretty limited from inside the restaurant, but I always like to take a stroll after dinner and go down by the dock and check out the scenery. I love the water. The entrance also has probably the largest Crepe Myrtle trees I have ever seen in my life. They are huge and simply stunning this time of year.

The interior isn’t very exciting. Typical old Va. Beach pine look, with white table cloths. The bar area could use a little renovating to modernize and make it look more inviting. Since there is usually a wait, and most folks end up in there, it would be a worthwhile investment. Steinhilber's interiorSame for the restroom. It is very 1970’s Virginia Beach. There is an outside patio for al fresco dining which is nice. There is plenty of anti bug paraphernalia and big fans with built in misting. However, I had taken the time to straighten my mane AND it was about 100 degrees outside, so we opted to wait for a table. The hostess told us there was a 25 minute wait, but we were seated at our two-top with a water view in fewer than 10. **Note-Unless you are a vampire or of similar nature, do NOT sit in the basement. It is dreary and has a faint, lingering aroma of mildew.

Now, for the good part, the food! I really love seafood, and it is usually my top choice when dining out for dinner. As usual, we ordered the Fantail Fried Shrimp appetizer for starters. It’s hard to understand why people would go nuts over fried shrimp, until you try these. They have mastered the technique and the accompanying sauce is the perfect partner. They are a little pricey at $18 for 6, but it’s not like I eat there every week. An occasional culinary splurge is acceptable. No penny pinching at Steiny’s please! They had some fabulous sounding specials Saturday night, especially a stuffed pork chop that had me tempted, but I had a serious yen for lump crab and lots of it. I ordered the Lobster Combination, which is a baby lobster tail, shrimp and lump crab in either butter or cheese sauce. I’m not a big fan of cheese sauces, so bring on the butter! No calorie counting at Steiny’s please! The entrée is accompanied by a choice of side and bread. The dinner salad always comes out with their three signature dressings. You don’t select your dressing of choice. The bread basket will contain cornbread and dinner rolls. The dinner rolls are ho-hum, but the cornbread is yummy. The entrée was very rich and delicious. When they say lump crab meat, you can take them at their word; no fillers, no claws, nothing but pure lump. Decadent! I didn’t have any room for dessert, but ordered one and ate it any way. I indulged in a delicious chocolate pie and tasted their Key Lime pie. The chocolate beat the Key Lime, no contest. It was so smooth, rich and creamy.

I would be remiss if I did not mention their wine list. They have a decent selection of wines, but overall it appears a little outdated and pedestrian. If they were to spruce up the bar area and add some zing to the wine list (especially by the glass selections) I’m sure they would sell more of it. I also need to commend the wait staff. Service at Steinhilber’s is always top notch. Someone is always filling your water glass, clearing your table, restocking bread, etc., however, it is so understated and low key that you barely notice it is occurring.

It appears I will be headed back to Steinhilber’s in the near future as my step daughter has requested it for a family celebration. Even though I was just there, I told her I would have no problem going back. There’s plenty of variety on the menu, interesting nightly specials and the food is always excellent.


Steinhilber's is located at:
653 Thalia Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23452
(757) 340-1156

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

California Pizza Kitchen - MacArthur Center - Norfolk, VA

Alex and I had not been to California Pizza Kitchen (herein after referred to as CPK) for quite some time. We both had favorite entrees which had been eliminated with a menu update earlier in the year. I hate when this happens. CPK has a fairly extensive menu, but with our favorites gone, we didn't see much reason to return. Additionally, CPK is a bit on the pricey side and these days most of us our watching our budgets a little closer. If I am going to spend a bit for "gourmet style" pizza, I'd rather be at Fellini's. Although, I have to admit that CPK's White Pizza is wowza good. 

I can't remember the source, but somehow I was recently made aware of yet another CPK menu update. Interestingly enough, some of the old favorites were making a comeback under the guise of new names. We decided to check it out and bring our buddy *Brianna along. Brianna loves the fish tacos there, but noticed a new item, Tacos Carnitas; slow-roasted pork, homemade avocado salsa verde, red onions, cilantro, Romaine and shredded Napa cabbage served with tortilla chips and roasted tomato salsa. Sounded pretty good to everyone and she decided to give it a try. Alex of course, honed right in on the Crispy Mac 'n Cheese.  CPK' version is "classic mac ‘n’ cheese lightly fried with panko, served on creamy cheese sauce". Seeing the picture on their website, it does not appeal to me at all. It looks like a Mac 'n Cheese burger. Click here to see what I mean. Surprisingly, Alex passed on the starter and we both ordered the Roasted Vegetable Salad; Roasted artichoke hearts, asparagus, eggplant, red & yellow peppers, corn and sun-dried tomatoes served warm over Romaine tossed with homemade Dijon balsamic vinaigrette. Topped with avocado. This is suspiciously similar to our old favorite "Grilled Vegetable Salad" and we were glad to see it back.
California Pizza Kitchen dish: Tacos Carnitas

California Pizza Kitchen dish: Roasted Vegetable Salad
The meals took a while to arrive. This happens sometimes at CPK. They were packed on Tuesday, so the wait did not surprise me. The tacos arrived loaded with the salsa verde and Brianna instantly regretted her order. In retrospect she wished she had asked if they were spicy. They were a bit hot, but the bigger disappointment was the meager chunks of pork in the taco. Resting on the bottom layer were tiny, 1/2 inch, flat pieces of overcooked pork. Bleh! Should have stuck with the Fish Tacos!! Our salads looked good and the server even got the salad dressings right, which only happens about 50% of the time at this location. I always order Fat Free Balsamic on the side. Sometimes I get nothing, sometimes I get it on the salad, sometimes I get regular Balsamic and etcetera. This was a good start! After four or five bites into the salad I realize the eggplant is MIA. Ditto for Alex. We request some and it is brought out to the table within a reasonable amount of time. Next, the avocados. I want you to look at the photo of this salad here. Do you see all that avocado! Man, it is a mountain! Now, look at the photos below. We were both able to locate 2 measly little chunks. Sad. I know it is difficult to get ripe avocados, and they are expensive and blah, blah, blah. I have already heard all that. If you can't deliver the product, don't advertise it. Simple as that folks! We didn't even bother complaining about it. How many times can you complain about a salad to your server?

California Pizza Kitchen dish: Vegetable Salad
California Pizza Kitchen dish: Vegetable Salad with not a lot of Avocado

And by the way, our server did a good job. She kept our drinks full and had a pleasant demeanor. I learned long ago not to fault the server for the sins of the kitchen. I am pretty sure we each tipped her at least 20%, which is our usual  M.O. even for poor service. It's a tough job.  I know from experience. Plus, I am always thinking, that could be my kid, or my nephew or my friend. A salad at CPK, with no extras will run you about $15. This doesn't really bother me because their salads are hearty. They aren't just serving up romaine with cucumber and tomato. The Tacos are in a similar price range.

As usual the company was outstanding, and we had a fun meal. I'm sure there are more CPK lunches in my future. One thing I really like about CPK is that they post their nutritional information online. I wish more restaurants, at least chains, did that. Ut oh...the White Pizza has 1080 calories and 119 g of carbs. I plug that into my handy dandy Weight Watchers calculator and see that racks up to 22 points plus. Maybe next time I order the White Pizza I will only eat half...


California Pizza Kitchen

300 Monticello Ave # 149
Norfolk, VA 23510-4400
(757) 622-7190
Open Mon-Thu 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat 11am-shredded Napa cabbage served with tortilla chips and roasted tomato salsa