Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Peppermill Diner & Bar - Colley Avenue - Norfolk, VA

The Peppermill Diner and Bar Sign
Laine and I have a growing list of ‘off the block’ places we need to visit (translation, outside of downtown Norfolk). A few weeks ago, I received an email from Press 626 letting its patrons know that they opened a new restaurant, the Peppermill Diner & Bar, situated in the former Retro Diner on Colley Avenue near Colonial Place. Last week, we decided we needed ‘out’ and that Peppermill’s menu and Facebook page warranted us getting in the car. It took no time to get to the diner, located near the intersection of Colley Avenue and 42nd Street.  The Peppermill Diner and Bar Ceiling
We arrived and were happy to see the fun tin ceiling we had noticed in the Facebook photos of Peppermill. Black and white checkerboard floors gave it the diner feel as did the small tables and bar. We were seated immediately and began to peruse the large menu. Peppermill serves breakfast all day, but they also have salads, burgers, sandwiches, some larger entrees and alcohol. They even have happy hour!
Peppermill hails their chicken and waffles and their vegan options. I had spotted the Fried Zucchini Lasagna a few days prior and while a few other items, such as the Red Organic Quinoa Salad and a vegetarian version of a club sandwich, caught my eye, I stuck with my original choice. I also saw Peppermill has tator tots and if you know me, you know I have much love for the tots. The options were plain, cheddar-topped or ‘fancy’, this variety was doused with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese. I saw the price and thought it was a little steep, but Laine and I had to try the truffle oil version and while they were good, they are not worth $6.50. The Peppermill Diner and Bar Tater Tots
I would say $4 is more reasonable for the fancy and around $3 for the cheddar. They are tots, after all. My lasagna was enormous for $11.99. The price was very fair for the dish and I enjoyed it. Two large sections, if you will, lay atop a plate of marinara sauce. The lasagna noodles were filled with zucchini and ricotta, rolled up and fried. When the dish arrived, it almost reminded me of a calzone in appearance. I was pleased with my choice and would order it again. I definitely had leftovers, which were packed in recycle-friendly containers (a plus!).
The Peppermill Diner and Bar Lasagna

It was Friday and we were somewhere new, so that meant a dessert sampling was in order. There were only a few choices, one of which was a brownie sundae with strawberries and blueberries. Sounded good, let us have one. When the brownie arrived, it was indeed a sundae, two brownies, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate and caramel sauce. There was only one strawberry and maybe five to six blueberries. Laine and I both thought there would be more fruit to it. The brownies tasted fine, but they were very thin. We both agreed brownies should be thick and that more fruit would have made this dessert somewhat worth its cost of $5.99. The whipped cream was from a can, another reason this item should have cost about $4. If you have ever tried the Blondie Tower brownie sundae at No Frill Grill, you can feel my pain. Frill’s version has two large scoops of chocolate or vanilla ice cream stacked between two large, THICK, blond brownies, drizzled with caramel sauce and a hefty side of whipped cream. A few strawberries and chocolate sticks, usually two white and two chocolate, decorate this beauty. Yes, it is $7, but it is worth its weight in decadence. I have also had this prepared with two giant chocolate chip cookies - the blondies are better BUT it is still great. It ‘towers’ (get it), over Peppermill’s version and let’s be honest, it is not difficult to make a brownie sundae awesome.

The gentleman, who we think is the manager, was very friendly and checked on us a few times. I enjoyed hearing about his time living in San Francisco. Our waitress was nice, if a little distant, but the food seemed to take a long time. My entree might have been the culprit since it was more labor intensive than Laine’s, but even the tots and the brownie seemed to take too long to arrive. Peppermill is cute and I will definitely try it again, but I might avoid ordering the couture tots and dessert. I would like to try one of the breakfast items or a sandwich the next go round.

There are a couple of "Yelpers" out there that I follow. After reading a couple of good reviews, I became interested in The Peppermill Diner & Bar. What is it about a diner? Growing up, we lived close to the famous (Newport News famous anyway) Blue Star diner. It was of course, blue, and kind of looked like a trailer. Any normal American kid would beg to eat there. My parents, unfortunately, were not equally intrigued. When I finally dined there in later years I discovered that my parents were right about the Blue Star (and many other things). It was simply okay, if not a little dirty and ragged about the edges.
The Peppermill Diner and Bar Interior

The Peppermill appears unassuming from the road. It is a rather boring square building painted a maroon vairety of red. The interior has more flare, with a funky mis-match of chairs, and decor. There is a nice glass divider separating the bar area from the dining section. Real chairs with arms were a nice surprise. This is no ragged diner. Someone put thought into the design.

The menu is large, and it took me a while to get through it. When there are so many options, the decision process slows down for me. I knew I wanted eggs, but was torn between an omlete, curried egg salad on wheat or Eggs Benedict. I discussed my dilema with Alex, and decided upon the Spinach and Tomato Eggs Benedict. While waiting for our entrees, I helped Alex with the tots. They were good (I've never really had a bad tot), but they were not ground breaking.
The Peppermill Diner and Bar Spinach and Tomato Eggs Benedict

When my eggs arrived I experienced an initial feeling of regret. I knew I had ordered poorly. The eggs did not look appetizing to me. As I took my first bite, this feeling deepened. The bread was slightly burnt on the bottom. Our server offered to replace the meal for me, but I already knew I didn't care for the bread itself and declined. I have since learned it was brioche, which is actually considered a french pastry, not bread. Regardless, I did not like it in this combination. Next, the spinach. It tasted bitter. The grilled tomato was lackluster. The hollandaise was bland and a bit thin in consistency. The grits, in my opinion, were bad. They had a thick consistency. You could stick your fork in them and it stood straight up. Yes, I tested this. They used some seasoning which neither Alex nor I could determine, but agreed they didn't have the usual grits flavor. Lastly, they were a bit salty. Darn. I ate my poached eggs and suffered through the spinach. When the waitress removed my nearly full plate, she made no comment on it.
The Peppermill Diner and Bar Brownie Sundae

Having plenty of room for dessert, I glady helped Alex with her brownie sundae. It should be renamed the "15 Minute Brownie Sundae". The actual brownie was in a couple of pieces which were about 1/2 inch thick and very fudgelike. The fruit was minimal, there was one scoop of vanilla icecream and the whipped cream was fake. I can live with fake whipped cream. I DO live with it actually, and I expect it at Dairy Queen or McDonalds too. At Peppermill it didn't sink the brownie ship per se, but it certainly didn't enhance the item either.
The Peppermill Diner and Bar Brownie Sundae with Fruit

This meal stuck with me all day. Literally. I will return someday and give some other menu items a try, but right now I just need some space.


Peppermill Diner & Bar
4110 Colley Avenue
Norfolk, VA
Peppermill Diner & Bar on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Ashley's Cooking Adventures said...

Just stumbled across your very cool blog and wish I would have found it before my hubby and I moved from Norfolk!