Monday, June 20, 2011
Sonoma Wine Bar & Bistro, Virginia Beach, VA
I would classify Sonoma as a nice chain and even still, I am rarely a fan of chains. Fortunately, there is only one Sonoma in the Tidewater/Hampton Roads area, but any chain seems so...staged to me. The decor, the menu, the whole experience. Groupon and Living Social ran deals for Sonoma and the ‘deal devil’ got the best of me and I bought both. Sonoma is not in my hood, so it takes a little effort to make it out to Town Center. Weekday lunch was not an option because Laine and I can not make it there, eat and return to work in a reasonable time, so I had to settle on Saturday lunch. Fortunately, Sonoma let me use both of the deals during lunch, which made things slightly easier since I really do not want to drive there for dinner when I have decent restaurants close to my home.
For the first round, Chas* and I journeyed to Town Center one Saturday and had a marginally good meal. Well, his was good, mine was marginal. We started with the French Toast, which was fine, but nothing newsworthy and I forgot to ask them to put the bananas on the side and I picked them off but could still taste them. I have an aversion, which I have mentioned in other posts. Chas ordered the Egg in a Bed which was two buttered, toasted pieces of sourdough with an egg buried in each, accompanied by a lovely mixed greens salad with a light vinaigrette. I ordered the Crab Benedict sans the crab. Of course, I was charged the same, which makes no sense, but we had the deal, so I was not sweating it. Mine was lukewarm and hollandaise should never be less than very warm. I should have sent it back, but did not and regretted it. I ended up eating most of Chas’ salad, some of my eggs and homefries and I did not even order dessert! My meal was such a letdown, it ruined my appetite. One deal coupon down and one to go, but I needed some time to recover.
As the deal expiration date for that second deal closed in, I realized I needed to drag Nikki* to Sonoma to use it. Waiting until the eleventh hour, we made our way to Sonoma the Saturday before the expiration date. This time, I was set on ordering the Egg in a Bed since I had meal envy the entire meal of my last visit. I was pleased - I had the whole salad to myself and this egg and sourdough combination was perfect and what I had wanted. Unfortunately, Nikki was in my shoes this meal. She ordered the Crab Cake over a wasabi sauce, daikon radish and carrot medley. She was not too impressed with her dish. I sampled the vegetables and they had some serious wasabi heat. I like really spicy food, but wasabi has its own levels of intensity and honestly even though I just tasted the vegetables, I got a hint of the crab and it tasted very crabby, not like good jumbo lump crab meat. I was in a better mood about my entree, so I voted on a dessert, the Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Chocolate Ganache, Coffee Gelato, Magic Shell, and Bruleed Bananas , except NO bananas. This dessert was amazing and it should have been because it was not very big, but still $8. It was my favorite thing at Sonoma.
Service was great the first time, but the second time, Nikki and I had the waiter who did not even let you finish asking a question before he cut you off abruptly and scurried off to the kitchen. We were one of two tables dining at the time, so I’m not sure where he was running to, but apparently, he did not feel the need to stay one extra second than he felt was needed. It became annoying at best.
Today, I saw a new Groupon for Sonoma, but passed. I think I have had enough of them for a good while, maybe even forever. Sonoma had a few high points, but I should stick to avoiding chains of any kind, since I am never happy with them.
Sonoma Wine Bar & Bistro
The Town Center at Virginia Beach
189 Central Park Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23462