I had not yet been to Big Easy, the newer restaurant by the group that owns 219, Bodega and a few others. One reason I had not made the effort was their menu - they do not have a ton of options for a vegetarian (read: no seafood), but it was restaurant week, my date was interested and I figured why not try it, since I knew the dining company would be great.
Do not bother parking in the Harbor Heights lot - this is now restricted for residential only, since The Market is no longer open. Fortunately, Big Easy has a valet, for which my date and I are both suckers. We did not have a reservation, which made me nervous but there were a few tables open and the hostess seated us immediately. Phew!
I asked our waitress if they had any accommodations for vegetarians other than the couple of items I saw on the regular menu and sadly, they did not. That is always a slight disappointment, but the Red Beans and Rice ($4.29) and the Field Green and Goat Cheese salad ($5.99) would do this evening because, as I confessed, I had had a piece of Coconut Macaroon Bread Pudding at Havana around 5:30 that evening. A lighter meal was probably in order. My date stuck with the restaurant week menu and chose the Romaine Salad with Buttermilk Dressing and Tasso Ham, the Louisiana Jambalaya with Chicken, Smoked Sausage and a Creole sauce, followed by the warm brownie dessert, all for $20. To start us off, the waitress brought cornbread with a honey, Tabasco and Creole spiced butter. The cornbread was fresh and that is one of my favorite breads and the butter was unique. I took a bite that must have had a heavy concentration of the spices and Tabasco - definitely a little heat, but I liked it! The Hearts of Romaine Salad was mediocre. The ham was almost non-existent and with a salad having so much potential, it was a disappointment. The jambalaya was better than the salad but the chicken was slightly dry, tisk tisk. My salad and beans and rice were both good, but the salad needed more candied pecans. Do not skimp on my nuts, which were a major part of the salad! I really did enjoy the maple syrup and Creole mustard vinaigrette. Big Easy should bottle and sell it. The beans and rice comes with or without a hot sauce, so I decided to try it on the side. Good move, one taste and I was making faces, not pleasant faces. It was closer to a wing sauce, not one of my favorite things, but if you like wing sauce, go for it. The brownie was pretty good, but it was unusually small. Sometimes with restaurant week, portion size shrinks.
Service was average at best. Our waitress was nice, but she yanked the butter out from under us when bread was still on our plates, she served my meal with minutes in between my date receiving his (too long) and she just did not seem checked into the situation, our dinner, which is bad...for us, but for Big Easy as well. I doubt either of us will be in a rush, or even a slow crawl, to get back there.
The atmosphere is similar to that of Club Soda, the former occupant of the space, and actually is quite pleasant. They do have a sort of discothèque, which is fun. I have heard others give the same pedestrian review I am giving, but then Laine did mention that Big Easy is supposed to be known for their oysters, so if you are an oyster fan, maybe the experience will be better. Good luck.
Big Easy Grill & Oyster Bar
111 W. Tazwell Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510