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

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

219 An American Bistro on Urbanspoon

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

Steinhilber's Thalia Acres Inn on Urbanspoon