Saturday night was another show at Chrysler for me and another attempt at downtown dining. I had been to Bite about a year ago for lunch with Alex and another buddy. I thought it was okay, but I wasn’t wowed. Alex was not impressed at all. The skimpy portion of a salad special did her in, and she hasn’t had the desire to return. I was a bit more curious and willing to give them another shot. The recommendation of another friend and the proximity to my venue pushed me over the edge and I booked a reservation for Saturday night.
I seem to recall that originally Bite advertised using fresh, local, organic ingredients, which I can appreciate. I don’t see any note of that on their website, so it could be that my memory is failing me. Regardless, the current dinner menu is slightly limited in choices and not for those seeking light fare. The 4 listed “Firsts” are either fried, or cheese. Three of the six entrees are pasta based, one is steak, one is chicken (with cheese) and one is seafood, the lightest option. I have to mention that the steak is a whooping 26 ounce rib eye. What? According to the American Heart Association individuals should not consume more than 6 ounces of meat a day. This seems a bit ridiculous to me. I can’t sit through Jersey Boys with 20 ounces of carryout steak in my lap.
We were running at tad late, so I called to say we were parking and would arrive in no more than 5 minutes. I was assured that our table was ready and waiting, and not to worry. Upon arriving we noted the
restaurant was bustling and about 80% full. They did not have a host or greeter, but seeing our name on a two top right by the door, we walked up and started to remove our coats. A rather large server with a rather menacing expression asked me what I was doing. Stating the obvious, I pointed to the card and said, "That's us. I just called." He then told me that, "We usually like to seat our customers."
I sat down and looked across the table at my husband. He knows me too well, and was waiting patiently for the comments. Barely in the door and this is already not going well. Fifteen minutes and two other tables being greeted later, another less menacing server approaches and asks if we have been helped. We receive menus. There is not an impressive assortment of wine. The choices are very limited. I select the only Pinot Grigio offered by the glass. They are out of it. At 6:15 on a Saturday night, they are out of it. I order the one Sauvignon Blanc, my husband orders the one Malbec. Another 15 minutes pass before the wine arrived. After sitting for 30 minutes waiting on this drink, our wine arrived in oversized stemless wineglasses that are filled about 1 inch. Things are rapidly deteriorating.
Our waiter asked if we were interested in starters. My husband said he wanted to try the She Crab soup, which was promoted on the table topper as being one of the best in town (with the typical appeal to “Vote for it in Best of Hampton Roads”). Well, we won’t be voting for it, because it was not on the menu that night, even though it was being promoted on the table. Instead, we order the Fontina appetizer ($9) at our server’s suggestion. It is melted Fontina, roasted garlic and oil, service with garlic toast points. We had to stir it a bit as the cheese was not fully melted when it arrived. If you love garlic, this is for you. We both liked it very much. For entrée’s I ordered the Osso bucco with parmesan leek risotto ($24). It is served with a Veal Shank. My husband ordered Cioppino ($19) which is served with the catch of the day (flounder) and mussels in a tomato broth. I was thoroughly disappointed in my meal. The risotto was beyond al dente, it was downright crunchy. The veal was overcooked and riddled with gristle. The Cioppino was okay, but nothing impressive. There was a healthy portion of mussels, but it was rather light on flounder. At some point during the meal, we ordered more wine, because an inch of wine lasts about 60 seconds with me. They ran out of Malbec. The server brought out a Merlot at no charge, which was very nice and not expected.
Throughout the meal we were plagued with long waits. I can’t say service was bad because I believe the servers were simply too busy. From what I could tell there were only two servers and one bartender. They really needed at least one more person help to run drinks, clear dishes….and seat people. As for the “no wine” situation, I can’t help but wonder if Bite might be struggling. If you have a monthly
menu, I would think that you could stock your wine accordingly versus trying to prepare from week to week? As the hour approached for the show at the Chrysler, Bite emptied out.
As the Mister said, “Not in a hurry to go back there
Bite Restaurant & Catering
440 Monticello Ave, Norfolk, VA 23510