Saturday, August 23, 2014

Supper, Norfolk, Virginia

Finally, Norfolk has a restaurant with a rooftop!  Supper, opened by the group that owns Public House, Bardo, Still and Gosport Tavern, made it's debute last weekend.  We stopped to have a look at the new, soon to be hot, spot.  The decor is by far, some of the best in town.  Very nice lighting, subway tile behind the downstairs bar and low and behold, the rooftop, which will be the apple of this restaurant's eye.  The seating is aplenty both downstairs and up and there are bars on both floors.  We decided on the upstairs bar for a drink and appetizer.  The homemade pimento cheese and seasoned Ritz crackers appetizer is large and very, very good.  The drink menu has many bourbon and whisky cocktails along with a couple versions of the Bloody Mary, a slush drink and a few gin and vodka drinks.  I decided on the House Lemon-Aid, which was tart and tasty.  Supper also has a varied draft and bottle beer and wine selection.  



This weekend, we decided to have our first full dinner at Supper.  Fortunately, reservations are available since I think this is going to be the new place on everyone's mind.  We arrived at 6:30 and it was steady, not packed yet.  We were seated within five minutes on the rooftop, which we requested of course.  I once again ordered the House Lemon-Aid, my soon to be husband opted for the Slush (bourbon) and my mom went with the Snowbird Ricky.  My drink was excellent and decently strong as it was the first time.  The Slush is a pretty large cocktail served in a mason jar glass.  The Snowbird Ricky is served with a nice, pink slice of grapefruit.  I might have that on our next visit.   We decided on the pimento cheese again and added a Caesar salad to our appetizer course.  I must mention the cornbread croutons in this salad - order it just for those.  For our main course, mom chose the lamb chop with sugar snaps and the carrot casserole, I ordered the grilled corn entree which comes with a biscuit and mac and my partner went with the pork chop including creamed corn and roasted fingerling potatoes.  We also ordered a side of the cornbread and biscuits and extra sides of the mac n cheese and the creamed corn.  We should have read the menu closer as my entree came with the mac and my partner's came with the creamed corn.  Thinking we both wanted our own of each, we threw in the extras...leftovers!  Lesson for next time, the meals (and sides) are large enough you really can share them without feeling slighted.  I'm not usually a sharer but this even makes sense to me after seeing the portions.  

Service was very good.  These servers are running those stairs constantly but our food came out in just the right amount of time and everything was as ordered (read: no mistakes).  Everyone loved their food, loved their drinks and really loved the atmosphere, especially when the stringed lighting came to life.  
The crowd grew while we were there.  Both bars were full and most of the tables on the rooftop were taken when we departed.   It is most certainly the new hip place to be in Norfolk and it is very exciting that the Supper folks made the investment in the restaurant idea but also in the rooftop.  I hope this spurs others to add rooftops to their restaurants where possible.  Supper plans to keep the upstairs open as long as the weather cooperates and also plans to open for lunch in the coming months.  The upstairs allows a meal to start with a setting sun and end with hip string lighting, guiding your courses.  



Supper is open daily 5pm-2am.
319 W 21st Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23517
(757) 383-6800 

Click to add a blog post for Supper on Zomato 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Cinghiale, Baltimore, Maryland

Cinghiale receives an A+ on all counts.  I dined there recently while visiting Baltimore on a recommendation from a friend of a friend.  We arrived early and sat at the bar.  I enjoyed their Cinghiale signature drink composed of Aperol, orange juice and zest.  This was very refreshing and the Aperol balanced out the juice well, a tad bitter, a tad sweet and just right.  My other half enjoyed a Margarita before the house Pinot Noir at dinner and enjoyed both.  While sitting at the long and luxurious bar, we enjoyed watching the gentleman in charge of salumi and antipasti preparation hard at work.  That is where I first saw the house bread which I knew would occupy our table.  The salumi was shaved with such precision to a delicate width; the plates were a work of art.  

We were seated in a cozy corner in main dining room.  This section is away from the hustle and bustle of the bar area.  Had we had our preference, we probably would have chosen the dining room in the bar area, but being that this was our first visit, we did not know the table arrangement.  Along with the house bread (some sourdough and some thyme) I spied and olive oil, we started with the Ricotta and House Made Crispy Potato Chips.  This ricotta was wonderful and and also was a nice accompaniment to the bread.  We also had the Arugula Salad with Candied Lemon and Parmigiano.  A simple, light green salad is always the way to start a heavier Italian meal.

For the main course, I had the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Brown Butter Sage Sauce.  This was a restaurant week special previously that was so popular, according to our server, the chef added it to the regular menu.  I felt fortunate and this dish was so unique.  There was even a light cookie crumble atop the pasta.  The portion is fair, any more and the sweetness may become tiresome.  My partner selected the Lasagna Marchigiana and the Mortadella with Mostarda Cremona.  We took most of the Mortadella home but it gave him the side of sausage he needs with every Italian meal.  The Lasagna was a hit, and rich, so there were also leftovers. 

Last, but certainly not least, the dessert menu was present.  All of the selections sounded divine but I immediate chose the Caramel Semifreddo with Coffee Gelato and Hazelnuts.  I love semifreddo and do not see it that often.  Therefore, I must always have it and Cinghiale's version was met with top approval.  I left the Brûléed Bananas on the side for my partner since bananas repulse me but typically, they are on top of the dish.  We also ordered a bowl of Malted Dark Chocolate and Hazelnut gelato to share which was a good decision.  

Cinghiale is a restaurant but clearly, they specialize in service.  Our server knew their selections front, back and in between and helped us narrow down our choices.  She was also eager to provide a few recommendations for the rest of our sight-seeing weekend.  I love the decor the restaurant presents as well.  It reminded of of Balthazar in New York City, another favorite.  High ceilings, elegant wood and tile that balances out the look.  With a vibrant crowd, everything comes together perfectly.  


822 Lancaster St, Baltimore, MD 21202
(410) 547-8282

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Point, Fells Point Baltimore MD

It was cold, the spot was crowded and they had brunch. Seemed like a good idea at the time. The staff was very nice but the brunch food was somewhat disappointing. We enjoyed the mac n cheese which has sun-dried tomatoes and the fried green tomato Benedict was okay but the egg skillet was disappointing. The margherita was mostly juice and the tap beer was warm. I wish I had ordered the grilled cheese but on the server's recommendation I chose the Benedict. They do have bottomless drinks for $10 on Saturday and Sunday and those seemed to be populate at other tables. It was definitely a younger crowd. I would definitely try another spot when in the area again.



The Point
1738 Thames Street 
Baltimore, MD 21231 

(410) 327-7264

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jenna's Cafe- Virginia Beach, VA (Chic's Beach)


Back in the days when I lived in the Lunatic Fringe zip code (AKA Chic’s Beach)  I used to frequent Jenna’s pretty regularly. Jenna’s does a couple of things really, really well. They have the best, fresh out of the oven pita bread. Their hummus is extra special. It has a great taste and a nice smooth consistency. Their pita sandwiches are hearty and fresh. Two people could easily split one pita sandwich and be satisfied. Oh yeah, and pizzas. I am a firm believer that the crust makes or breaks a pizza. They make a great pie.

I haven’t been to Jenna’s in a  few years now, and I decided to pick up a lunch to-go order for myself and my mom. They were running a special on Saturday, two pita sandwiches and a Greek salad for $16.99. That’s a great deal! I got the turkey and cheese for my mom. They have a roasted red pepper pita with provolone and feta, but since I love their hummus I asked to sub that for the provolone. I was told there would be a couple dollar charge to do that, and I told them to go for it. The one person working the counter and serving all the tables told me that the kitchen wasn't that busy and the wait wouldn't be too long. This is what my mom calls “Famous Last words”. The guy who came in behind me also ordered the special and grabbed a table to dine in.
My view for 40 minutes

Now the wait begins. Jenna’s is not in any way fancy, which is fine. Considering the location I don’t think anyone really expects it to be. It has blue-gray walls, red chairs, with cheap, TJ Maxx looking art on the walls. Low overhead. About 15 minutes into my wait I see the server come out with a big Greek Salad. She serves it to the guy who came in after me. Several minutes later his table gets their sandwiches AND the couple who came in after him get their hummus platter. Hmmmm….. I ask the girl what’s up? Is my order ready to go? She has to check on that. More minutes pass, more food is coming out. Cooked food, like pizzas, gyros….The girl now tells me that my food was dropped on the floor and they had to start over. Okay, I am glad they don’t serve food off the floor, but why did that incident bump me to the back of the line? People have finished eating and are leaving as I sit and wait. I call my mom and tell her that I might be there in time for dinner. I am regretting that I paid for this food when I ordered, otherwise I would have simply left and gone to Taste Unlimited or some other spot along the way. After waiting 40 minutes I go up to the register and beg for my food. Now I get a sea of excuses “its all made from scratch” “it’s all freshly prepared” blah, blah, blah. What she failed to understand is that everyone else’s order which came in after mine, but was served before mine, was also “freshly prepared”. Patience is something I struggle with every day, and I was really biting back my usual spew of sarcastic venom when miraculously my order was ready. Choirs of angels began to sing Hallelujah as I bolted out of the door. Seriously, an apology and maybe a free cookie would have gone a long way at that point.

My poor mom had to listen to this rant, which she did as always, with infinite patience. As soon as I started eating, I got less and less ticked off because the food was so freaking good. The Greek salad is really nothing special. It is iceberg, a few slices of cucumber, 2-3 chunks of tomato, a couple of peppers and herbed feta. Their vinaigrette is interesting. It is slightly orange and has a host of mystery herbs and spices (maybe some paprika?). It adds some interest to an otherwise boring salad. You are given a full pita with the salad, and these are nice, thick, hearty pitas. The sandwiches were heavenly, and packed with ingredients which came oozing out of the sides with every bite. I got half of the pita eaten and had to throw in the towel because I was full.

Note to self: Next time, call in the order ahead…because there will be a next time.

Greek Salad, comes with a full pita. It had a decent amount of feta cheese, but it drifted to the bottom of the container.

My concoction, a marriage of the roasted red pepper and the hummus pitas 

Jenna's Cafe
2104 Pleasure House Road
VA Beach, VA 23455
Phone:(757) 460-0973

Jenna's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 17, 2014

Zushi Japanese Bistro - Virginia Beach Town Center

View of bar area and entrance
Friday nights traditionally mean sushi at my house, so B.B.King at the Sandler Center on a Friday night meant finding sushi at the Town Center. Getting to the Town center at 6PM on a Friday is no fun. It starts with a traffic backup on the interstate exit ramp that leaves you sitting at a dead stop  while people fly past as they try to enter the highway. If you survive this trial, you next have to endure creeping along at a snail's pace while you merge in and out of traffic trying to make your turn onto the roads that will get you to a parking garage. However, by the time you make it to your destination, this garage may be full and you will have to maneuver once again through the traffic to another garage. Can you tell I am not a fan? Why the city built this destination without any upgrade to the highway is a mystery to me. It took 30 minutes to go 1 mile. Make sure you add this travel time into your planning if you need to be somewhere at a specific time.

Sushi Bar
We made it to Zushi just in time for our reservation. The interior is nice, modern with dimmed lights and a natural color palate. A full bar is located up by the entrance if you need to wait, as well as a comfortable seating area. Several tables were marked as reserved, one of which was ours. We were promptly seated and orders were taken for drinks. The menu is basic sushi restaurant. There is some variety in the sake menu which isn't seen everywhere. Dinner entrees come with choice of miso soup or salad. We ordered the Sushi Dinner and I got the Chirashi bowl. The restaurant really started to fill up and by 6:35 there was a wait. There were three sushi chefs in view and our orders came out quickly. Once we were served, our waitress kind of disappeared. They have metal chop sticks, which were extremely slippery, and the fish seemed to keep slipping around. My daughter, who is still working on her chop stick skills, could not master them. The fish was good quality, and well proportioned. The sticky rice was slightly sweet, just the way I like it. It didn't take us long to finish, but we had to track down our server for the check. Once we got it, we had to stop the hostess to pay. Our server appeared to be in the weeds, as they say.

Overall, I liked Zushi and would definitely return if I was at the Town Center again on a Friday night. It would not be a destination place for me though. The sushi chefs were very friendly and pleasant, but service was slow and inattentive. I also thought it was overpriced. What can I say? My heart still belongs to Kyushu which is less that 3 miles away.

Zushi Japanese Bistro
4540 Main Street
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Phone:(757) 321-1495

Seating Area

Sushi Dinner

Chirashi Bowl
Zushi Japanese Bistro
4540 Main Street
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Phone:(757) 321-1495

Zushi Japanese Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Josiah Chowning's Tavern - Williamsburg, VA

Josiah Chowning sign Colonial Williamsburg
Josiah Chowning
My mother started a tradition of picking me up from high school on the last day before break and taking us into Colonial Williamsburg for a little sight seeing and nourishment. We would walk up and down Duke of Gloucester street checking out the Christmas decorations on various buildings and then we would go to one of the taverns for lunch. We continued this tradition into my college days and well beyond. Thus began my deep affection for Williamsburg at Christmas-time and tavern dining.

This year I headed up to the Colonial district with my brother in tow. If you can get yourself motivated in the morning, it is always better to head out to any tourist-type attraction early. Experience has taught me that this is the best way to avoid the crowds. The rubber hit the road on schedule and we were able to snag a spot in my favorite pay by the hour lot with minimal effort. Even though we were going to spend most of the day walking, I still get happy when I get a good parking spot.

This year's decorations were beautiful as always. The morning started out a little cloudy and then cleared as the lunch hour approached. We read every posted menu along the street. My brother had his mind set on Christiana Campbell's Tavern which is located past the end of Duke of Gloucester just beyond the Capital building. Unfortunately, once we got there we learned they were not open for lunch. The first place we checked out had Brunswick Stew on the menu. That was it for me! After looking over all available options, we headed back to Chowning's Tavern.

If you have never dined in one of the historic Taverns, it can be a little startling when "characters" enter your room and perform. We were witness to two young colonial men discussing the proper attire for one's approaching nuptials. They were surprisingly comedic, and not intrusive. Some diners participated in the conversation, but if you did not want to do so, you were politely left to your own personal conversations.

I always look forward to having a traditional beverage at the taverns. They offer tavern cocktails, a nice selection of beers, and of course non-alcoholic selections. My favorite is a Rummer. As you may have guessed, it is rum with apricot and peach brandy on crushed ice. Depending upon the weather, a hot toddy may run a close second. The brisk walk in the crisp winter morning air had perked my appetite (not that I need much help in that area). I was ready for my Brunswick stew! I ordered the cup size and for my entree I selected a Crab Cake salad. My brother ordered a cup of stew as well and a Salty Virginia Ham sandwich with Cheddar Cheese on marble rye. While waiting for our order, the table next to us received their beer sampler. You get to choose three beers from the house selection, which is then served on a cute tray with slots for three mugs. I made a mental note to try that next time if I can get past the Rummer.

The stew came out first and was delicious. Very traditionally prepared with the tomato based liquid, chicken, Lima beans, corn and potatoes, topped off with a couple of pieces of chopped okra. It was a hit! The crab cake salad was a nice surprise to me. I did not expect to be wowed, but I was. The lemon caper sauce was a nice touch, and the additional dressing served on the side was an especially flavorful Italian blend, which tasted as if there was a hint of champagne included. The lettuce was fresh and sweet. My brother's sandwich looked great with thick stacks of fresh ham. I barely got the chance to photograph half of it! Speaking of which, I completed my meal with a cup of coffee and Chocolate Caramel Pecan pie. The perfect ending!

Currently there are several great dining options in the heart of Colonial Williamsburg. Don't be intimidated by the taverns. I have dined in every one of them, and always have a great time. Typically they don't take reservations for lunch, and several are closed for the winter season. Check out the Colonial Williamsburg website for information on tavern hours and menus.


***Check out an accompanying post for pictures of Colonial Williamsburg
Christmas decorations***

Chowning's Tavern Menu
Christmas-time lunch menu

Crab Cake Salad at Josiah Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Crab Cake Salat

Virginia Ham at Josiah Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Salty Virginia Ham

View from the dining room at Josiah Chowning's Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg, VA
Duke of Gloucester Street as seen from table

Josiah Chowning's Tavern
109 E Duke of Gloucester St, Williamsburg, VA 23185
Hours: (vary by season) Sunday 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 11:00pm
Josiah Chowning's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Colonial Williamsburg Christmas Decorations

Colonial Williamsburg is loaded with charm in every season, but the Christmas holiday and the decorations that come with it take this charm to even greater heights. I love walking up and down the streets checking out all the wreaths, garland and swags. In today's world where faster is perceived as better most of the time, I enjoy soaking in the atmosphere of a time long gone past. A time when things were crafted by hand using the resources indigenous to the area. Creativity abounds in this year's decor. I hope you enjoy my pictures and perhaps next year you might gather up some apples, pine cones, boxwood clippings or whatever else you have at hand and try some creating of your own!
This was magnificent in person. Even after asking the attendant we were not able to determine all the "ingredients". 

A fun twist on the usual fare was found by incorporating playing cards on the coffee house Wreath and windows. 

The wreaths are all live, and the local bird population loves them too. Maintenance must remain ongoing during the holidays, as consumed parts and pieces need to be replaced. I especially love apples and pine cones. This is my personal favorite. The bird in the shot was a random bonus!

Wood shavings on the cabinet maker's wreath. 

The photo does not do this justice. There were quite a few displays with pomegranates. 

Artichoke and apples, boxwood, pine and wheat. Lovely!

The classic welcoming pineapple.

Apples Galore!

This location was the winner for me. Bridles, stirrups, antlers, apples and pine. Really well done!

It is difficult to see but this one has a powder horn and a tomahawk. We saw several uses of pheasant feathers throughout the town. 

Very unique. A mushroom!