Friday, July 31, 2015

Zorba's - Virginia Beach, VA

Greek Side Salad - Nice dressing!

Greek food, oh how I love thee. Good Greek food, oh how difficult you are to find! Recently life events had me driving up and down Princess Anne Road in VA Beach, and Zorba’s caught my eye. Online reviews were a mixed bag. Google+ said awesome, Yelp said…not so much. An evening tournament at VA Beach National put me at the right place at the right time, so the family agreed to give it a go. 

They are located in the same strip center as the original Mannino’s. Not as nice as some of the newer centers nearby, but I am sure the rent is easier to manage. The interior is casual. No need to dress up. The far wall has a hand painted mural of Grecian landscape. As my daughter expressed, it was probably done by someone kind of new to painting. Service was brisk and friendly, which was good because we were hungry! We started to order cocktails for the adults, but were warned that the bartender wasn’t really up on anything to fancy, so we stuck with house wine. Next we ordered fried calamari appetizer, kid’s cheeseburger, Moussaka and Gyro Platter. My daughter begged for a BLT (off lunch menu), but the kitchen wouldn’t do it. I get it, but we were one of three tables at 7:30PM. It’s not like they were slammed. 

The calamari came out quickly and looked under-cooked, not golden crispy. We were quickly told that they had just changed out the fryer oil. Hmmmm….alright. It was just “okay”. There was nothing special about it and no interesting seasoning. The accompanying marinara was watery, and a complete failure as a dipping sauce. Next the meals come out, again rather quickly. In error, by daughter was brought a ground lamb burger from the regular menu, not a kid’s hamburger. It did not go over well. I thought it tasted great, with spicy seasoning, but I am not an 11 year old. The server was awesome, and quickly suggested spaghetti and meatballs. This also arrived quickly, but alas, the same watery marinara sauce was used. All three of us tasted it, and gave it resounding thumbs down. 

Calamari-This is NOT full portion. We ate some before I remembered to photograph!

Lamb Cheeseburger
I was the Moussaka recipient. I know from experience the labor that goes into preparing this dish, which is why I prefer to order it at a restaurant. Theirs was really good, with a nice spice in the meat and thick b├ęchamel on top. I thought it was a little heavy on the potato layer, but otherwise a great dish. The Gyro platter, like the calamari, was just okay. The only standout from that dish was the tzatziki sauce. It was loaded with garlic and just the right amount of salt. Exactly the way I like it.

Gyro Platter


I won’t be rushing back to Zorba’s, and my quest for good Greek food continues. How I miss The Street Cook

4402 Princess Anne Rd.
VA Beach, VA 23462

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Zeke's Beans & Bowls, Norfolk, Virginia

I had eyed Zeke's Beans & Bowls more than a few times as I drove down Granby Street.  Finally, yesterday I had not one, but two opportunities to give it a whirl.  My husband and I decided to try Zeke's smoothies for lunch.  I went for something lighter, blueberry, strawberry, mango and honey.  Zeke's only adds a tad of soy milk, or almond milk upon request and ice so the smoothie is mostly fruit and nothing artificial.  My husband had the peanut butter, banana and honey smoothie and while I despise bananas or anything with that flavor, I did taste his for the good of the blog.  The banana was not the overpowering flavor as in some of the chain smoothies.  My mind immediately started working on a peanut butter smoothie variation sans banana...
The smoothies are what I would classify as a medium in size and run $8 before tax.  My husband was a tad shocked as our two smoothies plus tax were $19 and change.  I reiterated these are not mass-produced and this is not a chain (thankfully).  And hey, we didn't have to make it, no fancy mixer required!  Think the SNL skit with Sarah Silverman about the $600 mixer.
I had perused Zeke's menu and on my way home, decided I would try one of the bowls...and another smoothie.  Back and forth I went in trying to decide what food item to try first.  Finally, I settled on the Keali's Special Poke but with a great suggestion by Christine, who works there.  I had half tuna and half tofu versus all tuna.  I asked about the sizes, the small looks like a small soup container at a Chinese restaurant and the large looks like the small container at a Thai restaurant.  Being in the clean plate club, I went with the large.  Christine said I would have plenty (does she know how much I eat, I thought).  I also ordered a peanut butter, mango and honey smoothie.  She suggested mango as the best substitute for banana - it was a winner and just might be my favorite smoothie right now.  I have an answer to all of my anti-banana problems when ordering a smoothie. Before I just said 'throw yogurt in there instead of banana'.  Due to a similar consistency, mango works better overall.
I sat at the counter and talked with Christine about the Arts District and Zeke's.  She had a lot of good news to share about both.  Zeke's at the oceanfront has been around for about three years and I think it is a good fit for the Norfolk Arts District.  The decor is funky (vintage typewriter present!) with art, books on art, books on movies and things of that nature (right up my alley).  It is a small-medium sized space and very comfortable.  They have cucumber water 'on tap' at no charge - a real treat.  When my bowl and smoothie came out, I realized I had a ton of food.  The bowl looks deceivingly small but was pretty heavy.  When I sat down to eat, I realized just how much tuna and tofu I had.  That warrants the $16 price tag for the large.  Keali's Special has Sriracha and it is fairly spicy which I prefer but if you are afraid of spice, just ask them to go light on that - they seem very accommodating.  I probably did not need the smoothie but I am not sorry I had it and I was stuffed after the bowl...but not uncomfortable stuffed, more satisfied stuffed.  I did not ask for rice with my bowl but you can include that for $1 and it would be pretty hearty.  I am eager to try another Poke or the Kale Salad I saw come out to another customer.  It looked great with a bunch of avocado sitting on the top.
Zeke's will be seeing me again very soon.

Food - 5
Service - 5
Beverage - 4
Restrooms - N/A
Ambiance - 4

Zeke's Beans & Bowls
800 Granby St, Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 963-5220 

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