Wednesday, October 21, 2009


I have been wanting to check out Zest for months but because of the distance, I haven't had the chance. I recently celebrated a birthday and took an extra long weekend (Fri-Wed) so I decided to make the trek out to Sandbridge to enjoy lunch at Zest.

Zest is located right at the end of Sandbridge Road and probably as close to the beach as you are going to get. The sign out front is so small that I missed the entrance to the restaurant the first time and had to circle back. There appears to be plenty of parking for the size of the restaurant.

Upon entering I was asked if I wanted to sit up front at the counter or in the back in the dining room. I chose the dining room which was set for dinner. Even though it was about 12:30 in the afternoon, I was the only patron and the lights had to be turned on and the server turned on some music for me: first classic rock, and then she changed it to jazz which I actually preferred. At the door I was handed the lunch menu on a single sheet of white paper which listed a large variety of sandwiches to choose from. I would have preferred a wrap or a salad and I was surprised that there weren't any on the menu. Before ordering my sandwich I asked to see a wine list (still celebrating my birthday). The list was varied and was fine for lunch but I didn't see anything that I would have enjoyed had I been there at dinner time. I ordered a glass of Sauvingon Blanc and a curious sandwich that was called, "I don't know what it's called but it's sooooooo good!"


After that build up, I had to order it. The server admitted to having never tried it but she assured me that everything Zest serves is good. The sandwich was made up of roast pork, roast beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and horseradish on foccacia bread. I had my choice of chips or pasta salad. I ordered the pasta salad which was penne pasta with cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes and onions with just the slightest hint of vinagrette. It was light and very fresh tasting. The sandwich was huge and I was able to eat more than half of it. It was so good. I was a little apprehensive when I saw the horseradish but it didn't overwhelm the other flavors at all.

The restaurant itself is small and cute with a beachy feel to it. If it weren't so far from where I live I would really make an effort to visit at dinner time. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my lunch and I'm sure that during the summer season Zest is much busier than when I visited and since the dining room is so small I would recommend making reservations. Check their website for the dinner menu.

312 Sandbridge Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23456
(757) 301-8553

Zest on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Lizard

It takes a lot to get me to go to Norfolk. Why? I don't know. Let's forget for a moment that I drive to Norfolk everyday for work. But my office is nowhere near Downtown and parking is not an issue. I live at the beach and I'm a creature of habit. Downtown is difficult to navigate if you are not familiar with the area. Where am I supposed to park anyway? A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across my new favorite book store, Prince Books. I love this place and one day I will own a place just like it ... at the beach, of course. Anyway, inside Prince Books is a little cafe called The Lizard.

The Lizard is quiet and unassuming and simple and comfortable. The Lizard prides itself on only using ingredients that are produced locally and while their menu seems pretty simple: sandwiches, wraps and salads, there seems to be a little something extra involved that I really enjoyed.

I initially wanted a nice bowl of soup but they weren't serving any on this particular day so instead I ordered the Taster Sampler for $7.50

The taster sampler includes a little bit of everything: chicken salad with peach chutney, fresh dilled tuna salad, hummus, sun-dried tomato pesto and a side of green salad topped with feta cheese. It sounds like a lot because it is a lot but it wasn't heavy. I said before that I wasn't a fan of hummus and while The Lizard's hummus didn't convert me or anything it was pretty good.

The menu also includes signature sandwiches like roast beef and turkey and surry ham and cucumber and all the sandwiches are served on their own homemade bread. You can even get a grilled cheese sandwich made from fresh mozzarella and provolone cheese with tomato and basil mayo. Sounds good.

There is plenty of seating at The Lizard, either at a booth or a table and the store has free wi-fi. On the day I visited, there was only one person working in the cafe. That didn't slow down my service but it took a while to get the tables cleared away. I would have wanted to sit at a booth but most of them were littered with the previous guests' dishes.

The Lizard is a cool little place and I'm assuming that it gets pretty busy during the week with the folks that work Downtown. They are open Monday thru Friday from 9 to 5 and Saturday from 10 to 4.

So, like I said, it takes a lot to get me to go to Norfolk but so far I've been to Prince Books and The Lizard twice and I predict many more trips in the future.

109 E Main Street
Norfolk, VA 23510

The Lizard on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mojito Cafe

The Mojito Café is a tiny little café at the corner of 28th and Pacific. I am not exaggerating when I say “tiny”. Some would probably describe it as “cozy” or “intimate” but those words didn’t spring to mind when I visited recently for a quick lunch with my sister. It’s just tiny.

The café itself holds seven tables and six seats at the counter. When I arrived the counter was full and all but two tables were filled. I was seated immediately even though my sister had not yet arrived, which I truly appreciated because it wasn’t long before more patrons arrived and occupied the other two tables.

The atmosphere at the café was relaxed. The annual Neptune Festival was taking place and it seemed that many of the guests were coming in from the festival for a bite to eat. I just happened to be at the Heritage and had a craving.

While I waited, I looked over the menu and the wine list. The wine list only had six wines to choose from: three red and three white. With a name like “mojito café”, perhaps you expected me to order a mojito, right? I would have but I’m not a fan. So, I settled on a glass of red.

I also ordered the empanadas as an appetizer:

They serve these pastry turnovers filled with either ground beef, chorizo and cheese or olives. I ordered three so I could sample all of them. The pastry itself had a buttery flavor that was crispy but not too hard. The filling was just enough and I had to fight myself not to finish them before my sister arrived. Once she did, we placed our orders. She decided on the camarones al ajillo

This dish consists of sautéed shrimp with garlic, lime juice and fresh cilantro served with rice, beans and fresh asparagus. The shrimp were larger than expected but they seemed a little tough. Overall everything blended nicely and tasted good.

I had the Latin fricassee with chicken

This dish included sautéed peppers, asparagus, onions, olives, tomato sauce and chicken served over rice. The combination of flavors resulted in a mildly sweet taste that I just loved. It wasn’t at all complicated and looked and tasted like something I could probably make myself. If I were into that kind of thing.

The service at Café Mojito was good. The server was pleasant and even though it was quite busy she seemed to have it under control. The other guests appeared to be enjoying their experience as well. This isn’t the type of place where you feel rushed to leave. Mostly everyone was lingering over their meals as they chatted and socialized.

Parking is available in a small lot right behind the restaurant and Café Mojito serves both lunch and dinner, however, since the beach season has ended their hours are changing. Check their website for details.

Mojito Café
300 28th Street
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 233-6855

Mojito Cafe  on Urbanspoon