Wednesday, October 20, 2010

EAT an American Bistro

Recently, I celebrated another birthday and I decided to do that at EAT, located on Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach. Last year I made an attempt to visit EAT but was unsuccessful. You can read about that here. This time I was quite successful.

EAT is a tiny little bistro which serves some really great American classics in a very special way. The menu lists several small dishes, salads, appetizers and entrees as well as various weekly specials.

We decided to sit out on the patio to take advantage of the beautiful weather. We didn't take into consideration the jet noise, but it wasn't too much of a distraction. The server took our drink orders immediately and told us about the specials.

I decided on EAT's version of the tomato stack for an appetizer:

this creation included yellow heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grilled beets and was toppped with bean sprouts. The beets added some color and flavor that I hadn't expected and surprisingly enjoyed.

As an entree I decided on the rockfish special which was served over a bed of macaroni and cheese and topped with collard greens:

the fish was cooked perfectly, as was the macaroni and cheese. The too-large collard green leaves had a tart taste and were a little too chewy for my taste.

Overall, the experience was very good. The service was wonderful and the prices were reasonable. The only downside was the parking situation. Finding parking close by on the street is definitely a challenge. EAT's management posts signs everywhere alterting customers that they will be towed if they park in another establishment's parking lot. We parked at 31st street and walked nine blocks. It was a beautiful evening and I really wanted to try this restaurant. Not sure if I would do it again.

4005 Atlantic Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 965-2472

Eat: An American Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pasha Mezze

Pasha Mezze opened its doors in 2003 and is a family owned, Turkish restaurant. It is conveniently tucked away on West 22nd Street in the Palace Station shopping Center in Norfolk.

The decor is very chic but not pretentious in any way. It felt very comfortable and inviting. The layout consists of a main dining area in the front of the restaurant which looks out onto the open kitchen and bar, a separate area in the rear which boasted exposed brick, hardwood floors and comfortable lounge seating, and outdoor seating is also available. We did not have to wait to be seated and were led to the quieter area in the rear of the restaurant.

There were many options on the brunch menu including omelettes, soups, salads and many Pasha signature dishes.

We chose the Turkish style french toast

which was served with whipped cream and strawberry preserves. I read a review that said they were served cold, but they were actually room temperature. They were a bit sweeter than regular french toast but still rather good.

I ordered a cup of the organic red lentil soup which was served with their homemade artisan bread. The soup was hearty and very filling. I've never had red lentil soup and I was interested in trying it and I found the taste to be creamy and very tasty.

I also ordered one of the Pasha signature dishes, the grilled chicken and poached eggs on potato cakes

this is a combination of marinated chicken strips, sauteed baby spinach and onions and mozzarella cheese layered on two potato cakes and topped with two poached eggs and a cream sauce. It may seem like there's a lot going on there but it seemed to all work together in a nice way. It had a very mild flavor and I felt it was seasoned very well. The portion size was extremely generous and as much as I wanted to finish the whole thing, I couldn't.

Pasha is such a cozy and comfortable restaurant. I loved the atmosphere and the service was excellent. Parking is very convenient in the shopping center.

Pasha's entire menu and operating hours can be found on their website.

340 W 22nd Street
Norfolk, VA 23517
(757) 627-1318

Pasha Mezze on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 6, 2010

yNot Pizza

After a morning full of running errands all I wanted to do was sit down and have a nice lunch with my daughter. Instead of the usual takeout I decided to take her to yNot Pizza. yNot is locally owned and one of the better choices for pizza in town.

The Kempsville location is roomy and very comfortable. Once you enter the restaurant you are free to seat yourself at one of the many tables or booths. Since I'm dieting, I had to quiet my conscience by ordering a small garden salad.

Now that my conscience is quiet. I was free to order the pizza!

I ordered a 14" pie with mushrooms, bacon and chicken. The bacon was for my daughter and the chicken was for me. The thin-crust New York style pizza was so fresh tasting and delicious. The chicken was not dry at all but tender and so yummy. Each ingredient complimented the others. It was just a really good pie.
Of course we didn't finish it because we had to order dessert.

yNot has a huge selection of homemade desserts. Cakes, gelato, cookies ... but I come for the chocolate cannoli:

Yes, I'm dieting but I couldn't resist. I have only had one cannoil better and that was in Boston's Little Italy.

My daughter had to have the four-layer carrot cake.

Everything about yNot is fantastic. The people are always friendly. The prices are more than reasonable. yNot offers the following dining options: order online, delivery, carryout and dine-in. I always prefer to dine in. The menu is loaded with Italian specialties and I'm sure one day I'll get around to trying each of them. However, today I was quite satisfied with the pizza.

5257 Providence Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23464
(757) 474-6000

YNot Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finn McCool's Fish House and Tavern

This will have been my second visit to Finn McCool's on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach. The first time I went was right around the time that it opened. I was very impressed with the decor, the service, staff and food. It was definitely a homerun. I would probably classify my second visit as a triple.

The restaurant itself is beautiful. The furnishings and the decoration make for a very comfortable dining exerience. We were sitting close to the bar so it was a little loud but that is to be expected and it wasn't a big deal. It was early Saturday evening and there was no wait to be seated which I really appreciated. Our drink orders were taken immediately.

After the drinks came out we ordered an appetizer:

The crab dip came out and I thought it tasted okay. It is a blend of crab, artichokes, spinach and creamy cheese and served with the house flat bread. It wasn't bad but probably could have used a little more seasoning and a little more actual crab.

As an entree we ordered the crab-topped rockfish and the jumbo shrimp:

The rockfish was fine but I expected to see chunks of crabmeat on top of the fish. Instead I see the same crab dip that I had earlier spread on top of it. That was a little disappointing. I should be clear and state that the menu described it exactly as it came out. I just didn't read it carefully. My fault. I found the potatoes that accompanied the meal to be perfectly seasoned and very tasty.

The jumbo shrimp were okay as well. The rice on the side was bland and slightly overcooked.

Finn McCool's is a nice place in a great location. The servers were friendly, attentive and accomodating. I thought the prices were reasonable and I enjoyed my time there. It wasn't a spectacular dining experience but I would probably go back for drinks and appetizers.

3388 Princess Anne Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23456
(757) 689-0829

Finn McCool's Fish House and Tavern on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Broken Egg Bistro

The Broken Egg Bistro on Kempsville Road in Chesapeake is pretty well known for their breakfasts and lunches. I was pleased to discover that they also have a pretty tempting dinner menu as well.

The Broken Egg Bistro is located in a tiny shopping center on Kempsville Road and I first discovered it while attending Chesapeake Hot Yoga classes, which is located in the same shopping center. I wasn't interested in visiting for breakfast but I was curious about their dinner menu so I checked it out online and then went in for myself on Saturday evening.

Fair warning: Broken Egg Bistro is not a cozy, intimate dinner spot. It's loud and there is a lot of activity. When we arrived I noticed that there appeared to be a wait to be seated, unless we sat at the counter, which is what we did. I always enjoy sitting at the bar because I never leave my server's line of vision. For me, the service at the bar is always good. And this visit was no exception. As soon as we were seated the specials were explained and our drink orders were taken. I had already spied the menu online so I had a really good idea of what I was going to order.

To start, we had the oysters rockefeller ($8)

Six plump oysters served on the 1/2 shell and topped with spinach, garlic and real bacon and then broiled. The oysters tasted really fresh and they weren't at all overwhelmed by the flavor of the toppings. They were prepared perfectly.

In addition to burgers, various chicken, beef and pasta dishes there are also a few house specialties. The etouffee ($14) being one of them:

this big bowl of goodness came out and I suspected that I was in for a treat. It was filled with fresh chicken, jumbo shrimp and smoked surry sausage in a spicy, gumbo style sauce and served over black beans and rice. The dish was just spicy enough to give it a little heat but allowed all the flavors to come through. The shrimp may have been a little overdone but it didn't ruin the dish at all. The portion size was more than adequate, in fact, I had to take it home with me in order to save room for dessert.

I ordered the mini hot apple crumble ($5). I love the fact that this dessert came in a "mini" portion size:

it was served with vanilla ice cream and topped with caramel. It tasted so good and it was the perfect size.

Overall, our experience at the Broken Egg Bistro was a positive one. From what I've seen, it is always busy and the customer's around me seemed to be enjoying themselves. I checked out other dinner plates and large portion sizes seem to be the theme of this restaurant. The prices are very reasonable and our server took very good care of us.

If you haven't tried the Bistro for dinner, I'd certainly give it a shot.

501 Kempsville Road
Chesapeake, VA 23320
(757) 410-8515

The Broken Egg Bistro on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Paradocks Grille

Did you know that Paradocks Grille had a brunch on Sundays? I didn't either.

Paradocks Grille is a casual eatery on Eden Way North in the Greenbrier section of Chesapeake. I've been there several times. Usually when I want something quick and simple . Paradocks' menu is as varied as it is simple. You can get just about anything there: sandwiches, various types of wings


and salads

this is the Santa Fe chicken salad which contains thin strips of chicken breast served over cool greens, tomatoes, shredded cheese and tri-color tortilla strips. It is served with chipotle ranch dressing and garlic cheese toast. I thought it was pretty good.

Paradocks provides plenty of seating in the main dining room, the bar area or outside on the deck. We decided to sit outside and take advantage of the beautiful day. There are flat screens and music from the 80s and 90s is playing on the sound system. It was fun and since we visited on Sunday during brunch I was able to take advantage of the $1.99 mimosas.

The service is always friendly and quick. It's simple, it's casual and a fun place to visit on a Sunday afternoon.

801 Eden Way North
Chesapeake, VA 23320
(757) 321-2202

Paradocks East Coast Grille on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sonoma Wine Bar and Bistro

I've heard plenty of things about Sonoma so I put it on my list of places to visit this summer. I had the opportunity to try it out last night. It's located in the heart of Town Center in Virginia Beach on Central Park Avenue. I showed up at 7:00 p.m. without a reservation and was seated immediately.

The atmosphere in Sonoma is very cozy and exactly what I would expect from a wine bar and bistro except that the noise level was pretty high.

The menu is a combination of steak, seafood and pasta and entrees average about $27. Check the website for brunch and holiday specials.

I ordered the caprese salad to start and as you can tell from the picture it really is a beautifully simple dish. Just tomatoes, mozzarella and basil with a balsamic reduction. The tomatoes were room temperature, which for me makes the salad perfect.

I followed the salad with the "Spring" Salmon.

The fresh Atlantic salmon was served over shitake mushrooms, asparagus and Yukon gold hash. The portion was more than enough and the salmon was cookd perfectly. I really loved it.

My sister ordered the pasta sonoma

Which was prepared with shrimp and scallops sauteed with fire roasted red peppers, zucchini, olives, tomatoes and tossed with feta cheese. She said it was delicious.

Sonoma has a pretty varied wine list with many choices by the glass or bottle. They also feature wine tastings on Wednesdays for $30.

I enjoyed dinner at Sonoma and would recommend it based on the quality of food and the service. It is a bit pricey but I felt that it was worth it. They also provide outdoor seating which I believe would be lovely for a Sunday brunch. Check their website to view the full menu and hours of operation.

189 Central Park Avenue
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
(757) 490-9463

Sonoma Wine Bar & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Surf Rider (Chesapeake)

I have visited Surf Rider on Marina Shores Drive in Virginia Beach several times. I love the atmosphere. It's a great place to have a few cocktails and soak up the sun while enjoying the view of the marina. The service is always friendly and efficient and that is why I continue to go back. So, I was a little surprised to learn that an additional Surf Rider had opened in the Town Place shopping center in Chesapeake. Surprised because, in my opinion what makes Surf Rider enjoyable is its laid back location on the water. How can that be replicated in a shopping center?

The short answer is: it can't.

Surf Rider Chesapeake occupies the space that once belonged to Sterling's. As soon as I walked through the revolving door my expectations increased. The room is large and roomy and filled with many tables and booths and a separate bar area. At first glance it looks like an upscale place. Except for the huge fish hanging on the walls. And the laminated yellow menus -- which is what I expect from Surf Rider -- but somehow this place just didn't feel like my Surf Rider.

After ordering a cocktail I checked out the menu and decided on a cup of she-crab soup ($4.75) and a crabcake ($12.95).

The soup came out almost immediately and as soon as it hit the table I was assaulted by the smell of Old Bay. The taste of the soup was okay but it had the consistency of pudding instead of soup and I had to search for the crab.

The crabcake came with two sides. I ordered green beans and mashed potatoes and gravy. The crabcake itself had practically no filler which was good but it was overcooked. The green beans were limp and had a greasy taste and the potatoes were a little stiff.

I was never disappointed when I left the Marina Shores Surf Rider. It wasn't because the food or the service was better. I don't ever remember being blown away by the food at Marina Shores either. I was never disappointed because I loved the atmosphere. It was relaxing. It was calming. It was fun. I didn't feel any of that in Chesapeake. Frankly, I don't understand putting a place called Surf Rider where there is no surf. Just my opinion.

There were quite a few other patrons in the restaurant while I was there so I may be alone in my opinion. Maybe not.

725 Eden Way #700
Chesapeake, VA 23320
(757) 549-2626

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Press 626

Press 626 is located on West Olney Road in Norfolk where the old Wine House once was. I've driven by it many times and always thought it was an interesting looking building and a great place for a restaurant. After checking out the brunch menu on line I decided to visit on Sunday.

There are seven choices on the brunch menu but Press also offers any of their hot off the "press" sandwiches during brunch. Additionally, brunch cocktails are offered for only $3. Take your choice of mimosa, poinsettia, screwdriver or bloody mary. After reviewing the menu, we decided on the shrimp and grits and the BMT:

the grits were creamy and cheesy and cooked perfectly.

The BMT is basil, mozzarella, pesto and tomato, with a fried egg on toasted sourdough with applewood bacon. It was served with homefries.

Both meals were very good and the only complaint that I could make was that the portion size was a little small. Once I finished my sandwich I was ready to order another one. But I didn't. Instead I had a chocolate, flourless cupcake with ice cream for dessert.

It definitely hit the spot.

Press 626 is a cute place and it was the perfect setting for Sunday brunch. There is plenty of seating available inside and outside on the front porch. The service was fast and friendly and the prices were extremely reasonable. Brunch for two only cost $40, including drinks.

Free parking is available behind the restaurant. Press is open from 11:00 am to 11:00 pm Monday thru Friday, 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Saturday and their Sunday brunch hours are from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm.

626 W. Olney Road

Norfolk, VA 23507

(757) 282-6234

Press626 Café and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pho 79

I read a review about Pho 79 not long ago and I was intrigued. I am not familiar with Vietnamese food or with pho but I was willing to try it out.

The restaurant is located in the Walmart Way Crossing shopping center in Chesapeake. The space is large, clean and gets plenty of light. There are many tables and booths and I was surprised to see a flat screen television tuned to ESPN. Not sure why I was surprised but it just seemed out of place. Anyway, patrons are free to seat themselves and are waited on immediately. There were plenty of customers in the restaurant when I was there for lunch and there seemed to be a steady stream of them coming and going, either to eat-in or take-out.

Here is what I read in the Pho 79 menu: Pho, or Hanoi Beef Soup, has been a staple food item all over Vietnam for centuries. Enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Pho soup is widely regarded as a comfort food, a source of energy for the tired traveler, and to many Pho believers--a cure for whatever ails you.

Pho is eaten with both chopsticks and a spoon in order to get all the delicious broth. I ordered a soup with pho noodles, shrimp and pork loin and spring rolls:
The soup was filled with shrimp and large pieces of pork and plenty of greens. You can't tell by the photo but there was also a substantial amount of noodles in the bowl. I didn't think the small soup would fill me up which is why I also ordered the spring rolls. I was wrong. The soup was hot and hearty. The broth was like nothing I had ever tasted. I enjoyed it so much and I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the entire bowl. The spring rolls were also very filling. They were fresh and filled with shrimp, rice and greens and were served with hoisin sauce. The order comes with two large rolls.

The menu is very diverse and includes Vietnamese sandwiches, rice dishes and many different soups. The menu is divided into sections for beginners and for those that are more experienced, which I found quite helpful.

I enjoyed everything about Pho 79: the location, the people were friendly, all the customers looked happy, the food was delicious and the prices were very reasonable. Pho 79 calls itself The Health Conscious Choice and I have to agree. I definitely recommend it and will be returning.

1445 Sam's Drive
Chesapeake, VA 23320
(757) 547-4800

Pho 79 (Chesapeake) on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Green Onion at Great Neck

The Green Onion has opened up in Great Neck. I’m glad about that because I’ve always wanted to try this restaurant but as you know, I don’t make it to Norfolk as often as I should. I’m doing my best to remedy that.

I visited The Green Onion on a beautiful Saturday afternoon for brunch. It wasn’t that busy so I was seated immediately and chose to sit outside on the patio to take advantage of the day. While outside I was able to watch this young lady painting the patio wall.

They say it looks beautiful in the evenings when the lights hit it.

The brunch menu is varied. It includes, salads, soups, pancakes, steak and eggs and shrimp and grits. There are also many drink options such as bloody marys, mimosas, or a pitcher of pomegranate sangria. I chose to order a turkey and brie sandwich on a croissant with a glass of sauvignon blanc.

The sandwich was served with a generous side of pomme frites (French fries). The sandwich was tasty, piled high with turkey but since brie is so rich I would have used a little less of it on the sandwich. At times the cheese overpowered the turkey. The potatoes were perfectly seasoned and delicious.

I even saved some room for dessert

This beautiful flourless chocolate torte was amazing.

The service at The Green Onion was great. My server, Josh was attentive and friendly.

The Green Onion has nightly features which are worth checking out. On Mondays 10% of all sales go to the Virginia Beach SPCA. Tuesdays is half price wine night and on Wednesdays it’s all you can eat mussels with a glass of their featured wine for only $17. Happy hour is everyday between 2:00 and 6:30.

There have been a few other restaurants in this location that didn’t succeed for whatever reason. I think this is a good location and I believe The Green Onion could make it in Great Neck. I would recommend that you come out and try it for yourself.

1336 N. Great Neck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23454
(757) 248-3474

Green Onion 2 on Urbanspoon