Saturday, April 9, 2011

Terebinth - A Sweet Retreat

It all began with a picture of an incredible dessert taken on a camera phone. And it ends with a picture of more incredible desserts taken on a camera phone.

A few months ago a friend of mine showed me a picture on her phone of a dessert that she could not stop raving about. She said it was so delicious she had to take a picture of it. I don't recall what the dessert was but I did remember where she had purchased it: Terebinth.

Terebinth is a high end coffee shop in the Towne Place Center of Chesapeake and what you see above are the desserts that I purchased during a recent visit. We have a lemon meringue tart, a chocolate coconut cake topped with a chocolate truffle and two chocolate cannolis. Yes, two chocolate cannolis. I was fortunate enough to have a buy-one-get-one coupon for the desserts so I decided to splurge.

The shop seems very large with plenty of comfortable seating and the decoration is subtle with sporadic pops of color. Upon entering we were greeted cheerfully by the owner. The menu includes sandwiches, salads and soup in addition to the desserts and various coffee drinks.

We ordered two sandwiches which each came with a side salad, we had a choice of either a house salad, ceasar or pasta:

This is the turkey wild panino. It is filled with smoked turkey, smoked gouda, bacon, an apple reduction and sun dried tomato mayo.

I had the caprese and prosciutto sandwich. This one was prepared with lettuce, tomato, baby spinach, fresh mozzarella and basil drizzled with sundried tomato vinaigrette. The sandwich was delicious and I always love the combination of tomato and mozzarella. The addition of the prosciutto and the vinaigrette just pushed it over the edge. It was fantastic. And it may appear to be a "regular" sized sandwich but it was very filling.

The service was very good and the owner did a great job of twisting my arm in order to get me to buy all those desserts. It was well worth it.

Terebinth is elegant. Smooth jazz fills the room and they offer free wi-fi. Food can be eaten in or taken out. Either way you'll be in for a treat. It is a little pricey so it probably won't be my weekly lunch spot but every time I feel like I deserve a "sweet retreat" I'll know exactly where to go.

Terebinth is open Tuesday thru Saturday. Check their website for other services.

717 Eden Way N

Suite 610

Chesapeake, VA 23320

(757) 410-0900

Terebinth on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 3, 2011

El Gavilan Pupuseria

I decided to try El Gavilan in Norfolk because of the reviews that I had read. For the most part, the reviews were all positive and the word "authentic" seemed to keep creeping up. I generally do not enjoy Mexican restaurants because the menus are all the same and the food is all the same -- boring.

So on a Sunday afternoon I made the trip to have lunch at El Gavilan. This is not the usual Mexican restaurant that I've been to in the past. It's not a chain and it's definitely not fast food. I'll say this now ... the service is comparitively slow but that is because it takes time to actually cook a meal. Not just throw something in the microwave and splash some unidentifiable sauce over it. I believe that El Gavilan's food is the real deal.

The menu is in Spanish and contains all sorts of Mexican and El Salvadorian dishes. They also throw in a few American dishes for the less adventurous. These items include: wings, burgers and steak and cheese.

The restaurant is very modestly decorated and over the front counter hung several signs that said "Welcome to Norfolk". For some reason this made me laugh. Probably because when you're in the restaurant you kind of forget that you are even in Norfolk. The music that played sounded like Spanish hip hop and I couldn't help but move to the beat and try to pick up a few words. One television was tuned to a Spanish-speaking station and the other television had on a soccer game.

The menu is filled with different options but I came for one thing: the pupusa.

The pupusa is the El Salvadorian version of the tortilla only thicker. It's usually stuffed with cheese, beans and/or meat. I ordered the Pupusa Loca (Crazy Pupusa) which is made with cheese, herbs, pork, chicken, shrimp, beans and squash. Initially, I thought the squash sounded weird but it worked out well. The portion size was huge and as you can see it more than covered the plate. It was really delicious. The pupusa does not contain big chunks of ingredients but everything is blended perfectly. It is served with a side of cole slaw which is nothing like I've ever tasted. It was vinegar-based and I believe it was made with oregano. Also very good.

We also ordered the chicken and cheese quesadillas:

Again, huge portions that fill the plate. They were served with guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce an sour cream. Yummy.

El Gavilan is open seven days a week and seems to be a favorite among the local Hispanic community. Which, by the way, is not something I usually see in the "other" Mexican restaurants.

For me, someone who rarely ventures out of the beach, El Gavilan is well worth the drive and deserving of a second trip.

7920 Chesapeake Blvd.

Norfolk, VA 23518

(757) 587-9200

El Gavilan Restaurant & Pupuseria on Urbanspoon