NY-ers in Norfolk/VA Beach next weekend, need recs
My partner and I are headed to Norfolk next weekend to celebrate my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. We're not uppity about our selections, but are definite NY chowhounds and won't settle for my parent's idea of The Grate Steak -- I've been, I know. Ambience should be fairly kid-free (not to mention gay-friendly), entrees between $25-45. Seafood and New American cuisines are preferential to eclectic/sushi/fusion/tapas.
Been reading area reviews all day and have come up with some ideas -- namely, Todd Jurich's Bistro and One-Fish-Two-Fish -- but obviously no research could come close to a local's rec.
So help. Please!
I had an overnight in Norfolk this past week for a business meeting, and found the favorable mentions of Todd Jurich’s Bistro on this board convincing enough to choose it for dinner on Tuesday night. Like the original poster, I have a NYC-area dining background, so I appreciate the comments of the local chowhound community responding to the request for suggestions.
My colleague and I arrived a little before 9 PM. Only a handful of tables were occupied, so we were promptly seated at a table (actually booth) of our choosing. I had scoped out the menu on-line earlier so generally knew the menu. The wine list was comprehensive, with many bottles priced in the serious hundreds of dollars. We selected a more modestly priced bottle and made our food selections.
Food service started with a complimentary amuse bouche, a spoonful of watermelon, plantain chip. It was fresh and crisp, at once stimulating both my taste buds and appetite.
I decided to create my own tasting menu from a selection of small plates:
Fig tarte tatin, with some greens. The fresh figs were good, and the tarte was light, but this plate didn’t make much of an impression. Not recommended.
Pumpkin and crab soup. Nice combination of flavors and spices. Good texture. Somehow hearty and light at the same time. I liked this very much. Recommended.
Truffle ravioli. Very light. I think the waiter said the filling was a combination of cream cheese and chevre. Recommended.
Shrimp creole. Very tasty, but only one shrimp in the whole bowl! I asked the waiter about this and he said usually there’s no more than a couple of them. This seemed strange to me, and the course would have been much more satisfying with a half dozen shrimp rather than one. Not recommended (unless it gets a few more shrimp in it).
And my colleague had:
Heirloom Tomatoes. Ripe and flavorful. Recommended.
BBQ ribs with slaw on the side. Perfectly cooked, tender and seasoned. Although the slaw didn't do much for my friend. Recommended.
Spoon Bread “Hushpuppies.” These weren’t typical hushpuppies, which I do like, and the waiter tried (struggled) to describe them to us ahead of time. We tried them on a lark (since my colleague had never had hushpuppies), but I thought they were kind of mushy. Not recommended.
Service by Ben was excellent. The bill for the two of us before tip was $141, which also included one pre-dinner cocktail (a gin and pineapple juice for me) and a bottle of red wine (a Brunello di Montalcino listed at $75, but less 20% since it was a Tuesday night). All-in-all, a pleasant meal with some very good food. As the other posters commented, top quality food and great service. I’d go back next time if I’m in town for more than a night or two to try some of the other plates.
I had a very nice dinner last Saturday night at One Fish-Two Fish. It has an open kitchen, nice view of marina, tables are spaced nicely, service was good. My she-crab soup was a bit on the cool side; salad was wonderful; entrees were very good; dessert was good but they were out of port to serve. Everyone appeared to be having a nice time. Overall, a very positive dining experience which I plan to repeat in the near future.
The choices depend upon how far you want to go from Norfolk. Assuming you are willing to drive to the Beach from "near Downtown", then, given your parameters, I would steer you towards either One Fish - Two Fish, or Terrapin. Eat at both regularly -- One Fish gets the seafood and setting vote -- beautiful views of the passing boats. Terrapin gets the "New American" vote -- chef owned, formerly of the NY's Le Cirque and Aspen's Sky Hotel. Reservations definitely required, unless you want to sit at the bar (which isn't a bad option, either). Nice elegant decor, but no match for One Fish.
If you want to stay closer to Norfolk, then you can't go wrong with the previous suggestions of Todd's Bistro for New American. For seafood, I would point you towards 456 Fish, close to the other two on Granby. Consistently excellent. One thing you might not have thought to do, is to either drive over, or ride the ferry over to Portsmouth and try either Cafe Europa (definitely NOT New American, but excellent) or Fusion 440 (excellent New American, and an easy walk from the High Street ferry landing)
A new restaurant in the Ghent section of Norfolk (gay-friendly and the heart of the local restaurant scene) is "The Boot" at 123 W. 21st St (757-627-BOOT). They follow the local CSA movement of serving food from local farmers and suppliers. The food is fresh and innovative. I wish I lived closer so I could go more often.
PS - I concur on the recommendation of Bobbywood, a local chef-owned restaurant, Chef Bobby Huber. And, if you're visiting Williamsburg, try the Fat Canary, in Merchant Square on DOG St. (aka, Duke of Gloucester which runs from College of William and Mary to the Colonial Capitol building.)
Signed - north american chow hound and traveler
The Bistro gets incredible reviews. It is really good, but very big--in my opinion, not quite as good as all the hype. Bobbywood is great and a fun place to go. Terrapin at the beach (only been once; food was not fabulous but people certainly love it) and The Lucky Star in Virginia Beach--you don't get the downtown vibe of Bobbywood or the Bistro (it's in a strip mall) but the food is wonderful.
Given your preferences, I would suggest Bobbywood....New American/Seafood plus some regional flavor (a little southern twist) and certainly gay friendly....