I was in the Hampton Roads/VA Beach region for work this week. My family and I go down to VA Beach almost every year, but we never spend enough time down there for me to get a good sense of the cuisine. So I took the opportunity this week to finally sample a wide variety of the local food.
Chickahominy House – Soul Food Restaurant, Williamsburg, VA
I carpooled with some co-workers on the ride down early Monday morning. As we were getting close to Richmond, we realized that it was 8 in the morning and we hadn’t eaten any breakfast yet. So we were both scrambling to find something that was convenient and off the highway. My colleague then remembers a little spot off the beaten path that he used to frequent all the time as a child. His family loved Williamsburg, and they would always stop into Chickahominy House for their famous pancakes. Walking in, it’s a very eclectic restaurant; half of the space is an old country store with knick knacks from local artists and the other half are tables and chairs from Grandma’s kitchen. As soon as you sit down, it’s full blown southern hospitality at its finest. Our waitress was one of the kindest and funniest ladies I’ve met; and it didn’t hurt that she kept calling me “sugar”. I had to order their famous pancakes with a side of good ole VA country ham. After a few minutes, what came out were 2 huge buttery pancakes and my country ham. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a huge pancake before, and I think it was cooked and finished off in butter! My cholesterol level was probably not happy with me; but every bite was so fluffy and buttery. I would alternate every few bites with some country ham to get the savory and salty flavors. This was definitely a down home country breakfast and worth the detour.
Margie and Ray’s Seafood Restaurant – Sandbridge, VA
I spent the day in Sandbridge, and unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating. It looked like a monsoon had decided to welcome me in. So after being cooped up in the beach house all day, I really wanted to feast on crabs for dinner; it just made sense to have crabs while out at the beach. We found a local hotspot and decided to grab dinner there. After a few rounds of appetizers, we ordered 2 dozen Maryland blue crabs. I was ready to get Old Bay seasoning all over my fingers! I was disappointed in the size of the crabs though when they came out. It was comparable to the small/medium crabs at Quarterdeck. But putting my disappointment aside, I dug right in. The meat was so sweet and succulent. I loved every bite. Some pieces were harder to get to than others because of the size of the crabs, but it was cooked so well and seasoned perfectly.
Fin – Seafood Restaurant, Newport News, VA
One night, we were looking for a casual but nice place to eat. The attendant at the front desk recommended two places, a seafood and a steak place. I felt like we were on a seafood kick, so why stop the cycle. Fin was located in a really cute commercial and residential square; it reminded me a lot of Reston Town Center in Northern VA. We got a table in their outdoor patio and were able to sit back and take in the scenery with one of the most delicious bottles of Pinot Gris I’ve ever had. Looking over the menu, my eyes were immediately drawn to the seared scallops and the mahi mahi. I get scallops all the time so I decided to try out the mahi mahi. It was served on a bed of rice, green tomato puree and topped with a mango salsa. The fish was seasoned amazingly and cooked so well. Lately, I’ve really enjoyed the mango and fish combination; and again, it worked so well together. My meal was delicious. I do have to admit though, my colleague got the seared scallops and I had dinner envy. If I ever find myself back at Fin, I have to get the scallops.
Zest – New American Cuisine, Sandbridge, VA
I spent my second to the last day back on the beaches of Sandbridge and decided to have one last meal there before coming back out to Newport News. This was a quaint little restaurant right down the street from the beach.
I started off with the New Zealand lamb chops as my appetizer. The three lamb chops were seasoned very well and seared perfectly on the outside. It was a little overcooked, but still pretty tender.
For my main course, I got the grilled tuna, served with mashed potatoes and green beans. The tuna was cooked medium, so still warm red on the inside. The mashed potatoes were too peppery for me, so after taking a bite of that, the black pepper seemed to overpower everything else. But over all, it was a solid lunch.
I was excited to get this opportunity to taste a variety of different cuisine at VA beach. Everything was well worth my time.