Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Boot

Last night I went to the Boot for the first time in almost a year. I returned (after begging my husband) hoping that the service would be better. It was. Luckily the food was just as good as I had remembered!

For those of you haven't heard of the Boot, it's a ways from Colley down 21st Street, but it's well worth the trip. The menu is Italian inspired but uses mostly local and seasonal ingredients. They have a great selection of VA cheese, wines, and beer as well. (Tuesday is half price bottles of VA wine!)

For starters we got a cheese plate. My one critique is there isn't enough cheese on there, especially when they're all so delicious! We had a soft chevre-type, a medium gouda-type, and a hard cheddar type, all from VA. It came with a cut up Asian pear, honey, peanuts, olives, and homemade zucchini bread. Very good overall.

For my meal I decided to skip out on the full portion of pasta and instead do a salad and a half portion of pasta. Great idea because it let me try more! I had the arugula with dried figs, prosciutto and chevre. It was delicious! For a pasta, I had the shrimp and crab in a creamy tomato sauce over penne. A half-portion of this was great because it is a little heavier, but it was very good. My husband had the black angel hair with calamari, garlic, capers and tomato. It was excellent and so light and fresh. I would definitely recommend either of these plates! My husband also did the half-portion pasta and paired it with a fried oyster and grilled romaine salad which he said was awesome.

Although we didn't stay, another great thing about the Boot is the live music almost every night of the week. It starts around 9pm and includes everything from acoustic rock to blues. 

Cost: $$$ (out of 4)
Ambiance: 2 thumbs up
Deliciousness: 4 out of 5 stars

Boot on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Big Easy

If you want a great, cajun/creole meal in Hampton Roads, The Big Easy is definitely the place to go. This new spot, located where Club Soda used to be on Tazewell Street in downtown Norfolk, has great ambiance with a laid back feel. Upstairs is a bit more formal while the downstairs has a really great mahogany bar with a private room for 10-12 people. It would definitely be a great place to visit when you want to go out to a nice bar without the loud thumping music that tends to rule on Granby Street.

For the menu, the options could be expanded and talking to the manager it sounds like it will be once the kitchen gets a few more cool toys. That doesn't change that what they did offer was excellent and definitely left me a few pounds heavier:)

For seafood, they have plenty of oysters, clams, shrimp, mussels, and crawfish. We had 1 lb. of littleneck clams ($15) and they were delicious (especially the fresh cocktail sauce with lots of horseradish). They also have several hot appetizers which we didn't try but looked delicious (including shrimp and grits, crab and crawfish fritters, red beans and rice to name a few). Salads and soups/gumbo are also an option. I had the fresh greens salad ($6) and the chevre and candied pecans on top made the salad.

For entrees there were about 8 options including pecan crusted catfish, flank steak, jambalaya, and chicken creole pasta ranging from  $14-$19. I had the shrimp and grits entree which was excellent and consisted of 7 oz. of gulf shrimp plus andouille sausage over stone ground grits with a deliciously spicy barbecue sauce topped with fried okra. Amazing. The sauce was a tad spicy on the back end, but the large grained grits really brought it al together. My husband had the pork belly special that came with red beans and rice and sweet potato mash. Also amazing. The pork was so tender and just melted in your mouth.

In case all we had eaten wasn't enough, we had to finish with the beignets. These weren't your normal Cafe du Monde beignets but were about twice the size and served with caramel sauce, honey and vanilla ice cream. I would happily stuff myself silly for these things any day!

For drinks they have a full bar and a few specialty drinks (the ginger margarita, $8, was good but a bit small) plus a decent enough wine list (considering wine and cajun don't really seem like the standard). They say a bloody mary bar to go with Sunday brunch is coming in the future and I will happily return for that!

Overall, The Big Easy is a great new place in downtown Norfolk, which is desperately in need of better reasonably-priced fine dining options. Overall I would give the ambiance 2 thumbs, the food 4.5 forks (out of 5), and the service a 4. Go tonight!

Big Easy Grill & Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon