We hope you enjoy the Food & Brew Review food diary from our vacation in Virginia Beach.
The Bagel Baker: 1340 N. Great Neck Road, Suite 1248, Virginia Beach, VA 23454
Jerry and I tried several bagels from The Bagel Baker. The soft as butter lox with cream cheese, salty capers, sliced tomato and sharp red onion on a plain open-faced bagel was perfect. The bagel had a crisp outside and chewy inside.
The Italian Breakfast on an everything bagel had a mild, sweet Italian sausage patty, chunks of fresh, sautéed green pepper, marinara sauce, a fried egg, and oozy, melted provolone cheese. The substantial toppings stood up to the garlicky everything bagel.
The Greek Omelet Bagel on an everything bagel had scrambled eggs with spinach, feta, tomatoes, and onion. The omelet was heavily browned and a bit overpowered by the everything bagel; a plain bagel would be our choice next time.
We finished with a slice of the moist, sweet zucchini bread with chopped nuts. We took home a bag of garlic bagel crisps from The Bagel Baker which will go perfectly with several VA cheeses and an olive & sheep’s cheese tapenade we picked up from The Creative Wedge on our trip.
Baker’s Crust: 704 Hilltop North Shopping Center, VA Beach, VA 23451
Jerry and I started with the house-made chips at the Baker’s Crust. Each crispy chip was dusted with grated parmesan and covered in melted mozzarella and bacon. The salty parmesan cheese and bacon complimented the potatoes which were served with a side of Ranch dressing. We enjoyed an O’Conner Great Dismal Black IPA and a Devil’s Backbone Vienna Lager from the bottled beer selection.
The pizzas were baked in a wood fired oven at 900° creating a dark and savory patchwork on the crust. We tried the Fennel Sausage pizza with a house-made fennel and sweet onion sausage, crushed tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, pecorino, and caramelized onions. The onions added a good deal of sweetness, and the cheeses blended toning down the usual sourness of the goat cheese. I am used to the strong licorice flavor of the fennel I grow in my herb garden. The sausage in comparison was quite mild. The thin crust had a nice light char and didn’t overpower the toppings.
We also tried the Portabella and Arugula pizza with bacon added. The gooey mozzarella and Fontana provided that expected stretchy string of cheese with each bite. This was a superb pizza with the earthy, meaty mushrooms, bitter micro-greens, drizzle of olive oil, and freshly ground black pepper. As much as I love bacon, this Baker’s Crust pizza didn’t need it; it stood on its own.
Beach Bagel Bakery: 1544 Laskin Rd #210, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
At the Beach Bagel Bakery, we tried the Nova with cream cheese, capers, and red onion on a plain bagel. They used an overly generous amount of cream cheese and served the bagel sandwich style, not open-faced.
The Spinach & Sausage on an everything bagel had scrambled egg, a sausage patty, spinach, and parmesan cheese. It was surprisingly light in taste. I expected the greens and sausage to come through with a stronger flavor and thought the parmesan would offer more saltiness.
The bagels had the chewy inside that we were looking for. Also the Beach Bagel Bakery menu offered a wide variety of bagel sandwiches. We picked up a whitefish spread, a bag of everything bagels, and a package of cinnamon crisps to take home.
Bella Monte International Marketplace & Café: 1201 Laskin Rd #100, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
We stopped at Bella Monte for lunch. Jerry tried the sandwich of the day with a side of potato salad. The crunchy bread had been grilled in a Panini press, melting the cheddar cheese over the turkey and bacon. The skin-on potatoes were dressed with mayonnaise and sour cream. Celery, onion, and chives added flavor and crunch to the salad.
I had the Bella Monte calamari appetizer. The tender deep fried rings and tentacles were lightly battered. The crispy morsels were enhanced with a squeeze of fresh lemon and the side of marina sauce.
Cinema Café: 758 Independence Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23454
Jerry and I went to see The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at the Cinema Café for the amazing price of $1.50. The Cinema Café features a sea of tables with comfortable roller chairs on multiple levels, a full-service menu, and great programming. During the movie if you need anything, you can sit your menu upright and the wait staff will assist you. We started with a pitcher of English IPA from the St. George Brewing Company and the Love at First Broccoli Bites, a blend of broccoli, cheddar cheese, bacon, and onion. They were breaded, fried golden brown, and served with a sweet honey mustard dipping sauce. Jerry ordered the Greek Gyro. It was came with one thin slice of meat on pita bread with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, onion, and sour cream instead of the tzatziki described in the menu. His battered onion rings were crunchy and piping hot. I had the Philly Cheese steak with American cheese, onions, and green bell peppers on a toasted hoagie with fries. The ice cream sundaes looked delicious, but we just didn’t have room to try them. (We didn’t take pictures of the food at the Cinema Café as it arrived after the movie had started.)
Doc Taylor’s: 207 23rd St, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
At Doc Taylor’s, you can order breakfast or lunch from 7am – 3pm. We decided to start with a bowl of their soup of the day, a Chicken Escarole. Escarole, a member of the chicory family along with endive, has broad, curly green leaves and a slightly bitter flavor. The clear broth was flavored with onions and lots of yummy garlic. It smelled heavenly, and we enjoyed it on the rainy day in front of the restaurant’s fireplace.
I had the Ray Ray, a sandwich with a fried egg, bacon, cheese, grilled parmesan tomatoes on a toasted onion roll. The sliced tomatoes and parmesan had been fried until the cheese created a crisp. I added several dashes of Texas Pete. My side was the red bliss skin-on potatoes with herbs and seasoned salt.
Jerry had Grandma Ellen’s Creamed Chipped Beef over toast. The Texas Toast was smothered in a generous portion of thick, rich gravy.
Doc Taylor’s Bloody Mary’s were mild but a good value for the $1.99 price.
11th Street Taphouse Bar & Grille: 1011 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
On Thursday, the 11th Street Taphouse Happy Hour has ½ price beer on select rotating drafts. Jerry tried Duclaw’s Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, and I had a Beach Brewing Hoptopus Double IPA. We snacked on an order of Pineapple Jalapeno wings with a side of Neptune’s Fury. The pineapple sauce was extremely mild but the intense heat of Neptune’s Fury packed a punch. Our braised rabbit sliders came on three different types of rolls and were topped with pickled onions and a slice of candied ginger.
We wrapped up our visit at the 11th Street Taphouse with pints of Legend’s Brown Ale and Bluegrass Brewery’s Jefferson Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout.
The German Pantry: 5329 E Virginia Beach Blvd # E, Norfolk, VA 23502
Jerry and I love German food. It seems like German restaurants are few and far between, so we were very happy when we heard about The German Pantry. Fortunately there were several tables available when we arrived, and the waitress seated us right away. She brought out a complimentary bowl of pretzels and spicy mustard. I had a question about the beer, and the bartender came over to assist me with my selection of a Dunkel Munich lager. We started with the Pommes Frites appetizer with four dipping sauces. The batter dipped fries were very hot and crunchy. The dilled mayonnaise tasted a bit like Ranch, but the rich, hearty brown gravy with mushrooms was my personal favorite. The Boom Boom sauce was a spicy, creamy, cayenne pepper dip. The forth sauce was a basic, sweet BBQ with a slight smoke flavor.
Our waitress checked on us several times. The service was very good, but the food took quite a while to come out of the kitchen. I had the Schnitzel Holstein with potato pancakes and a green bean salad. The veal had been battered and fried crisp. I had the large portion which was two pieces of veal each covered with a fried egg and capers. The yoke from the over easy to over medium eggs added even more richness to the dish. The silver dollar potato pancakes were seasoned with chives and fried until they had a nice crunchy outside. We asked for sour cream to top them. The chilled green bean salad was amazing, seasoned with dill and a bit of chopped onion, the vinaigrette refreshed the palate and whetted the appetite.
Jerry tried the Roast Pork Lion with mashed potatoes and spatzel. The three slices of pork, topped with a sauce that had a slight bitterness from the beer and a very mild sweetness from honey, were tender but not the point of falling apart. The loin was a bit dry but also had fatty parts. The almost pencil length strands of spatzel were mild, with little flavor and dry. The mashed potatoes however were slightly chunky and had a pleasant almost sour taste from the added horseradish. We took home a piece of the custard filled sponge cake topped with toasted sliced almonds from The German Pantry.
Hearth & Peel Pizza: Food Truck – different locations
We headed to Smartmouth Brewing in Norfolk to listen to the Esoteric Ramblers, as they describe themselves, ‘the beer-bards behind the suds-soaked CD titled Keg of Love’. The Hearth & Peel Pizza, a food truck with a traveling wood fired pizza oven, was serving up what I think is the best pizza in VA Beach. The crust was amazingly thin and perfectly crisp. Their attention to detail with the gourmet toppings made each offering unique. We tried the Short & Stout with short ribs braised in stout and caramelized onions. It was Oh My Gosh wonderful.
The Bulbs & Cloves pizza had roasted garlic, fresh garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, tomatoes, and arugula. The sweet roasted cloves of garlic and creamy cheeses kept us reaching for slice after slice.
We had another chance to indulge in a couple more Hearth & Peel pizzas at the Grand Reopening of Beach Brewing. The Shady Goat with local Shady Farms goat cheese, pancetta, roasted red peppers, and basil was outstanding in both quality and taste.
These bearded pizza gods had also created a fun PB&J pizza with chopped peanuts, jalapenos, strawberry jam, and bacon that surprised us with its balanced flavors.
Pocahontas: 3420 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Jerry and I strolled along the boardwalk from 14th to 35th Street, stopping at the Old Coast Guard Station museum along the way. We had breakfast for lunch at Pocahontas. Jerry ordered the pecan waffle topped with chopped nuts and whipped cream and a side of hash.
I had a stack of fluffy pecan pancakes and home fries.
I added a little hot sauce and ketchup to the home fries, and they were very good.
If you are in the area, stop by Pocahontas to see the décor. It’s something else.
Route 58 Delicatessen: 4000 Virginia Beach Blvd, Suite 156, Virginia Beach, Virginia 23452
After a fantastic morning at the Virginia Aquarium where we got to watch the sea turtles, we had a late lunch at the Route 58 Deli. Jerry tried a Brooklyn style Egg Cream with Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrup, milk, and seltzer. I had never heard of one of the items on their Noshes and Nibbles menu and wanted to taste the Stuffed Derma with brown gravy. It was a mild grain sausage, fried crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.
We split an order of Jersey Gravy Fries as a side with our sandwiches. The crinkle cut fries were tossed in rich brown gravy. I added a bit more salt, and we finished them all.
I ordered one of the Mile High sandwiches, the Super Reuben with corned beef, pastrami, grilled rye bread, melted Swiss, sauerkraut and homemade Russian dressing. They don’t lie; these sandwiches are huge, and we took home half of ours.
Jerry had the Tongue (tip) sandwich cold on rye with spicy mustard. All of the meats used in the Route 58 Deli sandwiches were tender and lean.
We picked out a slice each of the Carnegie Deli plain and chocolate cheesecakes from the revolving bakery case to take with us for later.
Taste Unlimited: 36th Street & Pacific Avenue, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
Taste Unlimited offers homemade gelato, local draft beer, and many local food products. We picked up a pint of their sea salt caramel gelato. The rich golden caramel was brought further to life by the sea salt. The velvety, sinfully smooth gelato was absolute heaven. I tasted the saltiness first, but that was rushed away by the sweetness of the caramel. This gelato was a perfect example of simple flavors done extremely well. We relaxed at the bar with pints of Night Vision Stout by Young Veterans Brewing and Rule G IPA by Smartmouth. We bought several local items from Taste to take home for gifts: Chesapeake Bay Crab Peanuts, Beach Crunch Snack Mix, and pepper bacon traditionally cured by S. Wallace Edward & Sons.
Woody McGees Barstro: 4356 Holland Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23452
We enjoyed Sunday brunch at Woody McGees. We started with a bowl of She Crab Soup. The rich creamy soup was loaded with large chunks of crab meat, a hint of sherry, and dusted with Old Bay seasoning.
Woody’s features a Bloody Mary bar on the weekend with your choice of regular, bacon or pepper vodka. They offer multiple mixes including a spicy house made and three local mixes from the Ashburn Sauce Company (Sassy Mary, Clammy Mary, and Crabby Mary). Mary’s can be seasoned to taste with Old Bay, celery salt, lemon & lime wedges, and horseradish. Garnishes for the Mary include pickled carrots & cauliflower, pepperoncini, celery, and olives stuffed with jalapenos, garlic, and feta.
Jerry ordered The Big Nasty, a boneless fried chicken breast on a house made biscuit with gravy. The biscuit was surrounded by a lake of peppery sausage gravy. Jumbo is an understatement for the size of the flaky fresh baked biscuit. The tender, moist chicken had a wonderfully crunchy crust.
I had the Seafood Omelet with Rye Toast and Corned Beef Hash. There was a nice salt and butter flavor to the egg. The whole, tender shrimp and crab were covered with a nutty, buttery Jarlsberg cheese. Woody’s makes their own hash with a brined corned beef adding a slightly pickled flavor to the crisply fried side dish.
As an FYI if you want to pick up some of the local Bloody Mary mix, you can find it at the VA ABC stores.
In addition to the Beach Brewing and Smartmouth Brewing companies that I mentioned above, be sure to stop by O’Connor Brewing (Norfolk) and Young Veteran’s Brewing (VA Beach) for a pint or a sampler.