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Welcome to the Mystery Diner Archive Pages.  Below are reviews of the various Northern Neck Restaurants and eateries visited by the NorthernNeck.com Mystery Diner.  If you have comments or suggested places the Mystery Diner should review, please send an email with your recommendations to the MYSTERY DINER.

 Enjoy the feast of reviews below:


Horn Harbor Seafood Restaurant

 

836 Horn Harbor Rd

Burgess, Va. 22432

 

(804) 453-3351

 

October 30, 2008

 

 

Having lived in the area for many years, we were very familiar with Horn Harbor.  It has been an icon in the Northern Neck for so long.  I’m sure you’ve spent at least one night waiting on the front porch for seating.  It always seemed remote to me …being so far off the beaten path, but people nevertheless find it in droves.  Located on the Great Wicomico River, with a small marina and camp ground, it is very picturesque.  Our friends and neighbors have been talking about the new ownership of this old favorite and how good it is. So on this Halloween eve, wanting an excuse not to cook, we decided to give these new comers a try.   As our evening progressed, we asked about the new owners to learn they are sisters and no rookies to the restaurant business or this area. 

 

The interior seems much the same, with a large open dining room on the main level and a smaller more intimate dining area down stairs in the lounge area.  Unlike before, the same menu is served upstairs and downstairs.  There is also al fresco dining overlooking the marina, but this evening was a bit too cool for that.  We’ll enjoy outside, but probably not until the spring, unfortunately.  Since I personally think that ambiance is a large part of the dining experience, we chose a cozy table in the lounge area overlooking the river and watched the sunset as we enjoyed our meal.

 

Our waitress was very knowledgeable and extremely friendly.  She was there for us all night without hovering.  Her bright and cheerful personality just added the finishing touch to a lovely evening.  As we enjoyed our cocktails and Calamari appetizer, she went through the “specials” of the evening.  When she got to soft shell crab, I was hooked (no pun intended). The menu is more creative than most seafood restaurants in the area, and we found some old favorites we haven’t seen in a while …like Seafood Au Gratin.   My husband was unsure what he was in the mood for and asked several questions about the menu selections and their preparation.   With some gentle nudging from our waitress, he finally settled on Seafood Norfolk Style with scallops, crabmeat and shrimp.   Our meal came with a salad that was cold, fresh and crisp.   We found the food to be prepared just right and the portions large …less than half way through our meal we were more than full.

 

All in all, it was a delightful experience and we highly recommend you give the new Horn Harbor a try.  Just remember to come hungry, expect to wait for a table on the weekends, and know you will take home a doggie bag. 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

Our rating, out of a possible 10, is:  8    (in the casual dining category)

Our ratings are based on the entire dining experience – ambience, service, and food

 

Cost:  $$$  (possible $$$$)

 

 

To view the restaurants menu, click HERE

 

Note to our readers:

 

Restaurant reviews represent the views of the reviewers only.  We base our reviews on the whole dining experience including ambience (décor, seating comfort and layout, overall feel), service (wait staff appearance, demeanor, knowledge of the menu – including wine list, knowledge about preparation techniques of menu items) and food (taste, presentation, quality, quantity, originality).  Please do not compare ratings across categories.  Ratings represent a comparison to restaurants in the local area within the same category.  While we try to be as objective as possible, by their very nature there is a large subjective component.


 

 

Tommy’s Restaurant

 

729 Main Street

Reedville, VA  22539

(804) 435-4666

 

September 26, 2008

 

 

 

Tommy’s has become a landmark on Reedville’s charming and Victorian Main Street.  My wife and I set out early after a day of watching political posturing and dire warnings about the global economy hoping to be home in time for the presidential debate.  We really needed a break!  We arrived before six and the restaurant was basically empty so we were surprised when the hostess asked if we had reservations.  I thought …sure.  After some conversation with other staff they found a table for us.  Boy was my initial assumption wrong.  Within an hour the place was packed!

 

Tommy’s has one of the few water view dining rooms in the Neck   …and what a view it is.  The restaurant is large with three very different dining rooms and a bar.  We were seated in the “enclosed porch” dining room with a spectacular Cockrell Creek view; beautiful even on this rainy evening.

 

Tommy’s has a small but well selected wine list and a fairly “typical” menu for the area featuring a good selection of appetizers, salads, steaks, seafood and various other meats.

 

Service was excellent   …knowledgeable, prompt and courteous.  We were offered a sample from a local winery …a mini focus group.  They were assessing customer reaction in anticipation of adding the wine to their list.  It was a nice touch as was Chef Tommy’s roam through the restaurant greeting his guests.

 

 We had a glass of Heron Pinot Noir.  Light and well made.  A very acceptable house wine ...worth a try.  We selected Crab & Spinach Dip from the appetizer menu.  A large portion, more than ample for two, with a hint of heat; fairly typical and quite good.  I ordered Fried Scallops and my wife Flounder Imperial.  The Scallops were large U-10’s and very tender.  The Flounder Imperial, again a typical recipe with bell pepper and a bit of heat, was well done and enough for two.

 

We had a great time at Tommy’s.  Excellent service, terrific ambience, and really good food.  We highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

Our rating, out of a possible 10, is:  7++    (in the fine dining category)

Our ratings are based on the entire dining experience – ambience, service, and food

 

Cost:  enter $$$  (possible $$$$)

 

 

To view the restaurants menu, click HERE

 

 

Note to our readers:

 

Restaurant reviews represent the views of the reviewers only.  We base our reviews on the whole dining experience including ambience (décor, seating comfort and layout, overall feel), service (wait staff appearance, demeanor, knowledge of the menu – including wine list, knowledge about preparation techniques of menu items) and food (taste, presentation, quality, quantity, originality).  Please do not compare ratings across categories.  Ratings represent a comparison to restaurants in the local area within the same category.  While we try to be as objective as possible, by their very nature there is a large subjective component.

 


Buenos Nachos       website, click HERE

  

45 S Main Street

Kilmarnock, VA  22482

(804) 435-6262

 

July 22, 2008

 

                                                        

 

 

Fun!  Al fresco dining, a large Mexican menu, friendly prompt service and tempting “bebidas” are a trademark of this Main Street, Kilmarnock restaurant.

 

Buenos Nachos’ menu is typical TEX-MEX with a few twists unique to the area.  My wife and I shared cream cheese stuffed Chili Rellenos as a starter.  They were fun and well done.  Not being particularly adventuresome, I ordered Buffalo Chicken Strips.  The portion was more than ample, the sauce moderately spicy, and the chicken tender.  My wife tried Kilmarnock Quesadilla …a flour tortilla stuffed with crab, shrimp, and a blend of cheeses pan fried.  A pleasant twist on a Mexican favorite.

 

All-in-all Buenos Nachos was a pleasant surprise.  The décor is well done, service is good, and the food is …well typical TEX-MEX with an enjoyable twist!  The outdoor dining looked very festive, but on this very hot night we opted for air conditioning.  I’m sure our next trip will be timed for the outdoors!!!

 

 

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

Our rating, out of a possible 10, is:   7   (in the casual dining category)

Our ratings are based on the entire dining experience – ambience, service, and food

 

Cost $$ (possible $$$$)

 

 

To view the restaurant’s menu, click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

Note to our readers:

 

Restaurant reviews represent the views of the reviewers only.  We base our reviews on the whole dining experience including ambience (décor, seating comfort and layout, overall feel), service (wait staff appearance, demeanor, knowledge of the menu – including wine list, knowledge about preparation techniques of menu items) and food (taste, presentation, quality, quantity, originality).  Please do not compare ratings across categories.  Ratings represent a comparison to restaurants in the local area within the same category.  While we try to be as objective as possible, by their very nature there is a large subjective component.

 


The Tides Inn

Chesapeake Club

 

480 King Charter Drive

Irvington, Va.

 

(804) 438-5222

 

June 14, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our daughter was in town visiting from Maine and it was her birthday.  She remembered such fun in the past at the Tides Inn and wanted to go there for her birthday dinner.  It was a perfect night and we chose to be seated outside in the patio area.  The restaurant was lively and busy but the staff was amazingly accommodating.  The Tides hires foreign exchange students in the summer; our waitress was from Russia.  Her English was perfect and she was very knowledgeable about the menu.  She was attentive without being overbearing and helped to make the overall experience very pleasant.

 

The Tides Inn has an extensive wine list, probably the best in the area.  We chose a Puligny-Montrachet by Louis Latour.  Montrachets are pricy, but Louis Latour does a great job at a very reasonable price. 

 

We started our meal with Oysters on the Half Shell and Ahi Tuna and Roasted Beet Tartare.  The oysters were small but very fresh.  Ahi Tuna and Roasted Beet Tartare is beautiful combination of flavors and textures   …it’s a must try!  The starter portions were generous enough that all three of us enjoyed a good sampling of two wonderful appetizers.   

 

My husband chose the Pan Seared Diver Scallops for his main course, our daughter couldn’t resist the Crab Cakes and the Panneed Bay Flounder was my choice.  We each (naturally) had to have a taste off each other’s main course and I must say I’m not sure who got the better meal.  The scallops, accompanied by a delightful corn pudding served atop a fried green tomato slice, were perfectly prepared (ask for them rare) and sweet.  The Panneed Bay Flounder consisted of several fillets perfectly cooked and accompanied by a generous portion of baked crab imperial.  The crab cakes were served with lemon buerre blanc, white cheddar grits and veggies   …very respectable.

 

As we enjoyed our delicious meal and the spectacular sunset over the Rappahannock and Carters Creek ,  our wine bottle eventually emptied but it was an easy fix.  This time we chose Folie a Deux “Menage a Trois” …a California blend of Chardonnay, Moscato, and Chennin Blancglasses.  This inexpensive white paired perfectly with our food.

 

 We relaxed and laughed.  Our daughter said it was the best birthday she has ever had.  Just before leaving, our waitress presented Frankie with her own personal birthday cake that, I’m sorry to say, she didn’t share with me.  It appeared to be a chocolate egg filled with whipped cream and custard  …a work of art.  She enjoyed every bite of it.  They spared us the singing,  just a quiet “Happy Birthday”. 

 

After dinner, all of us pleasantly satisfied, we took a walk around the grounds before going home.  The “Miss Ann” was all lit up and people were buzzing around it.  A private party we assume, just adding to the atmosphere of a magical night.  If you’ve never experienced this exciting resort, you owe it to your self to give it a try.  Just remember, it’s a little dressier that most places around the Northern Neck, so leave the shorts and jeans behind when making your plans.  We highly recommend you make a reservation.

There are several other eateries connected to the resort and we’ll try them all over the course of time and let you know.   I suspect they’re all delicious. 

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 

 

Our rating, out of a possible 10, is:   10   (in the Fine Dining category)

Our ratings are based on the entire dining experience – ambience, service, and food

 

Cost:  $$$$   (possible $$$$)

 

 

To view the restaurants menu, click HERE

 

 

 

Note to our readers:

 

Restaurant reviews represent the views of the reviewers only.  We base our reviews on the whole dining experience including ambience (décor, seating comfort and layout, overall feel), service (wait staff appearance, demeanor, knowledge of the menu – including wine list, knowledge about preparation techniques of menu items) and food (taste, presentation, quality, quantity, originality).  Please do not compare ratings across categories.  Ratings represent a comparison to restaurants in the local area within the same category.  While we try to be as objective as possible, by their very nature there is a large subjective component.  If you have a comment to make or an opinion to share, please feel free to contact The Mystery Diner.  We may even publish it if content is appropriate.

 


Lancaster Tavern

8373 Mary Ball Road
Lancaster, VA
(804) 462-0080

June 9, 2008 

 

Welcome to Lancaster Tavern, circa 1750, in the heart of old Lancaster Virginia.  True to its heritage, the Tavern has the look and feel of an early American eatery.  The restaurant is open for dinner Friday through Monday, 5 to 7 p.m.   …so if you’re looking for a restaurant that’s open on Sunday or Monday evening, Lancaster Tavern may be the place.

 

Our visit was on a Monday evening and we pretty much had our choice of tables.  The main dining room is spacious and comfortable with a tasteful colonial décor and wide pine flooring.  We opted for the newly renovated side porch with a pleasant view of the surrounding area, and a soon to be open bar.

 

Our server promptly greeted us, handed us menus and took drink orders   …no alcohol yet, but promised by the weekend.  The menu was a familiar one with a wide variety of appetizers, entrees, and salads   …crab balls, wings, steamed shrimp, etc. for starters;

ribs, pork chops, chicken, fish, oysters, hamburger steak, sirloin strip, and …for mains.  We shared an order of wings.  They were unusually good.  I ordered fried oysters as did one of my companions.  They were plump, very fresh and crisp.  Very respectable!  Another companion ordered their stuffed flounder special.  Presentation was perfect and packed with crab meat.  All in all, were very pleased with our meal, the ambience and service.  We’ll definitely return   …especially on a Sunday or Monday when most other restaurants are closed in the Neck.

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

   

 

 

 

Our rating, out of a possible 10, is:   7+  (in the Family Dining category)

Our ratings are based on the entire dining experience – ambience, service, and food

To see a description of our categories, click HERE or on the category above.

 

Cost:  $$  (possible $$$$)

 

 

To view the restaurant's menu, click HERE

 

 

Note to our readers:

 

Restaurant reviews represent the views of the reviewers only.  We base our reviews on the whole dining experience including ambience (décor, seating comfort and layout, overall feel), service (wait staff appearance, demeanor, knowledge of the menu – including wine list, knowledge about preparation techniques of menu items) and food (taste, presentation, quality, quantity, originality).  Please do not compare ratings across categories.  Ratings represent a comparison to restaurants in the local area within the same category.  While we try to be as objective as possible, by their very nature there is a large subjective component.  If you have a comment to make or an opinion to share, please feel free to contact The Mystery Diner.  We may even publish it if content is appropriate.


Great Fortune Chinese Restaurant

459-D North Main Street
Kilmarnock, Va. 22582
(804)
435-6333

 

March 17, 2008

Some dinners just call for comfortable and familiar surroundings and for my husband and I that means Great Fortune Chinese Restaurant.  We can count on them to be open (be sure to notice their winter hours) and we can count on them welcoming us as though we are family.  This night was no exception.  Great Fortune is located in the Chesapeake Commons Shopping Center on North Main Street.   I can’t remember them not being there in all our years in the area.  They always seem to have a respectable crowd and the atmosphere is upbeat and lively. 

I think over the years we’ve tried everything on their dinner menu and have never had a disappointing meal.  The staff is attentive, but not overbearing, and they always have good menu suggestions.  This night we started with the Crispy Scallion Pancake to share.  My husband chose the House Special Pan Fried Noodles and, you know me, I had to have the Shrimp and Scallions (Hunan style).  Both meals were served piping hot and delicious.  The portions are large; so we always leave with food for our K9.

I think of Chinese food as one of America’s comfort foods and this restaurant really fit the bill on a blistery March night.   If your evening calls for good service, consistently good food, and probably running into a neighbor and/or friends, we recommend you give this fun little jewel a try. 

Bon Appétit

 

Our rating:   (Category – Family Dining)   7 (out of possible 10)

Our ratings are based on the entire dining experience - ambiance, service and food      

Cost:  $$ (possible $$$$)

To view the Great Fortune Menu click HERE

 


White Stone Wine & Cheese  [website]

572 Rappahannock Drive

White Stone, VA  22578

 

(804) 435-2000

 


 

 

January 18, 2008

 

Looking for a different dining experience in the Northern Neck?  Consider White Stone Wine and Cheese   …especially on a Friday night.

 

By day it’s a wine, sandwich and gourmet food shop; by night a lively American Bistro. 

 

My wife and I have been buying wine and specialty foods at the White Stone Wine & Cheese for years.  We knew they served dinner and, we thought, had a Friday evening wine tasting.  So, looking for a different experience, we decided to check it out.

 

For a cold Friday evening, the crowd was adequate, lively and a lot of fun.  The wine tasting was reminicent of a casual wine bar offering generous amounts of chardonnay, cabernet, and syrah …with refills; and plenty of brie, French bread, and salami.

 

White Stone Wine & Cheese has a surprisingly large and varied menu.  Since we needed plenty of time to study it, we ordered a bottle of Amber Knolls Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.  The wine was a very respectable cab and a great value at $30 (they charge the wine shop price …a great deal).  My wife ordered Chesapeake Bay Flounder Mennier served with a delightful cole slaw and ginger rice pilaf.  The flounder was generously sized and cooked perfectly.  The rice pilaf was unique and tasty.  (Click on the link below for a copy of the recipe courtesy of Bruce Watson, chef and owner.)  I ordered Lobster Cannelloni.  A great flavor, but a little over cooked.

 

All in all, we had a delightful evening of good conversation, wine and food.  What more could you ask for!  Give White Stone Wine & Cheese a try   ….especially on a Friday evening.

 

Bon Appetite!

 

Our rating:      (category – fine dining)    8  (…possible 10)

Our ratings are based on the whole dining experience: staff, ambience, and food.

Cost:  $$$ (…possible $$$$)

 

Click HERE for a copy of the rice Pilaf recipe.

 

To view the White Stone Wine & Cheese menu, Click HERE.

 


The Alley Café

53 Cralle Street  [map]

Kilmarnock, Va.

 

(804) 436-1100

 

       

  

 

 

 My husband and I decided to give ourselves a special treat yesterday and go out to lunch for a change.  After looking over the list of restaurants open in the middle of the day, we chose the Alley Café .  We had not been there since it changed hands years ago.  We were very pleasantly surprised.  The rooms were decorated in a Route 66 motif with lots of 50’s and 60’s memorabilia. Even the music playing was from that era. The facility was clean, attractive and very crowded.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and the staff was attentive even given how busy they were.

My husband chose the hamburger with French fries and I finally settled on a chicken salad cold plate.  His meal came cooked just as he had asked and they even got the condiments correct.  They brought him a little dish of cold slaw that he thoroughly enjoyed and I must admit I tried the fries.  Very tasty.  They dip them in some kind of batter before deep-frying (as if the potatoes and oil are not bad enough).  My chicken salad came with a boiled egg, slices of beets, tomatoes, American cheese, and potato salad.  It was a very satisfying lunch and the atmosphere made the entire experience very enjoyable. 

The staff was happy to give us a copy of their menu.  We have scanned it and, hopefully, can make it readable enough for this article. 

For what it is, a family eatery, it is an added asset to the Kilmarnock area.  I’m sure we’ll be returning when we get another attack of the middle of the day munchies.   

Bon Appetite!

 

Our rating        Category – Family dining – 7  (….possible 10)

                       Cost - $                               (….possible $$$$)

To view The Alley Café menu, click HERE  […sorry about the quality, we didn’t have much to work with]


 

La Brasserie Americaine  - website, click HERE

238 North Main Street - map

Kilmarnock, VA  22482

 

(804) 435-8760

 

 

 

 

October 23, 2007

 

La Brasserie Americaine is now open in the old Thai Pot building on North Main Street.  An authentic French restaurant in Kilmarnock?  My wife and I decided to find out.

 

We were greeted at the door by the maître d' advising us that the State had not yet issued their ABC license.  Well, …while we enjoy a bottle of wine with a fine meal, we decided not to let that deter us.  We were promptly seated in the cozy, yet sophisticated dining room, offered bottled water, menus, and a serving of bread.

 

As we studied the menu, we, of course, had questions.  Our waiter, and the owner’s son, was extremely knowledgeable and very helpful.  After a few moments, the chef/owner Abel Anaya, visited our table and offered to answer any other questions we had.  We had several, but not really related to the menu.  We were curious to hear his story and ask him:  Why a French Restaurant in the Northern Neck?  Chef Abel is a native Puerto Rican and son of a cardiologist.  He developed his love for cooking and entraining from his dad. His search for a more formal culinary education, and a job, took him to New Orleans.   Chef Abel was a chef in The Court of Two Sisters in New Orleans, recruited by Sheraton Hotels, served briefly as a chef at La Petite France in Richmond and the Trick Dog in Irvington.  He told us that his vision for La Brasserie Americaine is to offer the simple French classics in a comfortable brasserie setting.  Well, after studying the menu, he indeed offers the French classics, but they are anything but simple!

 

My wife, of course, was immediately drawn to the Hudson Valley Foie Gras from the “Premier Plats” menu;  I ordered the cheese assortment.  The Foie Gras was perfectly seared with poached pear and duck glaze; and delicious.  The Assiette De Fromages were from a Wisconsin artisan cheese maker and very pleasant.

 

My wife selected Coquille St. Jacques as her main course.  They were well prepared and presented.  I chose Flounder Saute Meuniere.  It was beautifully prepared, presented, ample, and luscious.

 

It’s fair to say La Brasserie exceeded our expectations.  We hope they’ll be around for a long time for us to enjoy.  Give them a try!

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 

Our rating:      Category – fine dining:  9  […possible 10]

                        Cost:  $$$    […possible $$$$]

 

To view La Brasserie Americaine’s Menu, click HERE

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

The Pilot House Restaurant

2737 Greys Point Road  [map]

Topping, VA

 

(804)758-2262

 

  

 

October 12, 2007

 

While not formally in the Neck, the Pilot house is just over the White Stone Bridge at Hummel Field in Topping.  The restaurant is nostalgic for me since I made my first solo flight to Hummel some 36 years ago.  I can still remember eating a crab cake sandwich and looking for someone to sign my log book.

 

The Pilot House has been serving up their famous seafood buffet on Friday and Saturday nights for at least 35 years.  My wife is a seafood lover, but I never had the nerve to take her to experience the Pilot House’s assortment of fried food. Well, I thought, nothing ventured nothing gained, so we headed out on this Friday night to give it a try.

 

To my amazement nothing changed except some fresh paint.  The restaurant is large with multiple dining rooms.  Nothing fancy, but clean and set-up to feed a lot of people.  The food was exactly as I remembered it: fried oysters, fried scallops, fried shrimp, fried chicken, fried crab balls, hush puppies, steamed shrimp, crab legs, a large salad bar, a desert bar plus a lot more.

 

My favorite has always been the fried oysters, dusted in cracker meal and fried to perfection   …assuming you get them when they bring out a fresh batch.  If you’re like me, you have to try it all, so be prepared to stay awhile and leave way over-fed.  I doubt the Pilot House would make my wife’s favorite list, but she did enjoy the oysters, steamed shrimp, and crab legs; and helped me enjoy a little of my nostalgic past.

 

If you like seafood, especially fried, are really hungry, and enjoy comfort food from time- to-time; give this regional landmark a try. 

 

I can’t speak to the regular menu, but the buffet is a little expensive at around $25, but you can certainly get your moneys worth!

 

 

Our rating:  Category – Family Dining:  8   […possible 10]

 

Cost for the buffet:  $$$  [$$$$]

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

CarWash Café and Catering

In the Shell Station

481 North Main Street  [map]

Kilmarnock, Va. 22482

 

(804) 435-0405

 

 

 

 

September 26, 2007

 

Who would have dreamed you could be served gourmet food inside a working service station and car wash?  Well, it’s happening on North Main Street in Kilmarnock inside the Shell station and car wash.  And the people are flocking there for wonderful breakfast and lunch fare.  The moment you enter, you’re greeted by the station/CarWash/café owner/”head dishwasher”,  Susan Hill.   She moved from Monterey, Va. to Kilmarnock about 22 years ago and leased the car wash as her business.  When the property became available, she bought it and decided to replace the existing convenience store with a good eatery.  And about 7 months ago, Kilmarnock became host to one of the most unusual restaurants anywhere. 

 

When we walked into the café, we were told to “just sit anywhere” by the friendly and happy staff.  The place was buzzing with conversation coming from tables full of  business people and locals enjoying huge portions of wonderful  looking food. The décor is simple but inviting with prints of Ansel Adams photography dotting the walls. 

 

Our server was Donna.  She was attentive without being overbearing and our iced tea was on the table almost before we finished ordering it.  My husband chose the Oyster Po  Boy sandwich with Shoestring Fries on her recommendation; and I indulged in the Cobb Salad with Green Goddess dressing.  The dressing was a delight and the salad crisp, fresh and delicious.  The head chef, Alex Crib works with such skill, you would think she’s been at it for years.  Actually, she’s fairly new to the job,  and makes it look so easy.  My husband’s lunch was cooked to perfection and enjoyed by him to the fullest.

 

Our experience was delightful and I’m sure we will be returning there many, many times.  If you haven’t tried the CarWash Café yet, you owe it to yourself.   

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

Our rating:  Category – Family Dining:   9   […possible 10]

Cost:  $$   […possible $$$$]

To view CarWash Café’s menu, click HERE

 


 

Fairport Marina Restaurant
252 Polly Cove Road  [map]
Reedville, VA  22539

(804) 453-5002

 

August 30, 2007

I’ve always wondered why there were not an abundance of waterfront restaurants in this beautiful Chesapeake Bay region.

Determined to find one on this near perfect August morning, my wife and I got in the boat and headed north up the bay to Reedville and the Great Wicomico River.

We stopped at the main dock in Reedville, walked up Main Street and found absolutely nothing open.  Fortunately, my wife stopped to admire one of the grand old Victorian  houses that line Main Street and struck up a conversation with the home owner who was busily tending her magnificent yard.  She suggested that we give Fairport Marina Restaurant, better know to the locals as Roy’s, a try.

We thanked her, hopped in the boat and made our way there in a few minutes.

The restaurant is rustic, to say the least; but judging by the crowd, popular.  The lunch menu is mostly sandwiches, a few cold plates and shrimp.  They tout the soft crab and crab cake sandwiches, but we passed in favor of the shrimp salad cold plate and chicken finger sandwich with onion rings.  My wife reported the shrimp salad more than adequate.  The chicken finger sandwich and onion rings were, well, greasy but somehow they hit the spot …so much for healthy eating.

All in all, a very pleasant lunch and terrific leisurely ride up the bay and back.  We highly recommend finding a calm day and searching for waterfront eateries.

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 Our rating:  Category – casual dining (very):  5 […possible 10]

Cost:   $  [possible $$$$]

To view Roy’s menu, click  HERE 

For location by water, click HERE

 


 

Swank’s on Main  [website]                                                                               
36 North Main Street  [map]
Kilmarnock, VA  23482

(804) 436-1010

 

 

 

August 7, 2007

 

Seeking a cool and relaxed dinner on this hottest day of the year, my wife and I headed for Swank’s on Main.

 

Swank’s is one of our favorite local eateries.  The décor is sophisticated; reminiscent of a New York or Washington fine restaurant.  The staff is professional, knowledgeable, and very attentive.

 

Our server for the evening was Tyrus; a pleasant and attentive young man.  I questioned him about the wine list, and was pleasantly surprised with his knowledge   …he even offered us a few samples.  Swank’s has a terrific wine list.  Most major varietals and growing regions are well represented and are reasonably priced.  We selected a Haunt Medoc, Chateau D’ Arcins 2003.  The wine was typical Bordeaux and a great value at $25.

 

We began our meal with grilled tuna bites.  They were perfectly cooked with an oriental soy-sesame oil sauce served over cabbage slaw.  My wife ordered one of the evening’s specials: blackened Mahi-Mahi served over a spicy cabbage cooked with pancetta.  A few minutes after placing our order, the Chef personally visited our table to question my wife about preparation of her Mahi.  The dish arrived magnificently prepared and fully met her expectations.  I ordered Veal Paillard served with sautéed spinach and Gruyere potato gratin.  The veal scaloppine was perfectly pan fried, crisp, and tender. Excellent!

 

Swank’s is a lively spot with a well dressed, seemingly affluent, clientele.  It is always full so reservations are a must!

 

The restaurant is expensive; but considering the quality, ambience, and large portions, we feel it is a very good value   …especially the wines.

 

Bon Appetite!

 

 

Our Rating:  Category – fine dining:  9.5 [...possible 10]  

                     Cost:    $$$  [...possible $$$]

 

 

See other’s comments …and add your own by clicking  HERE

 

To view Swank’s menu, click  HERE

 


The Tavern
Rice’s Hotel/Hughletts Tavern      [website]
73 Monument Place   [map]
Heathsville, VA  22473
(804) 580-7900

 

March 16, 2007

The Tavern Restaurant is located in historic Rice’s Hotel/Hughlett’s Tavern just behind the Northumberland County Courthouse in Heathsville.  The structure dates from 1795 and many think much earlier.  The Tavern has the look and feel of a Colonial Williamsburg restaurant and makes the perfect setting for a relaxed romantic dining experience.

Chef Branden Levine is a culinary artist.  His ever changing menu is small, but unusually creative.  My wife and I arrived early.  We were greeted at the door by our server for the evening.  She not only took time to determine our seating preference, but gave us a brief tour of the Tavern.

The Tavern has a wonderful wine list including a premium by-the-glass selection.  Our server suggested the house cabernet sauvignon by Lotus Vineyards.  Being a little skeptical of house wine selections, I asked her for a taste.  Well, …she was right.  The wine was very drinkable; bold yet smooth with a beautiful finish.

Our next challenge was selecting from several tempting and imaginative appetizers.  We decided to give the Stuffed Crispy Risotto Fritters with Pancetta, Fresh Mozzarella and Porcini Mushrooms and Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce a try.  Quite a mouthful!  They were a great combination of flavors and textures.  We highly recommend them.

My wife chose one of the Chef’s specials; Hanger Steak with Poached Lobster and Potato-Gorgonzola Croquettes for her main course.  Again, this was a very unusual combination of ingredients and flavors.  The steak was cooked perfectly to her specifications and delicious …even for a sea food lover.   I was in the mood for fried oysters.  I was disappointed when I didn’t find them on the menu, but thought I’d ask for them anyway.  The Chef gladly complied with my request and served up a delicious pile of perfectly fried oysters served with a mushroom risotto.

To say the least, we had an enjoyable and memorable evening.  The Tavern Restaurant and Hughlett’s Tavern are Northern Neck treasures.  If you have not visited and dined with them, you should!

Bon Appetite!

 

Category Rating [Fine Dining]:  9.5   [...possible 10]

Cost:  $$$                                      [from $ to $$$$]

 

Post Script:  We’ve decided to change our rating format since it does not seem appropriate to compare a fine dining establishment with, for example, a family restaurant.  So, beginning with this review, we’ll describe the category and rate the establishment based on our overall evaluation food, ambience, and service within the category.

 

See other’s comments …and add your own by clicking HERE

To view The Tavern menu   …click HERE


Doraldo Ristorante Italiano   

443 N. Main Street

Kilmarnock, VA  22482                     

(804) 436-0022

March 14, 2007 

 

Doraldo's is located in the old Hardee's building on North Main Street in Kilmarnock.  The interior is pleasant enough, but maintains some of the feel of a fast food restaurant.  Our server for the evening was a young lady who was obviously new to the business.  She didn't know the wines or the menu very well...but her heart was in it.

 

We ordered a bottle of Gambria 2005 Pinot Noir.  As typical of most California Pinot Noirs, it was thin and this one had serious off-notes.  We suggest you stay away from it.  However, Doraldo’s has a decent wine list and we’re sure you can find something to suit your taste.  We’ve enjoyed one of their Sangiovese-Merlot blends in the past.

 

We began our meal sharing the “Insalanta Caprese” appetizer.   It was a combination of roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, olives, fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella.   Although it was pleasant enough, my husband made the comment several times that it tasted “out of the can”.  The tomatoes were tasteless, but I guess it’s the time of year.    

 

Doraldo’s menu is almost entirely pasta based.  The entrees include various sauces with a selection of meats and fish.  My husband chose the Rigatoni Boscaiola which is rigatoni with sausage, roasted peppers and fresh mushrooms.   And you know me by now, I went right for the fish and ordered Shrimp Françoise.  The shrimp was pan sautéed in light egg batter with a white wine and lemon sauce and, yes, served over pasta.

 

We finished our meal with a lemon sorbet in its natural lemon casing.  Very refreshing and delicious!

 

Doraldo’s, it seems to us, is struggling for identity.  We’re not sure if they want to be an upscale fine dining establishment or simply a good neighborhood Italian eatery.  It would take very little for them to become a really fine restaurant.  Turn down the lights, add candles and tablecloths, train the wait staff  …our waitress forgot the salads and bread and knew very little about the menu or entrée preparations.  They could also add a special or two and some non-pasta based entrees.  The food is consistently good so, I guess, we’ll continue to dine with them …whatever they finally become.  By the way, they have pretty good pizza, but it’s only available one evening a week.

 

There were a respectable number of patrons for a Tuesday evening, but reservations are not usually required.  Prices are moderately high, but portions are adequate.

 

 

Bon Appetite!

 

See other’s comments …and add your own by clicking HERE

 

To view Doraldo’s menu   …click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trick Dog Café
4357 Irvington Road
Irvington, Va. 22480
(804) 438-1055

February 21, 2007

The Trick Dog recently reopened under new ownership with an all new menu.  It isn’t huge, but offers a variety of entrees including seafood, pasta, steaks, quail, pork, and some very interesting appetizers.

The ambience is fun, upscale and very red.  They do it right …from just the right lighting to décor.  We were seated in a booth in the first dining room adjacent to the bar.  This is one of three separate dining rooms adding to the cozy and intimate feel of this restaurant.  Our waitress this evening was a very pleasant and helpful lady but unfortunately not very knowledgeable about the wines or entrees.  She did, however, find the answers to our questions and was very attentive to our table.  We have to give her an “A”.  We finally settled on a zinfandel from Ridge Winery in California.  It wasn’t overpowering and just dry enough for our tastes.

We started off with fried calamari.  It was served with a horseradish chive sauce instead of the usual marinara and was delicious.  It was a great combination of tastes and I highly recommend it!

My husband couldn’t resist the New York Strip and I finally settled for the Salmon … remember, I’m the fishaholic.  The presentations were beautiful and timely.  My fish was slightly overcooked, probably farm raised and a little bland. The veggie medley was perfectly cooked and tasty.   My husband’s steak was cooked just right but the peppercorn crust overpowered the meat.   He thought he would never say anything had too much pepper, but this evening he did. 

I must say, overall, the dinner was enjoyable and there were a respectable number of diners there for a Wednesday night.  We will add the Trick Dog Café to our list of favorites. We recommend you make a reservation even on a weekday night.  Prices are fair and we left feeling well fed. 

Bon Appetite!

Trick Dog Rating Chart 

See other’s comments… and add your own about this restaurant by clicking HERE 
    


Eckhard’s
2700 Greys Point Road
Topping, VA  23169
(804) 758-4060

February 10, 2007 

Eckhard’s features wonderful German and Italian entrees as well as delicious appetizers, fresh seafood and steaks. 

Dining at Eckhard’s is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening anywhere.  The ambience, while a little over done for my taste, is warm and relaxing.  The Hostess is delightful, friendly and goes the extra mile to make sure your visit is enjoyable.  We were fortunate this evening to draw Mary as our waitress.  She adds the “theater” to the evening by making everyone feel special and entertained.  Mary is completely knowledgeable about the menu, wine list, food preparation and ingredients   …and always has a good recommendation if you can’t make up your mind. 

Be sure to give careful considerations to the daily specials.  We normally start our meal with Oysters Rockefeller.  The best I’ve had anywhere in the world, however, this evening my wife and I shared a colossal lump crab cocktail.  It was truly colossal, fresh and plenty for both of us. 

My wife, the quintessential seafood lover, ordered salmon wrapped in a pastry and topped with lobster sauce.  It was fresh, cooked perfectly, and delicious.  I couldn’t resist the prime rib special after seeing a few orders pass by our table.  Huge, cooked exactly the way I requested, and delicious   …just as expected.  I could only eat about a third of it so consider sharing one order. 

Eckhard’s has a great bar with an extensive wine list.  It is always packed, so don’t even think about going without reservations.  Prices are fair …especially given the quality and portion sizes.

Bon Appetite!

Eckhard's Restaurant, Topping VA

 

 See other’s comments… and add your own about this restaurant HERE


 

 

Sandpiper Restaurant
850 Rappahannock, Drive (Route 3)
Whitestone, VA 22578
(804) 435-6176

February 6, 2007

My wife and I decided to brave this blistery cold Tuesday in the Northern Neck by having dinner at one of the area’s most popular eateries.

The Sandpiper draws visitors as well as a loyal following of locals.  It’s so popular that dinners frequently wait in line to be seated   …including this cold Tuesday night.  Having said that, we usually order a drink from the bar and it seems to make the wait more tolerable.  The hostess was friendly and able to accommodate our seating preference.

Our favorite tables are in the bar and this evening was no exception.  The ambience is cozy and relaxed.  The décor is typical of Neck restaurants, but somehow it seems more comfortable.

We ordered a bottle of California meritage from the small, but adequate wine list.  It was delightful.  Service was unusually slow this evening, although pleasant and very helpful.  The wait staff are long-time employees and very knowledgeable about the menu.  Our waitress was able to answer our questions about food preparation and ingredients.  She was a pro!

We started our meal with bacon wrapped shrimp, one of many tempting appetizers on the menu.  They were perfectly prepared and served with a delightful dipping sauce.  My wife ordered grilled scallops   …again cooked to perfection.  As usual, I couldn’t make up my mind between fried shrimp and fried oysters.  The waitress solved the dilemma by offering to split the order so I could sample the best of both worlds.  If you think you’ve had your fill of restaurant fried food, think again.  The Sandpiper does it right; always a crisp light batter that goes down so easily.

Unlike most restaurants, the sandpiper still serves a dinner salad with a choice of dressings sure to please everyone.  Serving sizes are large so come hungry or share an entrée.

The Sandpiper is expensive, but considering the quality and portion size, it  is a good value.

 Bon Appetite!  

 Sandpiper Restaurant
 Click on image to enlarge


 

 

Rose's Crab House and Raw Bar - July, 2006

It was Sunday - 11:45 AM and I was on out to uncover a good Sunday brunch.  Under cover of anonymity, I strode into Rose’s Crab House & Raw Bar – Rt. 3, Kilmarnock VA.    I was in search of something with Canadian bacon, eggs and a thick yellow sauce but my attention was quickly drawn to a grilled ham and shrimp dish.  I inquired of the waitress, a friendly young girl with pretty brown eyes; did it come with eggs and the reply was ‘it could’…interesting…’it could’. 

It was then that my preconceived notion of eggs gave way to one of my old favorites, regardless of the town, or the day of the week.  Trained for detail, my eye had caught a glimpse of soft shell crabs as I passed the specials board.  Trying not to draw attention, I sauntered by the board again as if on my way to the rest room.  The soft shells were in the form of a sandwich.  I ordered.

Before long out came a sliced Kaiser roll laid open for all to see.  I was face to face with two very large soft shells crab, lightly battered and fried to what appeared to be perfection.  Readying myself for anything, I pulled off a claw and popped it in my mouth.  Delicious.  Eagerly, I began to dress the sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and red onion.  As I applied a thin blanket of tartar sauce, again, my instincts got the better of me and I pulled off another succulent claw.  Again, delicious. 

Trying not to take my attention from the meal at hand, I peered around the room.  So many meals appeared to fit the description of an excellent Sunday Brunch.  There was a flounder sandwich nearby – equally hearty to the soft shell equivalent I was enjoying.  There were fried oysters and I could discern the sweet smell of a crab and cheese omelet seated beside a scrumptious vegetarian omelet drenched in melted cheeses.   There were oysters appetizers, both steamed and on the half shell, a grilled ham and shrimp dish that had already caught my attention, a grilled shrimp Caesar, home made oyster stew and even a she crab soup. 

And then it arrived.  A lady friend who shall remain unnamed for now was about to engage my first desire on that Sunday morning.  But she called it Bay Benedict – no Canadian bacon here, but baked Virginia ham instead with back fin crab meat laced around the  poached eggs.  A thick hollandaise sauce disguised the lot as eggs benedict but it was really so much more.  Things aren’t always what they seem to be in this business and one has to be careful making assumptions.   

Having consumed my findings with great vigor, I resolved to return again while the trail was still hot to uncover yet another wonderful meal in David Rose’s restaurant.  So many likely suspects.  So little time before they’re discovered.

Rose's Crab House & Raw Bar
652 N. Main Street
(across from The Holiday Inn)
Kilmarnock, VA 22482
804-436-8439
888-323-2722


Eckhard’s
2700 Greys Point Road
Topping, VA  23169
(804) 758-5953 

February 10, 2007 

Eckhard’s features wonderful German and Italian entrees as well as delicious appetizers, fresh seafood and steaks. 

Dining at Eckhard’s is one of the most enjoyable ways to spend an evening anywhere.  The ambience, while a little over done for my taste, is warm and relaxing.  The Hostess is delightful, friendly and goes the extra mile to make sure your visit is enjoyable.  We were fortunate this evening to draw Mary as our waitress.  She adds the “theater” to the evening by making everyone feel special and entertained.  Mary is completely knowledgeable about the menu, wine list, food preparation and ingredients   …and always has a good recommendation if you can’t make up your mind. 

Be sure to give careful considerations to the daily specials.  We normally start our meal with Oysters Rockefeller.  The best I’ve had anywhere in the world, however, this evening my wife and I shared a colossal lump crab cocktail.  It was truly colossal, fresh and plenty for both of us. 

My wife, the quintessential seafood lover, ordered salmon wrapped in a pastry and topped with lobster sauce.  It was fresh, cooked perfectly, and delicious.  I couldn’t resist the prime rib special after seeing a few orders pass by our table.  Huge, cooked exactly the way I requested, and delicious   …just as expected.  I could only eat about a third of it so consider sharing one order. 

Eckhard’s has a great bar with an extensive wine list.  It is always packed, so don’t even think about going without reservations.  Prices are fair …especially given the quality and portion sizes.

Bon Appetite!

Eckhard's Restaurant, Topping VA

 See other’s comments… and add your own about this restaurant HERE


Sandpiper Restaurant
850 Rappahannock, Drive (Route 3)
Whitestone, VA 22578
(804) 435-6176

February 6, 2007

My wife and I decided to brave this blistery cold Tuesday in the Northern Neck by having dinner at one of the area’s most popular eateries.

The Sandpiper draws visitors as well as a loyal following of locals.  It’s so popular that dinners frequently wait in line to be seated   …including this cold Tuesday night.  Having said that, we usually order a drink from the bar and it seems to make the wait more tolerable.  The hostess was friendly and able to accommodate our seating preference.

Our favorite tables are in the bar and this evening was no exception.  The ambience is cozy and relaxed.  The décor is typical of Neck restaurants, but somehow it seems more comfortable.

We ordered a bottle of California meritage from the small, but adequate wine list.  It was delightful.  Service was unusually slow this evening, although pleasant and very helpful.  The wait staff are long-time employees and very knowledgeable about the menu.  Our waitress was able to answer our questions about food preparation and ingredients.  She was a pro!

We started our meal with bacon wrapped shrimp, one of many tempting appetizers on the menu.  They were perfectly prepared and served with a delightful dipping sauce.  My wife ordered grilled scallops   …again cooked to perfection.  As usual, I couldn’t make up my mind between fried shrimp and fried oysters.  The waitress solved the dilemma by offering to split the order so I could sample the best of both worlds.  If you think you’ve had your fill of restaurant fried food, think again.  The Sandpiper does it right; always a crisp light batter that goes down so easily.

Unlike most restaurants, the sandpiper still serves a dinner salad with a choice of dressings sure to please everyone.  Serving sizes are large so come hungry or share an entrée.

The Sandpiper is expensive, but considering the quality and portion size, it  is a good value.

 Bon Appetite!  

 Sandpiper Restaurant
 Click on image to enlarge


Rose's Crab House and Raw Bar - July, 2006

It was Sunday - 11:45 AM and I was on out to uncover a good Sunday brunch.  Under cover of anonymity, I strode into Rose’s Crab House & Raw Bar – Rt. 3, Kilmarnock VA.    I was in search of something with Canadian bacon, eggs and a thick yellow sauce but my attention was quickly drawn to a grilled ham and shrimp dish.  I inquired of the waitress, a friendly young girl with pretty brown eyes; did it come with eggs and the reply was ‘it could’…interesting…’it could’. 

It was then that my preconceived notion of eggs gave way to one of my old favorites, regardless of the town, or the day of the week.  Trained for detail, my eye had caught a glimpse of soft shell crabs as I passed the specials board.  Trying not to draw attention, I sauntered by the board again as if on my way to the rest room.  The soft shells were in the form of a sandwich.  I ordered.

Before long out came a sliced Kaiser roll laid open for all to see.  I was face to face with two very large soft shells crab, lightly battered and fried to what appeared to be perfection.  Readying myself for anything, I pulled off a claw and popped it in my mouth.  Delicious.  Eagerly, I began to dress the sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and red onion.  As I applied a thin blanket of tartar sauce, again, my instincts got the better of me and I pulled off another succulent claw.  Again, delicious. 

Trying not to take my attention from the meal at hand, I peered around the room.  So many meals appeared to fit the description of an excellent Sunday Brunch.  There was a flounder sandwich nearby – equally hearty to the soft shell equivalent I was enjoying.  There were fried oysters and I could discern the sweet smell of a crab and cheese omelet seated beside a scrumptious vegetarian omelet drenched in melted cheeses.   There were oysters appetizers, both steamed and on the half shell, a grilled ham and shrimp dish that had already caught my attention, a grilled shrimp Caesar, home made oyster stew and even a she crab soup. 

And then it arrived.  A lady friend who shall remain unnamed for now was about to engage my first desire on that Sunday morning.  But she called it Bay Benedict – no Canadian bacon here, but baked Virginia ham instead with back fin crab meat laced around the  poached eggs.  A thick hollandaise sauce disguised the lot as eggs benedict but it was really so much more.  Things aren’t always what they seem to be in this business and one has to be careful making assumptions.   

Having consumed my findings with great vigor, I resolved to return again while the trail was still hot to uncover yet another wonderful meal in David Rose’s restaurant.  So many likely suspects.  So little time before they’re discovered.

Rose's Crab House & Raw Bar
652 N. Main Street
(across from The Holiday Inn)
Kilmarnock, VA 22482
804-436-8439
888-323-2722


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