Restaurants like locations have to be compaired within catagories. Of the best restaurants, at the same price point $$$, in Virginia Beach, here are the must try and must miss.
(We will also do a rating of the $ price catagory to follow.)
Our traveling party contained one elderly woman (85), and one person with a fatal food allergy to tree nuts. The more obstacles you have the better the test on the level of service and the ability of a business to accommodate the customer. All were very experienced travelers.
We were delighted by the Coastal Grill. It was far and away the best meal we had in Virginia Beach.
The outside is unassuming. It has no special physical attributes like being located on the beach, outside fire pits, or an outside bar. It is on North Great Neck Road in a very small center with about 4 other businesses. It is simple, clean, sophisticated, old world charm. The restaurant was small and quite. The bar was filled with loyal locals (always a good sign) eating gourmet dinners and chatting with each other. The food is prepared by a chef that obviously take great care in each dish. The menu had a good variety, steak, duck, pork, low country shrimp and grits, several fish, etc. Because they take reservations (that can be made on line or by the phone), there is no wait to be seated. They were not put off by food allergies and the chef was delighted to adapt any dish to meet the needs of the customer (a true sign of luxury). Knowing that the chef knew what was in the food and certain of what was being served, was a relief to everyone at the table, even those without fatal food allergies. It is just reassuring that you are getting what you ordered and that there is a confidence in the level of food. The presentation was beautiful. They had a small but complete wine selection that matched the restaurants price point, making sure to have one or two very nice wines above their median price point and an inexpensive option available too. They used proper wines glasses and settings. The waitresses were well trained. With each delivery to the table from bread and butter, to each course of the meal, she would let the person with the fatal food allergy know that she had checked again with the chef to confirm that this item was safe for them to eat. This professionalism was very reassuring to our colleague who had been feeling like they were playing Russian roulette with every meal so far at Virginia Beach. The soft shell crabs were divine, the low country large shrimp and grits had been elevated to haute cuisine, the halibut with two sauces got rave reviews and the duck was delectable. Everyone in the group had a very satisfying experience, so much so that we all decided to come back again the next night too. The hard choice was to order the same things again, or to try another one of the appetizing choices on the specials list.
If you find yourself in Virginia Beach, and you are more concerned with the food than the hype....I recommend that you try The Coastal Grill.
MOST OVER RATED
The catch 22 about Catch 31 is that the food did not live up to the hype! It was a catch and release meal. They have a great location right on the beach in the Hilton Hotel. They have 3 outdoor fire pits and outdoor bar which is always appealing when one travels to the beach. They have a bathroom attendant so the facilities are kept nice (she seemed the best trained for service). They do not take any reservations except the winter months, and because one of the persons in our party was 85 years old, I had called the week before to see how long a wait to expect. I was told that 1/2 hour for an outside table, midweek, early in the evening would be what to expect. When we got there, we were told an hour wait. When we agreed, the hostess seems disappointed that she had not been able to discourage us. She was not very pleasant nor accommodating. She did not offer to show us where the outside bar was to wait, nor did she offer to get a chair for the 85 year old woman. Our wait was about 75 minutes. The outside eating area is much more pleasant then the ordinary inside. They were not able to accommodate the person with a common food allergy. They could not even give options. The chef seemed clueless about the ingredients in the food and just kept sending back the message "better not try it", "not sure", "could have cross contamination", "we did not make it", etc.. No chef, or manager ever came to the table. They did not seem to have any protocol in place for patrons with food restrictions. The person was limited to raw oysters and not even bread. Despite being located at the beach right next to the Chesapeake Bay, (which harvest blue point oysters), and despite that we were there for the earlier seating's, they had run out of blue points. They had a less expensive option, that were just OK, but nothing to repeat. So basically nothing for that person to eat. The waitress had to be asked to check about the bread, to see if it was safe. She was so busy chatting with some friends of hers at a nearby table that it would take her 15 mins (and only after having to be asked again) to get us an answer. How well a restaurant adapts to its customer's needs, how prepared and well trained the kitchen and wait staff, how well the chef orders food and gives options to the patrons, and how certain and knowledgeable about all the ingredients in everything they serve....is the difference between a luxury experience and a cattle call. Everyonelse's meal was just OK. Clearly they are not counting on the repeat business and have a "churn 'em and burn 'em" attitude. Catch 31 was a total disappointment as far as the food and service. If one is at a fast food place this apathy and inability to accommodate, and the fact that they have a fry cook instead of a chef means one might expect the behavior. This level of service did not match the price point of the restaurant.
PART I :Can Luxury be found in Virginia Beach? http://bit.ly/14NRKIO
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