Cuisine Scene


The Cuisine Scene

Wake up your tastebuds and get ready for the best restaurants in
Hampton Roads recognized in our annual Platinum Plate awards

Bookmark and Share By Patrick Evans-Hylton


Food is a very special thing.

Nations have gone to war over it, or specifically, over its supply. Nations also spar over it, claiming their cuisine to be superior in some way or another to other countries’ foods. Folks pass down family recipes in secret, the way a bank teller may guard the combination to the vault. Folks also compete with said recipes, vying for everything from blue ribbons to an obscenely large purse at the Pillsbury Bake-Off to their own show on the Food Network.

But on the most basic level, food is nourishment—not only for the body, but for the soul.

It is part of our life from beginning to end. It first appears at the baby shower thrown in our honor by mom’s coworkers and fills tables in the church at the covered dish collection when family members mourn our loss.
During life, it is there at birthdays, holidays, weddings and anniversaries. It is used to celebrate things small and grand, to mark time and events, and to show love and affection. It comforts. It relaxes. It quells pangs. It stirs memories.
No wonder, then, that we hold restaurants in such high regard. Yes, many of our food memories are created right in our own kitchen and served on our own dining room table. But others are made in restaurants. The celebration of a promotion. The marriage proposal. The holiday out to give mom a break. The weekly date between long-partnered couples.

We take food—and restaurants—seriously here at Hampton Roads Magazine because we know they are part of the fabric of our society, not only on a large scale, but on a regional scale, too. For the seventh year, we offer our Platinum Plate Awards—our ranking of restaurants in Hampton Roads. Let’s raise a glass to the owners, the chefs, the waitstaffs and to the food, for it is a very special thing indeed.

Platinum Plates Top 10

713 19th Street, Virginia Beach

RANK – 1 SCORE – 98.7723

Zoe’s was the comeback story of the year in Hampton Roads’ restaurant scene. With the pinch of the economy hitting hard in early 2009, the then-owners of Zoe’s decided to shut down the venerable eatery. But executive chef Jerry Weihbrecht rallied the troops—in this case uber-sommelier Marc Sauter and some of the restaurant’s patrons—and reopened within just a few months.

A reenergized Weihbrecht took his cooking—already recognized as outstanding through numerous national and regional awards and an invitation to guest chef at the famed James Beard House in New York City—to a new level. It was augmented with new and outstanding wine offerings from Sauter. By the end of the year, it was clear that Zoe’s was indeed achieving above and beyond what it had done in previous years.

The restaurant retains its charm, with lots of wood accents and plush pillows and seat coverings. From the other side of the exhibition kitchen, diners can view Weihbrecht preparing his seasonal menus, which offer many dishes with Asian-inspired ingredients and preparations as well as some daring features like emu and molecular gastronomy. Fat Canary has been thrilling palates since 2003. It continues to wow with the contemporary, creative seasonal and fresh offerings from chef/owner Tom Power Jr. The edible masterpieces complement the masterpiece which is the tidy and simple but elegantly appointed dining room that simultaneously relaxes and invigorates.

fat canaryFat Canary
In Merchant’s Square
410 West Duke of Gloucester St.,

RANK – 2 SCORE – 98.1979

Fat Canary has been thrilling palates since 2003. It continues to wow with the contemporary, creative seasonal and fresh offerings from chef/owner Tom Power Jr. The edible masterpieces complement the masterpiece which is the tidy and simple but elegantly appointed dining room that simultaneously relaxes and invigorates.



fat canaryStove, the Restaurant
2622 Detroit St., Portsmouth

RANK – 3 SCORE – 98.1888

Creativity, thy name is Sydney Meers. We have long loved the Willy Wonka-ish creations that come from Meers’ kitchens, beginning at his original Dumbwaiter. The chef is in his element in his current quaint and quirky eatery, surrounded by color and decors as vibrant and bold as his neo-Southern cuisine.




fat canaryRiverstone Chop House
8032 Harbour View Blvd., Suffolk

RANK – 4 SCORE – 98.1843

A fresh, seasonal menu with an emphasis on steak is offered in this impressively beautiful restaurant, with design inspired by the American classic Arts and Craft movement. In addition to prime, aged beef, a large selection of seafood is also offered and prepared just as wonderfully. Riverstone Chop
House is a sister restaurant of Vintage Tavern.



fat canaryTerrapin Restaurant
3102 Holly Rd., Virginia Beach

RANK – 5 SCORE – 98.1602

Chef/owner Rodney Einhorn has pleased foodies in Hampton Roads since 2006 when he first opened Terrapin and began offering locals his creative, classic-but-modern offerings utilizing fresh, in-season ingredients and local foodstuffs. The jewel-box dining room is well appointed in soothing green hues, exotic woods and lush textures.




fat canarySalcia
Inside the Hilton
Virginia Beach Oceanfront
3001 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach

RANK – 6 SCORE – 98.1328

A sexy and trendy, city dining room decked out in summer white and cobalt blue with dark wood accents opens to a wall of windows with expansive ocean views. The menu is equally impressive with upscale, seasonal offerings focusing on steak and seafood.



fat canaryCoastal Grill
1427 N. Great Neck Rd.,
Virginia Beach

RANK – 7 SCORE – 97.9054

Fresh-caught seafood served simply and wonderfully is always in season at Coastal Grill. Since 1989, this comfortable, contemporary Beach restaurant has offered a succinct menu augmented by an extensive blackboard list of fresh catch and other nightly specials. .




fat canarySwan Terrace
At The Founders Inn & Spa
5641 Indian River Rd., Virginia Beach

RANK – 8 SCORE – 97.8979

Long-time sous chef Eric Doarnberger, now at the helm as executive chef, has prepared a reinvigorated seasonal and sustainable menu with all-from-scratch components. He serves diners an impressive array of contemporary cuisine prepared classically amid an elegant colonial dining room backdrop.



fat canaryBlue Talon Bistro
In Merchant’s Square
420 Prince George St., Williamsburg

RANK – 9 SCORE – 97.3752

A relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere sets the stage for chef/owner David Everett’s beautifully written and executed menu of classic French bistro fare. The upscale comfort food shows remarkable talent and restraint—talent to prepare each morsel deliciously and restraint to not push it over the top. Everett succeeds.



fat canaryVintage Tavern
900 Governors Pointe Dr., Suffolk

RANK – 10 SCORE – 97.0458

Chef/owner Sam McGann wows diners with his cuisines, which he dubs “seasonally Southern.” We concur. His sophisticated interpretations of rustic regional classics bode well in this comfortable restaurant, resplendent with stone walls, exposed ceiling beams, hardwood floors and spectacular wooded views. Vintage Tavern is a sister restaurant of Riverstone Chop House.


The Platinum Level

Art Café 26
Trendy, creative cuisine blending classic European techniques and molecular gastronomy. Impeccable service, keen attention to detail and a tasteful and inviting art gallery ambiance.
5107-2 Center St., NewTown,
Williamsburg, 757-565-7788

Eurasia Café
Jewel-box restaurant with global flavors pulled from sustainable, seasonal offerings.
960 Laskin Rd., Virginia Beach

The Left Bank
A classic formal dining room offering beautiful views of the Currituck Sound and showcasing a creative seasonal
fine dining menu.
1461 Duck Rd., Duck, N.C.

Shula’s 347 Grill
A classic steakhouse menu is varied with seasonal selections as well in the clubby, upscale dining room which
features wood accents, black leather and sports memorabilia from owner and namesake Don Shula’s NFL career.
235 E. Main St., Norfolk


The Trellis
A venerable restaurant offering contemporary seasonal menus against a stylish backdrop. Home of Marcel Desaulnier’s “Death By Chocolate.”
403 East Duke of Gloucester St.,
Williamsburg, 757-229-8610

Note: The Trellis changed ownership in late 2009, but considering David Everett of Blue Talon Bistro, also in Williamsburg and also a Platinum Level winner, is the new guy at the helm, we are confident about good things to come as the new chapter in this long-time restaurant’s history is written.

Todd Jurich’s Bistro
Seasonal and sustainable upscale
contemporary offerings are showcased in the trendy, hip dining room.
150 West Main St., Norfolk

Vintage Kitchen
A substantial menu of fresh offerings with a focus on local foodways in a contemporary setting with views of
the Elizabeth River.
In the Dominion Tower
999 Waterside Dr., Norfolk

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