Dining Room With a View - Local restaurants in and around Hampton Roads with the best views
FEATURES SOURCEBOOK 2010
A Dining Room With A View
Quality food and service aren't the only important ingredients for delightful diningbeautiful scenery plays a part, too.
|By Patrick Evans-Hylton|
While quality of food and service are the two main ingredients for a successful restaurant, ambiance certainly plays a role, too. The atmosphere set in an eatery can come from a number of sources, including the color of paint on the walls and the type of music played.
But ambiance also goes out of the box a bit. Literally. A good view can make a good dining experience great. And in Hampton Roads, where we are virtually surrounded by water no matter where you go, many of those good views feature the Atlantic Ocean or Chesapeake Bay.
Sometimes, though, the views focus on other bodies of water, like creeks, harbors or some other tributary. And occasionally the view is different altogether, like a historic street scene or wooded vista.
Here is a baker's dozen of some of our favorite places where the view is as pretty as a picture.
On Fort Monroe
2 Fenwick Rd., Hampton
The food: Although formerly a hotel, The Chamberlin is now a private residential facility but open to the public for meals. An assortment of contemporary American cuisine is offered at several meal services including a Sunday brunch, Monday lunch buffet and dinner weekdays by reservation only. The menu changes occasionally; recent dinner offerings included Grilled Grouper, Baked Cornish Game Hen, Bourbon Marinated Flank Steak and Broiled Flounder.
The view: The Old School dining room harkens back to an elegant time when folks traveled by boat and train and spent a good deal of time at their destination. A soaring ceiling, decorative columns, wrap-around windows, elegant crisp linens adorning tables and sophisticated décor are great support for the sweeping views south into Hampton Roads Harbor. A multitude of ship and boat crossings can be observed. Across the body of water, Willoughby Spit is also visible.
Of note: because The Chamberlin is on Fort Monroe, a still-active military facility, all persons in the vehicle must show valid photo identification. Also, the vehicle's valid registration must be presented at the gate.
Eagle's Restaurant at Kingsmill
At Kingsmill Resort & Spa
1010 Kingsmill Rd., Williamsburg
The food: Set in a clubby atmosphere, the chophouse menu is appropriate for the rich, exclusive feel of the place. A variety of menu items, including steaks, chops, poultry and seafood are cold-smoked over beechwood chips soaked in Budweiser to provide a distinctive smoky, mellow flavor and aroma.
The view: Eagle's Restaurant offers panoramic views of the River Course golf course at the Kingsmill resort as well as tuffs of forested area and the ambling James River.
Mallard's at the Wharf
2 Market St., Onancock
The food: Chef/owner Johnny "Mo" Morrison, known on the Eastern Shore as the musical chef because he often runs out of the kitchenstill in chef whitesand picks up his guitar and sings with his band during performances. He is also known for his creative use of fresh, local ingredients. We like his crab cakes, and he is also recognized in these parts for his dish of mussels in a jalapeno-wine broth.
The view: Located at the end of town right on the wharf that juts out into Onancock Creek, Mallard's offers beautiful views of the water, which leads right into the Chesapeake Bay. An active harbor, there are lots of boats and ships coming and going, including the ferry to Tangier Island, in season.
One Fish Two Fish
In Long Bay Pointe Marina
2109 West Great Neck Rd., Virginia Beach
The food: A diverse menu with a focus on California-style fresh, local seafood comes from the exhibition kitchen at One Fish Two Fish. Fresh catch is prepared in a number of ways, and jumbo lump crab cakes and seared ahi are offered aside items like veal rib chop and beef tenderloin.
The view: Located at the end of Long Bay Pointe Marina, the nautical-themed building opens up with tall windows around the majority of the structure, offering spectacular views of the waterway between Lynnhaven Bay and Broad Bay; go for the sunsets.
308 Mediterranean Ave.,
The food: An approachable menu of traditionally prepared items, with a slant toward seafood, are offered at Rockafeller's including crab cakes, seafood au gratin and The Tidewater Steamer: a bucket of Old Bay-seasoned steamed oysters, clams, shrimp, crab legs, corn on the cob and potatoes.
The view: The marina-style building offers large wrap-around windows with beautiful views of Rudee Inlet, an alcove just off the Atlantic Ocean. It is a great place to watch the boat traffic as well as the comings-and-goings of the tide.
Ruth's Chris Steak House
In Town Center of
205 Central Park Ave.,
The food: Although there are other menu selections, most folks come to Ruth's Chris for the steaks. This signature offering is available in a number of cuts and seared to 1800 degrees before being presented tableside topped with melting butter that emits an audible sizzle.
The view: From the front dining room and patio, a beautiful view of Town Center's surrounding buildings, as well as the center plaza and water fountain, can be enjoyed. The urban feel is like being in a city, albeit much smaller and sans a great deal of smog.
Inside the Hilton
Virginia Beach Oceanfront
3001 Atlantic Ave.,
The food: Executive Chef Pete Stine offers an impressive array of upscale, seasonal offerings focusing on steak and seafood including a Wagyu Kobe Sirloin, lamb chop and bone-in pork chop, as well as fresh catch prepared wood-grilled and served Oscar-style or with the addition of a lobster tail or hardwood grilled shrimp.
The view: A sexy trendy, city dining room decked out in summer white and cobalt blue with dark wood accents and a sand-colored leather wall that opens to a wall of windows with expansive ocean views; some of our favorites at the Oceanfront.
415 South Church St.,
The food: Comfortable, simply prepared food has a definite seafood slant with dishes like Sweet Potato Encrusted Rockfish and Sesame Tuna. Also offered are beef, pork, chicken and pasta selections.
The view: A decidedly waterfront feel of the dining room, with light wood accents and nautical-themed décor, sets the stage for the sweeping views of the Pagan River. Here marsh grasses and wildlife mingle with the winding creek, offering a definite relaxing feel.
653 Thalia Rd.,
The food: Old school seafood and cuisine perfectly prepared and served professionally in a warm, intimate atmosphere has been kicked up a notch with the addition of Executive Chef Bobby Huber. Don't worry, the signature fried shrimp is still there, and this is certainly vintage Virginia Beachbut now with a little more pep in the step.
The view: From the wood-enrobed, clubby dining room, beautiful views of the end of a marshy stream feeding into the Lynnhaven River can be seen. A lawn of kelly green grass with the occasional soaring pine leads right down to the lapping shoreline.
403 East Duke of Gloucester St., Williamsburg
The food: A venerable restaurant offering contemporary seasonal menus against a stylish backdrop, the restaurant recently changed hands to chef/owner David Everett of Blue Talon Bistro. A new menu, similar to the former, featuring American regional favorites using local, fresh ingredients, is anticipated. The Trellis is still home of ganache guru Marcel Desaulnier's "Death By Chocolate."
The view: From the expansive garden-themed dining room and the large outdoor patio, a stunning view of the cobblestoned Duke of Gloucester Street, lined with willowy trees and Colonial-esque shops and boutiques, allows diners to imagine what it was like in Williamsburg 200 years ago, that is if Prada had been around. The spot is great for people watching.
In the Virginia Beach Resort
Hotel & Conference Center
2800 Shore Dr., Virginia Beach
The food: Traditional seafood selections and other menu items including beef and pasta come from Executive Chef John Maclure. TradeWinds offers nightly dinner specials and Virginia wine specials by the glass and by the bottle. The restaurant also participates in the Virginia Aquarium's Sensible Seafood program.
The view: One of our favorite views of the Chesapeake Bay comes from TradeWinds; the restaurant is practically nestled in the dunes, and swooping mounds of sand along with tufts of seagrass waving in the breeze only enhance the beautiful view of the estuary.
In the Dominion Tower
999 Waterside Dr., Norfolk
The food: A substantial menu of fresh offerings with a focus on local foodways comes from chef/owner Phillip Craig Thomason. Look for upmarketed regional specials using foodshed ingredients in dishes like Rappahannock Seafood Low Boil and Rust as well as the quarter-pound Jumbo Lump Crabcake Norfolk.
The view: The feel inside Vintage Kitchen is slick and urban, and the tall ceilings continue the mood out onto the ambling Elizabeth River and its shipping traffic. Tugs and ferries float by, traversing the waterway and ducking under the nearby Berkley Bridge.
1900 Governors Pointe Dr., Suffolk
The food: Chef/owner Sam McGann wows diners with his cuisines, which he dubs "seasonally Southern." His sophisticated interpretations of rustic regional classics, like the Route 17 Roasted Pig Plate (which includes pulled pork, smoked ribs, house sausage and pork loin) and seafood like jumbo sea scallops with sweet potato hash bode well in this comfortable restaurant, resplendent with stone walls, exposed ceiling beams and hardwood floors.
The view: The Arts and Craft, woodsy feel of the dining room spills out onto the back patio, which is large and inviting and comfortable. Hewed stone and wooden accents flow into a quaint wooded area with wildflowers and tall pines leading down to a trickling creek