Chowing Down at the CoVa "Best Of" Party
Our readers voted, and we’re so glad they did! To commemorate Coastal Virginia’s “Best Of” winners, we hosted a party complete with live music, caricatures, a silent auction, casino games and, of course, food! It all went down at the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center, which overlooks the beautiful Norfolk waterside. There was a total of 16 restaurants represented at the party to offer up some of their tastiest samplings for a chance to win the People's Choice Award before the night came to a close. I, of course, attended to give you the scoop on the scrumptious bites from the evening.
My better half came as well to serve as a second stomach to sample the food, but the truth is I didn’t need much help and ate everything on my own. Here are some of my food highlights of the evening:
Vintage Tavern: Our palates were more than ready for our first sampling of the night. Their crab rolls were light and refreshing on an airy, mini bun. The lump crab meat was simply juicy and delicious. This could be the perfect accompaniment to a summer picnic.
Swan Terrace Grill: Wonderfully tender and moist, their slow-smoked 72-hour Hereford beef brisket was drizzled with a sweet peach chipotle sauce, making for one savory bite.
Il Giardino Ristorante and Thirty 7 North: Confused when first approaching their table, I found out the two are actually sister restaurants. Together they presented housemade focaccia topped with a generous slab of mozzarella and a juicy, red pepper antipasto.
Terrapin: A square wonton cushioned a luscious bite of seared ahi tuna. Pickles garnished the tuna, which was fastened to the wonton by an avocado mousse of shallots and cilantro. It was a little spicy and extra tender.
Freemason Abbey: Their award-winning she-crab soup was served piping hot flaunting a buttery, creamy broth balanced with chunks of crab meat. They also sampled their sweet shrimp and black eyed bean ragout with a tortilla ready to be dipped.
Rajput Indian Cuisine: Rajput’s chef journeyed to India and retrieved the recipe for his customers to share in the glory that is Chicken 65 (named after the year it was created). The chicken was crunchy and immersed in a chunky, spicy red sauce over rice.
Regency Room at the Williamsburg Inn: The Regency Room went for the outside-the-box approach and presented vanilla bean poached shrimp with a micro arugula and watermelon salad, topped with watermelon foam. Carrot gel held it all together and while also adding a dose of sweetness to the dish.
Eurasia Café & Wine Bar: Already a lover of their desserts, Eurasia did not disappoint with their ice cream sandwich. The ice cream was made from local sweet corn and tossed with bits of salty house cured maple bacon. All of the sweet goodness was sandwiched between a couple of crunchy sugar cookies.
Nawab Indian Cuisine: Indian food holds a dear place in my food heart. Their chicken masala was on point. It was served hot and generously spicy next to their signature rice, and the Indian spices bounced off my tongue with glee.
TASTE: An exquisite bite of Manchego cheese was wrapped in surryano prosciutto and topped with a kick of arugula pesto. For dessert, they came armed with trays of gelato: Belgian chocolate, strawberry and sea salt caramel. It goes without saying, I took a mini scoop of each.
Beach Bully: We didn’t know where to start. Coleslaw and two different barbecue sauces stared back at us. To break the silence I slowly grabbed a plate with one of their sliders. The guy said, “Would you like some coleslaw?” “Sure, I’ll have some on the side.” He said the traditional way is to have the cole slaw stacked on top of the beef with barbecue sauce poured over. So we obeyed. Once the bun was secured we found the most heavenly, tender beef and a crunchy coleslaw beneath.
Venture Kitchen: Boy, did we have to venture around their table. On the first third of the table there was a bay scallop ceviche with pineapple and roasted jalapeños. The second third presented a lovely layout of housemade blood sausage–and smoked sausage–and salami, and the last third spouted 120-day aged Parmesan, taleggio and an Irish porter cheese. But for me, the highlight of this table was hiding between the meat board and ceviche tray: bacon that was house cured with brown sugar and Dijon mustard.
Burton’s Grill: By the time I made it to sample the second half of restaurants, I was worried I was running out of room. That all went to mush once I eyed Burton’s chunky lobster roll served with housemade salt and vinegar chips.
The Skinny Dip: They came armed with vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt. Toppings included peanuts, mini M&Ms, oreo bits and gummy bears. There were also chocolate, caramel and strawberry syrups, but gummy bears were enough for this gal.
Croc’s 19th Street Bistro: Their twist on the traditional ceviche was amped up with watermelon, scallops and shrimp. To kick it a up a notch of summer, it was mixed with crumbled tortilla chips and a homemade Old Bay seasoning.
Orapax: Lit by a royal blue light, I knew I was in for some authentic Greek food. The lamb tips were distinctly flavorful and juicy, doused in a tomato broth. The bite came together after pairing over the red mashed potatoes.
Before the night was over, each guest had the opportunity to cast their vote for their favorite restaurant. Low and behold, Swan Terrace Grill received the People’s Choice Awards and took home the plaque for their slow-smoked 72 hour brisket. There were several other “Best Of” winning restaurants that were not represented. For the full list click here.