Category — Restaurants

LOVENorfolk: Local Organic Vegetarian-forward Eatery

The chefs behind LOVENorfolkTaking a break at the kitchen island, Andrea Fisher unclipped the wooden clothespins that kept her sleeves from dangling in raw ingredients. Allan Fisher continued chopping at a cutting board, sending a cool, herbaceous scent through the air.

The chefs, a married culinary duo, are used to cooking side by side. And after spending the past five years as the private chefs for a well-traveled New England family, they’re no strangers to hopping from one kitchen to the next.

That experience was preparation for their latest endeavor, pop-up restaurants, which at times calls for a little bit of the unorthodox, all for a single day open for business.

Last week they were testing a spice rub for the cauliflower shawarma in Andrea’s sister’s kitchen. This week they were in the back of Bite, a friend’s restaurant, making sauces. The microgreens for one of their dishes are growing in a terrarium at home.

Their legwork culminates Sunday when they take over a restaurant in Ghent. For three hours, the Dog-n-Burger Grille will be transformed into a meatless, street-food-inspired bistro, LOVENorfolk. “LOVE” stands for Local Organic Vegetarian-forward Eatery.

The event is the couple’s second pop-up, a chance to test-market their menu before opening a brick-and-mortar vegetarian restaurant later this year.

“We wanted to make sure the population would support a vegetable-forward restaurant,” Allan said.

But do pop-ups work?

“They’re successful in terms of getting the word out,” Andrea said. “Now, will it make my restaurant a success? I don’t know.”

The National Restaurant Association believes they often act as a safe toe-dip into the industry. The group has suggested pop-ups as a way for new restaurateurs to create buzz and attract investors without spending too much money up front.

The association has also recommended existing restaurants host pop-ups for other start-ups, especially during off-peak times. For the restaurant, it’s similar to having a guest chef run the kitchen for a day, and both parties share in the profits.

Jerry Meltsner, owner of Dog-n-Burger for 30 years, said the Fishers will pay him a fee to cover some of the rent, and the couple is responsible for paying taxes on the income they generate. His restaurant is normally closed on Sundays, so the one-time event won’t interfere with regular business, he said.

Meltsner supports the pop-up concept because it encourages innovation.

“They can kind of recreate the wheel for one day,” he said. “It helps bring new ideas into our community that maybe we wouldn’t get because of all the hurdles you have to go through to open a restaurant.”

For Kevin Ordonez, whose pop-up Alkaline first hit Hampton Roads in 2013, transitioning from a temporary ramen shop to a full-service eatery has given him time to network and find financing on the side. He signed a one-year lease this week with Pendulum Fine Meats to share the Ghent space, officially graduating from a pop-up. He’s open six days a week now.

Alkaline started with a $5,000 loan from a friend and two soft openings in Chesapeake. Then, two years ago, he landed at Pendulum, a whole-animal butcher shop. Both business owners have similar food philosophies, he said, and gained customers from their relationship.

“The goal at first was to be in Pendulum for a limited amount of time,” Ordonez said, “but eventually we realized having Alkaline leave Pendulum would actually be a pretty big mistake.”

His isn’t the only pop-up progressing to the next phase. After 2½ years of pop-ups at various breweries in the area, Cristina Angelo of Waffletina was able to purchase her own building in Park Place.

There, she and her boyfriend, Kristopher Harvey, will run a coffee shop called Mea Culpa and continue selling Angelo’s yeasted waffle sandwiches. They’re working toward a fall opening, Angelo said.

The Fishers see themselves in a similar position within the year. They hope to have a 30- to 40-seat restaurant in Ghent, downtown Norfolk or the arts district, offering vegetarian dishes. Since Andrea’s heart attack five years ago, the two have become passionate about healthy eating and want to share their food in a grander way.

In the countdown to the LOVENorfolk relaunch, they’re keeping a close watch on the number of tickets sold – and buying extra food just in case.

“We’ll be prepared,” Andrea said. “Deep down, I’m still a Jewish mama.”

Elisha Sauers, 757-222-3864,



April 28, 2016   No Comments

USA Today Names The Birch as #5 Beer Bar in America

Yes, the fifth best beer bar in the freaking country. Go Birch!

According to USA Today:

While you can get a good craft beer just about anywhere these days, these 10 winners for Best Beer Bar offer so much more. Stellar selections of local, rare and unusual brews, knowledgeable bar staff to help narrow down the choice and a great atmosphere make these beer bars must-visits for any craft beer enthusiast.”

The Birch, which is located in the Chelsea section of Norfolk and has only been open since early 2011, was slotted between The J. Clyde in Birmingham, Alabama, and the The Bier Stein in Eugene, Oregon. Malia Paasch and her crew are putting Norfolk on the map.


It’s fun looking back on our article about the opening of the Birch. “The buzz surrounding The Birch has been considerable, and well warranted,” we wrote. “It remains to be seen, of course, if the momentum sustains after the initial whirlwind that accompanies the inaugural few weeks of a place like The Birch.”

It’s safe to say the Birch has passed its audition.

We asked Malia a few questions about the honor.

AltDaily: What does this mean to you? It must be very validating.

Malia: It is a huge honor to even be nominated for the list and even more so to be voted number 5! Our patrons and supporters near and far voted tirelessly for a whole month to get us there! Without them none of this would even be possible; they’ve traveled and visited other bars, they know The Birch is a special place.

What sets The Birch apart that makes it deserve this honor?

One of my favorite things about The Birch is that it has a clear concept: beer and cheese. This allows me to focus on offering the most unique, interesting, and quality brews I can possibly get my hands on! There’s always something new to try and that’s what keeps bringing people back. Additionally, I have one of the best staffs in the world! They are extremely helpful when it comes to answering questions about the beer selection, what things taste like, and if they don’t know they are going to try their best to find out! We are constantly educating ourselves and our patrons, the beer scene is evolving and changing and we try and keep up with that.


What do you all have going on in the next couple months that people should be aware of?

Our 6th Annual St. Kiuchi Day is coming up on Saturday, March 12. It was one of the first big events The Birch ever put on. It was five days after the Tsunami in Japan and I had heard the Kiuchi Brewery, who makes Hitachino Nest White, had been damaged. Despite this, they started using their bottling line to bottle water for the near by towns. The event then featured just the few Hitachino bottles that were in stock; now The Birch becomes a Kiuchi Brewery tasting room for the day, offering 5 drafts and 8 in the bottle. A portion of the sales goes towards the Tsunami Relief fund on Global Giving. We’ve been donating for 5 years now!

The next big event is 43 Hours of Bitter and that will be April 12- 16.

Anything we miss?

Our most recent fascination has been with cider and meads. We added 5 additional taps last May that are dedicated cider and mead lines. It has been exciting to learn more about them and be able to offer a more diverse selection of ciders.

For more of The Birch, here they are on Facebook.


March 22, 2016   No Comments

Top 10 Restaurants in Norfolk, VA | Local Eats & Fine Dining

The second most populous city in Virginia, Norfolk is big on culture and cuisine: one of the oldest cities in the state, it’s steeped in history, which is reflected in much of the architecture and style of its dining venues. Previously the feature of another Culture Trip article, here is an updated list of the 10 unmissable restaurants and eateries in Norfolk, VA.

Byrd & Baldwin Brothers Steakhouse

Opening its doors in 2006, Byrd & Baldwin Brothers Steakhouse is a fusion of old and new. The restaurant is housed in a historical building which dates from circa 1906;inside, there are exact reproductions of the old wooden trim, leaded glass, skylights and original sliding entrance doors. From a food perspective, the key to Byrd & Baldwin is the grain-fed Midwestern all-natural beef, which is aged on-site, ensuring not only quality, but also a richness of flavour. Chef Carlton Spurlock creates a menu that is made with traditional ingredients, but with a modern twist. Highlights include pan-seared twin airline breast of chicken, veal porterhouse au poivre and the Cobb salad with ahi tuna and smoked bacon. These dishes are perfectly accompanied by the restaurant’s extensive wine list.

Byrd & Baldwin Brothers Steakhouse, 116 Brooke Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 222 9191

Chartreuse Bistro

Owned and run by a husband-and-wife team, Chartreuse Bistro exudes the influence of French cuisine in their menu and philosophy. The duo aims to promote farm-to-table cuisine, using only locally sourced produce and ingredients from organic, chemical-free and sustainable farms and gardens. This dedication to ingredients is manifested in the minimalist menu, which lets the flavours and quality of the ingredients take centre stage. The menu changes on a daily basis, meaning diners will always have a new experience when they visit this charming bistro. Visitors can look forward to dishes such as sausage and kidney-bean stew, pan-fried veal sweetbreads, root vegetable salad, homemade fettuccini and pan-seared rockfish. For a European taste and experience, Chartreuse is the place to try.

Chartreuse Bistro, 205 E City Hall Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 965 2137

© Courtesy Doumar's
© Courtesy Doumar’s

Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue

Doumar’s Cone and Barbecue is one of the oldest family-owned and -run establishments in Norfolk, with a history of more than a century. Doumar’s claim to fame is their apparent invention of the waffle icecream cone back in 1904, when restaurant founder Abe Doumar created this dessert dish for the St. Louis World’s Fair of that year. This drive-in eatery is a haven of sweet treats, from homemade icecream, to gluttonous sundaes, to must-try limeade, all of which visitors can enjoy from the comfort of their car. The renowned ice-cream cones are still made on the original cone machine, which was designed and built by Abe himself. If diners don’t have a sweet tooth, Doumar’s also specialise in burgers, hot dogs, and good old-fashioned North Carolina barbecue fare.

Doumar’s Cones & Barbecue, 1919 Monticello Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 627 4163

Freemason Abbey Restaurant

Housed within the walls of an 140-year-old church, Freemason Abbey Restaurant is located right in the heart of Norfolk. Originally built in 1873, the building has had many functions, with its current incarnation as a restaurant taking form in 1988. Nowadays, the premises has a casual, tavern vibe, which is warm and inviting, with the stained-glass windows, high vaulted ceilings, and large fresco painting giving a nod to its ecclesiastical past. Seafood is the main component of much of the menu, and popular favourites include the award-winning house she-crab soup, the broiled seafood platter, hand-cut steaks, and smoked Gouda tenderloin penne. There are also daily specials which come with seasonal accompaniments for an eclectic and memorable dining experience.

Freemason Abbey Restaurant, 209 W Freemason St, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 622 3966

Handsome Biscuit

Although a recent addition to Norfolk’s culinary scene, Handsome Biscuit has quickly become the place to eat in the city, both for locals and visitors. Located on the edge of Norfolk’s famous Ghent neighbourhood, Handsome Biscuit is simply decorated, but with an eccentric twist, resulting in an atmospheric and exciting venue. However, what makes Handsome Biscuit so popular is its menu of sweet-potato biscuit sandwiches. An unusual-sounding delicacy, these sandwiches are a reworking of the tradition English breakfast muffin, and Handsome Biscuit create a flavourful medley of ingredients that are sandwiched between these two buns. Fillings include chicken salad with pecans and mixed berry compote, and roasted pork shoulder with sweet hot mustard and cucumber. With these innovative and inventive eats, this is definitely one to watch out for.

Handsome Biscuit, 2511 Colonial Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA

No Frill Bar and Grill

The name of this eatery gives it away – No Frill Bar and Grill specialises in simple and casual, but quality, food. Found in the Ghent neighbourhood, the venue is always a hive of activity. Its menu celebrates the taste of American cooking, with dishes such as the multi-layered Norfolk Hot Brown, which consists of grilled chicken and Surry ham drenched in Norfolk Canyon ale cream sauce, and cheddar Jack over sourdough toast. This venue is also conveniently located just a few steps away from the Naro Theater, so is the perfect place for pre-theatre dinner and drinks. Desserts such as homemade six-layer cake of coconut cream, red velvet and chocolate, and drinks such as cosmopolitans and martinis, finish off an exemplary evening at No Frill.

No Frill Bar and Grill, 806 Spotswood Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 627 4262

Omar’s Carriage House

Another historical building in Norfolk, Omar’s Carriage House, was built in the early 1840s, and served indeed as a carriage house. Its current owner, Omar Boukhriss, purchased the establishment in 1998, and has kept on the carriage-house traditions. Dinner dishes include braised pork belly, five-spice rub, quinoa tabouli and poached egg, and cioppino mussels, clams, white fish, shrimp, light tomato broth and sourdough. One new innovation Omar has brought to the carriage-house is Moroccan Mondays, inspired by the proprietor’s heritage. Old local and new international traditions are seamlessly blended, making Omar’s Carriage House a restaurant with a distinctive character and charm.

Omar’s Carriage House, 313 W Bute St, Norfolk, VA, USA, + 757 6224990


Serving up Italian cuisine to the people of Norfolk is Razzo. While small in size, Razzo makes up for its lack of space with a menu full of flavour. The lemon chicken – pan-fried with crispy pancetta – has contributed to the venue’s popularity, with its simplicity but intensity of flavour. There are also other delights to choose from, such as antipasti of asparagus and prosciutto with goat’s cheese and balsamic reduction, salads like roasted beet salad with assorted greens, aged goat’s cheese and walnut Dijon dressing, and pizza made from scratch. Wine is half-price by the glass before 6.30 p.m., and with large servings and daily changing desserts, it is no surprise diners are returning again and again to Razzo.

Razzo, 3248 E Ocean View Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA, + 1 757 9623630

The Dirty Buffalo

Describing itself as a late-night, quick-service eatery, The Dirty Buffalo is owned and run by “a couple of western New York transplants”. As a result, the food on offer reflects the flavours and cooking styles of New York, with tasty Buffalo-style chicken wings, delicious specialty subs, classic subs, and hot dogs, all lovingly prepared for Norfolk diners to enjoy. What gives the restaurant its name is the concept of a “dirty plate”, which consists of three layers of ingredients (a meat and two sides), topped with a complementary hot sauce and a choice of condiments. The restaurant jokingly describes this as “Picasso’s version of culinary art”. The establishment has won a number of awards and accolades, including the Norfolk’s Best New Restaurant and Best Wings. The Dirty Buffalo is the place for good, old-fashioned comfort food in Norfolk.

The Dirty Buffalo, 4110 Colley Ave, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 2267851


Located on the corner of Botetourt and York Street, in the historic area of Norfolk, is the local gem Voila. A little hidden away, this restaurant certainly lives up to its name when discovered by diners. The venue features eclectic décor and soft lighting that create an ambient yet animated setting where impressionist artwork and opera posters decorate the walls. Voila’s menu, designed by restaurateurs and owners John and Maggie Tsouris, comprises fresh ingredients seasoned with home-grown herbs, and features a three-course prix-fixe, which includes the key French- and Greek- inspired dishes available at the restaurant. The sumptuous menu is also accompanied by a selection of hand-made cocktails.

Voila, 509 Botetourt St, Norfolk, VA, USA, +1 757 6400343

By Julie Daunt


December 14, 2015   No Comments

Norfolk’s Pasha Mezze: Turkish Coffee in a Plush Setting

By: Judy Cowling Virginian-Pilot correspondent July 28, 2015


Purples and citrons and Turkish coffee, oh my!

Pasha Mezze, at 350 W. 22nd St. in Norfolk, has gussied up its Coffee House, and it’s looking positively fetching. There is plenty of room inside to chill, study, play a board game, have a meeting, meet your next online suitor and, if it works out, maybe have your wedding reception there.

From the walls to the rafters, there’s enough purple to make Barney blush. The citron accents, oriental rugs, chandeliers and artwork make this a lively and enchanting spot.

And the coffee (yes, they serve all kinds) is delightful.


October 16, 2015   No Comments

Turning Tables | Sweet Teas restaurant moves down Granby Street in Norfolk

By: Judy Cowling, Virginian-Pilot correspondent


No, you are not crazy.

If you visited Sweet Teas of Norfolk before June of 2015, you went to 345 Granby St. If you looked there now, it’s gone.

That’s because on June 4, Sweet Teas opened the doors at its new location at 411 Granby. The move gave it more space and allowed the owners to put a modern spin on the decor.

With a revised menu and updates to their classic dishes, I hope they didn’t go and mess with their music. It was a perfect blend of soul, funk and fun.

Sweet Teas Norfolk, 411 Granby St., Norfolk, 627-8327,


June 30, 2015   No Comments

The Virginian-Pilot Taste Test | Warming up to Chili

Chili is a meal to warm the tummy on a cold winter day.

It doesn’t matter if it’s at your home, your mom’s home or your neighborhood pub – chili is an American tradition on par with football. Our readers recently nominated nearly a dozen restaurants boasting memorable chili recipes for our monthly Taste Test feature.

And on a recent Saturday a panel of three judges volunteered their time by participating in an in-house blind taste test of chili from the three most-nominated restaurants. Here’s what they liked.

– Patty Jenkins, The Virginian-Pilot

Small’s Smokehouse and Oyster Bar

2700 Hampton Blvd., Norfolk, 626-3440

The Norfolk restaurant’s “Smoked Brisket Chili” is house-made with chunks of beef brisket in a tomato-base sauce with dark kidney beans and topped, on request, with one-inch cuts of green onions, cheese and sour cream.

Price: $5, cup; $8, bowl; or $16, quart-size

Score: 78

What they said:

“Initially mild, but with a slow building heat at the finish.” – Wendy

“The chunks of meat are tender with some fatty pieces.” – Terry

“Be prepared for the large chunks of meat – eat with a fork, not a spoon.” – Jeff

 Best of the rest

No Frill Bar and Grill

Two locations: 806 Spotswood Ave., Norfolk, 627-4262; and, 1620 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach, 425-2900

This restaurant’s “Famous Chili” features large pieces of tomatoes, onions and celery as common in stews or soups and comes with cheddar jack cheese, served with corn bread. For an added touch, top with chopped green onions and sour cream, available on request.

Price: $3.29 cup; $4.49 bowl

Score: 67

What they said:

“This chili should be an accompaniment to the corn bread, which is moist and flavorful.” – Wendy

“Good flavor chili, but could use more heat.” – Terry

“Seasons and spices are just the right amount, but the celery is overwhelming and should be left out.” – Jeff

Scotty Quixx

436 Granby St., Norfolk, 625-0008

Served by the bowl, this chili has a sweet aroma with a dark, rich tomato-based sauce with beans and meat and topped with a shredded cheese blend.

Price: $5, bowl

Score: 66

What they said:

“Beer would be a wonderful starter with this chili. Ask for sour cream.” – Wendy

“Lots of meat and beans with a good consistency and aroma.” – Terry

“My taste buds and tongue were burning for a while.” – Jeff

About the scoring

Chili earned points in five categories: appearance/aroma; meat/beans; flavors/spices; texture; and value. Testers’ scores were added and averaged to arrive at the final score.

Other restaurants with multiple nominations



Red Robin

Ruby Tuesday

Virginia Beach

Seasons Best Bakery


The Barking Dog

Our testers


Wendy Iles

53, Hampton

Occupation: President and head gardener, Hampton Grows Inc.

Favorite chili: White chicken chili topped with Monterey Jack cheese is the preferred variety for this former chef and 30-year veteran in the food service industry.

On chili: “Chili is interpretive – subtle to spicy and anything in between.”


 Terry Ward

62, Norfolk

Occupation: Maintenance

Favorite chili: The many in-house chili entries at the Pepper Lovers Club Chili Cook-off, held annually in November. Ward is a charter member of the club.

On chili: “Chili should be robust, thick and hardy with a lingering heat in the back of the throat. You should be able to taste the chilies and spices without heat being overwhelming.”


Jeff Holste

67, Virginia Beach

Occupation: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, retired. Part-time employment with Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center

Nominated: Wild Bill’s chili at Froggie’s Cantina on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach

On chili: “My mom’s homemade chili was my ‘comfort food.’ Whenever I went home for visits in Pennsylvania, she would serve it in a carved-out bowl of mashed potatoes.”


Next up: chicken and dumplings!

Nothing says “Southern” like a bowl of chicken and dumplings. This is comfort food at its best.

Nominate your favorite(s) by contacting us with the name of the restaurant and the city where it’s located. If you’d like to be a tester, tell us why and include your name, age, city of residence and an email address, if you have one.

Nominations and applications will be accepted through Feb. 8. To submit nominations and applications call 446-2334 or send emails to



January 26, 2015   No Comments

Restaurant Week

Don’t miss delicious dining and tasty savings from
participating Downtown restaurants.
Look for lunch specials, too…
Check back for more information about
participating restaurants and menus.

For more information, please visit:

January 15, 2015   No Comments

Todd Jurich’s Bistro

150 West Main Street Suite 100
Norfolk, VA 23510
Todd Jurich's Bistro
Discover a unique dining experience in upscale dining — casual elegance. At Todd Jurich’s Bistro, you will enjoy five-star cuisine and world-class wines in a relaxed atmosphere. Enjoy flavorful dishes prepared by Chef Todd Jurich and his talented team. He and his staff go the distance to ensure personalized service and a dining experience beyond your expectations.
Todd Jurich’s Bistro takes great measures to utilize small farmers and producers who practice natural and ecologically sound agriculture, and is proud to offer alternative simple dishes to suit your diet or food allergies.

December 15, 2014   No Comments

Cajun Restaurants in Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk, Virginia is home to one of the country’s top naval bases and there are several great golf courses in the area. The city is also just a stone’s throw away from Virginia Beach, where one can walk up and down the boardwalk or rent a bike and ride on a couple of bike trails. If you’re coming to Norfolk, you should stop in and try some of the local flair. Norfolk has several Cajun restaurants to choose from. Stop on by and check out some favorites.

Dixie’s Tavern

Serving American and Cajun cuisine, this downtown Norfolk restaurant offers a casual dining experience. Try the deep fried catfish and throw back a beer. Right on the waterfront, and complete with big TVs, and pool and Foosball tables, this is the place to just come in and hang out. Prices range from about $15 to $20 per meal. Open Sunday through Saturday 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Dixie’s Tavern
333 Waterside Dr.
Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 642-9422

Voodoo Rouge

Voodoo offers a wide variety of Cajun and Creole cuisine. The dress code is business casual, so no shorts and sandals. It offers a classic crawfish gumbo along with other styles of this hearty soup. Decorated in the Louisiana Bayou style, this place will have you feeling like you are down in New Orleans getting ready to go to Mardi Gras. A meal runs about $10 to $20 per person. Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Voodoo Rouge
332 Granby St.
Norfolk, VA 23510
(757) 333-3068

Tanner’s Creek

Tanner’s specializes in one main area of Cajun cooking–seafood. This restaurant is famous for its “delightful staff,” according to Looking more like a 1950s cafe than a modern day restaurant, Tanner’s Creek has a wide variety of Cajun seafood dishes for you to choose from with something to please just about anybody. Fried shrimp po’ boys and broiled catfish are among the choices at this restaurant. Dine-in or carry-out lunch or dinner runs between $10 and $15 per person.

Tanner’s Creek
5103 Colley Ave.
Norfolk, VA 23508
(757) 423-2430

Thumpers Olde Towne Cajun Grll

Nestled just outside Norfolk in Portsmouth, Virginia, Thumpers serves a variety of Cajun and French cooking including dishes such as fried gator bites, red beans and rice, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, and craw fish pasta. Of all the restaurants on this list, it is the only one that boasts a romantic ambiance for the dining room. Though it is for the casual romantic encounter, this restaurant is not without its fun–it has a pool table room where people can go and shoot a few rounds and a full bar. Dinner here will run you about $15 to $25 per person.

Thumpers Olde Towne Cajun Grll
600 Court St.
Portsmouth, VA 23704
(757) 399-1001


Article Written By James Mascia


October 7, 2014   No Comments

Suffolk Restaurant Week: A Culinary Encore

November 8, 2014

524 North Main Street

Suffolk, Virginia 23434

October 7, 2014   No Comments