Archive for the ‘Restaurants’ Category

Restaurant Review: Tortilla West

Tortilla West, at the end of Orapax Street near Lambert Point Docks in Norfolk, is not easy to find the first time you go, but it’s really easy to go back to again and again.The style is Mexican flavors with a modern twist using fresh local ingredients and for the most part, they do it very well.

I visited Tortilla West on a recent Sunday for lunch with Patrick Evans-Hylton and members of the food writing class we’re taking at The Muse in Norfolk. We ordered a variety of dishes to share tapas-style.

We started off with drinks. My companions went for the Bloody Mary bar, but as I’m not an aficionado, I ordered the house margarita on the rocks with salt. It always has the perfect balance of tequila, lime juice and orange liqueur, and a crunchy rim of kosher salt.

The most memorable dish for me was the fried oysters with a creamy dipping sauce. The plump, juicy Chinoteague oysters were coated with a crackling cornmeal crust that broke apart with the first bite, releasing the sweet meat. The creamy, slightly spicy sauce was the perfect counterpoint to the crunchy coating. I used to think I didn’t like oysters – they’ve made a convert of me.

Tortilla West dishes

More disappointing was the Mexican pulled pork sandwich, served on ciabatta rolls with tomatillo dipping sauce. While the pork was fork-tender, the sauce was overly salty, which really detracted from the flavor. The Mexican-influenced macaroni & cheese, however, made up for it. It was delivered nice and hot, with curvy cavatelli pasta soaking up the flavor of a perfectly melted, beautifully balanced spicy-creamy cheese sauce flecked with bits of jalapeno.

Pulled Mexican pork with tomatillo dipping sauce

I’ve been to Tortilla West many times since they opened several years ago, and I don’t believe I’ve ever not liked a dish, until this pork. So I’m sure I’ll be back – the food is generally outstanding, the prices are reasonable and the service is fast and friendly.

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TNT Dinner: Rajput

Barbara and I had dinner at Rajput last night. It was pretty good, although service was slow. They seemed confused about whose table it was.

I’m not as familiar with Indian foods and flavors as I am with some other cuisines, so I generally end up ordering the same thing: chicken tandoori. And that’s what I had last night. The chicken was nice and tender and the tikka masala sauce was tasty. There wasn’t a lot of heat, though. Next time, I might ask for some hot sauce. I also ordered garlic naan – that was delish!

Barbara had lamb biryani and offered me a taste. It was very good, with a bit of heat. Nice flavor. I forgot to bring my camera in, though, so no pix. This post is primarily a reminder for me, so next time I go out for Indian, I can look back and see what I liked.

I’ve been watching the new show Aarti Party on the Food Network, to learn more about basic Indian cooking. Now I need to actually try some of the recipes ;-) And I already have all five of her basic Indian spices.

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TNT: No Frill Grill Special

On Wednesday, my weekly dinner group headed to the No Frill Bar & Grill on Colley Avenue for dinner. They’re having their annual February special – for each appetizer and dessert sold during the month, they donate $1 to the Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters, a very good cause.

So we go and pretend the appetizers are tapas – buy several and share :-) Then share a dessert. It was good and filling, with lots left over. We had:

  • Artichoke/cheese dip with pita bread
  • Nachos with chicken – it was huge! Must have been 5 lbs. of food there!
  • Bowl of beef and bean chili – they counted this as an appetizer
  • For dessert, we feasted on the Chocolate Amaretto Sin Pie – essentially, a big truffle with a cookie crust and whipped cream – sinful indeed

So if you’re local, stop by the No Frill Grill and have a few for the children :-)

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TNT Dinner: Tortilla West

We had a good crowd for the TNT dinner on July 17. We went to our favorite Mexican place – Tortilla West, on Orapax Avenue near Lamberts Point Docks. It’s more of an upscale Mexican restaurant – one of the waitresses told me they have trained chefs who like to do Mexican-inspired dishes rather than the typical Mexican. It seems to me that most of the Mexican restaurants around here use a version of the same menu – the same Speedy Gonzales Lunch #1 and so on – which are fine for what they are, but Tortilla West has their own delicious dishes.

So, to help us keep track of what we’ve tried and not tried, here’s what we all had that night:

  • Barbara – Chicken Enchiladas Mole
  • Kim – Fish Tacos
  • Susan – Chicken Enchiladas Mole
  • Martha – Chicken Fajitas – a very generous portion!
  • Randy – Spinach and Goat Cheese Quesadilla
  • Duane – Chicken Enchiladas

All declared their dinners delicious :-)

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TNT Dinner: Imperio Inca

On April 2, Barbara and I went to Imperio Inca, a Peruvian restaurant on 21st Street in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk. I love that place. It’s the only restaurant I know of in this area that serves ceviche as an entree.

Barbara had Lenguado a lo Macho: Grilled flounder topped with a Peruvian pepper sauce along with shrimp, calamari, mussels, and clams, and served with white rice. It was good, but a bit bland, so Barbara asked for some hot sauce. They have a green Peruvian sauce to spice things up – that helped a lot.

Imperio Inca - Peruvian Seafood Platter

I put together a plate from three a la carte dishes: Leche de Tigre, a Peruvian fish ceviche cocktail; Papa a la Huancaina, or halved boiled potatoes served on lettuce and covered in a spicy Peruvian cheese sauce garnished with olive and a slice of boiled egg; and half a roasted chicken, marinated in Peruvian spices.

The ceviche was excellent – spicy-hot and tangy.

Imperio Inca - Ceviche Cocktail

I liked the potatoes, too. They’re served cold with the spicy sauce on top – very good.

Imperio Inca - Boiled Potatoes with Spicy Cheese Sauce

Didn’t get a good shot of the chicken. It tasted good, but I didn’t get any flavor of the Peruvian spices it was supposed to be marinated in.

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Dinner at Plaza del Sol

Plaza del SolLast Wednesday, our TNT dinner group went to a new Mexican place that just opened in November – Plaza del Sol, at 22nd Street and Colonial Avenue in Ghent.

It’s an interesting space. There’s a large patio up front, with tables for dining al fresco, and a bar and dining room inside. It has a two-story ceiling and attractive Mexican decorations on the walls.

The food was just okay, though. Barbara, Susan and I all had the chicken fajitas with a side of refried beans. Nothing special there. I like the beans better at San Antonio Sam’s because they mix in lime juice and top with cheese to give more flavor.

Jane had a bowl of chicken tortilla soup. It looked good, and had lots of chicken in it, but it was not hot when it was served. The manager took care of that right away – we appreciated that. We’ll probably go back and try something else, but right now it’s just – so so.

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