Williamsburg, VA

The Cheese Shop January 2012

On our fifth day in Williamsburg, we decided to do something slightly different for lunch.  We stopped by The Cheese Shop, which is owned by the same folks who own the previously visited Fat Canary, and got a cheese plate to go with our sandwiches. 

Cheese PlateThe woman who set up our cheese plate was pretty amazing.  She asked about our likes and dislikes and then asked if we trusted her.  We told her “we pretty much like everything except blue cheese” and she ran with that to set up a great selection.  It came on a thin bamboo plate with a bamboo knife, a small container of honey, and some dried fruit.  We also got some plain crackers and bread ends as well as two different types of salami. 

Thankfully our cheesemonger wrote down the names, and descriptions, of the cheeses, so I’m able to share them with you here. 

Robiolasheep and cow soft-ripened cheese from Italy.  This was lovely, rich, and creamy.  I think it was my favorite of the cheeses. 

Bucheronaged goat cheese from France.  This was a very dry cheese that went quite well with the honey and crackers.  It was probably my least favorite of the three but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like it since I loved all of them! 

BellavitanoWisconsin cheese made in Italian style with pepper.  This was another lovely creamy cheese and my second favorite of the three.  The pepper added a nice touch! 

We also each got sandwiches (we basically grazed for a few hours while playing board games) and I won the sandwich battle this time.  Art got the Combo which had turkey and Virginia ham.  I got the Prosciutto on Focaccia with provolone and roasted tomatoes. 

The only downside of The Cheese Shop was that the people making sandwiches were unable to tell me what was in the famous “house dressing” so I had to skip it just in case there was HFCS lurking.  Otherwise, this was an awesome food experience and I’m now excited to visit the cheese shop (Cheesetique) located near one of the movie theaters we frequent.  I’ll give them my list of cheeses I’ve tried and keep track so I only get new cheeses! 

(I was also sad that the cheesemonger gave me a blank stare when we asked about “charcuterie.”  If a word is on the website, you’d think that the employees would know what it was!  But this is a very minor nitpick.)

Total price: $61.66

The Cheese Shop
410 W Duke of Gloucester St
Williamsburg VA

Phone: 757.220.0298

Cheese Shop on Urbanspoon

Second St January 2012

For our last dinner in Williamsburg, I opted for modern American cuisine and we ended up at Second St

soup**House-made French Onion Soup **
It was a rainy, chilly evening, so I opted for a delicious bowl of soup.  And delicious it was.  Warm, rich, and full of nice cheese coated bread bits.  Scrumptious. 

breadCast Iron Cornbread Southern Style Cornbread/ Honey Herb Butter/Cast Iron Skillet

Art decided we needed cornbread to share and he was nice enough to take all of the honey butter for himself so I could avoid the honey part of it.  This was the cakey, sweet sort of cornbread, but still nice. 

onion rings2nd St’s Famous O-Rings Double Hand Breaded to Order/Signature Ranch

These onion rings were nothing special, but the ranch dressing was tasty.  It was made with sour cream and yogurt so it had a nice and refreshing taste. 

sandwichHam Panini Pit-Style Smoked Ham/Brie/Baby Arugula/Caramelized Onion/Whole Grain Cranberry Mustard/Baguette

Sadly, I wasn’t super hungry so I ordered a sandwich for dinner instead of a big entrée.  This was probably one of my favorite sandwiches the whole trip, which says a lot because I had some pretty amazing sandwiches while in Williamsburg.  The cranberry mustard added a nice hint of sweetness to the sandwich and I loved the combination of brie and arugula. 

pastaChorizo-Pumpkin Pasta Grilled Authentic Chorizo/Sweet Bell Peppers/Tomato/Scallion/Penne/Pumpkin-Ricotta Cream/ Aged Parmesan/Chili-Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Art ordered this pasta dish which, based on the name and ingredients, should have been right up his alley.  He enjoyed the crunch of the toasted pumpkin seeds which added texture to the dish but, overall, he felt it was lacking.  He thought it was under seasoned and that it really lacked any chorizo punch – especially for a dish with chorizo in the name.  Sadly, I won this dinner battle.  This dish had tons of potential; it just didn’t live up to any of it. 

We did get desserts to go, but I neglected to take pictures.  Art got a fantastic slice of Tiramisu and I got their sundae which had a brownie, ice cream, and a cookie.  Delicious. 

I’ve got mixed feelings about Second St.  The food was decent, but it wasn’t as amazing as it should have been.  Our server was a bit neglectful and we never got the bread basket that we saw delivered to all of the other tables.  It did seem like a busy night and she had at least a table of eight she was dealing with as well, but it would have been nice to have had a bit more attention than we did.  I’m not sure if I’d go back since the food wasn’t astoundingly good, but it was a nice meal to end the trip with. 

Total price: $75.25

Second Street Williamsburg
140 2nd Street
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Phone: 757.220.2286

Second Street - An American Bistro on Urbanspoon

Nawab Indian Cuisine January 2012

Indian food is another cuisine that we’re lacking in Southern Maryland so it’s always nice to get it when we’re traveling.  I can make a number of dishes at home, but some things I just haven’t had the nerve to tackle yet.  With that in mind, I found Nawab Indian in Williamsburg. 

papadumThe meal started out with spicy papadum and mint chutney.  Papadum are definitely something I can’t make at home so I love having them in restaurants. 

samosaSubz Samosa Seasoned potatoes and green peas filled in crisp turnovers.

We love samosas and they’re one of the things I can make at home!  These were crispy and tasty, we shared them. 

Tikka MasalaChicken Tikka Masala Chicken tikka simmered in a tomato and cream sauce.

We ordered three entrees to share.  Well, really we ordered one to share and then we each ordered one to not share.  Art ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala and had the choice of mild, medium, hot, or “Indian hot.”  He chose hot and was very happy.  The chicken was delicious and you could tell it had been sitting in the sauce for a while to allow the flavors to mindle.  One of my biggest peeves at Indian restaurants is when it tastes like the meat was put into the sauce at the last minute so it doesn’t taste like it belongs in the dish at all. 

DalDal Makhni Slow simmered lentils with butter, fresh garlic, ginger and tomatoes.

Our entrée to share was the Dal.  We love dals and this one certainly continued the trend.  It was fantastic, especially with the naan and rice. 

NaanGarlic Naan

Speaking of naan… this was probably the best naan I’ve ever had.  It was buttery and garlicky and absolutely perfect.  I know that I can make naan at home, but I’ve never gotten the guts to try, I should really change that so I can try to replicate this amazing stuff. 

PalakPalak Paneer Deliciously Cooked Creamed Style Spinach With Homemade Indian Cheese cheese

I ordered Palak Paneer for my entrée.  This is the first Indian dish I ever had and it’s the one I tend to return to time and time again in restaurants.  The paneer was lovely and firm while the spinach was rich and creamy.  Like the naan, it was also perfect. 

This really was a wonderful meal and I’m so glad we tried Nawab out.  During the following days in the area, we found out that Nawab has quite a reputation in town for being simply amazing.  It was nice to have our choice reaffirmed by the locals we interacted with!  The service was nice and we always had water when we needed it, which is a good thing because the food was very well spiced.

Like most Indian restaurants, Nawab had a wide range of vegetarian and vegan options clearly marked on the menu. 

Total price: $73

Nawab Indian Cuisine
204 Monticello Ave
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Phone: 757.565.3200

Nawab Indian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant January 2012

For dinner on our fifth day, I found a lovely little Italian place called Giuseppe’s.  Italian is one of those cuisines I’m really nervous about when it comes to restaurants.  So many places serve nothing but heavy, cheese covered pasta dishes and those aren’t really my preference.  Especially on a day that I’ve already eaten out for a midday meal!  Art loves Italian food, though, so we decided to give Giuseppe’s a try.  I’m glad we did! 

saladCaesar Salad Crisp romaine with our original dressing.

I started off my meal with a wonderful Caesar salad.  The dressing was amazing, nicely peppery and garlicky.  It came with two anchovy fillets on the top which was stellar. 

soupGiuseppe’s Lentil Soup with andouille sausage (featured in Bon Appetit magazine!)

Art began his meal with his favorite – lentil soup.  He was pretty pleased with it and enjoyed the andouille sausage. 

breadThe bread was warm and freshly baked, still steaming in fact. 

pizzaPizza #6 Fresh spinach, bacon, red onion and feta cheese

I didn’t want a heavy pasta dish, so I went with pizza instead.  It was LOADED!  Even after sharing a piece with Art I was unable to finish the whole thing.  It was a little dry, I wish it had some sort of sauce like tzatziki or a garlic sauce.  It was still lovely regardless. 

pastaCappellini Bergino Angel hair pasta with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, scallions, and sundried tomatoes in garlic white wine sauce

I knew Art was going to get this when I looked at the menu online and he did not disappoint my prediction.  If I was going to order a pasta dish, this is the one I would have gotten too.  He thought it was nice and enjoyed the mixture of ingredients. 

cakeChocolate Decadence Torte “More Chocolate Than The Average Woman Can Handle!”

Ignoring the stupid subtitle this cake has, it was your basic “block of fudge cake” that so many restaurants these days serve.  Very dense, very rich. 

ice creamVanilla Ice Cream

Thankfully we had ordered a scoop of vanilla ice cream which helped to temper the richness of the torte.  Otherwise the cake would have been too rich to tolerate.  The two desserts combined were awesome. 

The service here was great, the restaurant seemed like it was a favorite among the retirees who call Williamsburg home. 

Total price: $46.65

Giuseppe’s Italian Restaurant
5525 Olde Towne Road
Williamsburg, VA 23188

Phone: 757.565.1977

Giuseppe's Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Carrot Tree Kitchens at the Dale House Café January 2012

On our sixth day, which was our last full day of vacation, we drove over to Jamestown Settlement and Historic Jamestowne to get our history on.  We had been advised by a number of people to save our appetites for Historic Jamestowne because of the great café there.  Much to my surprise, the café at the Dale House is actually run now by Carrot Tree Kitchens which has a location in Williamsburg that was actually on my list of restaurants to visit.  So while we didn’t visit the real thing, we at least got to eat at an offshoot! 

Due to time constraints and weather (we wanted to get back to the suite to play Arkham Horror), we decided to get our food to go. 

wrapThe Yorktown Onion Tortilla wrap filled with hummus, Greek olives, lettuce, cucumbers, red onion and carrots. (sans olives)

I was in a vegetarian mood, so I opted for the hummus wrap.  Nice, garlicky hummus with plenty of veggies.  My kind of sandwich!  It came with a side of Spinach Orzo Pasta Salad and then I ordered Red Bliss Potato Salad with Dill that Art and I shared.  The pasta salad was light and refreshing and the potato salad was some of the better I’ve had. 

wrapThe Brookstone Honey-roasted Turkey with Spinach Artichoke dip, lettuce and tomato in a tortilla wrap (with bacon)

Art also got a wrap although he went the omnivore route.  He added bacon and thought it was grand.  He opted for the orzo salad side as well!

This was a really lovely lunch and I’m glad we got out to Jamestowne to see everything as well as pick up a great meal.

Total price: $21.22

Carrot Tree Kitchens at the Dale House Café
204 West Franklin St.
Richmond, VA 23220-5012

Phone: ?

Williamsburg Inn January 2012

My parents advised us to visit the Williamsburg Inn for their amazing breakfast buffet, but I think we messed up somehow.  We went on a Sunday and it seems like they might only have a brunch buffet on Sundays?  I’m still not quite sure!  But, we were there for breakfast and had a nice little a la carte meal in the Terrace Room regardless of what our goal was. 

foodI ordered eggs benedict which came with bacon and some hash browns.  The hollandaise was nice and the eggs were poached well.  I could have done without the pale winter tomato bits on top, though!

foodArt ordered cheese grits with duck confit, poached eggs, and bacon.  He loved all of it.  The bacon on both of our plates was perfectly crispy, just the way we wanted it to be. 

So, while this wasn’t the meal we were hoping for, everything was still delicious.  We were probably the youngest people there by at least 30 years, which was a bit amusing.  The service was fine, the orange juice was awesome, and I’d definitely like to go back someday for the real breakfast buffet. 

Total price: $50.07

Williamsburg Inn
136 East Francis Street
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185

Phone: 757.229.2141

Fat Canary January 2012

I didn’t do a lot of planning before our trip to Williamsburg.  I scoured Urbanspoon and bookmarked about 20 restaurants that looked appealing but didn’t bother picking days or making reservations.  Since it was the off season, this worked out pretty well for us.  I picked Fat Canary from my list for dinner our second day since we spent the day at Colonial Williamsburg where Fat Canary is located.  It was one of the best meals we ate during our trip. 

foodWe started our meal with a nice bread basket.  As most meals start. 

foodSince it had gotten chilly out, we both opted for a bowl of the soup of the day.  This was a very smooth potato soup with a few bits of crispy pancetta, shaved black truffle, and fingerling potato bits on top.  It was warm and creamy – a perfect start to the meal when we were both a bit cold.  I was a little worried about the truffle - the last time I had truffle it was in mac and cheese at Smith and Wollensky and I was unimpressed.  This time, it was delicious.  This just goes to show that even fancy ingredients can be ruined by bad preparation and that, sometimes, you should give an ingredient a second chance. 

foodHearts of Romaine, Focaccia Croutons and Roasted Garlic Dressing

We don’t always order the same thing, really, but this salad called to both of us.  It looks similar to a Caesar salad, but the dressing wasn’t quite the same.  The croutons were the best croutons I have ever had in my life.  I actually wanted to compliment the chef on the perfection of the croutons.  They were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.  Seriously, perfection.  Who knew? 

foodGrilled Lamb Strip Loin, Farro with Herbs and Olives, Rapini, Garlic, Lemon and Pine Nuts

Art claims that this is the best lamb he’s had in a restaurant for quite a long time.  He was pleased to see a lamb cut other than chops, which is the standard lamb preparation you see in restaurants.  He felt it was cooked exactly right and he quite enjoyed the farro it was served on.  He’d never had farro, but I convinced him that he’d enjoy it. 

foodSweet Soy Grilled Pacific Salmon with Citrus Ponzu Stir Fry Vegetables

foodwith Nori Rice

This was my entrée.  I loved it.  The salmon was very nicely done, the sauce was grand.  The rice was sticky and nicely flavored thanks to the nori.  All of the components came together beautifully. 

foodMy dessert was profiteroles with espresso ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce.  Sadly, the espresso ice cream tasted a bit burnt as did the cup of espresso that Art ordered after his meal.  Perhaps this just isn’t the restaurant for espresso? 

foodArt’s dessert was a little pecan pie with ancho chile ice cream.  He loved it.  The pecan pie was loaded with pecans, just the way he likes it.  He definitely won the dessert battle of the evening! 

The service was lovely and our glasses were always filled.  I was also happy that my request for a table with good lighting was honored since we had a table in the front of the restaurant by a big bay window.  Apparently the restaurant has quite the wine cellar as well, even though we didn’t partake. 

Total price: $164.37

Fat Canary
410 W Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg VA

Phone: 757.229.3333

Fat Canary on Urbanspoon

Chowning’s Tavern January 2012

We decided that we should stop by one of the taverns in Colonial Williamsburg while there and, since Chowning’s was the only one open in this off season, Chowning’s it was.  The taverns are supposed to give a 18th Century dining experience. 

foodJosiah’s Best Welsh Rarebit Warm Ale and Mustard–spiced Cheddar Cheese over Sippets with shaved Virginia Ham

This was the highlight of the meal and I’d love to make rarebit at home someday.  Spicy beer cheese with salty ham and toast.  Yum. 

foodSmoked Turkey Breast or Honey-baked Ham and Cheddar Cheese Sandwich Served on Sourdough or Wheat Bread with Lettuce, Tomatoes, Pickle Slices and Dijionaise Spread. Choice of Potato Chips or Potato Salad

Sadly, the highlight came with a lowlight.  In Art’s words, this was cafeteria food.  Turkey and bread that I could have gotten in any grocery store and mediocre potato salad.  I tried to convince myself that we just ordered poorly, but, every other sandwich I had on this trip was amazing compared to what we got at Chowning’s.  The turkey could have been carved from a real bird.  The bread could have been in the form of nice, crusty rolls.  Instead, we got boring sandwiches that lacked any real flavor.  What a letdown. 

The service was fine.  The meal was just a big disappointment. 

Total price: $47.33

Chowning’s Tavern
109 East Duke of Gloucester Street
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185

Phone: 757.229.2141

Josiah Chowning's Tavern on Urbanspoon

Bangkok Garden January 2012

Art loves Thai food.  Loves it.  We don’t have a local Thai place, so I was thrilled to find a highly rated one in Williamsburg.  We were not disappointed at all with Bangkok Garden

foodKai Tom Kha (Chicken Coconut Soup) A famous aromatic soup, boiled in coconut milk, galangal, tomato, green onions, lime juice, and chicken

We started our meal with bowls of Tom Kha.  This is a delicious soup which I wish I could replicate at home, but I’m lacking a source for galangal at the moment.  I love the way the citrus of the lime mixes with the mildness of the coconut milk.  We also got nice little salads. 

foodChicken Pad Thai Rice noodles stir-fried with chicken, ground peanuts, eggs, bean sprouts, and green onions.

Pad Thai is my favorite.  Sadly, I wasn’t able to eat even half of my food since there was just so much of it.  It was delicious, every bite. 

foodChicken Kang Panang Panang curry sauteed with coconut milk, bell peppers, and basil leaves.

Art’s dish was on the spicy side, the way he wanted it, so I didn’t try any.  Plus it has green bell peppers which I can’t stand.   He, however, loved it and ate the entire bowl.  He declared Bangkok Garden his favorite Thai place other than Latitude 8 which is his favorite place in Phoenix, AZ.  I felt like a winner!

The service was great and friendly.  We loved this place and would recommend it to anyone who loves Thai food. 

Total price: $51.16

Bangkok Garden
1346 Richmond Road
Williamsburg, VA 23185

Phone: 757.565.3939

Bangkok Garden on Urbanspoon

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que January 2012

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que had been recommended to us by a number of people as well as Art’s father and various websites.  We decided to try it out on the day we arrived in Williamsburg for our first vacation since 2005!

The ambiance is pretty low-key, sort of like the McDonalds of my youth.  You order at a counter and then pick up your food when your number is called out. 

foodCOMBO DINNER 5 ounces of our Pulled BBQ Chicken and 5 ounces of our Pulled Pork BBQ covered with “Doc” Pierce’s Original Bar-B-Que Sauce. Comes with a Side of Ribs, French fries, Pierce’s own coleslaw and hushpuppies.
Art and I both had the Combo Dinner with a roll on the side.  In this picture the pulled chicken is hiding out under the ribs.  I guess we’re spoiled by the smoking Art does at home, because this wasn’t really anything special.  Sadly, I’m guessing it was also full of HFCS because I was pretty ill that night.  Be wary of restaurants which bottle and sell their BBQ sauce, chances are it has things you might not want to ingest as ingredients. 

I’m sad that Pierce’s wasn’t as awesome as we were hoping it would be, but such is life and I’m still glad we gave it a try. 

Total price: $38.09

Pierce’s Pitt Bar-B-Que
447 East Rochambeau
Williamsburg, Virginia 23188

Phone: 757.565.2955

Pierce's Pitt Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon