To have the ultimate restaurant experience, several factors come into play. Of course, there’s the quality of the food and the service, but many other subtle elements contribute to the overall enjoyment of an evening out. A recent visit to Burtons Grill at Hilltop in Virginia Beach with my husband, Peter, reminded me of how pleasurable dining out can be when everything hits the mark.
One important component for me when I go out to eat is the restaurant’s ambiance. I’ve always felt that Burtons Grill offers just the right touch of trendiness in its décor, which is hip and modern, but also has a classy, big-city vibe. The night Peter and I dined there, the background music definitely fell into the hip and trendy category. At one point a diner nearby asked that it be turned down. He was right. The music was a little too loud—probably because it was late in the evening, and the dining room had emptied out somewhat.
Lighting is also important to me, and Burtons Grill exudes a warm, lovely atmosphere, thanks to well-placed lighting. I’m often amazed when I go to restaurants and the tables are poorly lit. Adding the right touch of light—not too bright, not too dim—envelopes your table in a cozy glow and adds to your sense of ownership. In fact, from the time you are seated in a restaurant until the time you leave, you are in effect an owner of that table and that space. Moreso, you become like royalty during your meal as the serving staff caters to your every desire.
Hopefully, that is. Sometimes when you dine out, you often feel rushed as if the staff can’t wait to bring the bill and send you on your merry way. Peter and I have started ordering our appetizers and then waiting until we are finished with the starters before ordering our main course. This ensures that the food doesn’t come out too quickly.
These days it’s easy to drop $100 on dinner, especially if you have cocktails or wine, and shouldn’t you enjoy spending that money? Sometimes you have to remind yourself to slow down and enjoy the moment more. Savor the experience. Make it last.
Our server at Burtons Grill was spot on. He happily let us take our time ordering. We started with one of their current drink specials, a Negroni, which is an Italian cocktail most often enjoyed as an aperitif. The drink is made with gin, Campari, and a touch of sweet vermouth. I’m a Campari fan, but hadn’t tried this particular drink before. It’s a keeper, I decided.
For our first course, Peter and I shared a chopped blue cheese salad, which was amazing. It had crunchy bits of bacon and was topped with a balsamic glaze—a perfect balance of flavors. We also tried the soup of the day—a chicken and chorizo medley, which was rich and flavorful.
After our cocktails, we tucked into a nice bottle of wine from Argentina, a Malbec called The Show. It proved to be a good choice for our dinner entrees. Peter decided to go for the New York strip, topped with a mushroom-sherry cream sauce and onion crisps and served with broccoli and French fries. The steak was full of flavor, especially good paired with an optional side of Crimini mushrooms. My choice was the catch of the day, bronzed Mahi with two large shrimp and a bourbon cream sauce on top of a moist, flavorful grit cake alongside broccoli. We were in food heaven and enjoyed taking our time, enjoying each bite and letting the cares of the day melt away.
Dessert was a must, our server said, so we boxed up part of our entrees and indulged in a sweet ending to our lovely meal. My pick was raspberry sorbet crowned by a sprig of fresh mint—perfectly divine. Peter went with the Key Lime pie and said it was one of the best he’d ever had: a fine granola crumb crust with zippy lime filling and of course whipped cream on top.
Burtons Grill has all the right ingredients for a delicious night out.
Mondays from 3-6 p.m. enjoy Burtons Burger for half-price: certified angus beef patty topped with applewood smoked bacon, sautéed mushrooms, onions, and your choice of cheese on a griddled bun served with a pickle and hand cut french fries, usually $12.95.
Burtons Grill Virginia Beach
741 First Colonial Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23451