What do you get when you combine a beautiful spring evening, interesting people, a walk through Norfolk’s historic neighborhoods, and four unique restaurants? A recipe for a pleasurable outing. Recently I joined a group of visiting travel writers for a Granby Street Food Tour sponsored by Food Tour Corporation, a company that offers food tours in a number of cities: D.C., Cleveland, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Alexandria, and Norfolk.
To begin, we entered Freemason Abbey, a lovely restaurant on West Freemason Street housed in a former church, where a soaring cathedral ceiling, cool stained glass windows, and cozy atmosphere welcomed us. Built in 1873, the building was converted to a restaurant 23 years ago and is a popular dining destination for those in the know. After walking a few blocks from our meeting spot, everyone was ready for refreshment, which came in the form of a cold Norfolk Canyon Pale Ale, brewed locally by O’Connors. A tasty dry beer with hints of fruit, the Norfolk Canyon hit the spot. Next we enjoyed a piping hot bowl of Freemason Abbey’s award-winning she-crab soup. Super thick and full of crab, this soup was phenomenal. I totally recommend it!
From there we walked along cobblestone streets to Omar’s Carriage House, a reputable restaurant I’d always wanted to try. The historic building was once a carriage house, and its authentic vibe adds to the ambiance—as does the charming owner, Omar Boukhriss, who welcomed the group and described the dish his staff would be serving. Called bastila, this savory pastry features phyllo dough stuffed with chicken, almonds, spices, and egg sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon. “It’s a signature dish for special guests,” Omar said, “and takes a lot of work to prepare.” I loved the textures and flavors of the bastila, especially the nice crunch of the phyllo dough.
Our third stop was Todd Jurich’s Bistro, where we sampled a petit filet wrapped in house-cured bacon. Personally, I’m not a fan of wrapping bacon around filet mignon; to me, the former overpowers the subtler flavors of the beef. But I did enjoy the Spring Ramp Gnocchi, playfully dubbed Tater Tots.
Finally, we strolled down to Trilogy, another established restaurant on Granby St. Housed in the historic Virginia Bank and Trust Building, Trilogy offers a casual, yet sophisticated setting with an Old-World vibe. Here we enjoyed an deliciously decadent crabcak. Plump and moist with copious amounts of bluecrab, the cake was cooked to perfection and most satisfying. Finally, when we didn’t think we could eat any more, a Strawberry Napoleon tempted us to do just that! Strawberries soaked in Grand Marnier oozed from a light pastry shell topped by a dollop of freshly whipped cream. A heavenly ending to a most amazing meal.
For more information about the Granby Street Food Tour, visit www.coastalfoodtours.com