Norfolk Seafood Co. & Big Easy Oyster Bar: 2019 Downtown Norfolk Restaurant Week
Working and living in Virginia Beach, I’ve gotten lazy when it comes to visiting the other cities in Hampton Roads. Well, nothing gets me on the highway faster than a chance to eat and a great deal. On Thursday, I hit I-264 to check out the restaurants offering a three-course meals during Downtown Norfolk Restaurant Week.
Restaurant Week is the perfect way to explore new restaurants or indulge at some of your favorites. From January 13–20, 2019, Downtown Norfolk Restaurant Week offers two- and three-course menus for brunch, lunch and dinner. Restaurants in Norfolk, especially downtown, receive so much praise for their innovative dishes, mouthwatering fare and locally cultivated cuisine. I couldn’t miss an opportunity to try one of these acclaimed restaurants at a lower price.
Choosing which restaurant to visit was agonizing. At the end of the day, it came down to which restaurant offered the best deal and had menu options that excited me. Norfolk Seafood Co. & Big Easy Oyster Bar won me over with its New Orleans-inspired menu. The restaurant gave diners a choice of a $25 or $35 three-course dinner. After reviewing both menus, each with different dishes, I landed on the $35 menu solely because I wanted crème brûlée for dessert.
Options: Caesar Salad, Seared Scallops, Oyster Trio, She Crab Soup, Pear & Apple Salad
For my first course, I was between the Seared Scallops and the She Crab Soup. Yes, I’ve had She Crap soup many times, but it was a chilly evening and it seemed like the perfect way to start my meal. However, the tropical-flavored Seared Scallops also caught my eye. It certainly didn’t help my decision when my server told me that the restaurant “has the best She Crab soup.” At the end of the day, I had to remind myself that I was here to try new dishes.
Typically, when I make scallops, I love a nice hard sear on them. Norfolk Seafood Co.’s scallops had a light sear which was perfect for the tropical fruit salsa on top. The salsa was a very mild pico de gallo accompanied by strawberries. Initially, I was hesitant that the dish would be too sweet since scallops already have a naturally sweet flavor. Between the salsa and the passion fruit gazpacho at the base of the dish, it was more refreshing than sweet. This would be a great dish during summertime as well.
Options: Seafood Jambalaya, Bronzed Salmon, Vegetable Jambalaya, Steak & Shrimp, Whole Black Bass, Crab Cake
The second course brought another tough decision. I couldn’t decide between the Seafood Jambalaya, Bronzed Salmon and Steak & Shrimp. After staring at all three options, the cream sauce with the salmon earned my vote. I will say that the man next to me thorough enjoyed his jambalaya. So much that he was scooping every last remnant from the bowl before he finally put his spoon down.
While the scallops were lightly seared, the salmon had a beautiful brown crust on it. Playing to the restaurant’s New Orleans theme, the salmon was rubbed with Cajun spices that kicked up the dish a bit. The salmon rested on a bed of braised spinach and rich garlic mashed potatoes. With each bite of the moist salmon, I made sure to pick up some of the pieces of crab and lobster that were in the Cajun cream sauce. I saved my mashed potatoes for last so I could sop up every bit of that luscious sauce.
Options: Bread Pudding, Chocolate Mousse, Crème Brûlée, Sorbet
Dessert was my easiest choice. It had been too long since I had crème brûlée, so I was excited to dive in. As soon as my dish came out, I cracked right into the caramelized sugar on top. Norfolk Seafood Co. prepared this classic French dessert well. I can’t count the number of times I ran my spoon around the ceramic dish to get every last bit of the rich custard. My only critique was the addition of the whipped cream topping. I would’ve loved some fresh berries or nothing at all. Crème brûlée is perfect on its own.
By the end of my meal, I was nearly in a food coma and ready to roll home. The dishes were sized perfectly. Typically, during restaurant week, restaurants do serve smaller portions than usual. After each dish, I wished I had more. In the end, it was just enough food to satisfy myself before the next course arrived.
My server and the couple next to me raved about Norfolk Seafood Co.’s happy hour specials so I have a feeling I’ll be back sooner than later.
Norfolk Seafood Co. & Big Easy Oyster Bar is located at 111 W Tazewell St., Norfolk.