Rudee’s Restaurant & Cabana Bar: 2019 Virginia Beach Restaurant Week
Weeks before the 2019 Virginia Beach Restaurant Week kicked off, I began compiling a list of all the restaurants I wanted to dine at. I was overly ambitious and had entirely too many restaurants on my list, so on Thursday, February 21, when it was time for me to indulge in another dinner, I had a hard time choosing. I took into account that I wanted to eat at a restaurant I’d never been to before, and also the type of fare I was craving that day. After Tuesday’s opulently plated steak at Surf Club Ocean Grille, I decided to go from land to sea and have some locally caught seafood.
Rudee’s Restaurant and Cabana Bar is a Virginia Beach staple that has received praise from national food and travel publications and websites. Located on the Rudee Inlet, at the south end of the Virginia Beach Oceanfront, Rudee’s is a classic seaside eatery with views of boats floating on Lake Rudee’s dock.
Rudee’s offers two types of dining experiences; the restaurant and the Cabana Bar situated right next door. The open-air Cabana Bar seemed to be closed for the season, especially with the week’s cold and rainy weather, so I was seated at a cozy table with large windows offering a waterfront sunset view.
For Restaurant Week, Rudee’s gave diners a choice of a three-course $25 menu or a three-course $35 menu. Both menus presented succulent seafood options, but the $35 menu featured more premium choices that were appealing to my appetite.
Options: House Garden Salad, Oysters Rockefeller or Cup of Soup
With the choice of homemade Hatteras Clam Chowder and my favorite She Crab Soup, I leaned heavily toward soup to start my meal. That was until I remembered that Rudee’s is known for their Oysters Rockefeller. I sought the guidance of my server Brooke to help make my decision. She advised I go with the Oysters Rockefeller and I concurred. This dish is not only a local favorite, but it was even featured on Food Network’s “Beach Eats USA,” hosted by Curtis Stone.
I love Oysters Rockefeller because they showcase two of my favorite ingredients, bacon and cheese. Rudee’s uses Virginia’s famous Eastern Shore oysters and bakes them topped with a mix of spinach, parmesan and cream cheese, then tops that with bacon and scallions.
The Eastern Shore oysters had a perfect balance of sweet and salty that played well with the rich and velvety parmesan-cream cheese mixture. Beautifully baked, I had just enough oyster juice that the dish remained moist, while the crispy bacon added a welcomed crunch.
Options: Panko Encrusted Rockfish Rockefeller, Filet Mignon or Seafood Tortellini
Sticking with a flavor theme, I ordered the Panko Encrusted Rockfish, served Rockefeller style. Similar to the Oysters Rockefeller, Rudee’s fresh catch of rockfish was topped with spinach, crab meat and a parmesan cream sauce.
Rockfish is one of my favorite types of fish, given its mild flavor and versatility when it comes to preparation. The large portion of rockfish was cooked perfectly with a moist, flaky finish. The panko breadcrumbs gave the fish a nice texture but not a lot of flavor. The dish relied heavily on the addition of the lump crabmeat, spinach and parmesan sauce for that. I wanted a bit more punch from the parmesan sauce, especially because Rudee’s Oysters Rockefeller came so hard with the flavor. While my entrée left me desiring a bit more oomph, my dessert made up for it tenfold.
Options: Homemade Bread Pudding or Homemade Key Lime Pie
I’ve always thought that I hated bread pudding. I can’t remember the last time I had the dessert, but it obviously left such an unappealing taste in my mouth that I completely wrote off the dish. That being said, I was hesitant to order it as my dessert from Rudee’s. Since 2019 is the year of opening up my mind to new ingredients and dishes, I went for it. My god. I am so glad I did.
Rudee’s moist, slightly spongey, bread pudding steps it up with the use of white chocolate and mixed berries. The real star of this show was the warm whiskey sauce. The moment my plate hit the table, the fragrant whiskey sauce wafted past my nose. You can definitely taste the whiskey in the sauce, but it also has a sweet, buttery finish. I glided every spoonful of bread pudding through the rich, delectable whiskey sauce, and even thought about asking for some to-go. I decided not to do that because I’d just end up drinking it in bed. I’m not sure if this bread pudding is on Rudee’s regular menu, but I would implore the restaurant to add this slice of heaven.
I’m so glad I finally got a chance to visit Rudee’s Restaurant and will certainly be back, especially when the weather warms up. In addition to serving fresh seafood, Rudee’s is also known for their signature cocktails. I’ll have to return to enjoy a drink at the Cabana Bar and indulge in more of their menu options.
Rudee’s Restaurant & Cabana Bar is located at 227 Mediterranean Ave., Virginia Beach.