Steinhilber's Restaurant: 2018 Virginia Beach Restaurant Week
I don’t like to consider myself a “cheap” person. I prefer “financially thrifty.” That being said, during restaurant week, I’m not just looking for a great meal but also a great deal. When browsing all the prix fixe menus, I compare the prices to the regular menus to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth. I certainly got that during my four-course dinner at Steinhilber’s Restaurant.
My first experience with Steinhilber’s came when Head Chef Paul Syms visited the office to make us Steinhilber’s famous fantail fried shrimp. It had been almost six months since that day, but I never stopped thinking about that shrimp. I knew restaurant week would be the perfect time to visit Steinhilber’s and allow my taste buds to reconnect with their shrimp and other dishes from their upscale menu.
Despite being located near Town Center, Steinhilber’s isn’t a restaurant you’d find plopped on Virginia Beach Blvd. The restaurant, that opened in 1939, is tucked away down the residential street of Thalia Road. With views of Wolfsnare Creek, Steinhilber’s offers a unique dining experience, compared to neighboring restaurants.
The outside has the façade of a large lake house with plenty of firepits and outdoor seating. It was a chilly Friday evening, so I made my way inside. I was immediately warmed when I was seated by the cozy fireplace. The rustic interior and low lighting put me in the mood for a relaxing dinner.
I was greeted by my server who informed me that Steinhilber’s restaurant week menu included four courses, as opposed to the standard three. While I wanted to order three of the fried shrimp from the regular menu, I saved $12 by just ordering two as part of my first course from the restaurant week menu. The second course was a mushroom bisque. For the third and fourth courses, I chose the Bistro Steak and Carrot Cake.
It didn’t take long before succulent fried shrimp came out. While I’d typically use my fingers to eat these, I was trying to keep it classy. I cut into the light, tempura-like fried coating and dipped my shrimp into their signature sauce. Steinhilber’s sauce isn’t quite as strong as a traditional remoulade, but just as flavorful. This shrimp is fairly expensive compared to fried shrimp at other restaurants, but locals will tell you that they’re more than worth it.
Once I finished, my plate was whisked away and a basket of warm bread was brought out. I was barely halfway into my piece of corn bread before my soup course came out.
Steinhilber’s offered a wild mushroom bisque with truffle cream that isn’t on their regular menu. Initially I was worried about how creamy the bisque would be, but the truffle cream was very light. The soup had a rich, velvety umami flavor that had me sopping up the last drops with my dinner roll.
Just a few minutes after, I was greeted with the most visually pleasing dish I’ve had all week. I ordered my Bistro Steak cooked medium, and it was served with saffron aligot and tzatziki aioli.
I started with the steak, that had the perfect amount of pink. It was a smaller cut of meat than I’d usually go for, but since this was my third course, I had no complaints. The steak was rubbed with harissa, a traditional flavor in Tunisian cuisine. The harissa spiced up the steak, while the tzatziki aioli cooled it down. It was the perfect balance of flavors.
I have to admit, I had no clue what aligot was. According to the internet, aligot is basically French-style cheesy whipped potatoes. While the bright yellow color reminded me more of a squash, the taste was spot on to the description. The aligot was light, soft and creamy, with a subtle floral aroma from the saffron. This dish was a more refined take on classic meat and potatoes.
When my slice of carrot cake arrived, I was overwhelmed. Four courses are a lot to take down. However, carrot cake is my favorite type of cake so I had to take just a few bites before throwing in the towel.
The dessert was layered with moist cake and sweet cream cheese frosting. I dipped each bite in the golden-colored spiced caramel sauce. It was thin so it easily coated to the cake, adding a buttery flavor. My server boxed up the remainder of my cake and I enjoyed it in bed about an hour later.
The service at Steinhilber’s was impeccable. The servers were dressed uniform in pressed white shirts and black pants. They moved in a rhythm, constantly making sure the diners had full water, hot food and the best experience. The next time I’m in the mood to treat myself to a lavish dinner, I’ll head to Steinhilber’s.