April 2017

456 Fish - Norfolk, Va.

Early Sunday morning, I woke up with a hankering for mimosas. After texting my co-workers, we decided to go to 456 Fish in Norfolk for a boozy brunch.

456 Fish gets its name for its location on 456 Granby St. and the menu's emphasis on fish and seafood.

This was my first time at the restaurant so I didn't know there was parking lot on the side of the building that is free for diners to use. After spending 15 minutes looking for street parking, I made it inside to find my co-workers patiently waiting for me.

As soon as our server came over, I immediately ordered two of the $3 mimosas that 456 Fish offers. I ordered a classic orange juice mimosa but others at the table tried the pineapple mimosa also.

I quickly decided on my entree so my co-workers did not have to wait any longer. I ordered the Crab Hash with over-easy eggs. I was so disappointed in my meal that I didn't even want to take a picture of it. I was skeptical at how I could get a crab meat entree for less than $20. Essentially, my plate consisted off two eggs, a ton of O'Brien potatoes and a few small lumps of crab meat.

My co-workers had more luck than I did. They ordered the Smoked Salmon Benedict, the Steak & Eggs, the Crab Norfolk Omelet and the 456 She Crab Soup.

I'm not ready to write off 456 Fish just yet. If I come back, I'll definitely try the Seafood Frittata. Someone at the table next me ordered it and I had a serious case of food envy.

Bay Local - Virginia Beach, Va.

Bay Local is an institution in Virginia Beach. Ask anyone in the Hampton Roads area about a great local restaurant, and you will surely hear Bay Local as a recommendation. I've been to Bay Local before, with Gals That Brunch-Virginia Beach, and absolutely loved it. 

Just when I thought my love for the restaurant couldn't be greater, a second location opened on Laskin Road, before the Oceanfront. The second location is open every day from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., meaning it's perfect for brunch.

Since I had Good Friday off, I wanted to do something other than binge watch reality TV. It was the perfect opportunity to check out Bay Local's new spot. I wasn't the only person who had this idea. The best part of eating alone is that you can usually find a seat at the bar.

I hadn't eaten all day so I knew I wanted to start with an appetizer. That was a rare time for me not to get a brunch cocktail. I was all about the food.

I started with the Banging Balls. As a Maryland native, I've had crab meat many different ways, but never like this. They roll lump crab meat into a ball and lightly fry it. Then, top the balls with parmesan cheese, Old Bay, melted mozzarella cheese and bacon crumbles. They are served with a spicy Cajun aioli that is drizzled across the plate. I cut my fork into the first crab ball. The outside breading reminded of a hush puppy, but not as thick. Despite the steam coming off the melted cheese and from the crab meat, I couldn't wait. The first bite was so mouthwatering.

Even though the restaurant was crowded, I had a very short wait time between my appetizer and my entree. Just enough time to finish savoring the last bites of crab meat and bacon crumbles.

For my entree, I wanted to try something new. I typically go for one of Bay Local's delicious eggs benedict, but my eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach when I order the Big Country.

The Big Country features crispy fried chicken, two eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese between a flaky biscuit, served with a side of sausage gravy. When I first looked at my food, the bartender asked if I was alright. I was eager and overwhelmed at the same time, and my face showed it.

I usually mock people who use a fork and knife to eat a sandwich, but it was necessary this time. I hadn't even got to the actual biscuit before the bartender read my mind and brought me a box. The rest of the sandwich was a perfect post-nap snack after I got home.

Bay Local will always be a local favorite, and the new Laskin location met all of my expectations. I'm already planning to tackle the Loaded BLT on my next visit. Stay tuned.

The Grill at Harryman House - Reisterstown, Md.

When I go home to Baltimore to visit my parents, we play the same game every time we have to find somewhere to eat. I complain about how hungry I am, while my dad continuously asks "well where do you want to go?" My mom provides her usually answer, "I don't care," which we all know is untrue.

Things were different on this Sunday. My dad disappeared into the living room for about an hour. When he emerged, he said "I found a place for brunch! Let's get dressed and go."

Thank goodness my dad lit that fire under our butts or else we would never know what an amazing brunch The Grill at Harryman House has.

The Harryman House, in historic Resiterstown, Md. was built in 1791. The restaurant offers what they call "Rustic Farmhouse Fare." My first time a Harryman House was for my best friend's birthday brunch. Yes, my friends are so bougie that we celebrated Sweet 16's with brunch. While I don't remember what we ate, I remember feeling slightly intimated. To 15-year-old Arielle, an old building = super fancy. At 23, I revisited Harryman House and realized that while the decor is refined, the food lends to a more casual eating experience.

My parents and I were seated in the main dinning room, called the Valley Room. We were just a few feet away from where I sat eight years before.

We started with the "Brunch Elixirs." Unfortunately, they were out of watermelon juice so we couldn't order the Watermelon Margarita Mimosa. Instead my dad ordered the Champagne Mojito Cocktail, while my mom had the Peach Bellini. I stuck with my go-to, a Maryland Bloody Mary. If you're from Maryland, you know the power of Old Bay. Harryman House uses a house-made Bloody Mary mix with their Old Bay seasoned vodka, and serves the drink with an Old Bay seasoned rim. The Bloody Mary was good, but my dad's drink was better. The Champagne Mojito Cocktail offers the best of both worlds. You get the refreshing mint taste of a moijto, but instead of club soda, the bubbles come from a slightly sweet Cava sparkling wine.

We were starving so we moved in fast on the complimentary warm breads and muffins. We also decided to order an appetizer. We were stuck between the Lemon-Ricotta Fritters, the crab meat Deviled Eggs, and the Fried Green Tomatoes. After much deliberation, we agreed on the Fried Green Tomatoes.

Green tomatoes are dredged in buttermilk and flour, then fried and topped with a black-eyed pea salsa. The sauce around the plate was the best part. I wish I had a container of it to dip my tomato in.

For my entree, I couldn't decide between sweet or savory, so my dad agreed to split an order of the Cinnamon French Toast with me as a dessert.

I ordered the Hang Town Fry. I have never seen a menu with a dish quite like this. Fluffy scrambled eggs are mixed with bacon lardons (a fancy word for cube) and served with fried oysters and an arugula salad. The fried oysters were incredible. My biggest pet peeve about fried seafood is getting too much breading. These fried oysters were the size of a Wendy's chicken nugget and certainly didn't lack in meat. I usually like to eat my food one item at a time, but the bites of oysters went so well with the soft eggs and the salt from the bacon.

"Aw man," my dad said after he took his first bite of his entree. Both he and my mom ordered the Chicken Hash. My mom ordered it with over easy eggs, while my dad prefers his scrambled. This breakfast dish is Harryman House's play on corned beef hash. They mix pulled chicken, diced potatoes, onions and green peppers, then top the hash with two eggs. My parents raved about how well-seasoned and filling the hash was.

By the time our French toast came, my dad and I were about ready to tap out. Our sever offered his advice and said to do some stretching to make room. After a quick stretch, my dad ate one piece of French toast, and I dusted off the last two pieces. Harryman House cuts thick slices of Italian oval bread to make their French toast. It had a nice sear on the top and bottom of the bread, while being soft, not soggy, on the inside.

Our server was amazing. He provided helpful tips to the menu and even answered my annoying questions. He was attentive but not looming over us the entire meal.

At the end of our meal, my dad wanted his props for picking The Grill at Harryman House. As much as it pains me to say this, he did a great job choosing a local favorite.

Arielle Patterson