Hot plate! 24 New Restaurants That Tempted Tastebuds in 2014 – Part 2

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted: Jan 3, 2015 | Updated: Jan 5, 2015

Comments: 10 Comments

In autumn 2014, Josh Ozersky, an editor-at-large of Esquire magazine and a James Beard Award-winning food writer, named Virginia the food region of the year.

He ponders, “Look at Virginia on a map. How is it not an established food paradise? The oldest region in the county. One of the biggest … The Old Dominion has seemingly overnight exploded into one of the country’s greatest gastro regions.”

My good Mr. Ozersky, we wholeheartedly agree. This is America’s First Food Region; the Birthplace of American Cuisine. We hold a stack of culinary calling cards in our hand, each as tasty as the next.

One of the driving forces in shaping Virginia’s place on the culinary map are our restaurants, and in 2014 many opened across the commonwealth, serving up a wide range of eats.

Here we look back at our pick of 24 new offerings that tempted our tastebuds, and a glimpse at what’s ahead in 2015.

This is the second of a three-part series.



The Atmosphere

“Rustic, seasonal and sustainable German-influenced food and drink” is what Metzger Bar and Butchery says they are all about. Owners Brad Hemp, Brittanny Anderson and Nathan Conway bring their experience in sausage making, working as a chef, and working as a butcher, respectively, together in the place.

The Eats

Immediately catching our eye is the Beer-Brined Pork Chop served with Mushroom Spatzle and Arugula, and we love the sound of the sausage board, too, served with pickles and mustard, as well as the duck fat potatoes.


Nouvelle RestaurantNOUVELLE RESTAURANT | Norfolk

The Atmosphere

In a tiny, former diner, big flavors of modern, French-inspired food come. The feeling is relaxed, friendly and approachable, and we love watching our food being prepared on the flattop.

The Eats

On a visit we couldn’t get enough of the Moules Frites: Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in white wine and served over a bed of hand-cut French fries with chive aioli on the side and the Cheeseburger Royale, a huge hunk of American beef grilled perfectly and served on brioche with smoked gouda.



The Atmosphere

In a cozy but minimalistic dining room, Oakhart Social offers “wood-fired seasonal Atlantic Coast food for sharing” which covers a lot of delicious dishes found on chef Tristan Wraight’s menu.

The Eats

The Grilled Octopus Open-Faced Sando with green garbanzo puree, baby greens, grapefruit vinaigrette and shallot aioli has our attention, as well as the Bubble and Squeak: housemade sausage with roasted root vegetable, mashed potato, mustard greens and pickled mustard seed.



The Atmosphere

Off The Hook offers not only a fresh seafood restaurant, but a fresh seafood market, too, adjacent to the relaxed, blue-hued dining room. Dishes from Chef Steve Gellas reflect his years of experience in preparing fruits de mare.

The Eats

Generally, what’s seasonal and fresh is what’s on the menu. We thoroughly enjoyed a delicious but simple preparation of a whole snapper served with broccolini; the fish was tender, flaky, moist and most rememberable.



The Atmosphere

From Richmond restaurateur Jason Alley (Comfort, Pasture) comes this reincarnation of a Charlottesville Pasture that is now barbecue-centric while still holding on to many of it’s Southern flair.

The Eats

Pimento Cheese & Ritz Crackers and Deviled Eggs (flavors change daily) are our favorite way to start. On our radar: the Three Meat Platter which we think we’ll delight in pulled pork, beef brisket and hot sausage link.



The Atmosphere

“Chef Kevin LaCivita brings European comfort food to Carytown,” says Pomegranate, a beautifully appointed Richmond restaurant. A private chef’s table is available for diners, as well as fireside seating and a patio in season.

The Eats

We think the Rabbit Pate Country Style, with bruschetta, shaved pecorino romano, balsamic vinegar reduction, local honey and white truffle oil sounds like the way to start the meal, as does the Oven Roasted Monkfish Fillet over caramelized parsnips, bacon, local apple and onion with a blood orange butter sauce as entrée.



The Atmosphere

Open, airy with an industrial chic look, comfort in the restaurant and on the plate is what’s served. “Contemporary comfort food with a modern twist … fresh local ingredients and bar favorites,” says the eatery.

The Eats

The Chicken and Waffles has our attention: crispy boneless chicken breasts served over from-scratch Belgium waffles is served up with maple-bourbon-bacon syrup. The Island Shrimp and Grits looks great too, with creamy grits topped with shrimp sautéed with white wine, garlic and butter as well as bacon, tomato and scallions.



The Atmosphere

A tiny, sophisticated dining room with the extensive bar on display is the backdrop for great cocktails and food. “We are a cocktail bar inspired by the pre-Prohibition era that focuses on classic cocktails using spirits, sugars, bitters and essential oils,” they say.

The Eats

We’ve enjoyed ourselves here, with the Pack of Wild Dogs, a cocktail of bourbon, Grand Marnier, grenadine, lemon juice and absinthe standing out. Fabulous food: the Orrechiette – pasta with smoked Prince Edward Island mussels, garlic, shallots, fines herbs and charred lemon, served with toasted bread.



The Atmosphere

“A seafood-centric restaurant … [that] aims to support farmers and artisans from both land and sea” is how Rocksalt describes themselves, and indeed, we find many delicious, local items on the menu of this upscale-but-comfortable eatery.

The Eats

With the folks behind the venerable Rappahannock Restaurant (Richmond) and Merroir (Topping) running the show, starting with selections from the raw bar almost seem mandatory. Continuing the dining local theme, the Braised Border Springs Lamb (from Craig Roger’s Virginia farm) has our eye, served with fregola, a small couscous-like pasta, preserved apricot, scallions and green harissa.



The Atmosphere

Don’t let the name, or name-sake wood paneling, mix-match chairs and other accents inside fool you, this is a serious restaurant for serious foodies, and we have Josh Ozersky of Esquire and Tom Sietsema of The Washington Post on our side. Oh yeah, Southern Living magazine named it one of the South’s best new restaurants in 2014, too.

The Eats

From Chef Ian Boden’s kitchen comes an ever-changing array of dishes, many of which honor Virginia’s foods and foodways. On a recent menu, the Maple Quail, with oyster-cornbread stuffing, pumpkin, brussel sprouts, cranberries and chestnuts sounded amazing, as well as the Sweet Potato Fry Pie with lemon curd and burnt marshmallow fluff for dessert.



The Atmosphere

What happens when two of Richmond’s acclaimed chefs collaborate? This. Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt and Joe Sparatta, of Heritage have created Southbound, a “locally-sourced, family friendly” restaurant. It’s bright, open, contemporary and inviting.

The Eats

A Mediterranean application to Rockfish, with romesco sauce, chili flake, garlic, preserved lemon, white anchovy and served with broccolini caught our eye on the adult menu, as does the chicken breast with local grits on the kid’s menu.



The Atmosphere

Modern shabby-chic with a twist of Southern Gothic, the sophisticated dining room (and rooftop dining) parallel the updated menu of Down Home classics from Chef Ed Storey. Supper describes themselves as “offering reimagined Southern cuisine in a comfortable setting.”

The Eats

If ever a dish was drool-worthy, it’s the Southern Fried Chicken – we can’t get enough and clean our plates every time. It’s flaky and crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside, and reminds us why we love being from the South. We enjoy it with sides of grits studded with country ham and perfectly braised collard greens. We always finish our cornbread and biscuits, too.

Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at


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Really Great list, A gem not included is Market Burger in Purceville Va, all farm to table and the best burger in Va!

Avatar Mokmen says:

“Off the Hook”. Planning to visit this weekend.

Avatar Lloyd says:

Checkout Hangout Grill. Strasburg,Va

Avatar Carspoon says:

Official tourism blog ought to check for errors and typos. MOULES not MOULES and SOUTHERN not SOTHERN.

Avatar Casey Higgins says:

We sure do check. 🙂

Avatar Chuck glidewell says:

You forgot Perkeys in Altavista,Va.

Avatar Casey Higgins says:

Not familiar with Perkeys. What’s the scoop?