A December 2005 trip
to Norfolk by vampirefan
Quote: John and I decided a weekend getaway to Norfolk would be the perfect way to have a stress-free Christmas.
Restaurant | "The Painted Lady"
The Painted Lady is long on pretension and short on taste and value.
I decided to go to the Painted Lady because it came so highly recommend and I wanted to partake it the timeless ritual of afternoon tea after a day at the theater. Every guidebook and magazine heralded the praises of the teashop.
We arrived right on time for our reservation. We had 3 o’clock tea. The building is pretty and enchanting. It is painted in bold colors of pinks and purples. If you come in from the side there is a small garden complete with fountains and bridges. The inside of the building is decorated with varying shades of pinks and purples. Antiques are throughout the building. It looks like a playhouse for big girls.
We were seated in a very charming room. It was eggplant colored and the walls were adored with soft paintings, dolls, and tea accessories. In the middle of the room was a beautiful fireplace. We were seated at a very small table for 2. I asked if we could be seated at one of the larger table since there were only 2 other parties in the room and most of the restaurant was empty. We were told no, they needed the seating for larger tables. Ok what ever.
Finally after some 10 minutes of waiting our waiter breezed in to take our order. We never learned his name nor did he ever offer it up. He seemed quite disappointed to see John and I sitting there. I guess despite a suit and evening gown, he assumed with John’s long hair and my visible tats that were couldn’t possibly be refined enough to visit this establishment.
The Painted Lady serves lunch, brunch, tea, and dinner. The hours are:
Lunch 11-2:30 Tuesday-Saturday
Tea 2:30-5 Tuesday – Saturday
Brunch 11-2:30 Sunday
Dinner 5:30 – 9 Tuesday-Saturday
The tea menu has four offerings:
Cream Tea- includes one pot of tea and scones with cream and jams $9.95 pp
Afternoon Tea- includes one pot of tea, scones, creams/jellies, sandwiches, pastries, and chocolate covered strawberries. $14.95 pp.
Royal Tea- same as the Afternoon Tea but includes a glass of champagne, sherry, wine, or port. $19.95 pp.
Teddy Bear Tea (children only)-includes tea, PBJ sandwiches, fruit, and a teddy bear cookie. $12.95 pp.
The teas here are loose leaf and you have a variety of options. Some of the teas you will find include hyson, gunpowder, pekoe, Earl gray, Darjeeling, souchong, apricot, jasmine, and blackberry brandy.
Keep reading for the good part!
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on January 1, 2006
112 East 17th Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23517
For a truly exceptional and enchanting dining experience try eating at the Freemason Abby.
Like the Painted Lady, the Freemason Abby also came greatly recommended. Unlike the Painted Lady though, the recommendations were right on target here. The Abby serves lunch, Sunday brunch, and dinner. John and I were here for dinner. The food here is American and Seafood.
Appetizer offerings include artichoke dip, shrimp cocktail, and calamari. The dinner menu includes such dishes as prime rib, ribs, chicken Rockefeller, and filet mignon. Their seafood includes a selection of fish, shrimp, and lobster. In fact these guys serve close to 1000 lobsters a month. Sandwiches on the menu include burgers, chicken, and clubs. They also have a great selection of soups and salads. They also include a full service bar.
John and I both thought we were famished until we started smelling food, then we neither one felt so hot. Since we had almost lost our appetites thanks to the Painted Lady, we just went with soup and salad. We both had the house salad, which comes as a hunk of lettuce topped off with a cheese stick, onions, tomatoes, and carrots. Very out of the ordinary and yummy. Their house raspberry vinaigrette is heavenly. John went with a turkey and wild rice soup while I went with French onion. Both soups were thick, hearty, and fulfilling. John’s consisted of a rich stock so hearty it had more of a stew consistency, big chunks of turkey, and wild rice. John also got a delectable Parmesan and sesame seed cracker to go with his soup. My soup had a hearty beef broth, a huge chuck of bread, and plenty of cheese to top it off. Both were served in a nice big crock.
The décor here is rich, warm, and inviting. This building was built in 1873 as the Second Presbyterian Church. Renovations started in 1988 to turn this into a one of-a-kind dining experience. Most of their interior remains as it once was and the furnishings fit in quite nicely. When you first walk in make sure to take a glace up at the open ceiling made of the original beams of wood.
If you have a large group, they do offer facilities for your group and a group menu. Reservations can be made up to a year in advanced and are highly suggested. The prices are reasonable and you won’t need a mini-loan to eat here. Most entrees are under $20. Hours are 11:30 AM -10 PM and Sunday brunch starts at 9:30 AM. For more information please visit them at www.freemasonabbey.com.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on January 1, 2006
Freemason Abbey Restaurant
209 W Freemason St
Located in the lobby of the Marriott Waterside, you will find the popular Shula’s 347. Named after legendary NFL coach, Don Shula, Shula’s 347 is the place to go for lunch, dinner, or just for a few cocktails.
Don Shula is in the NFL Hall of Fame and still stands as the most victorious coach with 347 victories (including 2 Super Bowls). Hence the 347 in Shula’s 347. He also has a very remarkable array of restaurants including the award winning Shula’s Steakhouses, Shula’s 2, Shula’s 347, and Shula’s on the Beach.
The restaurant prides itself on only using certified Angus beef for all of their steaks and burgers. You can start your meal with a choice of such tasty delights as shrimp, artichoke dip, and she-crab soup. Entrees include fresh lobster, and varieties of fish, steak, and chicken. Burgers and sandwiches offer diners a selection of burgers, a veggie burger, clubs, fish, and chicken. They also offer soups and sandwiches. Their emphasis here is on beef, and they do not offer a lot of choices for vegans and vegetarians.
John and I finally had our appetites back and both got the order of baby back ribs. We had a full order of mouth watering BBQ baby backs. Included is a spoonful of BBQ beans and a huge order of cole slaw. Unfortunately I am not a fan of cole slaw, and substitutes are not allowed nor can you get extra beans instead. So I ordered a baked potato loaded, which hit the spot. Our waitress Ali, who was superb, brought out a wet napkin to get the BBQ off our fingers. It was well appreciated. The ribs were so succulent, tender, and almost fell off the bone. If you stop in make sure to give the ribs a try. They offer a full service bar.
There is a liberal use of wood throughout the restaurants and they chose masculine colors of varying browns and tans. Everything has a modern feel to it with straight back leather chairs and overstuffed leather booth seats. They have HD flat TV screens throughout showing, as you might guess, sports.
They can accommodate both large and small groups. Outside the restaurant they have a wall of fame which includes autographed pictures of such famous people as Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Samuel L Jackson, Kim Catrell, and good ole’ Dubya. The prices are reasonable to pricey. Our ribs were only $20 each and we had plenty, but lobster ran $126! Most entrees are in the $20-$30 range. They also have a full dessert menu, but we were to stuffed to try. Reservations are accepted and suggested. Hours run from 11:30am to 10pm. They are open holidays incase you’re here during the holidays. For more information on any of Don’s restaurants go to www.donshula.com.
Norfolk Waterside Marriott Hotel
Norfolk, Virginia 23510
Where can you go in Norfolk for magnificent views of the river, ease in accessibility to Nauticus and the USS Wisconsin, for a cruise, or grab a bite to eat? That my friends is a simple answer….Town Point Park. This 7-acre waterfront parks offers an assortment of things to do from the uncomplicated to a full day of activities. You can simply bring your favorite pooch here for a sunset stroll or enjoy one of the many festivals offered along the waterfront throughout the year.
The waterside Festival Marketplace offers a range of options from sunup to sundown and well into the wee hours of the morning. Get ready to shop exceptional stores such as All About Virginia, the City Market, The Hat Rack, The Herbal Market, and many more. Grab a quick snack at Ben and Jerry’s (who doesn’t love those guys?), Steakmasters, or Villa Pizza, just to name a few. Full service dining options include restaurants such as Joe’s Crab Shack, Hooters, Outback Steakhouse, and King’s Chinese Restaurant. After you have shopped and filled your stomach, then wind the evening off at such places as Bar Norfolk, Have a Nice Day Café, Crocodile Rocks, or Jillian’s. Go to www.watersidemarketplace.com For more information.
Of course, when you are on the water, you have a few choices for boating attractions. Stop by the adorable Tugboat Museum. This floating museum features the Tug Hunting built in 1933. For lunch or dinner cruises check out the sleek Spirit of Norfolk. You can climb aboard the Victory Rover for a tour of the nearby navel base. Or take a cruise aboard the gorgeous and historic American Rover Tall Ship Cruises.
The Nauticus is a 120,000 square-foot, multilevel maritime showcase. Visitors can enjoy more than 150 nautical exhibits. Inside you will find the Hampton Roads Navel Museum, which displays more than two centuries of Norfolk’s navel history. Kids of all ages (and yes that means the over 21 kids too!) will take pleasure in the aquariums. If you want something to really brag about, then go to the touch tank where you can pet a real shark. But if you start hearing the strains of bump..bump.bump (the Jaw’s theme ) not to worry. This is only a harmless baby shark of the non-biting variety. Next door you can encounter life aboard the USS Wisconsin.
Throughout the year, a number of festivals of held waterside. In 2007 the park will help in the celebration of 400 years since the founding of Jamestown. This attractive park offers serene and splendor for those who seek to just soak in the gorgeousness to be found here. But if fun is on your agenda you will not be disappointed here either. For more information please go to www.norfolkcvb.com.
Town Point Park
Waterside down Atlantic Ave.
John and I went with the Afternoon Tea each. I went with pekoe tea. John likes fruit teas and asked our waiter for a recommendation. He just looked at John and said, “Just go for the normal tea”. I was shocked and would have loved to slap him, but I guess that would have been considered rednecky. He deserved it though.
The tea is served in a single pot and you are given an antique strainer. You get cream and sugar is in lumps instead of packages. That was the only highlight of the day. Our food arrived on a beautiful china 3-tired serving platter. We had 4 scones, 3 sandwiches, and an assortment of cookies, and a chocolate covered strawberry each. Let me describe to you each of our courses.
The “scones”. Maybe because I spent time in England I think of scones as a sweet or shortbread biscuit. We had a plain and raisin “scone” each. What we actually had was a lump of cookie dough, baked to death, and then left sitting for 3 days. I managed to get the raisin scone down, but I couldn’t break off or cut the plain one. It was just not edible. This thing was so hard if you hit someone with it, it would kill them! Of course it would be the perfect weapon, because not even Gill Grissom would think of death by scone!
We had 3 finger sandwiches each consisting of pimento cheese, cumber and cream cheese, and chicken salad. I am not a fan of pimento cheese so that went to waste. Our chicken salad had a freezer burn taste to it. The cheese and cumber on wheat was quite appetizing and I would have rather had 3 of those.
Our pastries were nothing more than cookies. We had 3 peanut butter cookies that were so hard they couldn’t be eaten, the cookie bar was still frozen solid, and the mini strawberry tartlet was likewise still in the process of thawing out. The strawberries were at that point of eat it or throw it out and the chocolate must have been microwaved chips because it was lumpy. And our pot of tea was barley more than a cup full. Heck they do better with the tea pot at IHOP.
I don’t think anything was fresh here. The food was atrocious and wasn’t worth $15 for both of us, much less for one. The staff wasn’t the least bit pleasant. I had called a few days before and asked for some group information on the restaurant for a travel article I am writing. I also asked if I could see their banquet room to take some pictures. I was told no problem someone would be glad to assist me and just let the hostess know when we arrived. I did and was told someone would be with me. No one ever came. To make matters worse we were nauseated for the rest of the day. In fact when we went to the Freemason Abby we couldn’t even enjoy our fantastic food there because we still didn’t feel good after our “meal” here.
Like I said the place is adorable and I love 1800s houses, but the food and service were not up to par for all the praises heaped upon them. The area surrounding them seemed a little shabby. I guess they are trying to make the area more fashionable since a group of condos is going up right across from them. They have a wall full of articles written on them. Somehow I don’t imagine mine will be on their wall of praises. If you’re still interested, despite my warning, you may visit them at www.thepaintedlady.com.
Charlotte, North Carolina