Monday, February 23, 2009
Weekend Getaway in Virginia Beach and Catch 31
This Friday my sweet husband took me out of town for the night. He had the grandparents come down to stay with Tristan and Jillian and away we went for the night. So I guess it wasn’t technically a weekend getaway, but it was as close as I have had for over two years and I was glad for it. When Joel worked for AIG (I know, I know, ughh!…Sigh) he often had to go down to the beach. He always raved about an oceanfront restaurant, Catch 31. Needless to say that is were we went for dinner.
Catch 31 (http://www.31ocean.com/Virginia-Beach-31-Ocean-Catch-31/Catch31.aspx) is located in the Hilton off of Atlantic Avenue. My first impressions of it were it was a sexy restaurant. The décor is very old Hollywood to me, but with a modern twist. It was really lovely. They have an open kitchen, which I love. My one regret was I had planned to go watch the kitchen goings on a bit prior to leaving but got so sucked up in the perfection of the evening I totally forgot!
My husband had been talking endlessly about the oysters. They had several different types to choose from and he choose the Island Creek oysters. I typically do not like raw oysters. Actually, “don’t like” would be an understatement. I dislike them so, that the last time I had them, I had to excuse myself as I was unable to swallow it. I just simply could not bring myself to do it. So these were going to be a treat for my husband to enjoy alone. When they came they look quite different than what I am used to. First they were beautiful, they had the whitest inner shell and they were pretty small. Now I was intrigued to try. I did, and they were good. Salty and sweet. Nice. I left the rest to my husband, because while I liked them ( a big step for me) he adored them, and I enjoyed watching his enjoyment more than I enjoyed them myself.
We ordered a bottle of Barboursville Pinot Grigio. It isn’t what I typically think of when I think of a Pinot, however, it was wonderful and went with the meal wonderfully. For dinner Joel ordered the grilled rockfish and I ordered the crab cakes. Both were served with vegetables and potatoes. The rockfish came with a fresh corn relish and my crab cakes were served with a mustard butter, and plum tomato jam. Joel’s rockfish was grilled over hickory and it was wonderful. The corn relish was dynamite. I wish I had paid more attention to the bite I had so I could figure out a recipe for the corn relish. The thing that stuck out to me is that it had mint in it. It was incredibly good and incredibly fresh. I typically do not order crab cakes, because I tend to be disappointed either in the portion ( I once got two crab cakes that were the size of scallops for a dinner entrée). These were large (in fact I could not finish them, lucky for me hubby was glad to oblige in assisting me!) and pure lump crab meat. I can’t tell what the chef used as a binder. I am suspecting just egg. It was just so pure. Incredibly good. The vegetables were a true standout. I know it is odd, but it needs mentioning. Typically when you have such a lovely main dish, the side dish goes fairly well unnoticed. I can say however, I NOTICED the vegetables. I had fingerling potatoes, parsnips, and fennel. They were wonderful.
For dessert Joel and I shared bread pudding. Bread pudding is another thing I tend to stay away from. It is never bad, but it is often rarely great. It came out hot and to die for. The meal was perfect.
One observation I had about the restaurant is not necessarily a bad thing, just seemed a bit odd to me. To me, Catch 31 is a bit of an odd restaurant. I has a big and beautiful bar, but it is a true bar, music and all. We were seated close to the bar so it was a tad noisy, but not too terribly so. If you took the bar out I would tell you, it was a…. more formal ( for lack of a better word) restaurant. However, with the bar, I would tell you it is elegant casual (if there is such a thing). They offer valet parking, replete with properly dressed valets. They offer bathroom attendants and a sundry of toiletries. They also offer a coat check. Their service (as in wait staff) is the best I have ever received, hands down ( a close second was the Original Bookbinders downtown). It was simply a luxurious experience. I felt very pampered ( for gracious sakes I never had to even pour myself more wine, the waitress thoroughly stayed on top of that!). However, one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb, was the table. The table, was a white plastic top table, with a sheet of white paper over just the top portion of the table. No table cloth. Not even a full paper table cloth, just a paper topper on a plastic table? Understand, I was there 30 minutes before I ever noticed and in the grand scheme of things, it really is not a big deal. I just found it surprising as every other detail was so polished and lovely that they would cut such a silly corner . However, if that is the worst I can say about what I feel was a truly lovely experience… than the tables can stay as they were!
Catch 31 also offers some really beautiful options for outdoor dinning. I am hoping we can go down again in May for my birthday to take advantage of it. I have to say generally speaking I am not a fan of the Virginia Beach oceanfront area. It is just too overgrown to me, to touristy….too…well, TACKY. However, Catch 31 might just end up changing this girls mind. I will be going back again to visit Catch 31. It is well worth the trip. And if this girl gets a night away without the kids in the bargain… well… that isn’t too bad either!