When RaVae Oleson and her husband moved to sunny Virginia Beach from snowy Milwaukee in 1994, the only chill they missed was that of their favorite hometown dessert: frozen custard. Heavy cream, fresh eggs, and sugar are whisked together, then frozen, yielding a soft, scoopable confection that resembles super-premium ice cream. RaVae make custard in small batches before loading it into cones, sundaes, and shakes that have won the heart of the Virginian-Pilot's restaurant reviewer. At Bravo's Frozen Custard, they handcraft vanilla and chocolate custard each day, along with a featured flavor, such as caramel cashew or mint chocolate chip. Customers can swirl in a choice of more than 20 candies, cookies, and fruits when making concretes, a signature treat that's more luxurious than a donut filled with molten gold.
Although Keith and Terry Wygant look to the Mediterranean for 905 Cafe & Grill’s culinary inspiration, they strive to use ingredients that are close to home. Locally sourced fish sizzles in the kitchen, homemade burger patties never see the inside of a freezer, and the house chili—which, the menu asserts, should have its own Facebook page—simmers under Keith's careful supervision. Blackboard specials such as popcorn-shrimp po’ boys, meanwhile, add unpredictability to the menu, shifting alongside the bar's catalog of seasonal beers and cocktails.
From breakfast hashbrowns to Cajun tartar sauce, many meal components are homemade, fueling the restaurant's neighborhood charm. This laid-back vibe becomes even more palpable on the outdoor patio, where music often accompanies bites, or on Sangria Saturdays, a popular alternative to other restaurants’ Tap-Water Tuesdays.
Owner and fourth-generation waterman Ray Wicker Jr. scans the briny deep to net some its finest culinary offerings, constantly repopulating his menu with fresh catches every morning. Practice taste bud calisthenics by diving spoon-first into a bowl of Debbie's seafood chili ($4.49–$5.49), then test your shell-cracking mettle with a pound of snow crab legs steamed and seasoned to pincher perfection ($16.99). Diners can enjoy a seafood potpie ($16.99) the way Blackbeard's grandmother used to make it—packed full of crabmeat, scallops, shrimp, diced carrots, and inaccurate maps to buried treasure. The rib-eye steak staves off hunger with a 10-ounce slab of beast ($16.99), while the crabby chicken breast topped with crabmeat pleases palates with a unique pairing ($17.99). On select nights, guests can nourish famished ears with live music or the mumbled ramblings of an unoccupied seashell.
Located 17 stories above the ground, The Vantage Point Restaurant serves each dish with a side of breathtaking views. Walls of windows overlook Washington D.C., allowing guests to gaze out at the Potomac River, historic Georgetown, and the place where the president's private zeppelin used to sit. Its chefs forge American cuisine from several different menus. Customers at the bar can nibble a crab cake sandwich, while dinner guests devour chicken parmesan served over a bed of angel-hair pasta. The kitchen also beckons to taste buds with aromas of prime rib and shrimp scampi. Inside the eatery, sunlight spills across stained wood tables and brick accents, completing the warm experience of The Vantage Point.
Mezzanine's Chef Todd Johnson loves creating fine cuisine from local, sustainable food sources. His restaurant has garnered numerous accolades, including 2009 Restaurant of the Year from Style Weekly magazine and a nod from the New York Times.
Johnson's work as a master chef has led him all over the world, but he celebrates his deep Virginia roots by sourcing from farms and fisheries throughout the state, resulting in an eclectic menu full of diverse flavors and fresh ingredients. Daily-printed menus feature creations whipped up from whatever produce, meat, and seafood is readily available. The chorizo, mushrooms, and Polyface Farm chicken come from Virginia, as do oysters served on the half-shell with drizzles of spicy sriracha aioli. You might also find Aspen Ridge rib-eye steaks and Sunday brunches of lobster omelets, fried-green-tomato BLTs, and Carolina shrimp and grits.
Mezzanine's intimate, two-tiered dining room fosters a relaxed and jovial atmosphere, and a covered patio accommodates outdoor diners during warmer months. Small tables, ideal for conversation and morsel stealing, lean their weight into hardwood floors as ambrosial aromas delicately waft by, unable to contain themselves within the kitchen.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company?now owned by the trio of siblings?reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.