It's not hard to relax at Rhett's River Grill, where you'll find diners on the seasonal patio kicking back with a cold beer or cocktail in one hand and a juicy burger or shrimp po'boy in the other. The eatery's nautical theme also contributes to the laid-back aura. Faux stuffed fish and tiki-themed artwork decorate the space, and fishnets hung behind the bar catch flying wine corks. However, it's the menu of raw oysters, fresh clams, and juicy steaks that really grabs diners' attention—the food even earned three 2011 Open Table Diners' Choice awards. The selection of casual Southern and East Coast dishes, such as crab cakes and cajun chicken, blends seamlessly with upscale steakhouse and brunch fare, including a decadent smoked-salmon benedict draped with hollandaise.
Kybecca Wine Bar, a slow-food restaurant set within a converted 1860s general store, freshens up palates with a gourmet menu of small plates and entrees crafted from locally grown ingredients. Parties start the gustatory revelry with a cheese platter, festooned with three or four artisan offerings such as Cherry Glen chipotle chevre and fromage d’affinois brie. Guests pass around tapas-style bites of pistachio-pesto gnocchi ($9) or four bison blue-cheese sliders ($12) made from humanely raised meat. Spend quality time with full-plate entrees, including the brace of lamb ribs ($21/full) accompanied by pesto gnocchi and roasted tomatoes or the truffle-buttered beef tenderloin ($17), which rests, like a spectacularly successful and eccentric truffle trader, on a bed of wild-mushroom risotto.
At SoRo Chill & Grille, culinary wizards decorate plates with locally grown produce and Cajun-style meats and seafood, garnering it praise as one of Southwest Roanoke County's Best New Things in 2010 from the Roanoke Times' SWoCo. Quartets can overture dinner symphonies with appetizers of the 12-piece new orleans barbecue shrimp, which simmers in a traditional creole sauce meant to be sopped up with crusty french bread or unusually absorbent mustaches. Entrees such as the pasta Mardi Gras fill noodle-shaped voids in diners' stomachs with Cajun-cream-sauce-cosseted fettuccine adorned by crawfish, andouille sausage, and blackened chicken breast. The rib platter's half-rack of slow-cooked meat morsels saunters to the table with fries and a piquant barbecue sauce, spurring on twosomes to finger-paint plates with love letters to the chef.
Energetic live music pulsates across the spacious quarters of Growler’s American Grill and Venue—once known as Awful Arthur’s Towers—as barkeeps fill mugs and growlers with local pale and brown ales, porters, and a slew of bottled favorites. Platefuls of hearty American and Southern favorites, from meatloaf sandwiches to fish 'n' chips, energize diners to take the stage for a round of karaoke, with the background music supplied by a DJ, live band, or brownnosing date.
Outer Banks Seafood Company's freshly caught seafood dishes are conceptualized by owner Chef Wes Stepp, who is also the culinary brains behind Red Sky café (click here to see him in action.) Flip through the new fall menu and encounter oven-roasted parmesan-encrusted flounder-and-crab florentine ($22.99) and the nags header, which keeps seafood diehards canoeing through the door for jumbo lump crab-cake, scallops, fresh shrimp, and flounder fillet ($25.99). Non-seafoodies can chomp Carova grilled barbecue chicken, which rests on a bed of red neck risotto and a smattering of mango relish ($14.99). For dessert, indulge in the red velvet cake ($6.99), layered so high that it would be considered the second-tallest building in Delaware.
Overlooking the James River, Sensi delights the senses, serving modern Italian fare in a lush and luxurious atmosphere. Modern artwork decorates the warm walls of the chophouse, and comfortable, elegant plush chairs surround red-clothed tables so they can’t escape. The menu features a variety of fragrant appetizers, salads, pastas, and entrees to enchant taste buds and stomach branches. The warm and dimly lit round bar showcases an ample selection of specialty cocktails, beers, and other lust-worthy libations.