By Judy Cowling
If you are looking for a tony lunch spot that combines fine dining, an elegant atmosphere and great views, Vintage Kitchen fills the ample bill - just dress warmly.
On the first floor of Dominion Tower in downtown Norfolk, Vintage Kitchen has a moody, modern, dark and handsome, big-city vibe.
Seeking respite from a cold, gray winter day, an artist friend and I walked into VK at what seemed to be the tail end of a busy lunch. We ordered a cup of Grayson and Emma's sugar pie pumpkin soup with cinnamon croutons ($4.95), which arrived looking like one of Jackson Pollock's canvases. The rich orange color was enlivened with swirls of cinnamon creme fraiche and toasted pumpkin seed oil. It came to the table lukewarm, but the sweet flavors and crunchy croutons were luscious.
We also sampled the black and white mac and cheese ($10.95), a signature dish that took the chill out of our bones and put a smile on our faces. Packed with Marshall Farms cheddar, a hint of nutmeg, shaved black truffles and white truffle oil, this mac and cheese is hearty yet distinctive and worth the price.
My friend opted for the blackened salmon po' boy ($11.95) and was pleased with the generous portion of perfectly cooked fish. A moist and tender piece of salmon was served on top of a slightly toasted challah bun with lettuce, tomato, a scrumptious Creole remoulade, a dill slice and a small bag of Virginia-made Route 11 dill pickle potato chips.
I chose the authentic five-cheese Parisian pizza ($8.95). A tangy layering of caramelized onions and zippy rustic tomato sauce graced a large and buttery rectangle of puff pastry. We would have liked it to be crispier on the bottom, but the flavors combined beautifully.
The restaurant was out of the dessert we wanted, and the "just out of the oven" chocolate chip cookies were a disappointment at $4.95. The jumbo mugs of hot, bold coffee ($3) were energizing and warming. Maybe it was all the glass walls and the cold day, but the temperature in the restaurant was chilly, and I never took my coat off.
Please, turn up the heat, make sure the soup is hot and tell the waiter to never approach a table with a phone at his ear, even if he is taking reservations.
Our lunch bill came to $53.24 plus tip. Our server validated our parking ticket, though, so the parking was free.
I had thoroughly enjoyed previous visits to VK. The service and food were exceptional and noteworthy; however, I will wait until it warms up to return.
Judy Cowling, email@example.com