August 17th is a very special date for Kait and me. Yes, it’s in the middle of NFL preseason and college football fall camps, but even more important than that, it’s the day we got married. This year, since I’ll actually be home for it, we planned a trip to the West Coast. But because that was in a couple weeks, I decided we obviously needed to do something on the actual day. Unfortunately this year the 17th fell on a Monday and as we have come to realize, a lot of great places are closed on Mondays. So the Saturday before would have to do.
There are a handful of places in Norfolk we’ve been wanting to try, so I thought it would be fun to surprise her and go to a couple of those places throughout the night. One thing we really love to do is get drinks and/or appetizers at one place and then go to another place for our meal. And if we’re feeling really crazy we’ll go to a third place for dessert. What can I say, must be the foodies in us. But three places is pretty rare and on this particular night we would only be hitting two.
Even though I was already planning this, the restaurant Chartreuse, helped to facilitate because the first reservation wasn’t til 9pm! Have you seen that episode of Modern Family were Cam & Mitch are trying to get reservations at a place called Amelia’s. Mitch tells Cam the only reservation available is 10pm. Cam says “What are we 20!?” And Mitch says “Or 5pm.” Cam: “What are we 80!?” Haha so true and this is exactly what we felt like. Though we are only in our 20’s, we usually like to go with the 7 or 7:30 reservation. It was a good sign though, because it’s pretty obvious that this place was going to be fantastic.
It’s pretty apparent with a name like Chartreuse, it was going to have a heavy French influence. Both of us having been to France, so we were delighted when we walked in that the look really lived up to its name. Once we got there, it was obvious why the only reservation was at 9 o’clock. There were only 6 tables in the place! And when our meals arrived, we found out the other reason there were no reservations. This food was one of the best meals we’ve ever eaten!
From the outside it really does look like a French bistro, a couple of floor to ceiling windows looking in on the cute tables, no sign or anything. The only way you’d find the place is if you were really looking or just wandering around downtown.
To give you an idea of actually how small this place is, the entire restaurant is lit up by one lamp which is at the hostess stand when you first walk in. They also have a tiny tea light candle at each table, but that’s about enough light for a family of mice. So forgive us for the low lit images coming up. The lamp had a reddish pink tinge to it so it actually created a cozy romantic feel that kind of wrapped you in a warm blanket, which we really enjoyed.
After the hostess seated us and gave us our menus, our waitress came out with two champagne glasses in hand and sat down their signature champagne drink, told us “happy anniversary” and that it was on the house. Now I don’t know about you but starting the meal off with free champagne is a great sign AND a great way to get a good review out of Our Foodie Appetite 😉 Long story short, the drink was so good, we ordered another one and paid for it!
Taking a look over the menu, we both were excited about what we were seeing. It wasn’t very big, but the 4-5 options in each category all sounded delicious. We learned from the waitress that the menu changes every day based on what the chef has AND everything is local and organic. If you’ve been reading us for very long, you know we are obsessed with finding farm to table restaurants and here we just stumbled on one without even trying.
I always like looking over the menu and seeing that there are only a few options because I know that each one has had a lot of time put into it and it’s going to be delicious. We both chose one item from firs secon and dessert courses, each thing different of course, tha way we could maximize the amount of tasting being done! For Kaits first course she got the local greens salad with peach vinaigrette, beets, pecans and red onion. She is obsessed with that sweet, salty and sour combo, so this salad really hit the spot. It even had small slices of white peaches on the bottom of the salad to bring forward the peach flavor in the vinaigrette. The perfect balance.
I went with the tuna crudo with herb aoli, kaviar, okra and a quail egg. It was the perfect mix of visually stunning and freaking delicious. The texture of the tuna was perfect, so much so that even Kait liked it, which is rare because sometimes raw fish has a bad texture for her. The raw quail egg mixed with the aoli made for the perfect creamy savory sauce that paired well with the somewhat sweet kaviar. The texture was so silky smooth and left me wanting more. It felt like a really classy dish that was also delicious. We’ve found that just because a dish is beautiful, doesn’t mean it tastes good. In this case, it didn’t disappoint.
For our main course, upon recommendation from our waitress, Kait got the pan seared rockfish with polenta, local vegetable ratatouille and thyme hollandaise. She is somewhat of a hollandaise connoisseur and by that I mean if she could have a direct IV of it, she would. Or maybe just spread it all over her body. If she could only drink one liquid for the rest of her life, it would be this. thyme. hollandaise. Maybe an exaggeration, but by how much she enjoyed it, I don’t doubt it’s true! And the ratatouille was wonderful! Many of the vegetables served at Chartreuse are grown right on the chefs local farm.
I went with the house made potato gnocchi with local chorizo, lemon butter sauce, sorrel, banana peppers and cacio cheese. I thoroughly enjoyed this dish. So much so that I really wish I was eating it again right now as I’m writing about it. I’m a big gnocchi fan, which I’ve ordered at a lot of places. You can do it very well, but you can also very easily mess it up. Well chartreuse did it perfectly. It was cooked correctly which brought out the creamy texture I always look for in a good gnocchi. Cooked right up to the point of being too mushy, but just short of that, which gives it that creaminess. A bite with the gnocchi, the peppery chorizo and the lemon butter sauce complimented each other brilliantly. I enjoyed the tang of the banana peppers, however at the end of the dish, I was left with a handful still on my plate, which meant there was just too many to begin with. Overall I would order this dish ten times out of ten.
Although we were pretty much full at this point, there was no way we weren’t getting dessert. The meal was amazing so far, we couldn’t leave it hanging. And it was our anniversary, so we thought we owed it to one another. There was only one chocolate option on the menu which was the walnut chocolate torte. I already knew we were getting that because, for Kait, it’s not dessert unless it’s chocolate. The torte itself was outstanding, rich, thick and about as chocolatey as you can get without being too much. The bleu cheese mousse added an interesting layer. At first taste it just added a nice salty element, but after it sat on the palate it became very bleu cheesy. This was too much for me, but Kait liked a small bite of the whipped cream with each bite of torte to balance.
You didn’t just think we got one dessert did you? Um NO! Of course we got two! It’s our anniversary folks! The second dessert we got was a genoise cake with tomato jam and mint chantilly, which is a sort of thicker whipped cream. The cake was delicious, but the tomato jam was too tomato forward for me. It was just a bit strange. Kait loved the chantilly cream and thought it brought that fresh pop the dessert desperately needed. Overall the desserts were good, but we’re just dessert traditionalists and Chartreuse seemed to get a bit too out of the box. This was a nice interesting surprise at the end of the meal though, so we would definitely order dessert here again just to see what the chef has come up with.
Chartreuse is one of those places that you’re not going to order something bad. It’s also a place where you should heavily rely on the waitresses opinion because they know what’s best that day. Even if you think you know what you want, just ask their opinion.
Kait knows I’m the kind of guy that will ask the wait staff what’s best on the menu. I always ask for recommendations. Are you someone who asks for recommendations? Or when you know what you want do you just go for it?
Chartreuse is certainly a place we will be back in the future. We can’t wait to see what the chef whips up next!
Follow us on Pinterest here for more delicious foods and travel tips!