Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bringin' BobbyBack

Dave and I hurried through the double doors into the welcoming warmth of Bobbywood, finally out of the chilly wind winding down Norfolk's Monticello Avenue. The host checked our reservation, then asked us to follow him.

We went just around the corner to a two-top on the end of a long banquette, one of two in the main dining room. A swooping fabric oval above diffused soft, romantic light across the room, which led back to an open kitchen. Another dining area buttressed up to the main room, while the other side embraces the long, sleek bar, featuring a striking glass-enclosed wine room.

The impressive surroundings proved a fine backdrop for the elegantly insouciant menu. After much indecision, I placed an order for a couple of the Spoons!, hoping to buy a bit more time for food negotiations with Dave. It was a tough choice between so many tasty sounding options, especially as Bobby notes that he has, at every opportunity, worked to incorporate local meats, produce and purveyors. Finally, we were ready by the time she brought the cute little appetizers to our table.

Spoons! are tiny tastes served in a large tasting spoon: the eleven choices range in price from $2-$4. Dave got the Beef Bobbaque ($4), which came as a very respectable pile of succulent, smoky, satisfying slivers. Partnered with a slice of the complimentary house-made bread, it was the perfect mini 'cue sandwich.

My spoon was filled with baby mac and cheese with rock shrimp ($4). Tiny, comma-shaped shrimp were perfectly cooked and swimming in a cheesy, rich sauce. Both portions were more than enough to stimulate the appetite.

Properly roused, we split the Sonoma goat cheese starter ($8). A crispy fried portion of the soft cheese sat on top of artichoke salad, doused with basil oil and tapanade, all propped on a piece of garlic toast. This was a most enjoyable mix of salty flavors and crispy, crunchy textures.
After such a hearty start, we wandered into greener pastures. My Equinox salad ($8) was a seasonally appropriate mixture of apples, pears, dried cranberries and spicy pecans. All were interspersed with fresh field greens, dressed with a lively apple cider vinaigrette and presented wrapped in a generous slice of Serrano ham. Once again, a powerhouse combination of engaging and invigorating flavors. Dave went with the never-out-of-style classic Chop Chop salad ($9). A timbale of layered tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and tapanade are bathed in a deliciously garlicky vinaigrette and topped with a spicy pepperoncino. More greens hold up the far side of the plate so you can mix as you go along. Wonderful, addictive stuff.

We shouldered on in the face of our main courses. I had the sweet potato gnocchi ($23), which came in a large bowl filled high with mushrooms, zucchini and brussels sprouts, all in an opaque broth. The soft, pillowy gnocchi released their delicately spiced fillings nicely, but somehow, the rest of the dish seemed at war. Toothsome brussels sprouts refused to submit to anything less than firm pressure, while the rich brown broth dominated and obscured any other flavors. When the waitress noticed I hadn't finished my dish, she asked what the problem was ("just not to my taste, I guess"). Without another word, it and the charge were removed.

Dave fared much better with that other classic, a bowl of the World Famous Oyster Stew ($9). It was unabashedly rich and thick with very fat specimens of oysterdom bobbing to and fro, along with chunks of potato, corn and bits of smoky bacon. This is the sort of thing that was created to chase away remnants of wintry blues, and does so in great style.
We were ready to throw in the towel, until the waitress waived a dessert menu under our noses. Vanilla bean tapioca pudding with cilantro ginger syrup ($7) proved to be a fine diversion indeed. The thick tapioca beads combined creamy comfort and a subtly-spiced kick into an utter delight. Served with a small scoop of sweet-tart raspberry sorbet, it was the perfect dish over which to bid au revoir to Bobbywood's new home in Norfolk.


Blogger sher said...

That looks like a terrific meal. Every one of the pictures looked wonderful. And may I say, the mac & cheese spoons? Fabulous!

10:03 AM  
Blogger Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

Yum! I think Jim and I will have to remember this place if we venture down Norfolk way.

6:00 PM  

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