Chow Down, Drink Up
By Chris Jones and Diane Catanzaro
You just left the Naval Station – VIT end of Hampton Blvd in Norfolk and are headed south, searching for a beer and a bite. Or, maybe you are near ODU, and want to hoist a cold one in appreciation of Blaine Taylor’s years of service coaching the men’s basketball team. Or, you live in Larchmont and wish YOUR neighborhood had a great beer bar with choices beyond the same-old same-old. You meander onto Jamestown Crescent, which segues into the north end of Colley Avenue. Your tongue is parched, your palate dry, your mind confused…you could really use a local beer and some chow…wait, what’s happened to the old Coach House Restaurant? The word “Chow” beckons like a siren to a sailor, and you pull into the parking lot. A miracle awaits…..you enter and your prayers have been answered. Chow Restaurant and Bar is the name, and you amble inside to discover half your friends are inside drinking delicious craft beer and chowing down on ample portions of tasty comfort fare with flair.
Located at 5103 Colley Ave, Chow Restaurant and Bar might just be serving an unbeatable combination, a righteous beer selection paired with southern comfort food. No, not Southern Comfort food, which is whatever you’re eating what you’re drinking Southern Comfort, but old time southern comfort food, that rich simple chow that southern grannies used to make and we used to scarf. The old building has been completely refurbished, and the main room is light, spacious, attractive, family-friendly, age-friendly, and most importantly beer-friendly. Chow is owned by the same folks who brought us A.W. Shucks and Tortilla West in Ghent and West Ghent, respectively. In short, people who deliver good value and tasty food along with an excellent selection of exciting beers.
Need an appetizer? They have a tasty goat cheese appetizer – a ball of breaded goat cheese, deep-fried, and presented in the form of a pear. We admit, the deep-fried part sounds a little funky, but it’ll make you drool like Homer Simpson when he’s holding a can of Duff. A+ for presentation. How about a pimento cheese plate, some boiled peanuts (pronounced “bald peanuts” for you nawtherners) or pot liquor and cornbread? Try the fried pickles; they are the best we’ve had… hot, tangy, and crisp. For carnivores, there’s plenty of meat, meat, meat for you to eat, eat, eat. Fried chicken, pulled pork, pork belly, three kinds of steak (country fried, cowboy, Salisbury) three kinds of barbeque (wait, make that four kinds of barbeque if you count the vegan version!) For the seafood lover, sea-salt-roasted Eastern Shore oysters (bivalves and beer, a great combination), fine fish (both oceanic and riverine – their catfish is sublime), crab potpie and yee-hah, shrimp and grits. For the straight up vegetarian, there are salads, a black bean burger, Gardein chicken, lots of veggie side dishes, and the forementioned vegan barbeque. There’s a variety of victuals (or as granny says, “vittles”) to please your palate, and servings are ample so you won’t leave hungry. They also do a nice job with presentation and visual appeal of each plate. Price are quite reasonable…our three entrees were all under $15 on a recent visit. They also have lots of sandwiches for under $10, including grilled banana, honey, peanut butter and bacon.
And that dry mouth cure we were talking about; how’s the beer? A very nice selection craft beer is drawing raves from the beer crowd.
There are 16 beers on tap, and most are beers you don’t see everywhere. On a recent trip there we had Legend Winter White, a delicious Belgian style wit beer from Richmond. Swimming in orange peel spices and aromas of citrus and banana, it quenched our thirst right into the next day. Other notable draft selections on recent visits included beers from Blue Mountain, Southern Tier, Brooklyn Brewing, and local breweries O’Connor and Smartmouth. In addition to the draft selection, this may be the best place for big bottled beers. Some impressive beers in the “double deuce” large format bottles are from Dogfish Head, Rogue, Brooklyn Brewing, The Bruery, Allagash, Southern Tier, and more. We recommend the Rogue Chipotle Ale with your barbeque, or a Legend Brown. Thinking globally but want to drink locally? Chow serves up seven different Virginia beers in bottles and others are on tap. Your heart beats for Belgians? You have a bevy of Belgians to choose from, including Trappist ales (beers brewed under the watchful eyes of monks) from Chimay, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Orval…God love ‘em.
So there you have it – things will be looking up when you Chow down. Simple, satisfying food, paired with scrumptious beers, served in a “neighborhoody” atmosphere. Who knows, maybe this is Larchmont’s version of “Cheers”, so hurry in there before Norm gets your seat at the bar.
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