I walked into the huge ballroom and gawked. The smells, the sites of 26 restaurants putting their best cuisine out for some 300 strollers to sample was astonishing. I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy store - I didn't know where to start. So...I started at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start) and selected a small plate containing two perfect slices of smoked New York Strip with homemade Worcestershire sauce served with a healthy dollop of wasabi mashed potatoes from the Riverstone Chophouse, Suffolk.
After that hearty appetizer, we started our way around the room. Some of the offerings were bite sized (all-meat tiny crab cakes from The Flagship Restaurant, Portsmouth and Lebanese chicken salad on pita rounds from Croc's EcoBistro in Virginia Beach) but some larger servings I opted to share with my husband (prime rib chili from Smokehouse and Cooler, Virginia Beach and rich she-crab soup from Lucky Oyster - a restaurant right by my house I was honestly surprised to see among the other Platinum Plates, as the two times dined there I thought the food and service to be sub-par).
I will admit there was some weird stuff, and some - in my opinion - tried a too hard (too many little swirleys of sauce masked the flavor of the final dish) but the vast majority of the entrées were very good. My choice for best - the one that got my red ticket in their jar - was my first selection.
Chophouse's simple rich beef flavor and creamy, flavorful mashed potatoes were my hands-down favorite. I am definitely going to head out to Suffolk and visit the beautiful "Frank Lloyd Wright style" restaurant to peruse the whole menu.
BUT...despite all the amazing offerings, the one I can't get out of my mind was the fascinating plate of "molecular desserts." Never had I had anything like raspberry caviar or mango foam but all four bite-sized selections amazed my taste buds and intrigued my mind. I just might also have to go to Art Café 26 in WIlliamsburg for more than a wee sample!