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Williamsburg Feasts: A Diner’s Diary

No matter whether you go to Williamsburg for the history or the shopping, the attractions or the scenery, there is one thing you always count on in this landmark city: phenomenal food. Restaurants abound, serving up a variety of cuisines and meeting virtually every budget. Here’s a rundown of our culinary adventure as we ate our way across the area, savoring the flavors and snapping up every last morsel:

Sunday Dinner – Second Street: An American Bistro (140 Second Street)

An exceptional welcome to town, with a rich and vibrant décor… a great place for our group to convene and plan out events while sampling this popular eatery’s creations. Among the items we devoured: the scrumptious Steak & Blue Cheese pizza, with gorgonzola, caramelized onion, arugula and truffle ricotta; the delectable Glazed Salmon, with butternut, kale and sage risotto; and the incredibly rich Lasagna, with Italian sausage, beef, roasted garlic, fresh pasta and a rustic tomato sauce. For dessert, a slice of Colossal Carrot Cake most certainly lived up to its name, satisfying the collective sweet tooth of our entire table!

Monday Morning – Aromas World (431 Prince George Street)

What presents as a casual coffee shop in the Merchants Square area (and right up the street from the College of William and Mary) is in fact a dynamite way to start of the day – particularly if you know you’re going to be hoofing it most of the way. The Breakfast Burrito is simply heavenly, packed full of eggs, chorizo sausage, cheddar jack cheese and salsa. And the breakfast sandwiches (served on your choice of croissant, bagel or English muffin) will put plenty of gas in your tank for the day ahead. Don’t forget to check out the amazing array of desserts for something to go… or a reason for a return trip!

Monday Afternoon – Chowning’s Tavern (Colonial Williamsburg)

If you’re going to spend a day at Colonial Williamsburg (and you certainly should, if you’re in the area), there’s no better way to steep yourself in the 18th century tradition than to stop by Chowning’s for lunch (accompanied by a fiddle player outside for a lively repast). Two of our threesome chose the Beef Trencher (smoked beef brisket, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and bear spread, horseradish sour cream), while the third opted for the Warm Smoked Turkey Sandwich, with baby spinach, Swiss cheese, bacon and basil pesto. For a side dish, we recommend the Chowning’s chips. And had we been angling for heartier fare, the Shepherd’s Pye would have been a sure thing.

Monday Evening – Season’s Restaurant & Bar (110 South Henry Street)

An unusual place, made up of a labyrinth of rooms and iron gates, giving the feel of a sidewalk café while remaining fully enclosed. The centerpiece of the menu is the all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet, which includes pulled pork, riblets, barbecue and fried chicken, an assortment of sides and multiple desserts. While one of our party ventured off to fill his plate at the buffet, the others tucked away the Boston Chicken & Shrimp pasta (blackened tenders and shrimp over linguini, with mushrooms, green onions and Romano cheese in a sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce) and a gratifying Swiss Mushroom Burger. For dessert, one of us took home the Apple Walnut Streudel Crisp, while another had a Tiramisu foist upon him (not that he was complaining!).

Tuesday Morning – Shorty’s Diner (627 Merrimac Trail)

Styled like a 1950s drive-in, Shorty’s is a delightful throwback for those getting an early start (it’s only open ‘til 2 p.m. each day). Personally, I had the French Toast (which I never make for myself), and it was wonderfully fluffy and sweet, with just a dusting of powdered sugar. We also chowed down on a Breakfast Burrito and a wonderful omelet. This filling fare put us on the right course for a wonderful day exploring the Jamestown Settlement.

Tuesday Lunch – Waypoint Seafood & Grill (1480 Quarterpath Road)

Throughout the trip, we frequently found ourselves ordering duplicate items, and this stop – a charming, finely appointed spot, despite being located in a strip mall – bore no exception, with two of us choosing the Turkey “BLT” Panini, with tangy fried green tomato adding piquance to the herb-roasted turkey. But our trip’s most pleasant surprise might have been the Original Rockfish Reuben, which is sure to delight even a Reuben purist like myself. The fish was tender and flaky, and the bistro sauce and coleslaw provided a lighter alternative to traditional ingredients.

Tuesday Dinner – Cochon on 2nd (311-106 Second Street)

We closed out the “heavy lifting” portion of our culinary tour with a fine-dining experience that is not to be missed. A new entry on Williamsburg’s bill of fare, this cozy space (about 10 tables, plus a chef’s table and bar area) shows off high ceilings and exposed ductwork. Much of the food is wood-fired (and you can watch the preparation if you snag a seat at the chef’s table), and all of it is incredible. Two of us went after the grilled-to-perfection Beef Tenderloin, served atop scalloped potatoes, with a chimichurri sauce. And for a change of pace, I opted for two appetizers – the Fire Cracker Shrimp and the Thai Sticky Ribs, both of which left me licking my lips (and wanting to lick the plates). For dessert, we shared a Chocolate Mousse Pate (dense, rich and mind-boggling) and the Banana Bread Pudding, an extraordinary confection.

Wednesday Morning – Aromas World (again!)

Before heading back to the airport, we couldn’t resist a repeat performance. However, our breakfast sandwiches and Strawberry Crepes were just the prologue to a mammoth hunk of apple pie. If you’ve ever forked your way into an apple pie only to find too much crust and not enough fresh apples, not to worry – Aromas has been saving them for you! This pie bursts with fruitful plenty.

Of course, there are many more fantastic food stops to be found in Williamsburg; this is just the course we plotted as we puttered through town. Feel free to follow in our footsteps, or chart your own path of culinary discovery. Either way, you’ll be sure to leave Williamsburg, sated and satisfied!

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