Chic, eclectic and modern, Chartreuse Bistro is a gem located in downtown Norfolk, where everyone bustles to their next appointment, whether it’s for coffee, to work or in my case, lunch.
With plenty of parallel parking and parking garages available, Chartreuse Bistro is a short stroll away off of City Hall Avenue.
Light indie music plays in the background, the sun shines through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and all is primed for a business meeting with my colleague. With a moniker as lush and charming as Chartreuse Bistro, the space certainly lives up to its name. Colorful flowers in mismatched vases are placed at each seating area. Claim a spot at the white tables flush against the wall, black, glossy tables next to the window or the cozy booth and rustic table in the corner; the bistro is perfect for small or larger groups. Welcomed by the bright, fresh décor, this fluid design element continues to our plates.
Known for weaving the season’s flavors into their menu, it’s no surprise that corn, tomatoes and other summer suspects are folded into each item.
We begin with a corn and turnip vichyssoise, which is essentially a cooked, creamy gazpacho. My colleague and I split the chilled soup, the perfect portion to prepare our palates for our entrées. The silky-textured soup springs with a burst of flavors. Freshly shaved corn kernels scatter across the top, a dollop of peach chutney is placed just so, and a drizzle of rosemary olive oil and a pinch of black sea salt sign off on this bowl of sheer goodness.
Warm goat cheese and chopped eggplant fold into a delicate crepe for my entrée. Accompanied by a salad of ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, a savory garlic streusel and a velvety herb dressing, my entrée sends my taste buds singing. My colleague’s Scottish salmon nestles atop a black bean puree, cauliflower and radicchio petals, which is then completed by a golden lime blanc sauce beneath. “The edges of the salmon were seared to a perfect crisp, and the flavors blended beautifully,” she says.
With two courses under our, ahem, waistlines, dessert is surely the next choice. The fruit tartlet delivers a bounty of summer’s gems—blackberries and blueberries. Cloud-like pastry cream and caramel sauce sweeps across the plate, the tartlet offers a crunchy escape, and the earthy lavender ice cream balances out any of my too-sweet assumptions.
Other menu items include a salad with ginger vinaigrette, almonds, cantaloupe and fennel; house made fettuccini; focaccia and a variety of unique sodas, including turmeric, cantaloupe and cucumber—all of which are crafted from the freshest, local, sustainable and organic ingredients.
We finish this successful business meeting with two glasses of Sparkling Cardamom, a refreshing elixir of cardamom simple syrup, pods of the green spice and the key ingredient—champagne.
Chartreuse Bistro is located at 205 E. City Hall Ave., Norfolk. Lunch hours are Tuesday–Friday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dinner hours vary. To accommodate larger groups, call 757-965-2137 to make a reservation. Visit ChartreuseBistro.us to learn more.
Story and Photography By Anne Leonard