By Ryan Miller
A brick oven hearth baking aromatic European-style breads, dim lighting for a warming ambiance and rustic wood lining the sleek bar all provide an invitational atmosphere for a casual yet sophisticated lunch meeting space at Baker’s Crust at Virginia Beach’s Hilltop.
Being part of the cuisine scene in Virginia Beach since its establishment in 1993 by co-owner and founder John Stein, the restaurant has a certain familiarity to it, backed by its reputation of providing a fresh take on fresh tastes. The menu has all those attractive word associations to it as well—artisanal, crafted, farm to table, locally and responsibly sourced.
We start with an order of avocado toast on three baguettes, which gives for the proper introduction to the different styles of breads made naturally at Baker’s Crust. These portions are artfully served on an elongated plate for show and spruced up with exquisite toppings: corn, chipotle aioli, cilantro and queso fresco; quail egg, tomato and Applewood smoked bacon; red and golden beet.
For the main course, we select signature sandwiches made from baked-that-day breads such as sourdough, caraway rye, house rye and multigrain. The Tomato and Mozzarella Panini, served on grilled sourdough with charred, yet still sweet, oven-roasted tomatoes, is ideally paired with creamy tomato and cheese soup in a lighter, half-sandwich and soup lunch combination. On the contrary, the heavier option for when you’re working up an appetite is The Swanky Sweet Potato Biscuit with fried buttermilk chicken breast dressed in rich, honey beurre blanc and arugula with a side of house-made parmesan chips. It’s hearty, wholesome and ideal for those battling mid-day hunger.
You can’t go wrong with the leafy greens either, as ingredients for one salad have made their way from SmartBasil Farms in Suffolk to add an herbal flair. Another popular option, Wine Country is a sweet and refreshing medley of grapes, pears, strawberries and candied pecans with parmesan and goat cheese drizzled in a raspberry vinaigrette.
With some final ideas to share for our business lunch, dessert is both timely and difficult to resist, especially when crêpes are involved. We ambitiously grab our forks and go to work on the Jamaican Crêpe, a thin pastry greeting us with flambéed bananas, dowsed in rum and coated with toasted coconut and a scoop of Edy’s ice cream beneath a swirl of chocolate sauce. Sharing our final ideas over the last of our crêpe, our visit proved to be quite the productive lunch meeting.
Baker’s Crust has locations in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Williamsburg. Visit BakersCrust.com for more info.