Williamsburg Area Restaurant Critics - HELP!

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Okay, one more thread before my trip to Williamsburg in June. This one is about the food outside of the parks.

From James Rao
Posted May 21, 2008 at 8:32 PM
For those of you who go to BGE a lot, or even live nearby, I am just wondering if there are some "can't miss", non-chain restaurants OUTSIDE of the parks that I should plan on visiting.

Since we will be Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, as well as BGE and WCU, I am looking for some insiders to recommend a few choice places to stuff my face.

My family is not too picky about food, and we'll try most anything (as long as it is cooked - thoroughly).

Let me know your recommendations!

From Danny Melillo
Posted May 22, 2008 at 4:53 AM
I went once and really enjoyed Pierce's BBQ. It's counter service though but it's great.

From Daniel Williams
Posted May 23, 2008 at 2:45 PM
Cities Grille. They call themselves "Casual Fine Dining," but its pretty much the best food I've ever had.

From Tim Strickland
Posted May 23, 2008 at 2:57 PM
Please dont get me wrong about this, before I say anything else, it is expensive and you probably dont want to take kids. Okay... last summer I went to the Yorkshire restaurant and they had some of the best seafood I have ever eaten. It was amazing, and I cant say anything bad about it because it is priced appropriately.

From James Rao
Posted May 23, 2008 at 3:42 PM
Thanks for the help....I will research every restaurant recommended, then let my wife pick the ones she likes best (I get to pick all the theme park eateries, she gets to pick the real world stuff).

Keep 'em coming...we won't be in Williamsburg until next Sunday!!!

From Greg Bark
Posted May 23, 2008 at 4:29 PM
Whatever you do, don't go to Seafare. They charge 20 bucks for a shrimp cocktail!

From Christy Shuman
Posted May 24, 2008 at 5:02 AM
Captain George's Seafood has a HUGE buffet if you like seafood. It has every thing you can imagine. They also have things like prime rib steak too in case one of your family members dont like seafood. It is kind of pricey tho at $27 per person, not sure about kids prices.

From Jeff M
Posted May 24, 2008 at 6:10 AM
James, I'd say to check out The Whaling Company! www.thewhalingcompany.com You can find it at this website or it is located less than a mile from BGE in the Kingsmill area. I have never had a bad meal there or bad service. Beware the prices are a bit high in comparison to other restaurants, but it is semi-kid friendly and has a nice atmosphere. I eat there with and without my family everytime I go and my kids are 3 and 4 years old.

Stay away from Sal's Italian restaurant though. I tried them last time I visited the area because I was told they have good food. Everyone in my family group either got stomach aches and my wife actually gave up the meal shortly after eating it. None of us where sick or had any viruses either! How could you make a bad pasta dish??? Eat at Sal's and not only the pasta, but meatballs, sauce, and cheesestick apps were all bad! Granted we may have caught them on a off night, but again....How can you not simply cook pasta???

Enjoy your visit!

From Tyler S.
Posted May 24, 2008 at 7:21 AM
I'm sorry you had a bad experience at Sal's. To me that is some of the best Italian food i've ever eaten.

From James Rao
Posted May 25, 2008 at 7:45 PM
Thanks, gang, for all the feedback. We are in the final planning stages of our trip, so this info is all good!

We have lots of ideas for dinners, but will need some lunch choices too. We might hit Chowning's Tavern for lunch one day...any good? How about Food For Thought?

Anyway, thanks again for all the help!

From James Rao
Posted May 26, 2008 at 9:52 PM
Okay, here's what I am thinking for restaurants outside of BGE.

Carrot Tree Yorktown
Chowning's Tavern
Cities Grille
King's Arm Tavern

Food For Thought
Jamestown Pie Company
The Whaling Company

Other places to visit for snacks, etc:
The Cheese Shop
Aroma's Specialty Coffees Café
Raleigh Tavern Bakeshop

You might notice there are no breakfast restaurants listed....that is because we generally eat something at the resort (cereal, protein shake, breakfast bar, etc) to save time/money.

Anyway, I know I am missing a few that you all recommended that looked excellent, but I had to narrow things down a bit!

However, please let me know if you think I am making any huge mistakes!!! ;)

From Missy Renee
Posted May 27, 2008 at 3:20 AM
Trust me, James. With a list like that, you can't go wrong. Great choices. I hope you enjoy your trip.

I haven't been to The Whaling Company in ages. Time to start hinting to DH that we need a night out...(smile!)

From Jason Jackson
Posted May 29, 2008 at 9:31 PM
For Chinese food, try Peking! Also I agree with the Whaling Company! It is wonderful. Eagles at Kingsmill is a great steak restaurant. Mauricio's across from the Village Shops at Kingsmill is a great Italian place. Cheeburger Cheeburger has great burgers at New Town. And if you can, the Old Chicahominy House on Jamestown Road shouldn't be missed (breakfast and lunch only).

Yummy! (Also, make sure you visit Ukrop's, one of the neatest grocery stores you will ever see! Their delly, prepared meals, etc. are wonderful!)

From James Rao
Posted May 30, 2008 at 3:33 AM
You all do realize that I will look like a beached whale after eating all this food, right!!??

Thank you for all the suggestions. We head out this weekend...so a trip report should be on its way in about 10 days!!

From James Rao
Posted June 10, 2008 at 3:49 PM
Back from my trip, and here are some short reviews:

Carrot Tree Yorktown - great sandwiches, especially the Strawberry Fields croissant.

Chowning's Tavern - expensive lunch, but good. The tomato soup is delicious.

Cities Grille - did not make it, much as I wanted to try their sliders. Went to Season's restaurant instead (big mistake) where we had a decent lunch but with everything on the menu being ala carte, it got expensive fast. Almost $3 for a handful of fries? Come on!

King's Arm Tavern - lunch was very expensive, but you are paying for the atmosphere here. Had a good time...lively service and decent food. The chicken pot pie was excellent. As was the peanut soup.

Food For Thought - second best dinner we had during our vacation. Everything we ordered was very good and the service was top notch, despite them being understaffed that night. Atmosphere was a bit lacking, though.

Jamestown Pie Company - very good pizza, but nothing like your traditional NY style thin crust pizzas. More filling and heavy with LOTS of cheese. Pretty expensive too...three medium pizzas and a cherry pie were almost $60! Best pizza we got was the Parma (with marinara sauce, of course!). BTW, the place looks pretty rundown from the outside, but the inside is nice and clean. You can even view the folks preparing and cooking your pizzas. (Carry out only - FYI).

The Whaling Company - wonderful. Best place we ate the whole trip. Excellent service, atmosphere, and food. I highly recommend this restaurant. I ate the fresh North Atlantic scallops and shrimp (sans the shrooms) and my wife had a delicious, perfectly cooked filet mignon. The kids had tempura shrimp. For dessert I got a chocolate cake and the waiter smothered it in hot fudge for me. It was a gooey, delicious, 10,000 calorie mess. Again, awesome place. Go there!

The Cheese Shop - was too crowded. Did not visit.

Aroma's Specialty Coffees Café - ditto.

Raleigh Tavern Bakeshop - went twice. Decent colonial bakery fare at decent prices. A good way to start the morning tour in Colonial Williamsburg.

Added a pit stop at Retro's Good Eats. Nice place for corn dogs and limeades. Definitely a step above your average Sonic fare, and more akin to the good old food I used to eat at the drive in when drive ins were still the place to go!

All in all we had a good time on our trip. The food was pretty good, albeit mostly overpriced.

Again, thank you all for your help and suggestions.

From Jeff M
Posted June 10, 2008 at 4:41 PM

Glad to read your culinary experience in the Williamsburg area was good overall. I especially am glad to read you enjoyed the Whaling Company! I look foward to your opinions on your total trip to come.
May I ask a few things from you though??? First, did you feel that the pricing and atmosphere of the Whaling Company was worth the visit? What day did you visit and about what time? Any and all details/opinons would be of help. I yet have had to hear any bad reports, but details add to my aid in confirming that this restaurant is worth the stop. Please add any other info so I may pass it along to further interested people I may deal with in business, etc...

Thanks again....

From James Rao
Posted June 11, 2008 at 5:27 AM
Here are the details on the Whaling Company:

We dined on 6/3/08 beginning at about 7:00 PM (after Busch Gardens closed that night and we got to our car and out of the parking lot). We were seated promptly in a darkened, but smartly decorated and highly themed dining room. Our server was Sonny, a very friendly, nice waiter. He was attentive and filled with stories and suggestions, but never over bearing. He had a lot of tables that night, but service never suffered.

The party make up was me, my wife, my mom, and my three kids (52", 48", and 42" - we don't go by age anymore, we go by height!).

All three kids had Shirley Temples to drink.... they came in large Collins-type glasses and were delicious, not just 7-Up and cherry juice, I promise! Oh, and free refills on those, by the way.

I had the scallops and shrimp over linguini, sans the mushrooms. It was perfect. Light tasting, but filling, and the scallops were large and tasty. I loved it.

My wife had an 8 oz filet (it was only like $2 more than the 6 oz. so I told her to "go for it"). It was brought to the table perfectly cooked at medium and it was an excellent steak. Tender, juicy, and delicious.

My mom and two oldest kids had tempura shrimp. The batter was light, tasty, but not overwhelming; you could still taste the large shrimp inside. The kids had fries for their side, and my mom had red potatoes dipped in garlic butter, which were excellent.

My youngest kid just ate a little of everybody's because she doesn't ever eat anything when we order it for her.

We shared three desserts, Chocolate Cake (smothered in hot fudge sauce by request only!), Carmel Pie, and Key Lime Pie. All three desserts were tasty, well presented, and large. We did not finish any of them, though we gave it our best shot!

The total bill was about $100, plus another $20 for the tip. It seems expensive, but for a group of six in Williamsburg, it was not.

That dinner was universally declared to be the best meal we had that week. We even contemplated going back again for another visit but decided to branch out and try new things each night. In retrospect, we should have gone to the Whaling Company for dinner every night!! =)

If you go to the Williamsburg Area, and especially to Busch Gardens, you should go to the Whaling Company. The food was great, the service was perfect, the decor is well themed, and the location is perfectly situated on the way "home" from BGE (just remember to turn left BEFORE you get to the restaurant as the next turn up the road will take you on to I-64).

Anyway, let me know if you need any other info.

From Christa Hutchins
Posted June 15, 2008 at 2:03 PM
We are sending our two teens to BGE one evening so my husband and I can go out for a nice date dinner. I was waivering between Whaling Company and Food for Thought, but based on your notes, I'm leaning towards Whaling Company. I know you were writing more from a "family-friendly" perspective, but from a "date-night" perspective, would Whaling Company still be your top pick?

And for Aromas, what did you consider "too busy"? I know the continental breakfast at our hotel is not going to do for my husband, who thinks every day must start with a strong cup of coffee and decent serving of protein. I was thinking of stopping in to Aromas most mornings to supplement breakfast, but not if it's going to take a long time.

From James Rao
Posted June 15, 2008 at 2:17 PM
Whaling Company is much more decorative and has better mood lighting. It is more of a "fine dining" establishment. Food For Thought has really good food, but more of a "Sunday Brunch" feel.

As for Aromas, we got to that area of Williamsburg at pretty much the peak of lunch hour, so the place was packed. We wouldn't have cared too much, but the three kids were about to lose it, so we moved on to some place less crowded (and probably "less good"). Anyway, if you time it right, I am sure you can avoid the rushes and not have to wait much at all.

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