UPDATE: AS OF NOVEMBER 2013 – PRIME 103 IS CLOSED. And that is a shame. There is a raw bar in its place.
So often a new restaurant will need days if not weeks to work the kinks out of their operation, and this can sometimes result in a less than accurate review. Prime 103 Steakhouse, newly opened in Virginia Beach, is not one of those places.
Prime 103 is an artfully decorated, “smart casual” restaurant, catering to those who desire fine dining without the white tablecloth, as well as anyone wishing to sit at a nice bar, watching sports on one of the flat screen televisions. The crowd, and it was a full house when we visited, ranged from young professionals to early retirees. There was no posted dress code, but all patrons were “out for the evening” and dressed accordingly. The kitchen, almost a “show kitchen,” gave the place a bit of pizzazz, with flames erupting high enough to be seen from the street. I wish I could have made it back there to see what was being prepared. (That’s the old cook in me, I guess.)
Now for the important stuff – the food and service. You are paying higher than average (for the area) prices, but you get higher than average cuisine. Much higher. Let’s start with the appetizers. Disclaimer: I dislike scallops. Can’t stand them. So a plate of bacon-wrapped scallops arrives and I try one, to be polite. I loved them. I will use these scallops as a benchmark to compare all others. Very light texture, tasty, and certainly not a hockey puck, I would order them again without hesitation. I also had the calamari, which was good, thankfully not overcooked, but the dipping sauce made the dish. We also had a crab dip with pita slices, excellent as well.
After the salad course, it was time for the entree. Some of us chose the flounder, others in my group tried the Delmonico-style steak. Two ordered the chicken piccata, so we covered the sea, land and barn, so to speak.
The main course was awesome. The flounder, a nice sized double filet, came stuffed with crab meat (not filler with crab bits.) The steak, a 10 ounce slab, looked so good a vegetarian would almost think twice. The chicken? I don’t know. The two who ordered it had finished their meal before I had a chance to even ask. Must have been that good.
Finally, the server stopped by with the dessert tray. So many choices, all of which looked luxuious. I went with a creme brule style cheesecake. It didn’t last long. I may just have to go back to sample the dessert tray!
Now let’s talk about the area most new (and some old) restaurants struggle with – service.
We had a large group, over a dozen of us. The staff accommodated us extremely well, without sacrificing service to the “regular” tables. We had one issue where the server heard the wrong thing and one of us had to wait for a new entree. That said (and it happens even in the best of places) what impressed me most was how well the staff handled the problem. Not only did the server apologize and immediately run back to the kitchen to rectify the mistake, the manager came over several times to make sure our guest was being taken care of. His meal was comped and he received a few extra beverages.
The service was excellent. The staff also showed great teamwork in handling a large group. I took note of the other diners, to see how they reacted to our large group. They appeared fine, with their food arriving in a timely fashion like ours. No one was discounted, service-wise. For a new place, it was obvious that much thought and care had been taken to ensure a memorable dining experience for all.
Don’t go expecting Applebee’s prices, but do go knowing you will get so much more than you pay for!
Prime 103 is located at 972 Laskin Road in Virginia Beach, close to but thankfully not at the resort area, in the same spot as the now-gone Jack’s Bistro. Don’t let the strip mall location fool you. Prime 103 is worth your time and money for that special dining experience.
And try the bacon-wrapped scallops.