I was impressed with the clever presentation of our dishes and everything tasted amazing. -George W. Culver (Owner/ Blogger at I Heart Food)
Refreshing not to see the standard Hampton Roads menu of crab cakes and fried platters. Creative and tasty appetizers and even a winner in desserts. -Danielle Jones (Co-Owner of Slice and Torte food blog)
Their Mediterranean Sea Bass was the best whole fish I’ve had all year. It was much better than the whole fish at Peter Chang -Dennis Cayton (food writer/ enthusiast)
I think Marsh is a fucking legend. Only tuna salad I’ve ever given a shit about. -Josh Seaburg (Bartender at Elixia, Cocktail Consultant at Model Citizen)
Praise from serious eaters locally continues to mount as early impressions of Stephen Marsh’s second restaurant, Shiptown, coalesce. In lieu of getting too grandiose with praise, it may be safe to start looking at Marsh’s transformative efforts in North Colley through a somewhat similar lens as the exploits of Handsome Biscuit and Toast Entrepreneurs, Dave Hausmann and John Porter, in Park Place. This isn’t to take away from the influence Chow had starting in 2013 nor the newer impact of Cogan’s North, but when patrons who are interested in local sourcing, progressive plates, and scratch made food visit the area, they are coming to LeGrand, and now Shiptown. Marsh’s autobiographical menus and sourcing practices will stand the test of time while we may, in time, see other restaurants in close proximity suffer should our craft beer bubble ever pop and as the advancement of our food scene results in stiffer competition.
Article by Tiffannie Williams with above intro and photography by Fitz
Lead photo of Chef/Owner Stephen Marsh at Shiptown
Let me first start by saying that I need to be in the right mood for seafood. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll eat it and I don’t break out in hives or anything afterwards. It’s just that I typically find myself choosing a nice steak, pork, or chicken dish when given the option. Shiptown, however, may have forced me to rethink my disposition. The self-described “old-school” oyster bar and seafood restaurant with an emphasis on “clean” cooking located in Highland Park, is a definite must-try for anyone looking for a new experience in Norfolk. With a relatively casual atmosphere, which it seems to share with its sister restaurant LeGrand Kitchen, Shiptown brings together the exquisite cooking and creativity of the Chef/Owner Stephen Marsh and the best of local ingredients available.
My companions—Richmond and Norfolk-based foodies—and I stopped in for dinner on a Saturday during its opening week. The minute we walked in we were bombarded with the chatter of excited patrons. We were quickly seated at a table with unpadded high-backed benches (which we had to shimmy into) and metal chairs (not the most comfortable). The waitress provided us menus and proceeded to speak. Unfortunately, given the level of conversation and the acoustics of the room, it took some time to understand that she was asking for our drink orders.
But let me skip ahead… the food! We ordered an array of appetizers— including the tuna salad and pimento rolls, arctic char crudo with shaved ham, a smoked mussel plate, uni and Nduja on grilled avocado, and a round of oysters-on-the-half-shell—all of which were delectable.
The smoked mussels on Artisan’s crackers were by far the crowd favorite, with the perfect hint of smoke in every bite. Now, let me rave about the oysters! Remember, seafood is not often my first choice, so raw oysters haven’t been on my radar, but these were amazingly fresh and juicy. Definitely, the best I’ve had; I’m a convert… just get them and you’ll see.
For our entrées, we had the shrimp & crab Louie salad on an iceberg wedge with eggs, breadcrumbs and Russian dressing, the whole grilled fish with farro piccolo, orange segments and chimichurri, and the broiled cod with purple potatoes and parsley salad. The dishes yet again garnered rave reviews all around and not a drop was left on the plate…. Okay, yes, technically there were still the fish bones.
But of course, after an extremely decadent dinner, you just cannot forego the desserts. So naturally we ordered both offerings: a lemon-based Atlantic Beach pie and the sticky toffee pudding. It was a Herculean effort on my part not to hoard the pudding to myself (remember “sharing is caring”); every bite was like a taste of mythical ambrosia.
My party left utterly gorged and satisfied and, despite the somewhat high prices (entrées started at $20), hailed it the best seafood they had had in the area. Based on my experiences, I undoubtedly concur. Do be prepared for the loud atmosphere and potentially pricey check but put Shiptown at the top of your list for your next place to try in Norfolk.
For more on Shiptown visit them online at shiptownseafood.com