Seated at tables blanketed with chic, grey tablecloths, creative sheet music menus and spring tulip centerpieces, a crowd of approximately 300 enjoyed lunch inside Hilton Norfolk The Main’s stately Granby Ballroom in early February. Music from the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet filled the room as guests dined on kale BLT salad, roasted chicken with walnut and pomegranate glaze, braised short ribs with demi-glace, orzo with roasted butternut squash, potato and spinach cakes with white cheddar and an appropriately-titled “Symphony of Desserts.” The upscale atmosphere, combined with an impressive menu, certainly made it easy for attendees to forget that they were at a live construction site surrounded by tools, dust and an entire crew of men donning hard hats and steadily working to complete the much-anticipated three-year project. Today’s grandeur approach comes as no surprise, though, because when CEO of Gold Key | PHR Bruce Thompson is involved, nothing is done small, and no detail goes unnoticed.
The phrase most frequently floated around our table that day were the words “game changer.” Indeed, The Main is expected to transform Norfolk in terms of economy, meeting space and overall vibrancy. “It has exceeded everything the city had hoped for,” said former Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim, committee co-chair.
The hotel will also alter the food scene of Downtown Norfolk and especially reverse any pre-conceived notion you had of typical hotel fare. Here’s a brief look at the three restaurants coming to Coastal Virginia’s culinary scene once The Main officially opens:
Saltine will showcase Coastal Virginia’s finest fresh seafood through delectable entrees, as well as a raw and sushi bar. The open kitchen and fish-cutting room create what’s known as culinary theater in a hip, urban vibe of black, distressed millwork, globe lighting, exposed brick, mosaic tile floors, old-world detailing, a 2,000-bottle wine display and lobster tanks, prominently located on the first floor.
Varia, The Main’s second-floor, trattoria-inspired Italian restaurant, will feature over 100 hand-selected wines, an exposed pizza station and a piano bar, lit by the warm glow of a reclaimed chandelier from the Cavalier’s ballroom. Savor modern Italian fare made from local ingredients while reveling in an upscale romantic scene. Especially unique about this space is the large millwork library with hidden doors in the bookshelves that lead to an ultra-private dining room.
Grain is the place to be this spring and summer—specifically out on the rooftop bar featuring a terraced patio and elegant fire pit overlooking the Elizabeth River. The restaurant is designed to bring the inside out and the outside in, with towering indoor trees that make the beer garden feel like a true garden. And speaking of beer, there’ll be lots of it—one of the best selections of craft beer in Norfolk, touts The Main’s website. We’re looking forward to trying a few selections over a game of lawn chess.
The Main will officially open to the public on April 1, 2017, visit TheMainNorfolk.com for more details.