Review: Virgils Café – Bellevue, KY



710 Fairfield Ave
Bellevue, KY 41073



Per Cincinnati Magazine:

Virgils feels too fancy to qualify as a burger joint.  Clean and crisp black linen tablecloths covered with butcher paper and overly polite waiters just don’t scream out “Burger time!”  But don’t let that fool you: the modestly named “beef hamburger” – grilled, succulent beef topped with sautéed mushrooms and caramalized onions on a multigrain kaiser roll – equals hamburger heaven.  And do not miss out on their sweet potato fries with a side of ancho-mayo.

Why not hit two birds with one stone?  Christmas Eve Eve, I got to hang out with my bff, the lady half of Bearded Lady Pics, AND check out another restaurant in the greater Cincinnati area.  We snagged my Burger Edition of Cincinnati Magazine and flipped through until we settled on Virgils.  Being on the Kentucky-side of the Ohio River, it was one that I was looking forward to visiting and meeting up with Lans was a perfect excuse.  We called the restaurant around 6:15 to make our reservation, arrived at 6:30 and were seated immediately.  I understand that it was a Thursday night and Christmas Eve Eve, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference in the speediness of their reservations/seatings. I was majorly pleased.  FYI: Parking is on the street, but it’s in historic Bellevue which is just about the cutest place on earth.

I cannot vouch for the hamburger that is mentioned above, but I will say that the descriptions match the dishes we ordered to a T.  Our starter was, in fact, the sweet potato fries with ancho chile mayonnaise.  I was never a fan of sweet potato until living in Japan (they have a way with potato and squashes) and I have only seen sweet potato fries in the last two years.  I LOVE them and these were no disappointment.  I do not usually eat mayo, but the ancho was irresistible.

As CM’s review says, the restaurant does feel fancy but it’s still comfortable and intimate.  The lights are dimmed and there are so many nooks and crannies that you feel you can be off by yourself.  We were seated to the right of the entrance, on a platform featuring the bar and the entrance to the kitchen – where the magic takes place.  There was a lot of activity around us, being so close to the kitchen, but we didn’t mind it at all.  I’m sure that the other end of the restaurant is more subdued, but we enjoyed being close to the action.  Our waiter was Ben, who I found out later (through Twitter) was tending the bar for the first time that night.  He did a great job of keeping tabs on us and the one other table as well as holding his post behind the counter.  His back-up/co-waiter was Darius and between the two of them, our glasses were kept full of drink, our plates full of food and our mouths with laughter. (This isn’t a hard thing for me and Lans, but it helps to have really fun waiters) The other thing I’d like to note is that there is a whole hip-vibe in the place, but it’s not so trendy as to exclude a princess coloring book on the counter next to our table.  We enjoyed that touch.

Our meals were the Fresh Pasta – with seasonal veggies, beurre blanc, and chicken and the Étouffée – chicken, homemade andouille sausage, dirty rice and garlic bread.

I know my étouffée looks awful, just blame it on my you-, I mean, camera.

This was my first time eating étouffée and I loved it. The sauce was a mix of sweet and spicy and the sausage had a lot of kick to it.  Rice is always a winner for me and the chicken broke apart when I began to cut into it.  The only negative I have about this dish was the overly-crunchy garlic bread.  I managed two bites into the center of it and then had to discard the rest, but I’m chalking this to personal preference.

There is no dessert menu and the options are sort of limited…but if you hear your server say the three most beautiful words – Chocolate Bourbon Torte – place your order right away.  Lans and I shared a slice of it and, though I missed the proper “before” shot, I’m sure this one gives you an idea of the deliciousness.

It was like a rich waterfall of burning ice and decadence cascading down your throat. (how’s that for descriptive?)

This is definitely on my list of top fave restaurants now.  I think what I like the most about it is what I learned after eating there.  On their website the owner, Matt Buschle, talks about how they seek out locally-grown ingredients and work to build relationships with local farmers.  Most of their furniture, equipment and a plethora of other items are reclaimed from other places and forgotten warehouses.

The food: excellent
The help: awesome (in the words of our waiter)
The parking: on the street, but there’s a ton that you can find.  It’s a really nice area.
The accommodations:  I’m not sure I would go there with a group of more than 6.  It’s intimate and cozy.
The price: Between the two of us, the meal was close to $50 (sans tip).  That was with one starter, one dessert, and two entrées, oh, and one Coke.
Returnability: For special occasions – 100%. For casual “I’m hungry tonight” dining – maybe 35%.

Find more reviews and promos by clicking on the links to the right.  Go ‘head, you know you want to.