Shelby noticed a friend of hers, Angelique, hit a new restaurant in Virginia Beach called Metropolitan Oyster Exchange and she asked if I knew anything about it. I had no idea it was opening up; not that I know everything but I do try to keep up with the ins-and-outs of local food scene. I did a quick search and didn't find a whole lot about them. I did see that Patrick Evans-Hylton wrote a good article them in December on HamptonRoads.com.
I decided I'd shoot them a message and see if I could visit and check them out, maybe take some photos. Jason Etheredge, the General Manager, responded with an invite for me and Shelby to come by and participate in their soft opening the next day. Of course we accepted.
We headed out after work, parked and appeared to be the first ones in for the night. 6:00 PM sharp, I'm serious about food. We were greeted inside by our hostess Loralen and then Jason came over to introduce himself. He had Loralen work us into their seating system even though we were the first to arrive. They were trying to work out kinks in the process. We were asked to visit the bar while a table was set for us. I could see everyone in the restaurant running around, prepping for the evening, Jerry Bryan also came over to say “Hi.”
Jerry is the owner of the Metro and Coastal Grill off Great Neck Rd. He was very excited about getting people in the place and told us to make ourselves at home. Nice guy. Looking about the place I spied a Lab puppy named Connor being cute, super soft and fluffy. Who doesn't love puppies? We met Lou Lou behind the bar, she is the mixologist who was training the other bartenders, Matt and Matt (same names, that's great), how to make the house's signature drinks.
There was a raw bar and a guy named Mike was back there shucking oysters for the half-shell trays. The oysters for that night all came from the waters off the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Jerry told us earlier he'll be importing oysters from the West Coast too, sounds like they'll have a good variety available.
While we were looking around, more people started to show up. Since it was a soft opening, most of the these were friends and acquaintances. The day before it was family night. The food being served was going to be the chefs going through a special menu and putting it out for the wait staff to serve. So whatever they made in the kitchen is what we would be eating. Sounded exciting!
The interior design was very nice, great lighting and signage throughout. The atmosphere was very relaxed, as intended by Jerry, he wanted a place that people could walk into and grab a great bite to eat. No reservations and sharing is encouraged. Casual. The floor was open and it was nice seeing the staff and patrons interact.
About the drinks. Lou Lou started us off with a classic cocktail "The Last Word". Her ambition for the Metro—the area in fact—includes making Chartreuse a staple in local drinks. Her Prohibition era drinks and modern concoctions are impressive; she makes her own syrups and mixers. Check out what she put together for us:
As for the food, amazing. Jason said the menu was being tweaked but if what we had foreshadows the regular offerings, then there are going to be a lot of happy diners in our town. Here's what we had:
During our dinner someone walked up to our table and asked if we were George and Shelby; turns out it was Tricia Bryan. Jerry and Tricia Bryan are neighbors with Angelique, who called the restaurant to tell Tricia we would be in that night (thanks Angelique!) We chatted a bit and I asked about the name of the Metro. Tricia told us that Jerry has been working with his executive chef Maureen “Mo” Cucchiaro for 24 years and when Metro was ramped up, Jerry wanted to tribute all of Mo's hard work over the years, so when he was figuring out a name he came up with M.O.E—Metropolitan Oyster Exchange. Of course it sounds swanky too.
We loved the food, feel, and service (Jefri took care of us) at Metro. A must try if you're ever in the area.
Metropolitan Oyster Exchange
972 Laskin Rd