Morsels of comfort food help create a popular spot in Phoebus

Phoebus Hampton VA HR Growler

Morsels of comfort food help create a popular spot in Phoebus

A lot of people aren’t aware of Phoebus, the quaint, historical district in Hampton. If you drive through town, you'll feel as if you've gone back in time. The pretty tree-lined streets and storefronts within old brick buildings that haven't changed in ages will grab you and make you slow down to take it all in.

Shelby and I visited a restaurant there recently. We were so impressed that we were still talking about the food the next day. It's called The Point at Phoebus – Spirits and Comfort Food. Outside of the shop is a small patio area to eat or have a drink. A butcher board-style chalk panel lets you know they cure their own bacon (amazing bacon that I'll talk about later) and that life is good. It will be even better if you go inside to get something to eat.

The delicious aroma of the mixed dishes being cooked in a somewhat open kitchen greeted us. It made me eager to look at the menu again. Caleb DeVito, son of one of the owners, told us that even though they weren't full yet, all the tables except for one were reserved. The table he had available was in the middle of the long, narrow space, but we said we'd take it.

Within the hour, all the tables were full, and the main patio area out back was nearly full. This was a Tuesday night, usually a slow night for dining establishments. People waited outside with drinks before getting seated inside. At our small table, we met the owner's daughter, Moriah DeVito, who was going wait on us. We chatted a bit about the drink and food menu. Shelby was excited to see they had Larry's Lemonade on tap. We suspected they would because the area's oldest, continually running brewery, St. George, brews it right there in Hampton. She ordered Larry's Lemonade and I ordered a Smartmouth Alter Ego saison. The beer menu that night was all Virginia craft beers. The drafts stay local, but the cans and bottles rotate out. The place has a solid list to choose from. 

While sipping our drinks, we decided what we wanted for dinner. Shelby wanted the Pinnacle Burger, an 80/20 patty of ground short rib and chuck. I ordered the Low Country Shrimp 'n’ Grits. This place makes comfort food, and I had to try some. We decided to get an appetizer too—Hog Island Clams that came with a baguette and grilled lemon. Also on our short list were the local oysters and fried green tomatoes. We'll have to come back to try them another time. 

After we ordered, Cat Kane, one of the restaurant owners, introduced herself. Moriah and Caleb, whom we met earlier, are her children. She told us a little bit about the place she co-owns with Joshua Stivers. The Point at Phoebus is a farm-to-table establishment. They support a sustainable approach when they procure produce, seafood and meats. Sam Rust Seafood and Dave & Dee's Mushrooms are two regional places they buy from. Cat said they try hard to keep it local. They’re also trying to get Phoebus on the map as a dining and entertainment destination. The packed, mixed crowd in the restaurant showed they may be on to something. 

Our food came, and it looked appetizing. Shelby's burger was cooked perfectly, pink in the center and moist. The burger had a nice slight char on the outside, but when bitten into, the meat crumbled in the mouth. The cheese and sauce added nice flavors. She loved the fries that came with the burger, too. They are cut in the restaurant and prepared with just the right amount of salt. 

My shrimp and grits were everything I expected and more. The shrimp were big, plump and tender. The stone ground grits were cooked in a cake shape. The golden brown crust on the grits was perfect for soaking up the low country gravy slathered on it. The grits inside were firm and had a hearty texture. The creamy grits contrasted with the savory gravy in the best way possible. On top of it all was andouille sausage, and the plate was dressed with scallions and cherry tomatoes. I finished the whole plate, and it was very satisfying.

We got our clams last, apparently lost in the shuffle. Even though we were full, we were determined to try some. The clams were served beautifully in a stone bowl. Jutting out of the bowl was the baguette, halved, the bottom portion soaking up the wonderful white wine and butter sauce. Laced throughout the dish was the house-cured bacon. It was the best bacon I've had in a while. Cut thick, it was smoky and coated the clams. It melted in my mouth. Shelby and I ate about half the clams and bacon and almost half the bread sopping up the rich sauce. 

We couldn't finish the clams and Shelby still had half of her burger, so we boxed up our leftovers and paid the bill. The place was still packed. The homey décor, warm lighting and the sounds from the kitchen were cozy. The people were friendly and the food was good. We were comfortable spending time and eating there.

The Point at Phoebus
30 E. Mellen St., Hampton


By George Culver