Named for owner/chef Matthew Buschle’s father, Virgil’s Café is a lively and inviting restaurant featuring a healthy variety of seasonal, local fare. Staff are super friendly and knowledgeable on every aspect of your dining experience, from drinks to dessert.
Watch the magic from one of the tables near the kitchen, which we did on a recent visit, or opt for the vibrant dining room with its eclectic mix of furnishings and stimulating color. If the weather is with you, their cozy patio is a refreshing oasis.
At first glance the menu may seem small, but it’s a case of quality over quantity. Everything the kitchen does, it does well, especially homemade items like soup and the veggie burger ($8). I normally eschew veggie burgers at restaurants unless it is the only choice available, but this handmade delight, consisting of seitan, tofu, chickpeas, black beans and mushrooms, is fall-apart delicious and doesn’t need assistance from cheese or condiments, which would only smother the smoky-good flavor. Tasty house-made potato chips come standard with each sandwich, but their hand-cut sweet potato fries are well worth the extra buck.
Non-vegetarians should note that the andouille sausage and pastrami served at Virgil’s are also homemade, and according to our server the restaurant will soon be baking their own bread in-house. The soups of the day always feature at least one vegetarian variety, and that alone is worth the drive to Bellevue.
Being a fan of all things anise/licorice, I found the fennel salad ($6) delicious; thinly shaved fennel coupled with the delicate crunch of apple and pistachio paired beautifully with creamy bleu cheese, although I'm 100% sold on whole pistachios in a salad, as I found them very difficult to keep on the fork.
Pasta with seasonal vegetables ($10) and huevos rancheros ($11) are the veggie options on the entrée menu, and while both are tasty, the latter earns respect for the unexpected kick of green chili and cumin spicing up this eggs-over-easy bean and rice dish.
Be sure to try the utterly decadent flourless chocolate bourbon cake, which is worth both the extra hour in the gym and every penny of the $7.50 asking price.
There are a lot of good things happening in the pretty little river city of Bellevue, with the affordable, gourmet-quality Virgil's Cafe topping the list. Thanks to rave reviews from Donna Covrett in Cincinnati Magazine, as well as being featured on a recent episode of Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the secret is out and reservations are recommended.