You know how you just aren’t culinarily compatible with some people? You probably have a friend that hasn’t enjoyed a single place you’ve recommended to them and you think the places they prefer are awful. Or maybe you just like different styles of food: they like home cookin’, you like Asian fusion. I have such a friend and his name is Misty’s Husband.
Misty’s Husband is a meat ‘n taters kind of guy. His favorite food group is fat. He can eat his own weight in hot wings. He makes up nicknames for restaurants, too. He refers to the Cathedral Café in Fayetteville as: “the #hitty little deli with the library books”. He asks me if I have “included any weird ingredients” when I invite him over for dinner, with the word “weird” having a very broad-range definition.
Since we are polar opposites when it comes to food, this review will be evidence of a modern miracle occurring on Capitol Street: I actually agree with Misty’s Husband about a restaurant.
Okay, maybe we don’t completely agree because he would probably give the Bear’s Den a full five fork rating, but it was more than tolerable to me.
Located in the historic Daniel Boone Hotel in the lower level, the Bear’s Den occupies a very large and sprawling space. While the furnishings aren’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination, the space is roomy and comfortable.
Salads, sandwiches and a few surprises, including a daily special, make up the nicely varied menu. Fries, fresh cut daily, are one of the star attractions. Prices average around $6-$8 for most lunches.
I ordered the club sandwich with a side of pasta salad and the “table” ordered some of the homemade fries, solely for the benefit of this review.
We enjoyed the sights and no sound of the poker machines on the wall of the large room in which we were seated. This space also boasts a pool table. I asked, but no one was interested in taking me on in a game of 8-ball while we waited. The guys were afraid of getting beat by a girl.
When my plate arrived, I did that thing I do with club sandwiches: reduce the bread. I don’t really need the middle slice of bread, who does? So I disassembled and reassembled, much to the dismay of my friends I’m sure. The wheat bread was lightly toasted and there was a sufficient amount of ham and turkey included. The bacon was on the skimpy side and pretty crumbly, but as we’ve noted before, there is no such thing as bad bacon.
I really liked the pasta salad. Just enough tangy Italian dressing coated the al dente rotini pasta and diced veggies. The fries had that yummy homemade taste, but were not as crisp as I prefer. I ate several just to be certain of my assessment.
The hot menu items are heavy on red meat and fried things so there are only a handful of options I, personally, find appealing, but the well executed pasta salad and the presence of fresh-cut fries ‘ups the ante’ in my opinion.
Consensus around the table was: we’ll come back. THREE FORKS for the Bear’s Den.
Bryan, my husband, has been talking about the Bear’s Den for quite some time now. He and his fellow co-workers dine here frequently and he kept telling me that the fork you crew needed to try it. “Really, it is good,” he would say. I didn’t believe him and I just knew that the others in the lunch crew would hate it. They just don’t have the same kind of food likings as my husband. He usually eats out of convenience and rates a place on how much meat they give you.
I was also skeptical that I would even like it. I am by no means food adventurous, but lunch is the time that I can eat food that my husband and kids won’t eat. And this is pretty basic stuff folks…I like sandwiches; he really doesn’t care for them (unless they are hot, with a bunch of meat on them). I like Cilantros; he would just rather eat a Taco Bell. He eats at Half-Time Sports and Grill- well, just because he will eat anything fried. Get the point…I wasn’t sure this suggestion was going to work.
After putting it off for over a year, we half-heartedly decided to give it a try.
When we walked in, there were a lot of people…I thought this was at least a good sign. After all, I wasn’t sure what I was walking into and it looked like people other than Bryan thought it was good. It was so crowded; in fact, that there wasn’t a table available in the first room, so we walked through and sat at a table in the back room.
When we started reading the menu, we saw that they had fresh, cut homemade fries…WHAT!?!? Bryan didn’t mention this…if he would have, we would have tried this place earlier. What is it with men and them not telling us about the homemade fries? Like at Trivillian’s…ok back to the Bear’s Den.
Being my usual indecisive self, I couldn’t decide between the cheeseburger/homemade fries or the chicken quesadilla. I decided that the cheeseburger and fries would be too much food for lunch (I wouldn’t have been able to leave some of the cheeseburger on the plate…I would have eaten it all) and someone ordered a basket of fries for everyone, so in an effort of some crazy portion control theory, I went with the quesadilla for $7.20.
As soon as the waitress left, I regretted my order. Why, oh why did I order the chicken quesadilla? I just knew it was going to be tasteless and something I could have gotten at Taco Bell with Bryan and the girls…how special could this quesadilla be? This is usually something I order when nothing else on the menu looks good- but I had other options…what was I thinking?
Finally our food arrived…and they placed the quesadilla in front of me. It looked better than I expected. It was a big quesadilla. It had the standard topping options on the side. They were not bad, but nothing special: lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, and sour cream. The shell was fried to a golden brown and was crispy. There were plenty of tender, chicken pieces spread evenly throughout the shell. But what I really liked about this quesadilla was the cheese. There was a ton of it. Every bite I took, it would ooze out. It was like the really good melty, stringy cheese on a hot pizza. The cheese, coupled with the crispy shell, was tasty. To my surprise, I really liked this quesadilla. And when I finished eating it all…I was stuffed.
I did have several French fries and they were hot and fresh… Very good.
Also, the service was great. The waitress refilled our drinks often and our food came out quickly.
I will definitely go back to the Bear’s Den…Bryan says the burgers and the taco salad special is good. Maybe I will try those, but I am not so sure I should push my luck!
Bear’s Den is a solid THREE FORKS.
P.S. When I asked Bryan why he didn’t tell us about the fresh, cut homemade fries, his reply…”I didn’t know they were.”Bear’s Den 405 Capitol St # 2
Charleston, WV 25301-1749
Monday, lunch only beginning at 11:00 am, closing around 2:30 pm
Tuesday through Friday, kitchen openfrom 11:00 am until 6:00 pm, closing around 7:30 pm
Free lunch delivery available from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Closed on Saturday and Sunday