Note: Today we have a post from the new addition to the Fork You Crew. We’ll tell you more about her later this week.
My first fork! I’m excited! I have to admit I was a little nervous after I volunteered to join the Fork You team and my first solo forking came along. But I’ve been a loyal follower of this blog ever since its inception so I knew what I needed to do. Once I got over the awkwardness of my first time, I enjoyed it.
My husband and I went to Angela’s on the River last Saturday night. I’d read about Angela’s a few weeks ago in the Charleston Gazette and was really excited about it. Then I heard from some friends who’d been and how much they liked it. I love trying new restaurants, and a new one in St. Albans was even better. As stated in the newspaper’s article, Angela Samples bought and restored the historic Chilton House on the Coal River at “The Loop” in St. Albans and opened her restaurant last month. I grew up in St. Albans, but I’d only been to the Chilton House once. It was for my sister’s wedding reception 14 years ago, and we stayed downstairs in the bar area the whole time. I don’t remember much about it except how nice all the windows along the back of the room facing the river were.
We arrived at the restaurant a little early, around 4:30. The parking lot right across from the place was pretty packed. My first though was, “Wow. This place is bumpin’ already.” We made our Frogger-like trek across the road (this part of the visit to Angela’s is tricky because of the curve of the road), went in, got seated on the first floor and were surprised to see we were the only people there. We were seated in the section on the back of the building that has lots of white tables with white chairs, some of which are metal and could stand a coat of spray paint to cover the rust. A couple of other minor negatives are the plastic coverings on the seat cushions (sticky on legs in shorts) and the white sheets of paper covering the white cotton table cloths. The room was big, bright and open with lots of windows aligning the entire back wall. I was a little disappointed that the windows are up so high that when you’re sitting down, you can’t see anything but tree tops.
The evening’s soup and drink specials were posted on a stand at the entrance. The soup of the day was potato and cheese, and the featured drink was a frozen margarita for $5.50. Our server promptly greeted us at our table and took our drink order. We both got a margarita. It was not so much frozen like an Icee as it was poured over finely crushed ice. I like my margaritas on the rocks rather than frozen, so this was good for me. The drink itself had a salty taste, which to me was also a plus since I always push the salt from the rim into the drink. We both agreed it was a very tasty margarita, but it was in a pretty small margarita glass so we also agreed it wasn’t $5.50-good. Angela’s also has a full bar serving beer, wine and other mixed drinks.
We decided to order an appetizer. The menu I had only listed four selections, Tyler’s chicken wings (pass…can get them anywhere), Bill’s shrimp cocktail (again, pass…couldn’t be much better here than anywhere else), Delores’ Roasted Red Pepper and Crab soup (an option) or Zane’s mozzarella cheese sticks (pass…if they are of the frozen type I can buy at the store myself. I asked the server and she said they were.) Then my husband says what about Linda’s (who are all these people???) Hot Crab Dip? This selection wasn’t on my menu, and I had no idea they offered it. I love crab dip, so my immediate answer was pretty much, “Duh!.” At $8.95, it’s a little steep, but I didn’t care. I love crab dip.
I had heard that service was a little slow here. It took longer than we thought it should to get an appetizer. But when it finally arrived, it was well worth the wait. The crab dip was excellent, some of the best I’ve had. It was steaming hot right out of the oven and came surrounded by slices of baguette that had been toasted with butter, garlic and a sprinkle of cheese. The dip was a mixture of cream cheese, cheddar cheese and lots of chunks of crabmeat. It was delicious. So much so that my husband and I wanted to pick up the dish and lick it clean. Instead he used his finger and scraped it out. Bad manners? Sure. But who cares! It was THAT good.
Entrée selections include various steak, chicken, seafood and pasta choices. I was torn between the Crab Stuffed Whitefish and the Homemade Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast. I’ll be at the beach in a week and I know I’ll eat plenty of seafood there so I opted for the chicken. I usually don’t order chicken when I go out because I eat a lot of it at home and it’s usually not that interesting to me. However, when I read the description of the spinach-stuffed chicken, it sounded more than interesting. It’s a chicken breast stuffed with fresh spinach, onions, garlic and ricotta cheese and covered with Angela’s Special Red Sauce. It came with two sides and a homemade roll for $11.95. Side choices are tossed salad, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked potato, french fries, sweet potato fries, garden rice, marinated mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, corn, Italian green beans, sugar snap peas and cole slaw. I love sweet potato fries so I got them and the Italian green beans.
My chicken was served over penne pasta and covered in a marinara-type sauce. The sauce tasted really fresh and had a slight sweetness, which I like. The chicken was a decent size piece and had an ample amount of stuffing. It was long on spinach and short on ricotta. I would have preferred the opposite, but it was still good. The Italian green beans were, well…just kind of blah. I couldn’t see or taste anything in them that made them “Italian.” For some reason, I was expecting something like fresh string beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil maybe with some basil and tomatoes. But what I got looked like canned green beans with celery in them. I saw a couple of flakes of something green that I suspect was parsley, but I wasn’t sure.
The sweet potato fries were perfect. It was a nice portion served in its own parchment-lined basket. They were warm and wonderfully crispy and not at all greasy. We ate every last one of them and wished we had more.
My husband got Daddy Phillip’s Baked Steak for $9.95, one of four Home Cooked Favorites on the menu. Others include beef tips, roast beef and prime rib, available on Wednesdays only. His sides were mashed potatoes and gravy and corn. I’m not a big fan of baked steak, never order it and rarely eat it. But for the sake of forking, I took a bite. The texture of the steak and the gravy tasted real similar to my mom’s. It was ok for me, but my husband thought it was pretty good. The mashed potatoes were red skin potatoes and contained a lot of skins. Probably ok for most adults, but I imagine kids would be put off by them. The corn was run-of-the-mill canned corn.
I’d also read in the Gazette article that the desserts were tough to pass up. Angela’s offers Ameretto Hot Fudge Cake, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie and several cobblers. My brother-in-law had said the cobbler was to die for. Again, for the sake of forking, we just HAD to try one. Of the four cobbler choices, apple, cherry, peach and blackberry, we went with blackberry with ice cream for $4.95. It was a large portion, plenty enough for two people, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. It was good, but not as good as I expected. I’m pretty sure the fruit was canned pie filling, and the crust was more like a pie crust, which isn’t what I expect on a cobbler. I’m not saying it was a bad cobbler. I was just hoping for better. It just didn’t have that wow factor for me.
All in all, our evening at Angela’s was good. I’m a little confused as to whether this place is trying to be on the upscale side or the down home side. Our server was friendly and attentive, but the food-to-table time took a too little long. I’m glad there is finally another nice restaurant in St. Albans since River’s Edge closed. Angela has put a lot into the place and I hope she succeeds. According to this blog’s fork rating requirements, I give Angela’s THREE FORKS. I will definitely go back. I think Angela’s has the potential to be a four-fork establishment if they step-up the service, add just a tad more pizzazz to some of the dishes and lose the plastic covers on the chairs and paper table cloths.Angela’s On The River 2 Sixth Avenue St. Albans, WV 304-722-2244 Hours: Mon-Sat 4 to 9 pm