Bluegrass Kitchen – East End, Charleston, WV
Already a fan of the lunch fare at Bluegrass Kitchen, I was very excited about checking out their sweetly named “Supper” menu. There have been changes to the Supper offerings as well as the Lunch menu recently, but never having supped there before, I couldn’t tell what was old and what was new.
My suggestion to Ron was to order several items off the Tapas menu and share so we could try more things, but he was not game. That left me with a tough decision: what to order and not look like a complete pig. While deciding, I sipped on a glass of Pinot Grigio at the $5.25 price point. Not bad.
And the winner is: the veggie pesto pizza. I justified this in my mind by telling myself the crust is very thin so there can’t be too many carbohydrates. And then I also ordered the shoestring fries. This was purely for research purposes, though, for my upcoming article, “Ode to the French Fry”. According to the article in the Gazz, the shoestring fries are a new addition to the menu.
The large painting present during our group’s most recent lunch visit was still there, and I still liked it very much. Most other tables were empty, as we were early for “normal” dinner hours. There were several men sitting at the bar, drinking one of the eclectic beer selections.
The shoestring fries won’t be on my Top 5. The “tapas” serving of fresh-cut fries are priced at $3.95. The very skinny ones (the size I think they were striving for) were crispy. However, at least half the portion was made up of fries cut fatter than that. Different sized fries require different cooking times, or else you’ll end up with half of them burnt….or half of them undercooked. Mine resulted in (b). Half of them were undercooked. My suggestion is to be more diligent about a uniform cut on those taters. Also, they were served in a bowl. Not that I have anything against bowls, they are very useful for soups and cereal, but when you put a pile of hot fries in a bowl, by the time you reach the middle of the serving, they have turned soggy from the condensation of the steam.
The Veggie Pesto Pizza, however, was outstanding. The crust was so thin. I wondered how they could get it so thin, and it was crispy. I love this crust. And the toppings worked together to create a symphony in my mouth – olive oil, tomatoes, red onion, pesto, feta and provolone. But the very best part of the pizza toppings wasn’t even mentioned in the menu description. That would be the balsamic reduction. OMG. The sweetness of the balsamic with the mild bite of the red onion and the feta crumbles was heavenly. If a drop of that sticky syrup happened to land on my plate, I rescued it by dragging my pizza slice through it so I wouldn’t miss a single bit of it. Carnivores may not enjoy it since it is void of meat, but I’ll bet The Vegetarian Wife shares my sentiments.
The menu says this pizza is for two, but I had absolutely no problem eating all but 2 slices. I thought it was slightly overpriced at $10.95, when I consider the toppings and compare it to other places like CJ Maggie’s and the more traditional pizza joints, but I definitely got $11-worth of happiness from devouring it. I talked Ron into trying one bite of one slice and was shocked that he wasn’t just as in love with it as I was. Oh, well. More for me! I could have eaten it all and then complained about how full I was the rest of the evening, but restraint won over gluttony and I took two pieces home with me which our server gladly took back to the kitchen to box up. That is a classy move. More restaurants should do that to avoid scraping plates at the table.
Ron had to wait on soda refills twice, which bothers me. And the price of the sodas have gone up (to $1.75), but the menu still lists the old price. There are two issues there which Ron can discuss since he’s the one that ordered the soda. I’ll say my peace next time I go there for lunch.
My maiden Supper experience at Bluegrass earns them FOUR FORKS from me. I can’t wait to go back and try the squash ribbon pasta.
“Eclectic comfort food with a modern edge made with fresh ingredients. Our specialty is vegetarian and omnivorous dishes made from ingredients naturally grown/raised within West Virginia and the Appalachians. Herb infused and prepared daily, our dishes delight and inspire. “
They can call it whatever they want, but I was drug to this relatively new establishment with Susan for dinner prior to a movie. I can tell you right now, I’m not a vegetarian and I could not care less about naturally grown veggies and meats in WV. “Herb infused and prepared daily“….
Much like what Phil wrote in a previous post – reviewing this very same joint…. I’m not much for Feta or Gouda cheeses on Bruschetta, or organic Red Lentil Hummous. Heck, I don’t like cheese so why would the Cheese Plate Du Jour entice me? Besides what of these fine cheeses and calamata olive tapenade are from our beautiful Appalachian area???
Chicken Quesadilla??? P.E.I. Mussels???
First I have to say that my original review, most of which has remained, sounded pretty harsh, and even though most of it was sarcasm, well some of that just doesn’t shine through as it should all the time… So I have revised this somewhat, and if any of the humor or excellent critique got lost in the shuffle, well blame Susan, as I made her feel bad. Let’s begin again…..
Out of all the fancy items on this menu, I went with the Perfect Chicken Sandwich. Lemon & Thyme roasted with bacon and Sun Dried Tomato Mayo. I have to say my first impression of this sandwich wasn’t much. However I typically don’t expect much from these artsy restaurant types… typically they’re just a lot of fluff and not much substance with a price that’s too expensive for what you get… and a better, more economical meal can be served at a truck stop or some mom and pop diner. Chips and a Soda for $1.25 Remember FTE’s know how to eat.
And of course by reading the menu, that’s what I was definitely thinking here. My sandwich comes out bustling with spring mix veggies, I’m sure grown at Sam’s Club or Kroger’s and not from the hills of WV. My bun toasted to perfection as well, however the bun was assembled upside down and the fancy panini bread (or whatever it is) could have been substituted with Texas Toast as far as I’m concerned. I’m an engineer, I notice these things. After giving it a shot and saying to myself to have an open mind.. I chowed down. To my surprise it wasn’t half bad. Could it have been excellent – of course, but couldn’t everything?? My problem is that it was very bland for my taste… could have used some salt a Habanero even. My bigger problem is that I thought the portion of chicken was very small. Matter of fact I thought I got more chicken on my BK Broiler Chicken sandwich. Most of the flavor from my sandwich came from the bun, which was very good, much like a couple pieces of the aformentioned Texas Toast.
I got chips with mine – kettle style – nothing to brag about but nothing to complain about either as again they we’ere quite tasty. I would suggest they make these chips fresh and if they do, well then they need to make them better and more fresh tasting.
Another issue I have – one of many – but I will not get into matters that revolve around me and a shrink, is that I hate it when these places change their menus and do not do a thorough job in updating their actual menu for the customer to look at. Case in point, my $1.25 soda was actually $1.75 – not such a good deal after all in my opinion. If you point this out the excuse should not be “well we changed our menu” as it was in this case. To me that’s just general apathy and not very customer friendly…. Not to mention in most cases it’s recognized as false advertisement I think. The server tried to take the price down to the correct advertised price but for reasons I do not fully understand – and when dealing with these artsy types, I’m sure she would not understand either, she was only able to get the price down to $1.31. I know, I’m arguing over fifty cents, but it’s the point of the matter.
Another complaint – the restaurant seems to pride itself on its West Virginia location, promoting various native items, and supporting the artists that supposedly live in the building. But after perusing the wine list and the beer list I fail to recall any local brews or wines on it. I may be wrong, and apologize if so, but I think it would be nice to offer those too, especially if my hamburger is going to be made from Local WV Beef. Why can’t my beer be from Mountain State Brewing or Blackwater Brewing? Or some wine from Lamberts??
My review may sound negative, but mostly I would say that overall I was pleasantly surprised with my visit, as I did leave feeling full and satisfied and ready for some butter coated movie popcorn. But as with most places – I can’t really say that this joint blew my skirt like others I have been to and are reviewed on this site. It was good but left me wanting more, maybe I’m just a cheap crotchety old man. But, I’ve had just as good a sandwich at Quizno’s for about the same price, but a little more quantity. After all they say size matters. THREE Forks for these guys, I’m sure I’ll reluctantly be drug back to this place… It may help if they have a happy hour… that would make it easier on me. 😉
After I learned that Susan and Ron had “Forked” the Bluegrass Kitchen the Vegetarian Wife and I hit the Bluegrass Kitchen on Friday after work in my effort not to let just one segment of “The Five” define a restaurant. We had “The Vegetarian Offspring” in tow and in less than ten minutes we were seated in a nice booth near the front of the dining room. The restaurant was buzzy on this steamy, hot evening and the BK’s AC was having trouble keeping up. If you ever travel in New England most restuarants I visited in the summer didn’t have AC so I pretended I was in Vermont in July.
Our server took our drink orders and I decided that a Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald would taste great for $3.50. She asked me if I would like a glass for my beer and I said, “Yes…” Ron will disagree, but the only time you drink beer from the bottle is if you are tailgating, barhopping, or at one of Susan’s legendary parties – OK soon to be legendary. The server brought me a glass fresh from the dishwasher. It didn’t burn my hand, but it was good and toasty, which is great for coffee not for beer. (frosted glasses are a must).
At this point the server reciting the specials and I had trouble keeping a straight face, because she referred to the curry dusted scallops as curry dusted “scallions”. This is forgivable, but it goes to show that a pre-service meeting between the chef and the servers is critical. That chef/manager worked too hard to develop that dish to have it misrepresented by the servers. I zeroed in on the 1/2 pound burger with carmelized onions and gouda served with homemade fries for $11.95. We ordered a veggie corn dog for the 3 year old veggie daughter and buttered noodles for the 5 year old veggie daughter. The BK gets an automatic fork bumb for having vegetarian kids meals and kid friendly cups. This is expected in the place named after the famous Ohio farmer and sausage seller, but not in an bistro like Bluegrass. Tracey ordered the Homemade Enchiladas and I’ll let her dish on that later if she wants. At the last minute we ordered an appetizer of the homemade shoestring fries with chipotle infused ketchup. The server came back quickly and told me that they only had enough fries to cover my burger order so she brought chips to tide the girls over until their main course arrived. I failed to recite Ron’s standard response to potato-gate – “Don’t they sell potatoes at Kroger?”
1/2 Pound Hamburger and Fries
Our meals arrived quickly. My burger was served on a ciabatta roll and the hand formed patty was hanging over an edge or two. I ordered it medium and it arrived medium well, oh well. It didn’t matter, because it was the best burger I have tasted to date. The meat was moist and flavorful. The onions and two slices of smoked Gouda worked perfectly together. The fries were good. I ran into the same cooking consistency issues that Susan had, but it didn’t bother me. They are rustic cut fries. My thick fries were not crispy, but they weren’t raw either. They went nicely with the chipotle ketchup that I got on my sleeve and then all over my shirt. The girls enjoyed their meals and the extra wide noodles would go great with some pesto roasted chicken.
The Bluegrass Kitchen’s menu is perfectly simple. Everybody should be able to find something to engage their palate. The service was fast, but not polished. The food was tasty and in my opinion a good value for dinner. The place is still too loud to carry on a conversation without yelling at times, but don’t let that stop you from getting a solid FOUR fork meal at Bluegrass Kitchen.
“WHAT? HUH? SAY THAT AGAIN? I DIDN’T HEAR THAT” This is generally what our table sounds like when we go to Bluegrass Kitchen. I thought maybe this was a lunch-rush phenomenon, but confirmed on Friday that it’s not. When Bluegrass Kitchen opened, I was so excited of the prospect of a mostly vegetarian restaurant! I fantasized about going in, sitting down, ordering a dish and not having to ask whether there was a chicken broth base or if the salad came with bacon on it and then trust the server to either know or be willing to ask the kitchen on my behalf.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t really lived up to the stuff of my dreams yet. Don’t get me wrong. I love the idea that I can order vegetarian corn dogs for the girls and I don’t have to worry about having something veggie-altered but instead have several choices. It’s just that it is so crazy loud in there because of the acoustics and beautiful tin ceiling that I can’t hear myself think. Another thing I can’t stand is that you feel like you are on display while you eat your meal. The people crammed into the tiny waiting area glare at you like, “C’mon people. We’re starving over here. Can you hurry up and choke that down so we can get our table?!?!” I know this is true because that’s what I do when I sit over there.
This time I got the homemade enchiladas. The enchiladas had a mildly spicy black bean and poblano chili pepper filling and were snuggled together in a dish with melty/toasty Monterey jack cheese topping. There was a side of Spanish rice that reminded me of the Lipton Mexican Rice pack that we used to make in college all the time except this was prettier– with purple cabbage shredded on top. The dish also came with a little side cup of buttermilk creme fraise sauce. The meal was OK, but not really really yummy. I wanted it to be really really yummy since we paid $15.95 for it. With my personal fork rating system, if the leftovers (which I always take home because I am cheap) sit in the fridge past at least two more leftover-meal opportunities, then there is no chance for a five fork rating.
So, Bluegrass Kitchen, thank you so much for the girls’ veggie dog and simple noodles with butter and cheese but I wasn’t really that into you the other evening. THREE Forks for a great concept, veggie-friendliness, and the fact that it was super crowded so you must be doing something right!
Bluegrass Kitchen 1600 Washington Street East Charleston, WV 25311 (304) 346-2871