Proceed with Caution – Capitol Food Court

Capitol Food Court – Capitol Complex, Charleston, WV

Susan says:

On my first visit after the remodel, I was excited to try the healthier, low-carb food.  I ended up paying $8 or $9 for a piece of grilled chicken, broccoli, and a soft drink.  That ended my excitement.

A second double-date with the WV Hot Dog Blog was the opportunity to try something else, something hopefully cheaper.

We had heard about some lunch combo specials at good prices.  I chose the hamburger combo: a 4 oz hamburger (or cheeseburger) with fries and a 16 oz. soft drink.  The soft drink comes with free refills if you dine in.  I am not sure if this hamburger was frozen pre-made or done on site.  The patty was not a perfectly round shape but it had a not-so-fresh taste about it.  It was pretty good.  The bun was straight out of the bread bag.  It could have been much better with a little butter and a few seconds upside down on the grill beside the hamburger patty.    The lettuce consisted of one piece of green leaf lettuce.  They missed an opportunity to “wow” me with a big pile of lettuce leaves.

Plain Burger

Burger and Fries

Please note in the photo above the offensive green item laying on the plate beside the bun leaking juice all over everything else on my plate.  This would be a PICKLE.  The Capitol Cafeteria management obviously did not read my review on South Hills Market & Cafe where I distinctly remember pointing out that not everyone likes pickles and the liquid they bring with them to the plate.  Ugh.  At least I wasn’t going to use the bun anyway and it successfully served as a blockade to prevent the juice from ruining any of my lackluster fries.  I had planned on getting fries so I brought a low-carb bun with me in the infamous plastic baggie.  I quickly swapped out the pickled, room temperature, non-toasted, non-buttered bun on my plate for the high fiber, whole wheat, room temperature, non-toasted, non-buttered bun from my purse.  Whew!  Now I am pickle-free.

The fries were obviously frozen crinkle cut potatoes.  They were a little thinner than the ones I remember loving from the Red Line Diner, but thicker than Ore Ida Pixie Crinkles.  Again, they were pretty good, but not a full-fledged “good”.  They needed more golden color and were not crispy enough to make me want to order them again.  They were not carb-worthy.

They serve Pepsi products and the individual soda prices are crazy.  The only reason I got one was because it was a good deal with the combo.  My lunch was $3.90 plus tax.

I don’t really have a lot to say about this place because it was all just “so-so”.  It is pretty, for a cafeteria.  The food was decent, for a cafeteria, but most of it costs too much for what you get.   I can’t get excited about the atmosphere or the food and since it is a cafeteria, there really isn’t any service to discuss.

For the price, and the convenience of walking there from my office, I will rate this visit to the new & so-called improved Capitol Cafeteria at THREE FORKS.   I would go back again, only occasionally, to get one of the combos but I am not interested in the remainder of the menu which is overpriced.

Dan says…

I am torn with this review.  See, cafeteria dining is near and dear to my heart.  I worked for a food service contractor and managed a couple of cafeterias and my current job finds me in a cafeteria from time to time.  Do I ever have opinions on cafeterias!  This my sixth visit to this dining location – two visits prior to renovation, two visits during renovation at the temporary facility and two visits after renovation.  Honestly, prior to the new management I was appalled by the condition and management of the facility.  The reason for the state of decay and quality of the meals was three words: “Resident Vendor Preference”.  The prior vendor was local, but didn’t have the experience in cafeteria dining or the resources to improve the space.

Fast forward, and a new vendor is operating in a brand new space. The space is nice and any dining manager would love to put it through its paces.  I do think they dropped the ball when it comes to the layout.  They created a bottle neck by putting the two most popular stations (pizza and grill) right in front.  You can’t get by to get a salad or hot entree, because your path is blocked by the pizza queue and the people who don’t know they can go grab anything they want.  The managers obviously realize this, because they have provided a map for those who might be unfamiliar with the scatter system.  This is helpful but, it doesn’t help much.  People tend to get in the first line they come to and select from the limited items at that station.  It really helps if a manager can greet people and help those patrons that have that “deer in the headlights” look.

If you stop by the Capitol Food Court after a tour or lobbying your delegate or senator, walk pass the pre-made wraps to see what else they are serving on that day.  You can get brick oven pizza and hamburgers at the grill area.  Hot entrées are available at the display cooking station, although I haven’t seen much display cooking during my visits. If those don’t temp you design your own garden salad or deli sandwich at the cold bar, but be very careful.  These products are sold by the ounce and you could be tapping your home equity line of credit to pay for them.  Avoid putting too much cottage cheese and lots of dressing on your plate. Do not mix and match things from different “by the ounce bars”, because you will be charged the higher rate.

Capitol Beans and Cornbread

Pinto Beans and Cornbread

I decided to play it safe and get pinto beans, corn bread, and a pre-made side salad.  The salad  was pretty fresh except for the red onions that looked as if they were sliced the day before – very limp.  Dressing choices were limited.  I could chose from italian, low-fat ranch or fat-free french (I think) or some Ken’s packets.  I went with the fat-free french, but I feel the mark of a good restaurant is homemade dressings.  The cornbread muffin was made with yellow corn meal and whole kernel corn.  It was served warm and was sweet, which is my preference.  The whole pieces of corn where tolerable, but not to my liking.  The pinto beans are dry beans that were soaked overnight and cooked to the perfect texture.  Flavor was a different story.  The beans were bland and would benefit from a scoop of bacon base.  I also like to add some chopped onions to my beans and I didn’t see them.  I did like that I get real silver instead of plastic to eat my meal.

The dining room is comfortable and relaxing with many flat screen TV’s to watch the CNN and MSNBC.  If you work on the WV Capitol Campus the food court appears to be a nice place to take a break and unwind when the legislature is not in session. I feel safe in giving the Capitol Food Court THREE Forks.

Mistysays…

I have not tried a lot of different items at the Capitol Food Court.  The first time we went, I tried the pizza, and liked it.   This time was no exception and I was even more excited about it because it was now included in a value meal- pizza and beverage for $3.90.  I ordered the veggie brick oven pizza- with no banana peppers.  I have made my special request each time I have ordered it and the staff has never had an issue with it and is more than happy to accommodate me.  The original veggie pizza comes with green and red peppers, onions, olives, and banana peppers.  And they are not skimpy with loading the pizza up with these items. 

They were not very crowded this visit and I quickly got my order in and the waited for my freshly made pizza.  When it came out of the oven, the cheese was not quite melted enough for me.  Since there was no one in line behind me, I asked if she could cook it for a few more minutes until the cheese was completely melted.  She said, “No problem.”  When she took it out this time, it looked perfect- nicely melted cheese with a thin, crispy crust.

After filling a cup up with my favorite beverage of choice- Pepsi, it was time for me to find my side.  Once I tried the salad bar, but I ended up paying $4 for a side salad that wasn’t really all that big.  So, I was not going to do that again.  Then, I spotted a chocolate chip cookie.  Not the healthiest side item, but it looked really good and was reasonably priced- and they are my favorite.  (I can’t remember the exact price- but it was around 70 cents.)

Dan and Susan have already said a lot about the atmosphere and the way things operate, so I will not repeat or make any comments on that.  But my pizza has been consistently tasty and the chocolate chip cookie was great.  I will give the Capitol Food Court a solid 3 forks.

 

Brick Oven Pizza

1900 Kanawha Blvd E
Charleston, WV 25305
(304) 558-2328

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