NOTE – Billy’s closed effective December 9, 2008
Reopened in February 2009 under the name: Billy’s Soho’s @ Southridge
CLOSED again Summer 2009
Billy’s ~ when I heard this place was opening from reading the various articles in the local papers, I couldn’t wait to come here. I think if you’ve read my previous reviews or comments of Mr. Sohovich’s establishments, well you know I’m not that impressed (but we also know I have no “culinary credibility”). I just don’t get what all the hype is.
Blossom ~ yeah I can’t say I’ve ever had a bad meal there, but I have never had what I’d call a great meal either. Same with Soho’s, of which I used to work just down the street, it’s good, but it’s over priced. These are my opinions, and obviously both of these places are doing something right for someone, or else they wouldn’t be in business today.
But when I read that he was moving into the old Smokey Bones building out Corridor G with something that’s going to be HOME COOKING or as my mom calls it “COMFORT FOOD”, well needless to say I was chomping at the bit to come here.
Susan and Dan came out for one of Billy’s pre~openings (or whatever the term would be), and Susan wasn’t too impressed. Throughout the time of this and our visit tonight, we had heard rumors of $6 beers ~ for a 22oz Coors Light draft (this comment came from a fork you reader) …
OHHHH I couldn’t wait… I seriously was thinking this was going to be my best hatchet job yet. (sheepish grin) Not only for the restaurant, but the crappy newspapers around here that are too scared to tell people how it really is. I had told Susan to print out those two reviews or articles on Billy’s. Print them out, and bring them. My plan was to make notes, comments, pick out everything that was different and then stand up on this little soap box corner of the world wide web and shout out ~ FARCE!!!!!!! BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!
see I’m getting worked up again… must need a trip to the Tricky Fish.
Now’s a good a time as any to mention that there is no Kindergarten Art on the walls of Billy’s ~ thank you Mr. Sohovich.
(I couldn’t resist)
Where was I?
Oh, as you see I planned it out great… we arrive that evening after running a few errands, we were quickly seated. The place did not appear to be too busy, so being seated quickly is good.
I quickly ~ like a child who just found dad’s stashed away playboy magazines ~ scour the menus, looking at prices. YES – no prices on the beer~ ooohhh this was going to be easy. Of course I happen to overlook the huge list of beers this place does have on tap and in bottles.
Our hostess was quickly by to take some drink orders, and once I asked how much the drafts were, she said she didn’t know (yes, of course you don’t my dear, it’s all part of the scam I’m thinking). Well she comes back and tells us that the 22oz Bud Light is $4.
WHAT??? HOW CAN THIS BE??? $4.00????? IS MY DIABOLICAL PLAN (this all being thought in my best Stewy voice) COMING UNRAVELLED???
Well I say “hmmphhh” and order a Bud Light and tell her to scurry away as I obviously had to up my game.
What was I going to order??….. I want my salad with the house vinaigrette, I order the ribs… thinking ok, they better be at least as good as Famous Daves (back before they started to suck). I got two sides with my meal. What two sides will I choose??? I love mashed potatoes, so I chose the “Smashed” potatoes ~ yes there is a difference, and French Fries. Come on?? If a chef cannot make french fries, what good are they? So I had two potato dishes for sides.
Susan orders something that came with Onion rings, and I joke that there’s no way they’re going to be better than Sam’s. Don’t ask how, but for some reason we have decided that the big box of Frozen Onion Rings at Sams is the gold standard for Onion ring quality ~ as long as they’re deep fried.
She got fish too if I recall.
Nurse!!???? I’ll have another beer…
She quickly arrives and says our food will be right out… well obviously they’re going to be quick about getting me out of here, my cover must be blown. hmmphh…..
My salad comes out, and here is probably the only thing that I’m going to be able to disagree with the aforementioned articles. In one of them, the reviewer talked about the how the salad comes out separated, lettuce and veggies. Well yes it did, and if you’re anal about food touching you may like this, but I don’t, plus, in my opinion, it makes the salad look small. You can easily identify that you are getting about 1.5cups of lettuce, 1 quarter of a tomato (or was there two?), two or three slices of cucumber, and a ring of onion (ok there was more than one ring of onion but it was so thinly sliced that it could have came from one ring that you would put on your hamburger).
The house vinaigrette ~ awesome… Oh wait, I mean just “good”, (what’s happening here??? stay the course) I repeat, just awes (dammit) GOOD!!! I SAY GOOD.
It wasn’t long before the ribs came out, I ordered the half rack and the six or seven ribs where very large. They came slathered with the house BBQ sauce (I think they told us they make it there) normally this turns me off, as I’ve grown accustomed to being able to add my own, and try different flavors. The pile of steaming smashed potatoes was heaping, ok let me correct myself, somewhat large and were hot. AH HAH ~ no fries, where are they???? I’ve got them now.
dammit, here they come. They came in a separate dish, a rather large cone shaped thing, and I’ll be damned they are fresh cut, crispy, and hot. hmmmmm
Susan’s plate looked just as good, and I think both of us realized that a left over box was going to be needed before all was said and done.
First my meal… The ribs $10.95. The BBQ sauce was great, spicy the way I like it, the ribs although not as tender as the article implied were not tough either, and very juicy, and messy.. YES… (did I just drop sauce on my white shirt, shit, just wiped my hands on my khaki pants ~ oh well that’s Susan’s job to get that stain out)
The Smashed Potatoes ~ orgasmic. I mean that. I’m a member of a Mashed Potato fetish support group as I’ve been trying to quit eating anything that resembles mashed potatoes. I used to eat boxes of instant, and if they were real, well it would have equated to a 10 lb bag of yukon gold at least, but I was recovering well. However since eating these potatoes, I’ve relapsed to the point of having my cholesterol medication upped and cannot wait to have more. Susan doesn’t know it but, I’ve been sneaking Potato Pearls everyday in place of my normal heart healthy grits. Let me rephrase, once tasting these, my ultimate plan came crashing down and laid in ruins beneath my smashed potato expanding waistline.
The fries ~ awesome…. some of the best french fries I’ve had recently (not as good as mine) but pretty damned good. The only problem that I think and this probably happened because I ate my smashed potatoes and didn’t focus my attention on the fries, is that the cone shaped thing they come in, causes the ones on the bottom to catch all the grease. That’s Ok, I like greasy food.
Another beer please..
YES I’m starting to feel like a king now.. bloated and stuffed and more food still on my plate ~ the only thing I need is for my beer to be served out of a chalice.
My beer arrives, and I’m stuffed……
I’ve already unbuttoned my first button on my BBQ-stained Khakis. That’s right they only have one button.
As I said, I’m stuffed. I have only continued to eat for the pure enjoyment of eating. I still have a few bites of potatoes, about two ribs and maybe half my fries. The potatoes, I will finish but that’s a mental health issue. The ribs I will finish also, because they are too good to give to Skully, my dog. The fries, I have to take home.
Susan is now wanting me to try the onion rings… I did, but I’m too tired and stuffed to properly describe them. I’ll simply say, they’re the best I’ve had. If they could box them up and sell them at Sam’s (or just off the Billy’s loading dock) they would be the new gold standard.
Stuffed…and not broke.
a few days later ~ pssttt, I’m writing this from my office, hold on let me get a bite of potato pearls, ok that’s better… I think my previous words were a little influenced from a starchy high, so I wanted to add and be a little more sane. Four Forks is still the case. I was pleasantly surprised at how good my food was. I would tell anyone to go out there and eat. It’s not the cheapest, but for the price it was pretty damned good. The beer’s a little more outrageous than I normally prefer at $4 for domestics ~ I think I’m still influenced by my New England reaming that I took a few weeks ago. But come on Crockett’s in Morgantown has $5 pitchers, and if they’re making money so should any restaurant. But simply this is where they are going to get you and me. But with all the TV’s… if they ever decided to have football game watching specials, you couldn’t beat the ribs that you would end up ordering. Nor the Onion rings. Nor the French Fries.
My next gripe is the cost of the soda’s ~ HOLY SHIT… Bring your own 2-Liter and get a cup of ice. Come on Bill, that’s a little steep for home cooking ~ remember it’s “home cooking” because it’s supposed to be “cheap and easy”
One thing I didn’t like and forgot to mention was the bread ~ whatever it is, it tasted spongy to me. But everything else was so good, I totally forgot about it.
I’ll have to take my parents here and totally plan to, the beans and corn bread are supposed to be good. I don’t know, but if the previous meal was any indication my guess is that if you come here and don’t like what you order, then you will be the exception and not the norm. Four Forks, I’ll be back before Christmas, and I hope they keep serving the same quality of food for a long time. (especially the smashed potatoes)
I would choose pretty much any type of cuisine before I would resort to “home cookin'”. Only, that is, if home cookin’ qualifies as a cuisine. I would call Billy’s: home cookin’ that is trying to get above it’s raisin’. Like the movie Sweet Home Alabama.
The menu is definitely rooted in grandma’s kitchen, but the rebellious grandchild has added his own touches to try to fancy it up.
Our first course was a good example. I’ll explain in a bit.
When I first reviewed the menu, I experienced a minor case of sticker shock. I knew I was taking a chance on enjoying just about anything on the menu since this style of food is not how I roll, so I didn’t want to break the bank in the process. But as I continued to read, I realized that for the entree price, I received not only the main course described, but my choice of two sides from a lengthy list of savory items, a salad and a basket of bread to share. Taking into consideration the load of food I was about to receive, the price didn’t seem so steep.
My minor case of sticker shock turned into a major case of diaper rash, however, when I got the bad news about the drink prices. ALL the drink prices.
IMHO it is complete highway robbery to charge $2.95 for a fountain drink. RIDICULOUS. I don’t care how much I like the food, I cannot condone such an exhorbatent price for a soda. Maybe they are trying to recoup the cost of the entire tank with the first 10 sodas they pour. And if they had to buy equipment to get started, have they heard of depreciation?
I don’t care what flimsy reason they might offer in explanation, the truth of the matter is that they are making sodas a significant profit center for the restaurant. Other establishments are charging over $2 for a soda, but this one is the worst I’ve seen in the area. No way am I going to pay that much and I hope other patrons won’t either. Then the laws of supply & demand ought to help bring that outrageous price back down to earth. Until then, I guess if I want a soda, I’ll stop by a grocery store where I can buy 6, count ’em – 6, 20-oz. Diet Cokes for about the same price and pack them in my huge handbag.
Now, on to the beer prices. Just as restaurants gouge the healthy eaters by charging waaaaaaay more for a salad then a burger, I get ripped off all the time by places charging me more for trying to drink healthy beer. I know there are skeptics out there who may say that there is no such thing as healthy beer, but I contend that as far as beers go, when considering carbohydrates and calories combined, Michelob Ultra is one of the healthiest choices.
For some strange reason, I get charged more for a Michelob Ultra than other domestic beers at quite a few restaurants. Billy’s stuck it to me as well. Ron’s Bud Light draft – $4. My Ultra draft – $4.75. Why the disparity? Why the discrimination? The price of a 12-pack of Michelob Ultra is the same price as Michelob Light at Kroger. Why are restaurants charging more for Ultra? They were hitting me from both sides on the drinks.
I had to expound about the drinks because that’s about the only thing I can complain about regarding Billy’s.
I am not sure how I feel about the cheesy bread squares – When I heard the description, I immediately thought of the cheese biscuits at Red Lobster (the best thing that restaurant has to offer) and these don’t compare at all because they do not have a biscuit texture. They are more cake-like than biscuit-y. Oh well, I don’t need to be tempted by sinful bread anyway.
I mentioned that the home cookin’ menu has been fancied up a bit. The salads are a perfect example of that. You could choose either the house salad or a Caesar salad. I chose the latter. It arrived at my table on a contemporary oval dish. I always ask for my dressing on the side to prevent drowning the lettuce. The dressings are all homemade – I asked. And I was impressed.
The homemade Caesar dressing was very good – but I liked Ron’s vinaigrette even better. (I’ll get that one next time!) The lettuce was fresh and crisp and in bite-sized pieces. I hate it when I have to cram a huge lettuce leaf into my mouth and still try to appear somewhat sophisticated. So then I have to cut the lettuce with a fork and knife and still can’t appear sophisticated. Perhaps it’s not the salad’s fault…
The best thing about this salad was the generous portion of croutons – both light and dark bread. I had a crouton in practically every bite!
I thought it was strange, though, that the house salad had olives. Not the cheap-o green olives I love to eat at home when no one is watching, either. These are nice, Italian olives. I wondered if they jumped onto the truck from Soho’s by mistake. Remember that skit from Sesame Street where you had to pickout the item that didn’t belong? I thought the olives didn’t really belong in a home-cookin’ kind of joint. Along with the salt and pepper grinders on the table. Hell, my dad wouldn’t even know how to get the salt and pepper out of those things! Just a couple amusing quirks we noticed.
My $15.95 entree arrived in three different vessels: the dinner plate held a large slab of salmon and an individual dish of macaroni and cheese and the rings came in a basket lined with red and white paper. Ron didn’t like the paper – said it reminded him of Tastee Freeze.
I could smell the maple from the glaze as soon as the plate was placed on the table. The black pepper provided a nice contrast to the sweetness of the glaze. Perfectly cooked, the fish flaked easily as I made my way through about a third of the portion before I had to move on to my other items. Already planning on a to-go container, I figured the salmon would reheat nicely for breakfast the next morning. (It did!)
The macaroni and cheese was also a large portion. The elbows were not cooked to mush as some places seem to do and I appreciated that. Obviously containing at least some cheddar (given the deep color), the sauce was a bit grainy, unfortunately. I would have preferred a bread crumb topping or a bit of broiling to provide some crunchy texture. This was my least favorite dish and my stomach was filling up fast so I had to move on to the star of my meal: the rings.
Let me tell you about these rings. I hope when you go to Billy’s you receive the same quality of onion rings I did because they were the best rings I’ve ever had. In my basket, 6 large beer-battered onion rings awaited me – large enough that I could have worn them like bangle bracelets – and little bits of fried batter. Like the crumbs you get at Captain D’s with the fried fish. OMG. Note to management – always give people some of these batter bits. It really adds to the experience.
I inquired if this was the same batter used on the fish and fries ($11.95) served during lunch and the answer was “yes”! My lunch choice at Billy’s is a no-brainer now. I will definitely order that cod.
I also asked our server and the manager if anyone ever finishes their meals and they both proudly said no. No wonder Ron was pleased with his meal – he likes big portions. On our next visit, I am going to suggest we split a meal. I would still be stuffed with only half the food. If my Grandpa went to Billy’s, he’d have to bring a half dozen of his friends in order to polish off a meal- he usually splits with his wife at Bob Evans!
Of course I tasted all of Ron’s food, too. Well, except the mashed potatoes and I am sure you understand why I did not get a bite after reading Ron’s gushing review of them. He hasn’t been the same since.
I liked the taste of the rib sauce, it was sweet with a little heat. They were not fall-off-the-bone tender, but still good. The fresh-cut fries (yes, I asked to make sure they are actually cutting potatoes in the kitchen) look very pretty in the cone-shaped basket, but I think it makes the fries less crispy than they could be in a regular basket. Plus, it was difficult to get extra salt on all the fries since they were huddled up inside the cone.
The management, from Chef Sohovich to the waitstaff, seem to truly care about the customers. And even though I wouldn’t order 75% of the menu items due to personal preference (beans and cornbread: eeeewww!), I feel confident recommending Billy’s for a good meal.
Billy’s, huh? The first time I tried to go, we had missed the window between free lunches and Grand Opening. The next time I threw out the suggestion, I was shut down– can’t remember why. So, when Dan brought it up this evening, it sounded pretty good.
I had been to Smokey Bones only once or twice and I had forgotten how cozy the building is. We came in out of the rain and were seated in the (basically empty) dining room right up beside the fire. Ahhh…… the server was friendly and didn’t tell us no when we asked for a grilled cheese for one of the V.O.s (vegetarian offspring) instead of the PB&J on the menu. Nice– I love that empowerment and was glad we didn’t have to go through the whole “well, you have cheese and you have bread, right?” hatefulness.
I decided to order the 3 sides Fixin’s platter, after checking with our waitress about which “vegetable” sides were meat-infused. I chose house salad with house-made honey mustard dressing– which came in a vat, by the way, mac and cheese, and smashed potatoes. I should have picked the fruit cup instead of the smashed potatoes, but it was raining. Does that make sense? It felt weird to sit by the fire and eat cantaloupe so I had to pick the potatoes.
I pulled a Susan and stared at Dan so he would let me taste his sweet potatoes, but he just ignored me so I had to ask for a bite. They were my favorite of all the foods. The onion rings were yummy, but a little heavy on the grease for my taste. My smashed potatoes were good. My honey mustard dressing salad was good. My mac and cheese was good- but way less cheesy than the pic featured with Susan’s article. The garlicky-cheesy biscuit was good- but I slightly agree with the spongy comment from Ron. The VO grilled cheese and fries were good.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere and could totally have sat there by the fire for another hour listening to the not-obnoxious holiday music. Even as we were ready to go and people had to make bathroom stops, I sank into the (gasp!) leather couch and relaxed. That is extremely rare for me in the restaurant setting. I usually need to go go go go go. The girls were very uncharacteristically calm during dinner and I think that had to do with the atmosphere as well. All in all, it was an enjoyable evening and….. as they say– it was “just good food!” FOUR FORKS.
I have heard all kinds of comments about Billy’s since it opened. Susan and I hit it for lunch during the soft opening and felt there was much promise. We wrote about our experience and said what we liked and what we didn’t like. The management at Billy’s read our post and was very openly responsive. So if everything isn’t perfect when you dine at Billy’s ask to speak to the manager. I bet they will make it right, but I doubt you’ll need to.
So on to my most recent visit. After taking in a late afternoon movie with the girls and a little grocery shopping I suggested we grab a bite at Billy’s. We were seated promptly on this rainy evening. The host offered to hang our coats near the door, which was nice. After chatting with an old friend seated nearby we reviewed the menu. The menu to my delight is simple. It contains no more than twelve entrees, four salads, three to four sandwiches, a few appetizers and a dozen or so sides. I hate menus that rival the length of War and Peace (TGIF and Cheesecake Factory). Put your best out there, period. I knew Susan had ordered the salmon and Ron had the ribs so those choices were out. Phil said the meatloaf was good. I had the Chicken and Dumplings at lunch (someone else said they are more WV traditional now 🙂 ). So I went for the Baked Steak for $15.95. I love baked steak, but haven’t had it since I visited Twin Hill Restuarant on RT 60. It comes with two sides and a salad! I ordered onion rings, sweet potatoes and blue cheese dressing on the salad. All the dressings are homemade (bonus fork).
By the way, Billy’s is kid-friendly. The have a kid’s menu with five or six entrees. Two of the entrees are vegetarian plus they made us a grilled cheese. The entree, fries and a drink cost $5.95. The menus have a maze and a word search in them. I am glad Tracey had a couple of pens handy, because crayons were not available. I say this because my oldest wanted my undercharged iPhone to play a game and I needed it to take pictures. Unfortunately it died as our meal hit the table.
Our first wave of foods came quickly. Two salads and cheese biscuits were presented. The kids devoured a biscuit a piece. We should really feed them from time to time. The cheese biscuit is a interesting choice for bread. Chef Sohovich has good bread at all his restaurants. The salads were presented in oblong bowls with the ingredients deconstructed. Greens and dressing on one side and tomatoes, seeded cucumbers, onions and olives on the other side. It was a perfect portion for a house salad. Not so much that you are too full to enjoy your meal. They do give you (in Tracey and my opinion) too much dressing. Don’t get me wrong, the homemade blue cheese is glorious, but sometimes less is more.
The meals arrived almost too quickly, but if I hadn’t stopped to take pictures it might have been just right for me. I got two large portions of baked steak. This steak was very tender and moist. The mushroom gravy was smooth and had a pleasant beef flavor. I imagine that many of Billy’s patrons add a dash of salt to these oval steaks, because I am used to a saltier interpretation of this dish. The sweet yams were out of sight. I have eaten them twice and they are very consistent. The onion rings are also some the best I’ve eaten. The batter to onion ratio is perfect for me, but you only get 6-7 rings in a side. This is a problem, because you’ll want more.
Billy’s offers dessert, but not many people have room for it. I almost ordered one as my duty to our readers, but I couldn’t eat another bite. They normally have several fruit pies like apple and peach plus today they had a custard pie.
I almost forgot. I ordered a beer. They have several beers on draft including Mountain State Brewing Co. Cold Trail Ale and Seneca Creek Pale Ale. I ordered a Seneca Creek Pale Ale, but I swear I think I was poured something different. The seneca is a red ale and I got what appeared to be an unfiltered wheat beer. I wondered if the taps were connected to the wrong kegs.
Billy’s offers some variety of classic dishes with a bounty of sides. It is just good food at moderate to moderate-plus pricing. If the food is outstanding you’ll forget about the price. I can’t remember what I paid right now. (I looked at my receipt and added the prices above). THREE Forks + ONE Bonus Fork = FOUR Forks.Billy’s 121 Cross Terrace Boulevard Charleston, WV 25309 304-720-7704