We Drop the Hammer on – The Anvil

Ron says…

“New York Nouvelle ($20.95) – Grilled sirloin with carmelized onions and red wine demi sauce.”


That’s how it’s described according to the menu as we dined ATE, at this joint because Susan, Misty, or Terry couldn’t decide on what they wanted.   I will not elaborate on Susan trying to find the directions to one of the largest tourist attractions in the eastern panhandle that caused us to be a little late and thus being dark as she alludes to below in her review.

So I ended up picking this place…. because of the Inn At Charles Town’s bartender’s recommendation, plus after her description, I was pretty sure I had eaten here before.

I didn’t recall the place as being as cheap as it was upon our visit this eve, but that could have been because at that time I still was five forks shy of having NO Culinary Credibility.

So, we dine…  I ordered the steak with the French name..  and a baked potato… 

The steak ~  I think it came off that meat truck that I see driving along the interstate, you know the one that’s like a 1985 Chevy S10, that has an old used Freezer stuck in the back, and it’s like Joe’s Meats…. “you can’t beat our meat”, written hapazardly on the side.

(please note for all the nitpickers out there, I’m not really sure if the referenced truck says “Joe’s Meats” or if that is in fact their catch phrase, any resemblance to actual persons, things, or events is purely coincidental, and is used purely for comedic value.  If there is any actual resemblance to you or someone you know, please take head and rethink your chosen profession or change your advertising agency ~ you’re welcome)

now where was I?

The steak tasted like it came from Wal-Mart.  I’m serious.  It wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t grade A and worth the cost I paid.  I could have gotten this exact same meal at Western Sizzlin’ for half the price, and for $4.95 more, I could have added the all u can eat soup and salad bar with the Sundae machine.  Add a few beers and I’d have left stuffed.

But no…

What the hell is a “demi sauce” anyway?  Carmalized onions, were OK, soft and brown…  kind of like my baked potato.  You know how that potato is.  You bake one in the oven, forget to punch holes in the foil, and leave it in there about 15 minutes too long and it comes out so moist that you could almost sip it through a straw?  Well that’s how my potato was.

Everything was ok, but this place needs to rethink their target audience.

If they want to be a “go to” restaurant.. up the quality of the ingredients.. the steak was really cheap.   The baked potato is hard to screw up, but the Anvil managed to do it.   The beer was cold though.

But if they just want to be a bar that serves so-so food, well lower the prices.

ONE FORK  Eat here if you don’t expect much.


Susan says…

I was nervous about going with a Ron-recommendation. After all, he thinks Quaker Steak is fine dining. But I was too tired to volunteer to drive to the Bavarian Inn, so the German meal I hoped for would have to wait for another trip to the panhandle.

The wooden tables and chairs filling the interior reminded me of 1980’s bargain furniture. The food is what really matters, though. Right?

The special for the evening was all-you-can-eat spiced, steamed shrimp for $14.95. That included crab-vegetable soup, hush puppies and fries. After we were able to convince Misty (“we” included our waiter) that “spiced” did not mean “spicy”, three of us ordered the special. It will not come as a shock to regular readers that Ron chose red meat instead.

The other entree that interested me was the Harvest Chicken. Described in the menu as “sauteed breast with Granny Smith apples, carmelized onions, scallions, in a cider brandy sauce”, I thought that would be a taste of autumn for sure. But that pesky peer pressure pushed me in the direction of the shrimp instead.

In an effort to get the party started, Ron and Terry ordered up a couple draft beers at $3.75 each and an appetizer of crab balls for $8.95. Of course the guys got a couple cheap laughs off the name of the dish and Misty & I flashed a couple eye-rolls. We were pretty hungry ’cause they were all eaten except one when I took the photo. That is not to automatically indicate that they were enormously tasty, however.  They were a bit odd.  I will leave that analysis of the dish to our resident crab expert, Misty.


one crab ball left...

They tasted okay. Just okay.

The soup was also uninspiring, resembling ordinary vegetable soup with a few microscopic bits of crab tossed in to validate the name. It did have a bit of heat to it which redeemed it slightly.

My entree arrived as a pile of approximately two dozen unpeeled shrimp, steamed with Old Bay. These weren’t little Tricky Fish-sized shrimp, either. I appreciated the larger sized shrimp but would like to say “no thank you!” to the veins still in their lifeless, curled little bodies. I couldn’t eat all of my original portion in order to take advantage of the gluttony option which came free with my meal. 

The tender shrimp washed down nicely with a glass of whatever Pinot Grigio they offered for $4.95. You will find that I am not very discerning when it comes to wine. When asked a question as simple as: “Do you prefer red or white?” I would respond with “Yes.”  When analyzing the flavor profile of a particular wine, you know…the tanins, oak, berry, floral notes, blah, blah, blah…almost 100% of the time I reach the same conclusion: I like it.

The shrimp were served with six small hushpuppies that reminded me (and could have easily been) Zatarain’s and a handful of uneventful frozen fries. The pups were crispy and I enjoyed them, but they weren’t anything special. The meal was adequate, overall.

Ron’s second draft beer, a Michelob Draft, was very reasonably priced at $1.89. Beer lovers should note that The Anvil offers a helluva Happy Hour deal. It’s so good, they should rename it Elation Hour – from 4-6 on Wednesdays through Fridays, they offer $.50 Michelob Light drafts.  Fitty Cent???  Yes indeedy.  It says so right on the take-out menu.

If you go, note also that The Anvil is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The shrimp were tasty, service friendly, and the prices reasonable for the area. But next time, I will seek new territory.  TWO FORKS.

Misty says…

After much debate and question asking, I decided I would order the special.  As Susan described above, I was very concerned about the word “spiced” used in the description.  I didn’t want the other people at the table to have to start our trip off listening to me complain about how spicy the food is…why??  Well, I am just considerate like that!

We started off with crab balls for an appetizer. These were OK.  Well, I was starving, so that may have improved the rating a little.  There was a lot more breading than I care for in these and there weren’t many, if any, large lumps of crab meat.  They weren’t very hot, either.  After typing this, I’m not sure why I even rated them as OK…as I wouldn’t order them again.

Next, the vegetable, crab soup.  I didn’t like it.  Which is to be expected as I don’t like vegetable soup or spicy soup.  I picked out what little bit of crab I saw and left it alone.  There was no way I was going to waste space with this, when I had all you can eat shrimp coming!


crab vegetable soup

When the special came out, I was pleasantly surprised.  The shrimp was medium to large and there were a lot on the plate.  I was expecting 7 or 8 pieces of little shrimp with me putting another order of shrimp in every time the waiter came back.  I’m glad this wasn’t the case.  After Susan and I had a “discussion” with Ron, we actually counted the shrimp and there were at least 2 dozen on our plates.  The shrimp was pretty tasty- good flavor- not over cooked or rubbery.  I do prefer my shrimp to be deveined.  These were not.  Not that big of a deal- but it does bother some people.



steamed, spiced shrimp with fries and pups

The hushpuppies were nothing special but good.  I didn’t eat much of the fries and hushpuppies.  By the time I got around to eating them, they were lukewarm and I preferred to eat the shrimp. 

The other item I thought about getting was…drum roll; this will come as a surprise…the crab cakes.  This was their signature entrée and I thought they would be good.  But after having the crab balls (which was just a smaller portion of the specialty), I am glad I got the shrimp.

This place was OK.  Not bad…Not great…TWO FORKS!

 The Anvil
1270 Washington Street
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

Anvil Restaurant on Urbanspoon

3 responses to “We Drop the Hammer on – The Anvil

  1. Was the special advertised as “Peel and Eat” shrimp or just steamed?

    The eastern panhande would just assume to be know as Maryland. They like their seafood prepared in a simple fashion, which doesn’t include deveining.

    Now if I’m not making 8 dozen shrimp I’ll use scissors to cut the shell and was out the vein taking effort to leave the shell on the shrimp. Then I brine them in a solution of kosher salt. Sprinkle of the old bay, broil, flip and broil for 30 secs more. See Alton Brown at the Food Network for specifics.

  2. I do the Alton method of broiled shrimp, also. Always turns out perfectly.

  3. You guys probably know this already, but the “vein” on shrimp isn’t actually a vein, as in blood. It is actually, dirt, sediment, etc. from the bottom of the sea. Still kinda gross, but not as gross as a blood vein. I just eat it knowing that, rather than take the tedious task of picking it out.

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