Kingfish and Tchotchkes – The Riverside Anchor

Updated – 2/10/2009
(We originally reviewed the Anchor in August 2008. There has been a FORK upgrade and the menu is attached.)

The Riverside Anchor – Charleston, WV

Dan says…

I have been trying to go to The Anchor since we started Fork You…, but have met resistance every time I suggested it.  I had heard good things about it from time to time. I had checked out their menu online and found a few things I wanted to try.  So on a recent afternoon Susan and I decided to take one for the team and headed to The Anchor.

When we arrived at the location, which is closer to our workplace than many Kanawha City joints, the parking lot was full.  That was a good sign.  As we entered the first coworker prediction came true – the place has a unique odor. I will not describe it to you, but I will say it is unpleasant.  I knew we could leave, but as the pleasant owner approached us,  he showed us to a seat.  Our drink order was taken and that is when the second prediction came true – severely stained tea pitchers.  I reviewed the menu and decided I wanted a Squeak knowing that Susan would hook the fish sandwich.  We also, in true foodie fashion, ordered a third entree to taste. (We are taking this blog a little too seriously.)  The owner chatted with us, made suggestions and when Susan presented him with our final order stated, “I hope you guys are hungry.”

Pip Squeak - $7.50

I ordered the Pip Squeak for $7.50.  You might know it by its other name, the pubwich.  It is a pizza shell that is layered with ham, turkey, bacon and cheese.  It is run through the oven, cut in half, topped with lettuce, tomato and mayo.  Finally, the two bottom pieces are brought together to make a sandwich.  Mine had too many ingredients.  The water from the meats and veggies watered down the over abundance of mayo, which plopped out of the sides and got my bread all wet when I set it down. The lunch meat, bacon, and cheese put enough sodium into my system that I was thirsty for the rest of the day and well into the evening. My sandwich came with homemade chips.

The other food I tasted was quite good.  The Basic Tomato Pie has excellent flavor and a chewy crust. The fish sandwich was tasty, too.  As I surveyed all the nautical tchotchkes. I thought that this place could be a strong Three Forker, but with all the junk laying around…maybe not.  (There was a rototiller being stored in the dining room) And then there is the nerve racking smell. I was forced to say I might hit this place once a year and that puts it in the Two Fork category, but you can always get it to go.  On our visit on 2/10/2009 all the junk had been picked up (no rototiller) and the distintive smell was gone. I had the Bleu Burger, which is at a minumom a 6oz hand formed patty.  It is topped with bleu cheeae, lettuce, tomoto and mayo on a toasted sub bun.  I added bacon and american cheese to make it a blue and gold burger. It was darn tasty.  I have to offer The Anchor an upgrade to THREE Forks! 

Susan says…

Based on the comments made at my workplace during the discussion of where to eat in relation to The Anchor, I had feelings of nervousness, fear, and intrigue.  A few of our coworkers begged off because they did not want to risk it.  Among other assertions, they claimed a foul smell lived inside the walls of the restaurant.  I agreed with Daniel: we were providing a public service to diners all across the Kanawha Valley.  I could muster up enough iron in my stomach to withstand whatever lay before me.

exterior decor

When we arrived, quickly I might add – it’s really close to the capitol, the parking lot was full.  That’s a good sign indeed.  There were a lot of chachkas outside, a taste of what was to come when I walked through the door.  We seated ourselves at a roomy and comfortable booth and began to examine the rather extensive menu.

Due to lofty claims on their website and my inherent love of the fish sandwich, I had mostly made up my mind beforehand to order the King Fish Sandwich.  I was tempted by the pizza, especially when I learned from our server (I think he was the owner or manager disguised as a server) informed us of the availability of a personal-sized pizza for lunch.  I stuck to my guns and ordered the fish with fries.  And we got a tomato pie as well.  Instantly, our server was suspicious.  He asked me if I was hungry when I gave him my order.  I responded with: “I am a lover of fish sandwiches”.  Thankfully Daniel told him we’d be taking some of our food home with us – that seemed to relieve him.

interior decor

While we waited, I looked around at all the stuff “decorating” the place.  Wow.  It was a cross between the Cracker Barrel and a Cape Cod tourist trap that sells cheap souveniers.  The menus, left for us to study further, had a film on them.  In contrast, linen napkins wrapped the flatware.  I was not sure what to make of it.  I, like Daniel, noticed there was an aged, moist smell.  I couldn’t place it.  Perhaps something mildly foul was trapped in the carpet.  Perhaps it was a scent wofting from our close proximity to the river.  The Kanawha is a mysterious body of water…  Update 2/10/09:  I did not notice any type of smell other than the sweet, sweet smell of hot grease.  The fish was just as good as before and I greatly enjoyed seeing the shock/disbelief on Misty’s face when it was placed before us.  She and I split that monster from the sea. We chose onion rings for our side. The crispy beer-battered rings hit the spot.  Sodas must be $1.65 each – a fair price these days.  (I used my accounting super powers to figure that out based on our total bill.)

The food arrived.  My King Fish was large as promised.  It measured approximately twelve inches in length and hung over the edges of the buttered, toasted sub bun.  The lettuce was romaine, a definite upgrade from the iceberg I expected to receive.  There was a decent portion of deep-fried frozen crinkle-cut fries.  They were crispy and very hot.  The fish was also fresh out of the oil.  It was super crispy and the batter was fried to a perfect golden brown.  I really enjoyed the fish sandwich which I cut in half so I could save part for later.  I liked the frozen fries better than Daniel’s homemade chips.  I felt the chips were too thin and not crispy and fresh enough.  For $7.50, I was pleased with the meal.

King Fish Sandwich and fries $7.50

A word about the tomato pie: I loved the garlic butter they brush on top.  The diced tomatoes were tasty, but I was wishing for diced onions to complement them.  I think I could have asked for an add-on of onions and would do that in the future.  The crust was really great around the edges, but toward the center, it lost its crispness.  If I come back, I will order the personal tomato pie (plus onions) for $3.99.  That’s a real bargain.

Is the King Fish really the biggest fish sandwich on the east coast?  No.  Refresh your memory of my CJ Maggie’s review.  Each of the three hand-breaded fillets at CJ’s were slightly smaller than this 12″ haddock, but I got THREE OF THEM.  I couldn’t get them all to fit between the bun halves.  Another important aspect to me is that the Anchor’s fillet came already battered from the supplier.  Hell, I could throw that thing in a deep fryer and get the same result.  If I had a deep fryer large enough, that is.

personal tomato pie $3.99

I have no idea how much the drinks were because we split the check in half.  Each of us paid $10.75.  I think The Anchor may have ripped themselves off on that deal, because when I added everything up later, I thought it should have cost more.

Based on what I tasted, the guys at my office are idiots.  This was a good meal for a good price and I was overstuffed when I waddled out of there.  The service was friendly and prompt and I felt good about supporting a local restaurateur that has been cooking and frying for over twenty years.  If the smell is keeping you away, I agree with Daniel: just get it to go!   I like the Anchor – I stand by my THREE fork rating.

The Riverside Anchor
3315 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV  25306
(304) 925-9902

 Riverside Anchor on Urbanspoon

anchor-menu1 anchor-menu-2


39 responses to “Kingfish and Tchotchkes – The Riverside Anchor

  1. I love the Anchor. All I’ve ever had there were the pizzas. My favorite is the Veggie D-lite, and I try to talk my folks into getting pizzas there whenever the kids and I visit.

  2. As a public service, I would like to point out that the Anchor is not in Belle, as our intrepid reviewers described. Belle is another six miles up Rt. 60. The Anchor sits just outside the Charleston city limits.

    And while I’m at it, I’ll confirm that it does stink, but the food is great.

  3. the anchor is great food, especially the tomato pie and the stuffed portabellas are a meal in itself. No one wants to come out and say it, but i will: the smell is DOG PISS from the dog that lives there.

  4. I love the tomato pie. There is nothing like it. I like to visit the Anchor for said tomato pie a couple of times a year. I really miss when the Anchor was in Kanawha City.

  5. demosthenes.or.locke

    I was trying to figure out how it was in Belle and close to the capitol at the same time.

    You’d think the health department would be all over that smell, if it really was dog piss?

  6. 4 things:

    1. The place really does smell like dog piss. Really. You won’t miss it. They should do something about that.

    2. The food is so good that I don’t care. The Anchor is one of the best restaurants in Charleston, period. And it’s very, very consistent — something I can’t even say about the most expensive places in town. I think it’s because they bake everything in a timed conveyor oven.

    3. I believe that the Squeak predates Gino’s “pubwich” by several years. I could be wrong though. Regardless, if you’re expecting anything other than a greasy, drippy sandwich, you’re focusing on the wrong thing and missing what’s really there. I highly recommend the chicken squeak.

    4. You are right about getting onions on the tomato pie. The little bit of sweetness and aroma from the onions really sets it off. A tomato pie with onion and pepperoni is one of the best things you can eat in this town at any price.

  7. Stanton is absolutely correct – the address is Charleston, not Belle, and I have made the appropriate corrections so future readers will not be led astray by our error. We failed to follow our SOP – we did not put the address at the bottom of the review or we would have been able to save ourselves this small dose of public humiliation. Damn. Now Daniel & I have lost some of our journalistic credibility just like Ron.

    Even when I reheated my leftover tomato pie (in a 350 oven for ~ 10 minutes) it was yummy. I really like the garlic butter they slather on the crust.

    But I think I’ll change my mind about what to order the next time I’m there: I will get the King Fish again and eat it all. I think the dude would be so impressed if I could eat that whole thing that he’d fist-bump me when I present him with a clean plate.

  8. I miss the KC location as well. However, their pizzas are the best. I also really like to start the evening off with a basket of their chips and dip! Yummy. I was always under the impression that they rancid smell was that of cat piss. Dog piss can normally be cleaned away and loses its high level of stench. Where as cat piss lasts forever.

  9. The smell has finally been located and eliminated. We now have great food, decent service without the odor. Plese come and visit. We appreciate your support.
    Bill Arthur
    The Admiral

  10. By the way the sweet little dog that lives there had nothing to do with the odor.
    I do sincerely appreciate all the comments. It just took a while to locate the actual source of the odor. It has been eliminated. I hope everyone will give us another try. We appreciate your support.
    Bill Arthur

  11. I never noticed the smell, but I grew up on a farm so…

    Is the smell really gone?

  12. “But I think I’ll change my mind about what to order the next time I’m there: I will get the King Fish again and eat it all.” Susan, you didn’t go for it, did you? Can’t blame you, it looks gynormous!

    I have to say that the fear of the smell has kept me away. It’s been at least five years since I’ve eaten there and I don’t remember an odor. I’ll have to definitely try it now.

  13. LAL-

    I did not eat the whole fish sandwich, not because I was unable to complete such a feat (’cause I totally could), but rather because I needed to get back on the wagon. I was a naughty girl over the weekend and ate all kinds of things I shouldn’t have.

    I considered getting the boneless wings because that would have fit fairly well into my low-carb plan. Maybe next time.

  14. demosthenes.or.locke

    WIth the smell gone I intend to check it out.

  15. Smell or no smell, The Anchor is one of the best restaurants in West Virginia.

  16. The buffalo shrimp (available grilled, a healthy option-awesome!) and stuffed mushrooms look like a couple of things I will have to try.

  17. Where is this place? Looks good!
    Sorry, I probably missed the address somewhere in the post.

  18. The food is so good at the Anchor that the smell could never keep me away, but I’m glad to know it’s gone. My favorite is the chicken squeak (a.k.a. “The Ex-Wife’s Favorite”) w/ homemade chips and whatever that sauce is they serve with them (I think it’s just mayo & djion mixed together). Oh, and do try the boneless wings — they’re good.

  19. Raging Red-

    We noted the name of the chicken squeak and laughed.

    If Misty hadn’t swayed me with splitting the King Fish, I was going to order either the boneless buffalo wings or the buffalo shrimp. Next time, next time…

  20. I was there yesterday for dinner with my roomie. I can honestly tell you this…the grody odor is officially gone. The food is still fabulous! Long live The Admiral and The Anchor!

  21. Great food, friendly owner, sweet dog.

  22. Ate at The Anchor for lunch today, finally. I was looking for somewhere different and wanted a salad. I thought about The Anchor and remembered I wanted to try the buffalo shrimp. We got the 10-piece order of grilled shrimp appetizer with the hot buffalo sauce and they excellent! The sauce was a little warm, but not too hot to eat and the shrimp were cooked perfectly.

    My husband and I each ordered chicken salads (mine was BBQ) with their homemade ranch dressing. I know The Anchor isn’t famous for their salads….mine was decent. The BBQ chicken had good flavor and wasn’t too sweet. My husband didn’t like the flavor of his plain chicken. And their “house” ranch dressing tasted like a lowfat bottled ranch, and not too good.

    We also got the stuffed portabellos. There were three very large mushrooms stuffed with crab/cream cheese mixture and topped with chopped onions and melted mozzarella cheese. These were good, but didn’t need the onion.

    We definitely want to go back on a day we want to indulge and get the tomato pie and a bunch of other stuff that sounds really good.

  23. I’d love to know what’s in their buffalo sauce that we got on the shrimp. It wasn’t your typical wing sauce, not tangy like most. I could taste garlic in it and some other unidentifiable spice. Anyone have the recipe or any idea about what all is in it? I asked the server and she didn’t have a clue and didn’t care to find out either.

  24. Dear LAL,

    I’d be more than happy to tell you all the ingredients in our grilled shrimp sauce but I think it would be better just to show you next time you visit. That way we can keep the ‘secret’ just between us….
    The Admiral

  25. I think I have a foodie crush on The Admiral. 😉

  26. Dear Heather,
    I guess a foodie crush is better than no crush at all ….Thanks…


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  29. I agree that no matter the location, the food here rocks! I can’t get past certain menu items though. The boneless wings or buffalo shrimp, and the veggie pizza or a huge calzone.

    I have driven there from South Hills just for carryout. My only gripe is that it is out of the way and little inconvenient to get back to the interstate towards Charleston.

    Bill is great though. Once I asked him if I could buy some wing sauce to take home. He brought me some in a nice size container for free.

  30. Dear Lynda,
    Thank you for the wonderful comments. Next time your in let me know and I’ll walk you out front and explain a very simple way to head towards Chaleston.
    The Admiral

  31. I love the Anchor. But have they started using a lesser quality cheese on their tomato pies? The last time I was there, the cheese was a little strange (more like “cheeze”).

    And yes, there is a very easy way to head back towards Charleston.

  32. Dear Hippie Killer,
    I’m using the same high quality 100% whole milk mozzeralla chesse. It’s very expensive but I think it’s what people have come to expect from The Anchor. That’s why I don’t sell any of those $5.00 pizzas. Quality AND Value are still alive and well here…
    The Admiral

  33. I’m sure it was just my imagination then. I think a lot of places have started to mix in som of the fake stuff with their cheese. Good to hear you haven’t.

    You know, I’m big fan of the pepperoni you use on your tomato pies. I like how it “cups” and gets crispy around the edges. I’ve been told that this is the sign of quality pepperoni. Anyway. Now I’m hungry.

  34. Dear Hippie Killer,

    The pepperoni is another high end item. It’s a 38mm cupping pepperoni designed especcially for cooking on top of Pizza Pies. It’s extremely lean so as not to leave a puddle of grease on top you Pie.
    I like to take a handful of it a toss it in the deep fryer for a couple of minutes til it’s good and crispy. Next time your in I’ll be glad to hook you up.

    Thanks for your continued support….

    The Admiral

  35. Now I’M hungry! Haven’t tried the Anchor but based on recent discussions I’m gonna have to give it a go. It sounds fabulous!

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  37. Dined at The Anchor this past Friday (5/14/10) with a large group in town for a conference. We wanted them to experience something local and non-chain. I hadn’t been to there for at least 5 years because our last visit was before the smoking ban and during the days of the mysterious smell.

    I could not believe the transformation! There was no lingering odor that resembled the bottom of an ashtray, and the place looked as though it had been given a top to bottom scrubbing.

    The food – A friend and I split a large tomato pie, and it is just as yummy as I remember. Why have I stayed away so long? Others at our table ordered 1/2 lb. of boneless wings, portabellos, king fish & a turkey squeek. Everything looked and smelled wonderful. I did sneak a chip from a fellow diners plate, and they are just as good as they look.

    I can’t wait to eat here again, and try the mushrooms for an appetizer and the chicken pasta dish that someone sitting behind me had for dinner. They couldn’t stop talking about how great it was.

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