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
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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