Guest Review – Weenie Wonk Goes to the Surrey House

Fork You is delighted to present this guest review from our friend and WV Hot Dog Officienado, Stanton, of WV Hot Dog Blog fame.   Pleased with a recent meal, he felt inspired to write.  And since said meal did not involve a WV Hot Dog, he was unable to express himself on his own blog.  That’s what friends are for.   

When I realized that a recent trip southward from Charleston on the Robert C. Byrd Highway (Rt. 119) was going to take me into Logan County at dinner time, my first thought was obviously to head over to Morrison’s Drive Inn for one of West Virginia’s finest Five Weenie delights. But I found myself in the mood for something other than hot dogs. Yes, I do eat other things sometimes.

Not being aware of many non hot dog food establishments in Logan County I consulted the West Division Tourism web site and looked at the “101 Unique Places to Dine” interactive map and saw the closest dot to me was number 96 – The Surrey House in Chapmanville. (By the way, whoever came up with the numbering system on that list was an idiot. Why is it in alphabetical order by restaurant name? It should definitely be alphabetical by location, so if you are in Huntington or Ansted you could look at the list to see what places are close to you.)

The address is listed as 62 Shae Avenue. Google Maps can’t get you to Shae Avenue. I had to resort to the low tech method of finding a policeman and asking him where the place was; a system that has proven fool proof in the past. It worked again. “Go across the bridge and turn left next to the Tudor’s (Biscuit World, for those of you from outside WV) and it will be there on your right”. I did, and it was.

The first thing you notice about The Surrey House is that it is a house. Even though there are signs on the place, when I opened the door I felt like I was going to be walking into someone’s residence. Even the restroom was like home: Complete with a tub shower. I can safely say that this is the first restaurant with a shower I have eaten in that didn’t have “truck stop” after its name. The house is comfortable though, and as clean as grandma’s. It smells like grandma’s too: That wonderful smell of home-cooked grub.

“Located in one of the oldest homes in Chapmanville,” the website says, but the main dining area is in what is obviously a new addition to the original house. It is decorated in eclectic country style and is a comfortable space with vaulted ceilings. The service was friendly and the place was not very busy on the evening of my visit; only two other dining parties were there.

The menu is country cooking with a flair. The daily specials on this day were fried green tomato sandwich and beef and cabbage soup. The regular menu includes entrees like chicken and dumplings, fried tilapia at $8.99 (my order) and meatloaf for $7.99 (my companion’s order).  Side dishes included everything you might expect at a country cooking place, with the added bonus of potato cakes – something I’m not used to seeing anywhere but grandma’s table. I chose the aforementioned spud cakes and the recommended coleslaw, and my companion chose the kale and fried potatoes. We both tried the Cornbread Salad – a regular iceberg lettuce tossed salad with a sweet, creamy dressing and cornbread crumbled throughout – which was amazingly delicious and satisfying. If it had been larger would have completely negated the need for more food.

When our entrees arrived (which didn’t take near as long as I had feared, especially since there was a warning on the menu about how “fast food isn’t good and good food isn’t fast”) we were both pleasantly surprised at the volume and quantity of food. My two large pieces of fish were fried to golden brown perfection, and the meatloaf serving looked like a very hungry lumberjack had cut if off for himself. Both entrees were delicious. The sides were a little hit and miss: The fried potatoes weren’t great, and in spite of my nostalgic desire to love the potato cakes, they were only pretty good. The kale was good (for kale) and then there was the slaw – it gets its own paragraph.

If only I could get a tub of this slaw to go, head back up the Robert C Byrd Highway and then continue North on I79 to Fairmont, go to Yann’s and plop this stuff on top of one of those devil dogs and force The Great Yann himself to partake of it, if I could do that I am convinced that I could change the stars of this state’s hot dog future. Even Yann himself would have to agree that this slaw belonged on a hot dog. This might be the best slaw I have ever, Ever, EVER eaten! It was made from wonderfully finely grated cabbage (think Angel’s hair) and was creamy, cool and sweet. Perfect in every way. And without a hot dog on the menu to put under it, it was at once wonderful bliss and a crying shame.

 I have to mention that your bread choices with dinner at The Surrey House are dinner rolls, Texas Toast, cornbread and hoe cakes. I hadn’t had hoe cakes (which for those not savvy, are fried cornbread) since I became aware of cardiovascular disease and its causes, so of course I had to indulge: They were scrumptious.

I am certain that The Surrey House had good desserts, but I will have to leave that for another person to write about, because I was so stuffed after my meal that I couldn’t begin to even think about it. I will be back, however, to try the hot fudge brownie sundae I heard another diner talking about or maybe the homemade pies they advertise.

For value, The Surrey House ranks highly. The food quality is above average. Atmosphere and service are both very nice. For this I would give the Surrey House Four Weenies, I mean Forks.

The Surrey House
62 Shae Ave., Chapmanville
(304) 855-5770

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