An Identity Crisis? Angela’s On The River

Note:  Today we have a post from the new addition to the Fork You Crew.  We’ll tell you more about her later this week.

Ashley says…

My first fork!  I’m excited!  I have to admit I was a little nervous after I volunteered to join the Fork You team and my first solo forking came along.  But I’ve been a loyal follower of this blog ever since its inception so I knew what I needed to do.  Once I got over the awkwardness of my first time, I enjoyed it.

 My husband and I went to Angela’s on the River last Saturday night.  I’d read about Angela’s a few weeks ago in the Charleston Gazette and was really excited about it.  Then I heard from some friends who’d been and how much they liked it.  I love trying new restaurants, and a new one in St. Albans was even better.  As stated in the newspaper’s article, Angela Samples bought and restored the historic Chilton House on the Coal River at “The Loop” in St. Albans and opened her restaurant last month.  I grew up in St. Albans, but I’d only been to the Chilton House once.  It was for my sister’s wedding reception 14 years ago, and we stayed downstairs in the bar area the whole time.  I don’t remember much about it except how nice all the windows along the back of the room facing the river were.

We arrived at the restaurant a little early, around 4:30.  The parking lot right across from the place was pretty packed.  My first though was, “Wow.  This place is bumpin’ already.”  We made our Frogger-like trek across the road (this part of the visit to Angela’s is tricky because of the curve of the road), went in, got seated on the first floor and were surprised to see we were the only people there.  We were seated in the section on the back of the building that has lots of white tables with white chairs, some of which are metal and could stand a coat of spray paint to cover the rust.  A couple of other minor negatives are the plastic coverings on the seat cushions (sticky on legs in shorts) and the white sheets of paper covering the white cotton table cloths.  The room was big, bright and open with lots of windows aligning the entire back wall.  I was a little disappointed that the windows are up so high that when you’re sitting down, you can’t see anything but tree tops. 

 The evening’s soup and drink specials were posted on a stand at the entrance.  The soup of the day was potato and cheese, and the featured drink was a frozen margarita for $5.50.  Our server promptly greeted us at our table and took our drink order.  We both got a margarita.  It was not so much frozen like an Icee as it was poured over finely crushed ice.  I like my margaritas on the rocks rather than frozen, so this was good for me.  The drink itself had a salty taste, which to me was also a plus since I always push the salt from the rim into the drink.  We both agreed it was a very tasty margarita, but it was in a pretty small margarita glass so we also agreed it wasn’t $5.50-good.  Angela’s also has a full bar serving beer, wine and other mixed drinks.

 We decided to order an appetizer.  The menu I had only listed four selections, Tyler’s chicken wings (pass…can get them anywhere), Bill’s shrimp cocktail (again, pass…couldn’t be much better here than anywhere else), Delores’ Roasted Red Pepper and Crab soup (an option) or Zane’s mozzarella cheese sticks (pass…if they are of the frozen type I can buy at the store myself.  I asked the server and she said they were.)  Then my husband says what about Linda’s (who are all these people???) Hot Crab Dip?  This selection wasn’t on my menu, and I had no idea they offered it.  I love crab dip, so my immediate answer was pretty much, “Duh!.”  At $8.95, it’s a little steep, but I didn’t care.  I love crab dip.

 I had heard that service was a little slow here.  It took longer than we thought it should to get an appetizer.  But when it finally arrived, it was well worth the wait.  The crab dip was excellent, some of the best I’ve had.  It was steaming hot right out of the oven and came surrounded by slices of baguette that had been toasted with butter, garlic and a sprinkle of cheese.  The dip was a mixture of cream cheese, cheddar cheese and lots of chunks of crabmeat.  It was delicious.  So much so that my husband and I wanted to pick up the dish and lick it clean.  Instead he used his finger and scraped it out.  Bad manners?  Sure.  But who cares!  It was THAT good.


Entrée selections include various steak, chicken, seafood and pasta choices.  I was torn between the Crab Stuffed Whitefish and the Homemade Spinach-Stuffed Chicken Breast.  I’ll be at the beach in a week and I know I’ll eat plenty of seafood there so I opted for the chicken.  I usually don’t order chicken when I go out because I eat a lot of it at home and it’s usually not that interesting to me.  However, when I read the description of the spinach-stuffed chicken, it sounded more than interesting.  It’s a chicken breast stuffed with fresh spinach, onions, garlic and ricotta cheese and covered with Angela’s Special Red Sauce.  It came with two sides and a homemade roll for $11.95.  Side choices are tossed salad, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, baked potato, french fries, sweet potato fries, garden rice, marinated mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, corn, Italian green beans, sugar snap peas and cole slaw.  I love sweet potato fries so I got them and the Italian green beans.

My chicken was served over penne pasta and covered in a marinara-type sauce.  The sauce tasted really fresh and had a slight sweetness, which I like.  The chicken was a decent size piece and had an ample amount of stuffing.  It was long on spinach and short on ricotta. I would have preferred the opposite, but it was still good.  The Italian green beans were, well…just kind of blah.  I couldn’t see or taste anything in them that made them “Italian.”  For some reason, I was expecting something like fresh string beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil maybe with some basil and tomatoes.  But what I got looked like canned green beans with celery in them.  I saw a couple of flakes of something green that I suspect was parsley, but I wasn’t sure.  

 The sweet potato fries were perfect.  It was a nice portion served in its own parchment-lined basket.  They were warm and wonderfully crispy and not at all greasy.  We ate every last one of them and wished we had more. 

 My husband got Daddy Phillip’s Baked Steak for $9.95, one of four Home Cooked Favorites on the menu.  Others include beef tips, roast beef and prime rib, available on Wednesdays only.  His sides were mashed potatoes and gravy and corn.  I’m not a big fan of baked steak, never order it and rarely eat it.  But for the sake of forking, I took a bite.  The texture of the steak and the gravy tasted real similar to my mom’s.  It was ok for me, but my husband thought it was pretty good.  The mashed potatoes were red skin potatoes and contained a lot of skins.  Probably ok for most adults, but I imagine kids would be put off by them.  The corn was run-of-the-mill canned corn.

 I’d also read in the Gazette article that the desserts were tough to pass up.  Angela’s offers Ameretto Hot Fudge Cake, Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie and several cobblers.  My brother-in-law had said the cobbler was to die for.   Again, for the sake of forking, we just HAD to try one.  Of the four cobbler choices, apple, cherry, peach and blackberry, we went with blackberry with ice cream for $4.95.  It was a large portion, plenty enough for two people, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  It was good, but not as good as I expected.  I’m pretty sure the fruit was canned pie filling, and the crust was more like a pie crust, which isn’t what I expect on a cobbler.   I’m not saying it was a bad cobbler.  I was just hoping for better.  It just didn’t have that wow factor for me.

 All in all, our evening at Angela’s was good.  I’m a little confused as to whether this place is trying to be on the upscale side or the down home side.  Our server was friendly and attentive, but the food-to-table time took a too little long.   I’m glad there is finally another nice restaurant in St. Albans since River’s Edge closed.  Angela has put a lot into the place and I hope she succeeds.  According to this blog’s fork rating requirements, I give Angela’s THREE FORKS.  I will definitely go back.  I think Angela’s has the potential to be a four-fork establishment if they step-up the service, add just a tad more pizzazz to some of the dishes and lose the plastic covers on the chairs and paper table cloths.   

Angela’s On The River
2 Sixth Avenue
St. Albans, WV
Mon-Sat 4 to 9 pm 
Angela's on the River on Urbanspoon

22 responses to “An Identity Crisis? Angela’s On The River

  1. Favorite quote –
    “Then my husband says what about Linda’s (who are all these people???) Hot Crab Dip?”

    Good job Ashley!

  2. Thaks, Daniel.

    P.S. “Ashey”? Really????

  3. I guess I’ll need to proofread his comments. I thought I was done with that oversight responsibility since he’s not writing posts anymore.

  4. Ashley,
    I think you’re going to fit in nicely here…we always need hep keeping Daniel in line!


    Good Review!

  5. I really don’t understand what you are referring to.

  6. Here’s the kicker, though. None of you caught my typo.

    “Thaks” to all of you.

  7. Actually…I was just messing with you. You didn’t have a typo.

  8. Whew!!! Gee thaks, Daniel. I see I’m not the only one you were messing with.

  9. specialed5000

    I’d like to try Angela’s soon but haven’t yet, so please don’t take my comments as referring to her restaurant, they aren’t.

    But, Ashley, some of your remarks started me thinking about something that bugs me about many Charleston restaurants. Many places seem to me to suffer from what you describe as an identity crisis, the examples above being standard frozen cheese sticks in a restaurant that seems to aspire to much more than that (I love cheese sticks, but they don’t seem to fit in with the rest of the menu you described).

    I have fairly simple tastes, and a number of things that don’t care for at all, but still enjoy a high quality restaurant experience. I find there are very few options in between places like Harding’s and Shoney’s (which I like from time to time) and places where virtually item on the menu is the trendy flavor or ingredient at the moment, way over-complicated, or obnoxiously pretentious. Where can one get a good, simple meal, only with high quality ingredients and good service in a somewhat sophisticated environment?

    I’ve decided that this may be partly explained by Appalachian defensiveness and insecurity. I can almost hear some restaurant owners and chefs saying “see we’re not hillbillies, we can make fancy food! look how many syllables are in this entree name!”

    I had hopes for Billy’s when I heard it described as high end comfort food, but it seemed particularly confused as to what it wanted to be. I had hoped for something more like a restaurant I miss from living in Richmond:

    Simple meals, comfort food, but high quality ingredients, local and organic when possible, great environment, great wine and beer list, funky old downtown space, but with really, really good meatloaf, fries and chips that enter the building as potatoes, etc.

    Almost every local restaurant I’ve been to in Charleston could benefit from at least adding a few things like that to the menu, and it doesn’t count if they mess it up with roasted red peppers, truffle mayo, or by turning it into some Frankenstein intercontinental fusion abomination that should never have been brought to life.

    Sorry for the diatribe, as I mentioned, this has been bugging me for a while. I’d love to hear some replies from people who agree/disagree/think I’m crazy or obnoxious, or anything in between.

  10. Special-

    I totally agree with you. Regarding your question, “Where can one get a good, simple meal, only with high quality ingredients and good service in a somewhat sophisticated environment?” I know you weren’t referring to Angela’s since you’ve never been there, but I believe Angela’s could be that place. She’s got the right facility for sure and most of her menu is geared that way. But like I said in my review, there are a few minor things about the place that keep it from being that. It’s only been open a month and I’m sure Angela is still feeling things out.

    There are a couple of things I want to point out about Angela’s that I noticed on the menu. The chicken strips are hand cut, breaded and sauteed in an iron skillet. She could have easily used frozen ones like most places do. But for Angela to take the extra steps and do it herself is a definite plus. Sounds like the same thing for the seafood. No frozen stuff there either.

    I am anxious to go back to Angela’s and try the prime rib, lasagna and chicken cordon bleu. All are fresh made and sound delish.

  11. It looks like Daniel has some time on his hands, maybe he should review a restaurant.

  12. specialed5000

    Thanks Ashley, I’ll definitely check out Angela’s. Homemade chicken strips are a good example of what I mean. Sysco or Sam’s Club frozen stuff is good bar food, but not what I’m looking for in a nicer restaurant. Fresh made on site sounds more like it. I’ll try to get there soon.

  13. I don’t actually like this trash hole…I just wanted everyone that might read this to know the truth. The people are rude and they lie when they say they are “good for groups” on their info page…because really, they are NOT. They confirmed things over and over with a teacher and then when they arrived, They treated a bunch of teacher’s trying to celebrate their principal’s retirement like crap. DO NOT GO HERE!!! The woman even put her hands on one of the teachers (aka 4th degree assault)…BEWARE!!!! BEWARE!!! BEWARE!!!

  14. Thanks, Hayley. Now tell us how you really feel. How was your meal?

  15. I have been to Angela’s on the River with a large group of friends and we thought it was great. We even had 4 children with us ranging in age from 2 to 12 (the white paper on the table is for the kids to draw on). The service was a little slow but the wait staff is new and just getting into the hang of it (if you remember River’s Edge, this is picking up where they left off giving the local high school and college kids that do not want to work fast food a good job). The one thing about Angela’s is that you get a great deal of food for the price. I had the Cajan Chicken Pasta and was amazed at how much chicken they put in this dish, the kids had the chicken strips (homemade not frozen) and the spaghetti. The kids cleaned their plates. One thing worth mentioning is that our drinks never ran out, even with slow service on the food the waiter always kept our drinks filled. I encourage eveyone to try this place, I know my family will be back.

  16. My wife & I ate there and we didn’t think the service was slow at all. The appetizers were too expensive as was mentioned, but the meal itself was reasonably priced and tasted great. We’ll be back.

    We didn’t like the plastic tablecloths either, but it’s not a deal breaker for us.

  17. The plastic chair covers and paper table cloths aren’t deal breakers for me. I just didn’t like them and I think the place would be a littel nicer without them.

  18. Thanks for all this very enlightening information. Our church-based dinner group is going there this Friday on it’s monthly outing and we shall all be interested to see how all the comments bear out for us. I am not entirely sure about this kind of menu (several comments suggest that the owner has not really established an expertise, but rather is trying to be “all things to all people.” I am hoping people in our group try a variety of items so we can get a wide range of experiences out of the visit. Thanks again!

  19. I have to comment on Haley’s comment about the teachers visiting Angela’s. I just happened to be visiting the restraunt when this incident happened and I watched the TEACHERS act inappropiatley. They demanded to sit at tables that were joined and it is obvious that (with a bunch of round tables) it wasn’t possible. I know for a fact the teachers were told numerous times in the days before that they could not put them all at one big long table. Then I watched as the Teachers acted very immature and tried to run other customers out of the restraunt and then One of them put her hands on the owner, to which the owner politly asked that they not touch her. It was obvious that if they would have stayed and ate, they would have been rude to the staff (who are not high school students, but rather hard working people just trying to make a living) and would have been difficult the whole evening. Angela’s is my entire familys favorite restraunt now and we won’t have there name tarnished by a bunch of teachers who act more immature than the elementary school children they teach.

  20. My wife and I ate at this place tonight. From start to finish, it wad the worst meal we’ve ever eaten together. By far the worst restaurant in the Charleston area.

  21. Ate there with a group of friends last night. My second visit. Fabulous service!
    Appetizer menu was a little shorter than last time, the italian green beans were BLAH!. But the roasted red pepper crab soup is out of this world!!
    Love the crab stuffed whitefish as well.
    I wish they’d ditch the paper tablecloth covers, or at least cut them down so they aren’t rustling or poking the patrons as they’re sitting at the table…

    In regard to the reviewer, Angela makes her cobblers from fresh local fruit when it’s in season.

  22. My favorite place to go. We were there again last night. We took guest with us and they loved it also. Food is great and the place is just beautiful. They try hard to make sure your food is the way you want it. Home cookiing for sure. We go often.

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