Having to travel quite a bit for work, I can attest that finding something to eat on the road can be full of promise and disappointment. I always try to avoid the chains, where it’s more likely a promise to be disappointed. So, eating somewhere that doesn’t have a slogan is more my style, even if it takes a little more looking. A few miles outside Elkins on old route 33 is a place called the Cheat River Inn and Pub, I could tell by the simple, rustic exterior that this was just the place I was looking for to stretch my road legs.
I didn’t hesitate in the least when the hostess suggested I sit at the deck; the weather was beautiful, with a welcome breeze- and I was in full view of the Cheat. I was sitting at the main deck with a few other diners, drinking the house red from Front Porch Vineyard. The deck itself is tiered in a fashion that affords more intimate dining. And with an outdoor bar complimenting the full bar inside, this place would be perfect for two.
I ordered the pan-fried trout with scallions, garlic and tarragon butter, grilled asparagus and ball pasta, priced at $17.95. I couldn’t help but ask if the trout was local, and to my pleasant surprise my server nodded, “From that river right there.”
It might have been the Sinatra playing, the red wine, the scenery, or the combination, but I was finding myself relaxed after a long day of driving. Relaxed, but very hungry, the bread and butter were starting to ebb. Which is why I was thrilled to see my apple, pear and walnut salad arrive. Priced at $5.95, it was crisp and sweet with a light vanilla vinaigrette on the side. It wasn’t Elaine-big, but it was big.
My entrée arrived just as I had finished my salad, which was nice, as I usually feel I’m supposed to rush through the salad. My water was refilled and I was left alone with my dinner, there on a simple white plate. The presentation was made with care and my food was hot and fresh. The fish was subtly seasoned; there was no effort to dress up the taste, to turn it into something else, only to accent it with a light, delicate touch. For once someone was going to let fish be fish. The asparagus was thin, al dente and displayed grill marks. I was outside and the river was mine, so I ate them with my hands. The ball pasta was delicate and paired well with the fish. Some places may have made the mistake of serving it with penne to be safe, but not when you’re overlooking the Cheat.
Cheat River Inn and Pub is a family affair, owned by the chef and hostess, husband and wife. They took it over a few years ago and business has gone well for them. A fellow diner mentioned that the night before the place was so busy he had to eat at the bar.
Dusk was turning to night and I didn’t want to leave. After all, there was no rush, and the warm breeze coming off the river made a perfect night for lingering. That, and going back and forth on ordering a dessert. Tempting as it was, I am training for a 5K, and felt that I had indulged enough that night.
My bill came to a little over thirty dollars, and I was left in want of nothing, save good company. But, sometimes it’s nice to sit and enjoy dinner at your own pace, with your own thoughts, and this particular restaurant provided just the right atmosphere for it.
The Cheat River Inn and Pub definitely deserves another visit. Maybe next time I’ll try the Mascarpone Ravioli or the Stuffed Scallops.
FOUR FORKS!Cheat River Inn and Pub Rt 1 Box 115A Elkins, WV 304-636-6265