Yes, the name is a little strange. It’s like a massage parlor named “Torture” or a store named “We Sell Crap.” In other words, it’s not exactly the kind of name you’d expect for a place whose success depends on its customers’ satisfaction. However, Grumpy’s motto is that nobody leaves there grumpy. Let’s hope that’s the case for everyone. It almost wasn’t for my husband and me on my first visit. We decided to try Grumpy’s after seeing the Charleston Gazette’s article about it.
And we waited and waited and waited. A bus boy asked us if a server had been to our table. When we told him no he said he’d get someone. A few minutes later a woman, who appeared to be a manager, owner or someone other than a regular server, came and took our drink orders, a Coors Light and a Blue Moon draft. Then we waited and waited and waited. Finally, a server showed up and took our food order. I didn’t time it, but I think it would be safe to say that it was a good 10 minutes before we got our beers.
The menu is pretty diverse from salads, burgers and sandwiches (pulled pork, shaved prime rib) to pizzas and entrees of mahi mahi and crispy shrimp. Highlighted on the menu are “signature” dishes. Grumpy’s smokes several meats on the premises such as pork, prime rib, chicken and turkey. And most of the “signature” dishes include at least one of the smoked meats. The fish tacos caught my eye. They are mahi mahi strips covered in panko bread crumbs and deep fried with lettuce, tomato, pico de gallo and a special sauce. I usually prefer the fish in tacos to be grilled, but since these are a “signature” dish, I decided to go for it. I ordered them with no tomatoes and a side of black bean and corn salad, which seemed to me to be the side that paired the best with tacos rather than fries, onion rings or a side salad. I got two good-sized tacos each containing a very sad looking version of pico de gallo. It was mostly tomatoes and very little “pico”. I scraped most of it off.
The fish was good and crispy and the special sauce was tasty, but there wasn’t enough of it for me. Since I didn’t have much pico after the scraping, I added a couple of spoonfuls of the black bean and corn salad to each. This knocked the tacos up a couple of notches from “eh” to “pretty damn good.” I didn’t like the salad by itself anyway-too oniony for me.
My husband got the BBQ nachos. It was a huge pile of stuff. The blue and white chips were topped with nacho cheese sauce, pulled pork, lettuce, tomatoes, black bean and corn salad/salsa and your choice of three BBQ sauces. He chose the Memphis –style, a sweet heat type. I helped myself to a few chips trying to get samples of all the goodies on each chip. The pork was tender and had good flavor. But one problem with the pork was that it hadn’t been pulled enough.
There were several chunks that had to be eaten in two or three bites. All in all these were pretty good nachos.
Once we got our food, the service was ok from then on, though the waters we’d asked for when we ordered our beers didn’t arrive until we had to ask for them again after we got our food. A couple at a table next to us had service trouble too. They didn’t get any silverware when their food arrived and it took the server a long time to bring it to them.
Visit number two for me was the following Saturday afternoon with my mom and my niece. We had our choice of tables outside and were promptly greeted this time. I ordered the pig salad, another “signature” dish. It’s an unusual concept of pulled pork on a salad with BBQ vinaigrette. The server asked me what kind of dressing I’d like. Duh, it’s one of your “signature” dishes and the BBQ vinaigrette comes on it so, of course, I HAVE to try it. The salad was huge.
Right in the middle of it was a mound of pulled pork (pulled better this time) surrounded by smaller mounds of shredded cheese, chopped cucumbers (thank you for chopping them!), chopped tomatoes (I forgot to order without), pico de gallo and black bean and corn salad/salsa. I scraped off the tomatoes and pico, poured on the dressing and dug in. The dressing was tangy and BBQey. It kind of reminded me of some of the North Carolina-style BBQ sauce I’ve had. I liked it. It was a unique twist to an already unique salad.
My mom and niece got a pizza. Grumpy’s offers several specialty pizzas as well as build-your-own. They got theirs with pepperoni and sausage all over with bacon on one half and banana peppers on the other half. I tried a small piece of each. Good flavor to the meats and sauce, but the crust in the middle of the pizza (the first bite of the slice) was greasy and kind of soggy. It might have been just from all the pig fat all over it. It was still a good pizza. There were several pieces left over so I took them to my husband and mother-in-law who devoured them.
Our service the second visit was good. We didn’t have any abnormal wait times and our drinks were kept full. There was a good crowd this cloudy Saturday afternoon. There were a few boats docked on the river below, but not too many on the river to watch go by that day. While waiting for our food, my niece and I walked down to the dock and looked around a bit.
I like Grumpy’s. The food is good and the large outdoor eating area is wonderful. It will be the main reason I go back. They also have live music a few times a week out on the deck. I’m not sure what the place will be like in the colder months. Will the crowds fade because they can’t enjoy the outside? I guess we’ll find out. THREE FORKS.
Grumpy’s Waterfront Grill
5930 MacCorkle Ave.
St. Albans, WV 25177