Category Archives: Lunch

Muriale’s Is a Must

muriale1Susan says…

It’s sure been a long time since I’ve written a post, huh? During that span of time I reconnected with my high school love, ran off to Louisville KY, got married, changed jobs, and started a Louisville restaurant blog called NewtoLou. I come back to West Virginia frequently, mostly because my girls are finishing school here, but also because I miss my friends, family, and my true home. You can take the girl out of West Virginia but you can’t take West Virginia out of the girl! (At least not THIS girl!)  I’m sure all my new acquaintances are completely sick to death of hearing me wax poetic about the mountain state.

I have been suffering inner conflict. Should I tell you all about Muriale’s during football season or not? As you read my review will you come to understand just how perfect a plan it would be to include Muriale’s in your pregame (night game, that is) ritual and I don’t want to have to wait on a table as a result of sharing this great tip. But alas, I have a duty to the Fork You public and I will proceed.

As a mother, a wife, a victim of Pretend OCD, and a food fanatic, I have lots of rules and policies. Some of my rules include: 1) spread the shower curtain back over the length of the tub when you’re done; 2) you must be completely ready for school before you’re allowed to goof off in any way; and 3) check the order before pulling away from the dive thru. One very important policy is this: when traveling to Route 50 and points north, one must eat Italian. There are some great places in the Clarksburg area alone.

On our way to the WVU home opener last weekend, I was prepared to follow the policy. My husband took a little convincing. (I found out later he thought I was going to take him to some froo froo gourmet place.) (Is that how you spell “froo froo”? You know what I mean.) I successfully campaigned for Oliverio’s , my favorite in the area, and my mouth was already watering at the thought of pasta and pine nuts. We approached the parking lot and realized they don’t serve lunch on Saturdays. That’s fine for ordinary Saturdays but they are missing an opportunity on Night Game Saturdays. Just sayin’. My next most favorite is Muriale’s so we skipped the visit we planned to Mountaineer World (we honestly don’t need more WV gear) and headed on up I-79.

My husband had never been to Muriale’s before. Poor thing. He even grew up in Buckhannon! I was more than happy to accompany him on his virgin visit. We arrived around 1:30 and had no trouble obtaining a table. There are great old photographs on the walls and displays of wine, pasta, and oils. I quickly located a lunch special that was too good of a deal to pass up: you can choose from several pastas (ravioli, spaghetti, rigatoni, manicotti or linguine with fresh vegetables) and also receive a house salad and a slice of garlic cheese toast ALL FOR ONLY $10!! I would pay almost that much for a Wendy’s combo meal. We both chose the manicotti.

We were served a basket of bread and butter when the salads were delivered. The housemade Italian dressing was tangy and herbalicious. Husband chose the housemade balsamic and offered me a taste, which was also very good. Salad toppings included roasted red and yellow peppers, large marinated green olives, tomato, pickled onions, and shredded cheese.

muriale2

Manicotti Lunch Special

Our lunch specials were so generously portioned we could barely eat it all. Well, I didn’t eat all of mine. I gave it my best effort but had to leave just a few bites, even after my husband had a little of my meatball. We received two large manicotti stuffed with an herb and ricotta cheese mixture generously covered in meat sauce and a large meatball. The meatball was a bonus I had not expected since there was no mention of it in the menu description. The meat sauce was richly and deeply flavored, and had obviously spent a good amount of time simmering. The pasta was delicate and the ricotta mixture flavorful. For me, I could have done with more ricotta to balance the richness of the sauce. Plus, I really like ricotta. The meatball was tender and well-seasoned. I wasn’t too crazy about the garlic cheese bread. I LOVE the garlic toast at Fazio’s and declare it is exactly how garlic toast should be made: crisp, almost dripping with butter, and significantly tasting of garlic. Muriale’s sprinkles the bread with some herbs and the oregano totally overpowered any taste of butter or garlic. I could do without the cheese on it, too.

This was a meal worthy of the Number One Foam Finger. What a great deal for fresh, homemade, delicious Italian fare. We were so satisfied from the meal, we didn’t even bother to grill the hot dogs we had packed for tailgating. I am going to the Oklahoma game next weekend with my daughters and hope to convince them that a pregame meal at Muriale’s is just what we need to fuel up for an evening of Mountaineer excitement. Another nice touch is that all the waitstaff wear WVU apparel on game day. It made us feel more comfortable coming in with our t-shirts and face stickers and also provided a festive atmosphere.

The service was excellent. Our water glasses never went below the half-full mark and the entire staff worked together seamlessly to meet every customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. Our server was friendly and fun.

muriale3

yep, it was that good

Even though I now live in the big city of Louisville, there are just some things that can’t be done better than in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia: beautiful scenery, friendly people, an exciting college football atmosphere, and some great traditional Italian food. The quote of the day, from my husband, after devouring his meal and licking the bowl clean (as in the photo): “I don’t know why I even doubted you”.

Go to Muriale’s. Four forks.

1742 Fairmont Avenue
Fairmont, WV 26554
304-363-3190

Muriale's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Advertisements

Kicking it Old School~ Quarrier Diner

Today we welcome a guest forker, Tara.  Tara, like me, is a self-proclaimed foodie.  She’s been following Fork You for a while now and when she found out that the “cast” had dwindled to just me, she volunteered to help out.  If all goes well, you may see more forks from Tara in the future.

Ashley says…

I remember the Quarrier Diner only as far back as the early 1990’s when I got my first “grown up job” in downtown Charleston. Back then, before my employer relocated to the east end, my co-workers and I made it a habit to regularly visit different lunch spots rather than rotate just a couple of favorites. But the few times I visited QD back then, the nostalgia is the one thing that stuck out in my mind. I loved the art deco look of it then and I was pleasantly surprised when I finally made it back after almost 20 years.  QD outside

Quarrier Diner originally opened in the 1930’s and closed its doors in 2001. It was reopened by new owners in November, 2011 along with the basement bar, now known as Timothy’s, that used to be known as the Tap Room.  The new owners wanted to keep the art deco look and feel of the interior, and they definitely did. The original booths and soda fountain with stools are still there and you get the feeling of an “old school” diner when you walk in.

QD insideQD inside2My first visit after the latest opening was for an office luncheon. There were 10 of us and we were seated in the back of the main floor. Though it doesn’t appear to be a place you’d expect to be served alcoholic drinks, diners in the main dining room can order from the basement bar, Timothy’s. A few of us ordered beers and glasses of wine.

Looking over the menus, I saw a few in our party looking at the menu and turning it over with a strange look on their faces as if they were thinking, “this is it?” The menu is somewhat limited, but for me, sometimes a large menu makes decision making very tough. The lunch menu is mostly made up of sandwiches, with a few appetizers and salads and a handful of entrees such as grilled salmon, fried chicken and shrimp and fries. A few of the people in our party ordered the soup of the day, which was potato, as a starter. All three raved about how good the soup was.

SAMSUNG

Macaroni and Cheese

Other orders at our table (I unfortunately forgot to get pictures) included the QD Burger ($8.75 + $1.00 to add cheese), Baby Spinach Salad with salmon and apple vinaigrette ($8.50 plus an upcharge for the salmon), Jamaican Pulled Chicken Panini ($9.75), Black Bean Burger ($7.50), Club sandwich ($9.25) and French Dip ($9.25), with each having either fries or mac and cheese as their sides. I had my heart set on the Gigantic Corn Dog and was a little disappointed to find out they were out of them that day. So instead I ordered The Quarrier, which is corned beef, pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and QD sauce (kind of like 1000 dressing) grilled on marble rye. My sandwich was very good. I liked the combination of the coolness of the slaw with the warm meats and cheese. This sandwich was so good I didn’t want to put it down. But I had to put it down. I had to try the mac and cheese. I had read in an article online that QD’s mac and cheese was sort of their “signature” dish for dinner, when customers could customize it and add such things as bacon, ham, jalepenos, peas and other items. This mac and cheese was TO DIE FOR. The only problem with it was that it was just side dish-size. I actually thought about ordering a second helping, but I didn’t want the boss to think I was a glutton. The “mac” isn’t really macaroni. It’s a large spiral noodle with enough twists and turns that allowed for a lot of cheese to cling to it. And the cheese……. mmmm……It was creamy, well-seasoned and very flavorful.  I went on and on about it so much that a couple of others at the table ordered some for themselves.  My opinion is that QD should offer the mac and cheese with add-ins for lunch instead of just as a dinner entree.  

My co-workers all liked what they ordered too, with the exception of one of the people who ordered the Club. She didn’t like it with “that kind of turkey” meaning with thick slices of a whole roasted turkey breast rather than processed deli-style turkey.  Whaaaaattt???  I thought her sandwich looked really good. I also heard several favorable comments about the shoestring fries. Overall, we were all pleased with our meals.

After lunch, at around 2:45, we migrated downstairs to Timothy’s bar for a few drinks. At first we were told it wasn’t open yet, but a few minutes later the manager told us he was going to “play bartender” and open up. (Just for us! Thanks!) Plus they had a private Christmas party later that evening that he was preparing for. Timothy’s is really nice and cozy with several televisions on the walls and a bar with accent lights that really dressed it up. After a couple of hours and a few drinks later we were a little hungry again. This time we ordered chips and salsa and homemade potato chips from the bar menu. The chips and salsa were your typical run-of-the-mill-type, from a bag and a jar, but the potato chips were definitely homemade and were sprinkled with blue cheese and served with ranch dressing. Both were pretty much what we expected and were perfectly satisfying for what we wanted at the time.

SAMSUNG

Jamaican Pulled Chicken Panini

I went back to QD for lunch about three weeks after my initial visit. I wanted to try something else before I forked it. We were informed by our server that the menu was changing the following week and that a few things on the current menu (corn chowder, quiche and the (dammit!) corn dog) were no longer available. This time I tried the Jamaican Pulled Chicken Panini and my husband got the Steak and Cheese hoagie with fries, at a whopping $10.50. The panini is described as having, in addition to chicken and provolone, a sweet pepper relish, which was intriguing to me. Again, I HAD to get the mac and cheese. When the food arrived, both sandwiches were very pretty. My panini appeared to have an ample amount of chicken and fixins. But when I went to pick it up, the bottom slice of bread was soggy. I’m fairly sure this is from the juice from the Jamaican pulled chicken. The sogginess wasn’t enough to turn me off, though. This sandwich is really sweet. I don’t know if the sweetness is from just the pepper relish or from the relish and the chicken both. It had really good flavor, but it was a bit too sweet for me. I applied a liberal amount of salt to it and it tamed the sweetness quite a bit. My mac and cheese was just as excellent as the first time.

SAMSUNG

Steak and Cheese Hoagie with shoestring fries

The steak and cheese hoagie was bursting with steak, cheese, peppers and onions. It was steaming hot on a soft hoagie roll and was served with horseradish mayo on the side. It was a very tasty sandwich. The fries were nice and crisp too.

All in all, both of my visits were pretty good, though I believe the prices are a bit high for sandwiches and fries. Service both times was friendly, helpful and attentive. I will definitely go back to QD to check out their new menu or to at least have some more of that yummy mac and cheese! THREE FORKS

 

Tara says…..

Before I begin this, I must confess that this was not my first trip to the Quarrier Diner but it will likely be my last. My first visit, while it wasn’t bad, I wouldn’t say it was good either. It was just, meh. I could take it or leave it. So when Ashley suggested for my first review we both dine separately at Quarrier Diner and write up our experiences I was ready to give the diner another go. That being said, I came into this hoping to be impressed but not really expecting anything.

Each month my girlfriends and I attempt to get away for an evening out. This usually entails some dinner and drinks. So Saturday night when no one could decide where to dine, a friend suggested the Quarrier Diner, knowing ahead that I was supposed to review it. We thought there being seven of us, I’d have a lot to sample. I phoned the diner Saturday afternoon and made a reservation, just in case one was needed. The lady I spoke with was friendly and quickly promised to hold a spot for us.

Upon entering the diner, I knew right away why she was so friendly. Other than two tables, we were the only patrons. This is a large, well kept space. A space one would expect to see thriving on a Saturday night at 6 p.m. This did not bode well for our coming dinner. We were seated quickly as the staff had prepared a table in the back for our party. The ladies at the front of the house were friendly and welcoming. It gave me a smidge of hope.

Our waitress greeted us quickly and promptly informed us that they no longer carried the corn chowder, “because the chef took it with him.” I took this to mean the recipe, not the actual chowder, but who knows. She also told us they were in the process of changing the menu so when they ran out of certain items they just eighty-sixed them. Therefore, they no longer had the chicken or beef skewers, chicken artichoke spread, black bean cakes and possibly the meatloaf, but she had to check on that.

Hmm, that didn’t leave a whole lot to choose from. Fortunately, one of my girlfriends spotted an appetizer menu from the downstairs bar, Timothy’s. She asked if we were allowed to order from that menu as well and we were. That menu consisted of typical bar food: wings, potato skins, chips and salsa, and buffalo chicken dip. We ordered our drinks which consisted of a cabernet, three pinot grigios, a chardonnay and a Riesling. I mention this only because it caused a problem later on. The wines were priced at roughly $5 a glass, which was actually a little cheaper than I expected. We also agreed on the buffalo chicken dip, chips and salsa, spicy crab and corn dip, and Jamaican jerk wings. Our server also brought out rolls and butter. There were about three rolls in each basket. They were a mix of a multi-grain roll and some sort of onion roll. Both were good but I’m unsure as to whether they were pre-made.

QD wings

Wings

  The first round of drinks was delivered correctly as well as the appetizers. The best thing I can say about the chips and salsa is that the salsa was obviously out of a name brand jar. Think Tostitos chunky salsa. The chips were also just average corn tortilla chips, much like the kind you get at a Mexican joint. My friend enjoyed her wings but the jerk sauce was a little too sweet for me. The buffalo chicken dip can only be described as tasting like hot, spicy mayonnaise. It was served with tortilla chips but there were no chunks of chicken to be found and it clearly did not contain cheese. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the traditional buffalo chicken dip that contains shredded chicken, cream cheese, hot sauce, ranch or bleu cheese dressing, and cheddar cheese. This was not that. All seven of us agreed that it was inedible. We explained the situation to our waitress and she kindly took it back. The spicy crab and corn dip was much the same, a spicy mayonnaise with a tiny bit of corn and crab, which tasted really fishy. QD crab dipThat dip was served with overly greasy pita chips. They were obviously house made but the layer of grease glistening atop the chips prevented any of us from sampling them. That, too, was sent back.

Judging from the appetizers, we were none too excited about ordering dinner but onward we trudged. We ordered another round of drinks which was severely bumbled. Those drinking Pinot Grigio were served Chardonnay and the one drinking Riesling was served Pinot Grigio. I get it. They’re all white wines so I’m sure it is easy to mix up but there has to be a reason servers in other establishments don’t make this mistake. I guess, to me, it’s akin to mixing up diet and regular soda. When I waited tables in college, I always made sure to place the drinks in a particular order so I knew what was what. Once alerted to the problem, the mistake was quickly corrected. As I’ve said, friendliness and prompt service is not this establishment’s problem.

Given the limited menu items, we all made up our minds fairly fast. Three friends ordered the QDeluxe burger described in the menu as “half pound hand-selected chopped Angus beef, bleu cheese, double-smoked bacon on a brioche onion bun. Served with all the trimmings” for $12.75. It came with two sides. All three patrons chose fries and green beans. Another ordered the poached pear and tossed greens salad which consisted of “candied pecans, crumbled bleu cheese and poppy seed dressing” for $5.50. Two others decided on the pasta primavera which was billed as “chef’s selection of fresh vegetables sautéed in olive oil with garlic and fresh herbs tossed with your choice of provolone or feta cheese” for $10.50. I ordered the bacon wrapped meatloaf which sounded delightful as described on the menu with a Guinness demiglace for $13.50. I chose a side salad and green beans for my accompaniments.

QD pasta primavera

Pasta Primavera

The food arrived not quickly but in a decent time period being that it was supposedly freshly prepared. The burger looked good but did not appear to contain any bleu cheese. The fries were crisp but were definitely of the frozen variety. The primaveras also looked appetizing with a decent amount of zucchini, squash, mushrooms, onion and tomatoes heaped on top. All five friends were satisfied with their choices. I tried the fries, which as I’ve mentioned, were standard frozen fare but they were still tasty and crisp. I, however, did not get a chance to taste the burger but all assured me it was delicious and cooked to perfection. The primavera was overly oily and bland. It could have definitely used more garlic and perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice and splash of chicken stock.

Now onto the meatloaf. First, it was not bacon wrapped as described in the menu. QD meatloafIt did have some sort of demiglace on it and consisted of two large slices. It was tasty but nothing extraordinary, just the average meatloaf you’d expect to find at the local Cracker Barrel. The green beans, however, were just like grandma makes. They were riddled with chunks of ham and were bursting with smoky flavor. Suffice it to say, those were gone in a second. The salad was an average iceberg lettuce, topped with cucumber, tomato and croutons. The croutons were house made but were not very good. They were greasy and soft.

The pear salad was something else, to say the least. I wish I had gotten a picture of it but with all the conversing and tasting it was nearly gone before I got a chance to even think of a photo. Most of the salad was normal, meaning the spring mix greens, candied pecans and crumbled bleu cheese were there. The pear, however, we could not be certain was there. There were two chunks of a purplish, citrus looking fruit. We passed it around trying to decipher its identity, daring each other to try it. Honestly, up close this thing looked like a raw piece of chicken ringed in purple. My friend and I took the bait and took a bite. Yep, it was definitely a pear but of the canned variety. It was mushy and just sad-looking. The pears, as the main part of the pear and tossed greens salad, was discarded.

One of the girls placed a to go order for her husband. He requested the QD rotisserie chicken, green beans, and corn. While I didn’t get to sample it for obvious reasons, it looked good. Other items on the menu included pork chops, trout, grilled salmon and shrimp, steak, and a house made macaroni and cheese that can be topped with a variety of different veggies or proteins including smoked sausage and chicken. They also serve prime rib on Fridays and Saturdays. However, given our experience I’d go in expecting to be surprised as it doesn’t seem they have much in stock. The diner also boasts Saranac root beer on tap which would entice me to give it one more try but I can get the same stuff accompanied with much better food at Pies and Pints.

I really liked that the employees at this place were so friendly but after dining there it leads me to think that they’re making up for sub par food. If this place really can get its act together and retain a decent chef, I think it’d be worth trying again but as is, it’s a no-go for me. TWO FORKS.

Based on our conflicting reviews, it may appear that Tara and I went to two different restaurants. But that’s not the case. We both went at different times of the day on different days. Our opinions are obviously based on our own experiences. Our reviews’ sole purpose is to put the public on notice of an establishment’s fare and to give an overall opinion. But don’t take our views as gospel. We encourage you to support our local businesses and check them out for yourself and form your own opinion.

Quarrier Diner                                                                                                                                     1022 Quarrier St.                                                                                                           Charleston, WV 25301                                                                                                                                               304-343-5686

Country Strong-Tammy’s Country Kitchen

Ashley says…

You know those little hometown restaurants like you see on tv where the owners and waitresses know all the customers and they chat about family, the farm, etc.? Tammy’s Country Kitchen is just like that. It’s not unusual to hear, “Hey, Earl. How’s Betty?” or “How’s the grandbaby?” or a laugh being shared as you are sitting there having your meal. You get a real family feel at Tammy’s. Tammy herself is the one you’ll usually hear. She not only owns the restaurant, but she’s one of the three servers. Her daughter and her mother are the other two. If you get there on one of the days her mother is serving, once you meet her, you’ll feel like you’ve known her for years. She’s a sweetie. They all are, actually.

Located on State Route 817 (old US Route 35) in Frazier’s Bottom, across the river from Buffalo, Tammy’s is the only restaurant within several miles. Obviously the customers are mostly regulars and I figure most probably live in the area or over in Buffalo. I guess you could say my husband and I are regulars. We have been eating there about four times a month for the last six years. My husband loves to give Tammy a hard time and she’s not shy to give it right back to him.

Tammy’s specializes in, as you might have guessed, country cooking. Every day there are a couple of dinner specials in addition to the full menu. Some of the specials include salmon cakes and meatloaf. And there’s always a list of daily side dish specials like broccoli casserole, sweet potato casserole and macaroni salad, to name a few. Regular menu items range from a pinto bean dinner with fried potatoes and cornbread to spaghetti with meat sauce to soups, salads, burgers and other sandwiches. Breakfast is served all day.

Pinto Bean dinner with fried potatoes and cornbread

My favorite time to visit Tammy’s is for breakfast. It’s where I get the best omelet I’ve ever had. I always order the western omelet. What makes this omelet so good is 1) they use real eggs, not liquid eggs from a carton; 2) it includes big chunks of baked ham instead of little ham pellets; and 3) it contains American cheese. The American cheese is the real kicker for me. There’s just something about an omelet with American cheese that sets if apart from omelets with cheddar cheese. The omelet is huge too. It’s served with either hash browns or home fries. If I’m eating carbs, I get the home fries. They are real potatoes, peeled and cut by hand and fried in a skillet or on a flat top just like you’d have at home.

Western omelet with home fries and wheat toast

I also really like Tammy’s pancakes. But my one complaint is they are too small. You get three cakes that are about the size of a small coffee can lid. I’m sure that’s really all a person should eat, health-wise, but it just leaves me wanting more. The breakfast menu also contains other typical items such as eggs your way, sausage, biscuits and gravy and french toast. I only have one other complaint. They serve “fake butter” or “spread” to customers. I once asked if they had any real butter and was told no by Tammy herself. Surely they aren’t using that crap to cook with. She could have brought me some from the kitchen like other places have done.

On our most recent visit, I opted for a simple grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of Tammy’s taco soup. The soup contains a lot of the components of a taco, ground beef, tomatoes, peppers, black beans and spices. It’s topped with a generous amount of shredded cheese and is served with sour cream and tortilla chips. It’s got good flavor and is pretty filling. The grilled cheese was above average (grilled with REAL BUTTER, I’m sure.) I saved two cheesy bites of it for last.

I’ve had the salmon cakes more than once. They are close to like my mom makes. Same goes with the beans, fried potatoes and cornbread. And the meatloaf is really good too.

 

Meatloaf, broccoli casserole and sweet potato casserole

 

I’ve also had the baked chicken breast with gravy, the ground beef patty with grilled onions and gravy, a Reuben, a Chef’s salad and a Grilled Chicken salad. One of my favorite sides is the sweet potato casserole. It’s super sweet and topped with chopped pecans. It’s really more like dessert. Oh, speaking of dessert, Tammy’s has several homemade options each day such as pig pickin’ cake (a white layer cake with coconut, orange and other flavors), fruit cobblers, butter pecan cake (sold out our recent visit) or if she gets strawberries from The Strawberry Lady, strawberry shortcake (with a homemade yellow sponge cake.) 

Tammy’s food is nothing fancy, just good old-fashioned country cooking that’s served with a smile in a clean, nicely-decorated, homey-feeling place. THREE FORKS.

 

Not To Be Confused With Another Local Place of a Similar Name…

The Vandalian-Fayetteville, WV 

Ashley says…

A fall cruise through our beautiful state leaf peeping and such brought my husband and me to Fayetteville for dinner.  We made a day of it by visiting the river bank below the New River Gorge Bridge and other spots along the river and had planned  to stop at one of the many interesting eateries in Fayetteville.  It had been about a year since we’d dined in the charming little town and were surprised by a couple of modest changes.  One in particular was a new restaurant on the corner of Court and Maple, The Vandalian, as stated in the title of this post, not to be confused with the Charleston restaurant, Vandalia Grille.  The walls of windows on both sides with the lights make the exterior of the restaurant very eclectic-looking and inviting. 

It was around 4:30 pm and we were meeting some friends so we got a table and ordered a couple of Blue Moons.  We were informed by the server that the menu was limited to a few appetizers, a couple of salads and a few sandwiches until they started serving dinner at 5:00.  It wasn’t a problem for us.  We enjoyed a second beer and conversation with our friends until 5:00, and then ordered our dinners.

We started with the Chorizo-Stuffed Hungarian Peppers as an appetizer.  The order was six peppers that were pretty scrawny in size.  They were filled with spicy sausage, topped with marinara and parmesan cheese.  Besides being small, they were a bit on the greasy side.  The flavor was good, but nothing to write home about.  “Dear Mom…nah, forget it.” 

When trying a new place, my husband, the more adventurous one, usually asks the server what is the best or most unique dish.  If it’s at all appealing, he orders it.  This particular time it was the Currey-Seared Tiger Shrimp which is served with a grit cake, sautéed squash and a honey-brandy reduction.  I was in a steak kind of mood. Two particular cuts caught my eye, the hangar steak, which I’d never heard of before, and the flat iron steak. The server recommended the hangar steak.  It was served with rosemary potatoes and sautéed carrots along side.

Our friends both got burgers.  One got the LaFayette Burger (Angus beef, muenster cheese, ancho mayo) and the other got the RX burger (Angus beef, pepper jack cheese, jalepenos, ancho mayo.)   Both burgers were served with skillet potatoes.

The shrimp and steak entrees were pretty!  And they tasted as good as they looked.  The shrimp were huge, with good spice and great flavor.  I was smart to grab one early.  He really loved them and the grit cake and squash.  He devoured every last morsel. 

I asked for my steak to be cooked to medium rare, but it was overcooked to medium/medium well, a bit too done for what I like.  But the flavor and tenderness of the meat made up for it. 

The potatoes were pan-fried and the carrots were left slightly crisp.  It was also served with a shiitake mushroom cream sauce.  Mmmmm.

The burgers looked fantastic.  They were a huge patty served on a challah bun.  In a burger mood, I would have chosen either of them.  Our friends both loved theirs and raved at how good they were. 

Also on the dinner menu are a couple of pasta dishes as well as unique salmon and chicken dishes.  They also have typical sandwiches such as a reuben, hot ham and cheese, club and BLTs.  The menu contains a few unique salads, however, such as Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) which is a Peruvian whole grain, with pico de gallo and tomato, a Caprese Salad of tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and a Pear and Parmesan Salad which is sliced pears and parmesan cheese on greens with Caesar-dijon dressing. 

Vandalian has daily specials and sushi nights during the week.  They also serve breakfast.  And like the rest of the menu, there are some unique breakfast options as well as typical items.   A couple of dishes that caught my eye were The Sweet & Savory, a Belgian waffle infused with brandied pecans and bacon, and the Breakfast Burrito stuffed with eggs, chorizo, black beans and pepper jack cheese.

Service at Vandalian was friendly, the atmosphere and decor is cool (as in Fonzie-cool) and the food was good.  Add the fact that Vandalian is another restaurant that supports local agriculture, buying from local farmers as much as possible (you can’t help but appreciate that.  Buy local!!!), and it makes for a dining experience everyone should try.  “Like” them on Facebook and check out other pictures of their dishes and examples of their daily specials.  THREE FORKS.

The Vandalian

101 S. Court St.

Fayetteville, WV 25840

It Was a Fine Time… at Huntington Prime

Ashley says…

A couple of Fridays ago, I informed my better half that I wanted to go to Huntington Prime for dinner. It was a date. I read some reviews online and looked at HP’s website and learned that the dining room is really small. For that reason, and the fact that it was homecoming weekend at Marshall, we decided to go early. Oh, and Happy Hour is from 4:00-6:00 every day with $1.50 draft beers making for reason number three.

Huntington Prime is located on 4th Avenue in downtown Huntington, right in the middle of it all. We easily found the restaurant and just as easily found a metered parking space right out in front. It was 5:15 when we walked in. What I read was true about the size of the dining room, but I actually didn’t expect it to be this small. Its decor and furnishings are modern and eclectic, but it’s cozy and warm at the same time. My first impression was a good one. There’s a nice long bar at the back of the room with a brick pizza oven on one end. From our seats, the fire for the pizza oven looked fake like it was a gas fire. One thing I didn’t like about the bar area was the TV. The restaurant is a little on the upscale side, and is cozy and quiet. I don’t believe a TV is necessary or fits in here.

We were greeted by a friendly server who told us about the happy hour specials of $1.50 draft beers, $2.50 bottled beers, $3.00 house wines, the prime rib dinner special priced at $16. 95 and the appetizer and pizza special of $8.00 each. We ordered a Yuengling draft and a Bud Light draft. They came in fancy tall skinny glasses that we guessed probably didn’t hold a full 12 oz. of beer. But still, $1.50 for almost a can of beer isn’t too bad. And they were pretty in those glasses!

The waitress confirmed what we’d suspected-that the prime rib dinner special probably was a smaller version of the one listed on the menu for $25.50. The special is a 12 oz. cut with a baked potato only. The $25.50 version includes a 14 oz. cut of meat, a baked potato and vegetables. My husband had prime rib on his mind and he wanted the big piece, so that’s what he ordered.

Speaking of the menu…Huntington Prime uses local ingredients as much as possible. On their menu they actually state the name of the farms that provide some of those items. I think it’s pretty cool that they do this and it’s interesting to me to see in black and white where it came from. The menu is pretty diverse. Their biggest selling entree is, of course, The Huntington PrimeRib. There were a few other entrees that I found interesting and wanted to try like the 14 Hour Beef Brisket, the Gardener Farms Lamb Shank and the Cast Iron Mac and Cheese.

Pork belly and grits. Terrible picture. Looks more like a cinnamon roll. But it was just as tasty.

However, the one entree that really caught my eye was the Pork Belly & Smoke Gouda Grits.

I’ve only in the last year or so started liking grits, and only with cheese, and not instant ones. I make several trips to South Carolina each year, and grits are a staple in the south, so it’s no wonder I started eating them. And I’m a sucker for smoked gouda cheese. I absolutely LOVE it so I couldn’t pass up this dish.

I also LOVE bacon. And bacon is pork belly. So, of course, this pork belly dish would have to be good, even though its preparation is nothing like that of bacon.

I also added the soup, salad and homemade bread bar to my meal for $4.50. Like the rest of the restaurant, the salad bar is tiny. It’s made up of two fresh salads (one caesar and one regular garden salad), two homemade soups (ale/cheese and butternut squash), three homemade dressings (caesar, ranch and strawberry vinaigrette) and warm french bread with butter. I got a little of the garden salad with the yummy strawberry dressing and a little of the caesar salad with the fresh shaved parmesan, a cup of ale/cheese soup and a slice of bread. The soup was delish! I wanted to go back for more soup, but our food arrived before I was finished with my salad.

My pork belly and grits were a huge serving. The grits were cheesy and flavored really well and the pork belly was fork tender and had  great flavor. The pork was a little on the fatty side. DUH! Again, it’s pork belly, from the underside (belly) of the pig, where, like humans, the pig carries its fat. I subbed the kale with bacon and onions for asparagus.  Love kale, can take or leave asparagus.  And rarely do you see kale on menus, so I had to take advantage.

 

kale with bacon and onions

The kale was excellent and contained lots of bacon. (Did I mention I love bacon?) I liked it so much, I recreated it at home a week later.

 
 
 
Husband’s medium rare prime rib was humongous. It was served with horseradish and au jus and sides of kale and a salted baked potato. I took a bite of the meat and was a bit disappointed in its lack of flavor. And the au jus was a little on the cool side. It was very tender, though, and with enough salt, it would be just right.

The Huntington Prime Rib dinner

HP also makes their own desserts and the choices vary each night. Choices the night of our visit were tres leche cake, banana split pie, carrot cake, cheesecake and German chocolate cake. A relative had recommended the tres leche cake, so we got a piece of it and a piece of banana split pie to go. Both were really good.

Huntington Prime is a nice upscalish restaurant in a cozy but casual atmosphere. They also serve lunch.  Dress ranged from t-shirts and jeans to suits. Entree prices are reasonable and the selection is diverse enough for even a picky eater. FOUR FORKS.

910  4th Ave.

Huntington, WV 25701

304-697-1113

Big News Confirmed With Photo Evidence…

…of the Town Center location, specifically.  In August, the Daily Mail reported that both Five Guys Burgers and Fries and Qdoba Mexican Grill were opening new locations at the Charleston Town Center and at Southridge in the Dudley Farms plaza.

Both restaurants will share the former Gratzi location at the Town Center and are scheduled to open before the holidays.   Five Guys will occupy the space that was formerly All Care Dental at Dudley Farms and Qdoba will occupy part of the space where Shoe Carnival used to be. 

Town Center location from accross the street

Five Guys Burgers and Fries is hugely popular and has 750 locations in 40 other states.  I’d heard about it a few years back and ate at one in Myrtle Beach.  I’ve yet to eat at the Huntington location in Pullman Square.  Five Guys is known for its gigantic burgers and fresh-cut fries.  I thought it was good, but nothing all that special. 

Qdoba is a “fast casual” chain that serves “fresh Mex” food.  There are over 700 locations throughout the U.S., including at the Huntington Mall in Barboursville.  It sounds a lot like Cilantro’s, which I loved, so maybe I’ll give it a try soon.

I predict both restaurants at both of their new locations will do well.

A Not-So-Grumpy Place~ Grumpy’s Waterfront Grill

 

Ashley says…

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. 

Grumpy’s grand opening was on July 2 and I have a few Facebook friends who had been there between then and when I went.  Their FB comments about the service had me a little concerned.  But, since it was 10 days after the grand opening I had hope that they’d worked the service kinks out.   It was a Wednesday night, the night of the Gazette article.  The parking lot was a little deceiving.  It was packed and had us thinking we’d be lucky to get a table.   If you enter from the front entrance that faces Rt. 60 you walk directly into a room that has several tables, all empty this particular evening.  You walk past the bar entrance to the hostess stand.  We mentioned we’d like to sit outside and were told to help ourselves to any open table.  Between the bar and the outdoor seating area is another dining room.  It’s lined with windows and all tables have a view of the outdoors.  There were a few open tables in this section too.  However, there were no open tables outside on the huge deck.  There’s a really cool bar at one end of the outdoor area, but wasn’t operational at that time.  We figured what the heck, we can eat right here.  So we waited for a server, and waited and waited and waited.  One server visited a table near us (about 10 feet away) but didn’t even glance our way.  Finally a regular table opened up so we moved to it. 

Grumpy's deck

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. 

fish tacos

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. 

nachos

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.  

huge hunk of pork on the nachos

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. 

pig salad

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

304-549-6807