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

Definitely Not a Smoke-Free Zone: Barnyard BBQ

Ashley says…

 

A few months ago driving through Teays Valley on a Friday evening just hoping something different would jump out at us for dinner, my husband and I discovered this little gem.  Nestled  in a small building on Hospital Drive just off of Rt. 34, you really wouldn’t notice this place if not for the huge smoker out front and with the smoke rolling out of it.  Then there’s the smell. ..I love the smell of dead animal cooking on a wood fire.  Barnyard smokes all the meat right there in the front of the building.

We walked in to a surprisingly-crowded place with the décor to match its name.  Rough wood floors and walls are throughout making it appear barn-like.  We were seated immediately in the main dining area at the only empty table left.  Barnyard BBQ has a bar in the main dining room with a couple of TVs and sells a large selection of beers, but no other alcohol. 

We ordered the fried pickles for an appetizer.  Unlike Susan, I love pickles,  all shapes, sizes and flavors.  Barnyard makes theirs from scratch.  They were very good. 

One of that night’s specials was fried chicken livers, cooked to order, with two sides.  My husband ordered them because he is a sucker for liver. Blech!!!  I’m like Fonzie when it comes to liver.  (Anyone remember that about him on Happy Days?)   I’m here for barbeque so bring on the meat!  I ordered the combo plate with pulled pork, pulled beef brisket and smoked chicken.  I chose onion rings and sautéed green beans as my sides.  All meals also come with a corn fritter. 

Portions are huge.  I got a good amount of the pork and beef and  ¼ (leg and thigh) of a chicken.  The pork and beef had some of Barnyard’s homemade BBQ sauce drizzled over them.  All three meats had a great smoky flavor, were very tender and very good.  On the table were three sauces, all made in-house, sweet tangy heat Memphis-style, vinegar-based North Carolina-style and a mustard-based sauce.  I love NC-style sauce so I used some of it combined with the Memphis-style.  Yum!  My onion rings were the frozen kind, but still good, and the green beans weren’t your typical southern style beans.  They were sautéed and flavored nicely.  Husband liked his chicken livers, mashed potatoes and green beans.

I recently had a craving for BBQ so we made a second visit.  This time I got the two-meat combo of pulled pork and beef with cole slaw, macaroni and cheese and a fritter.   One thing to note also is that all of Barnyards sides are homemade except for the onion rings and French fries.  Other sides include red skin potato salad, macaroni salad and baked beans.  This time Husband ordered ½ rack of baby back ribs with baked beans and potato salad.

My pork and beef were just as good as the first time and the mac and cheese was to die for.  The cole slaw, however, wasn’t so much.  It was super finely shredded, too watery and without much flavor.  The ½ rack of ribs was a good size and very meaty.  The smoky flavor was really evident too, which I love.  I also tried the beans and potato salad.  Both were really good.  I don’t even like potato salad, but I would consider ordering it here. 

This time, against my full belly’s recommendation to pass, we ordered dessert.  Desserts are also homemade.  On our first visit we heard other diners talk about how good the bread pudding was, but they were out of it that night so we didn’t get an opportunity to try it. This time we were in luck.  “WOW!” is all I can say about it.   It was warm and gooey and tasted like a cinnamon roll right out of the oven.  Topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, this dessert was heavenly.

Barnyard BBQ opened as a full-service restaurant late last year.  They’d done only catering before and now do both.  It is the only place of its kind in the area that I know of since Smokey’s and Smokey Bones closed.   It ranks right up there with all the other BBQ joints I’ve tried here and in other states.  I give it FOUR FORKS.

Barnyard BBQ
1101 Hospital Drive
Teays Valley, WV 25526
Tel: (304) 964-3322
Barnyard BBQ on Urbanspoon

Teays Valley New Edition – Fireside Grill

Ashley says…

It’s about time a new “sit-down” restaurant finally opened in Teays Valley.  Located in the building that used to house Uno’s, the Fireside Grill began operations in February.  Our first and only visit so far was a few days after the opening on a Tuesday evening around 5:30.  I was surprised by the crowd of people on the host’s list waiting 20 minutes or more for a table.  A member of our party had gotten there a little early and got the waiting out of the way for the rest of us. 

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Gourmet Pizza With Some Elbow Room – Pies and Pints

 Susan says…

I have heard a lot about the Fayetteville incarnation of Pies & Pints but since girls who can’t swim shouldn’t be whitewater rafting, I never had an occasion to sample their fare.  All the comments I heard were positive so I was excited to try the Charleston location.  Crowds and busy schedules delayed the experience but a birthday celebration with my two BFFs finally got me there. 

Here’s a sampling of the banter at our table:

Server: Can I start you ladies off with a beer or cocktail tonight?  We are featuring blah blah blah on tap.

Friend #1:  I’m pregnant so I’ll have water.

Server:  Congratulations!  Would you like lemon with that?

Friend #1: No thank you.

Me:  I’m not pregnant so I’ll have a Michelob Ultra.  And you can congratulate me for that.

Server:  Congratulations!  (laughter all around at my funny joke)

There were several mouth-watering menu items that caught my eye but I kept going back to the Thai Pie – shrimp, curry, toasted coconut, and basil.  I’m a sucker for that sort of stuff.  My friends ordered the eggplant pizza and the plain ol’ pepperoni.  Our server was friendly, funny and kind enough to suggest we order a large and do the “half and half” for two of our choices which would result in a bigger pizza for less dough.  So we did.  The 10” small pizzas are still too large for me to eat at one sitting (heck, who am I kidding?  I could eat it all at one sitting, I just shouldn’t!) and are priced around $12.  The 16” large pizzas yield 8 large slices for around $22. 

One friend ordered the small spinach salad for $7 which was definitely large enough to share.  The ingredients appeared to be very fresh and the add-ons were plentiful.  Pies & Pints also offers appetizers, sandwiches and a nice beer selection.

My pizza was De. Lish. Us.  The crust was fabulous – on the thin side and crispy.  The shrimp had a great flavor and the mild curry and coconut notes came through nicely.  I ate two slices at the restaurant and took two home with me which, paired with a salad, was enough for two meals.  Reportedly, the eggplant and roasted red pepper pie was also delicious but I didn’t put on a pouty face to try to snag a bite.  The texture of eggplant is a turn-off to me.

We ended the meal with house-made tiramisu for $4.50.  It was made in individual serving dishes and was a nice portion size for the price.  It was good, but the texture was a bit grainy.  Honestly, I like Olive Garden’s better even though I know they probably get that from US Foodservice.  It’s not a problem for me, though…I’ll just fill up more on that delicious pizza!

I’m gonna do that thing that some of you may not like: I’m gonna compare.  I just can’t help it.  I felt the creativity of the pizzas at Pies & Pints was comparable to that at Lola’s but the menu was more extensive.  Lola’s cramped quarters could be labeled “intimate” but I felt a crowded and was very aware of the conversations around me.  I really enjoyed the extra elbow room at Pies & Pints.  Pricewise, they are about the same.  I liked the crust at Pies & Pints better – it was thinner and didn’t have the cornmeal dusting.

In the future I’d like to try the Grape Pie (grapes, gorgonzola and rosemary), the Black Bean Pie (black beans, jalapeno, salsa, and cilantro) and the Mozzarella Caprese Pie (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil & balsamic reduction). 

Everything about this experience was positive and I highly recommend Pies & Pints.  In fact, I tried to go there for lunch today but there was a 20 minute wait.  Shucks!  FOUR FORKS

Pies & Pints on Urbanspoon