Sunday, April 23, 2017

Fairmont Edition: The Rambling Root

Rambling RootThe hippest new spot in Fairmont just opened: The Rambling Root is a restaurant (and soon-to-be brewery!) with unique dishes, an incredible craft beer list and a really cool vibe.
We believe that “The Rambling Root” will be so much more than just a restaurant or a brewery. It’s a place you can bring your family, where you can meet with friends, and where memories are made. We believe we can help strengthen the steadily growing camaraderie of our community and local pride. We want to showcase the beauty of what Fairmont has to offer- from its agricultural resources to its local art, and native musical talent. We love our state and want to show what it really means to be a West Virginian. We believe that this venue will be able to grow and serve our needs to expand and reach the community even further in the coming years. (Vision)
Rambling RootLocated along Fairmont Avenue, The Rambling Root provides plenty of parking, a cool outdoor dining space and an even cooler indoor space complete with two levels with bars.

Rambling RootThere are a lot of live plants around - which I totally love. It's a little hipster chic with rocks as placeholders, mason jar decor and mismatched chairs. It's fun and comfy and even has live music in the evenings.

Rambling Root
So here's what you do: Walk in, go take a look at the food and beer menu, order at the counter, pay, take your number, find a seat and wait for your food to be delivered.

Rambling RootThe menu has some cool options: catfish po'boy, pulled pork sandwich, German dishes like dumplings noodles and kielbasa, and a BLT that was hard for me to pass up. Instead, I went with the classic "Ramble On Burger," which is a beef patty, lettuce, tomato, pickle, and gouda pimento cheese. I got an order of the dumplings on the side -- because how many places can you get dumplings on the side?!

Rambling RootSo, I found a seat at the upstairs dining area and peeked around at the place. The downstairs area seems just as cool. And, after a short wait, I had a huge burger and side helping of dumplings right in front of me.

Rambling RootAnd, even though I am a big fan of the folks running this place and have a good friend working there (hi, Heather!), I can say that regardless of all of that - this place is really good. Like, really good. That is one massive burger on a delicious ciabatta bun and some of the tastiest pimento cheese (man, I just love pimento cheese). I love that this has some southern roots and is just an all-around solid burger. I did add some ketchup because I don't know how to have a burger without ketchup -- which is located just around the corner with the soda fountain.

Rambling RootThe dumplings were unreal. Like, where can you get unique food, damn good beer and DUMPLINGS. And, they were so good. I love the soft bite with that slight chew. Not too mooshy, not too stiff. Seriously good. Despite having the heaviest lunch, oh, ever... I ate every last bit of those noodles. I just had to.

Rambling Root
After I finished my meal, I went to the bar to try a few drinks. One thing I really love is that they do half pints. So, torn on what to order? No worries - just get two half pints, which is exactly what I did. I started out with the Tamarind Ale from Flying Dog Brewery. This was so solid - smooth, malty, with just a bit of the Tamarine flavor. I trust literally anything these folks put on tap, because they know beer.

Rambling RootThen, I went with the sour cherry gose from Southern Tier. Sour beers are my favorite, so I was super happy to see one on the menu. And, this definitely has the sour going for it. Big fan.

Rambling RootSo, should you go? Yes. Take a friend. Go fill your belly with delicious food and amazing beer.

Rambling RootAnd, keep an eye out for when they start brewing their own. Because I. Can't. Wait.

Rambling RootThe Rambling Root is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., and they are closed Sunday and Monday.

Rambling RootGrade: A
The Rambling Root Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Rambling Root

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Keyser Edition: Candlewyck Inn

Candlewyck InnThe Candlewyck Inn is a really cool restaurant located in Keyser that claims it was farm-to-table before farm-to-table was cool. Bold claim - but substantiated.
Another mainstay of Keyser is the Candlewyck Inn. Fred and Sharon Engle, along with their children, Cole and Anna, have made The Candlewyck a staple for 31 years with American fare and “Wyckedly” good cupcakes. Fred and Sharon know how to keep traditions going, but are always looking to innovate and bring new tastes and ideas to Keyser. They recently started “guest chef” evenings and host renowned chefs for fine dining on the weekends.The Engles are keeping the tradition of Warner’s Restaurant “Beesting” cake alive too. Warner’s Restaurant in nearby Cresaptown is long-closed, but at one time it was known for its Beesting Cake. President John F. Kennedy reportedly ordered dozens of the Beesting cakes from Warner’s to be served at the White House. Now Fred and Sharon serve Beesting cakes and cupcakes, which are just as good as the fabled Beestings of Warner’s (WV Living).
Candlewyck InnThis house has long dining space that is a bit fancy - white or red tablecloths, old-school wallpaper, and some nice fixtures. It's homey - yet modern. Really a cool vibe.
"The Candlewyck Inn opened November 6, 1984 in a c. 1902 Victorian Home. The home had first been a private home until the 1940's when it was converted to two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs. The building was converted back to a private home in the 1960's and then once again, apartments when we purchased it. The original renovation took about six months and we opened to great fanfare with a opening reception of 150 invited guests. This is where I met my wife Sharon (Carr).

Since then much has happened in these hollowed halls, we've served all of the recent Governors as well as Senator Robert Byrd. We've also been pleased to be honored by Joe Manchin, The State of West Virginia, the Mineral County Chamber of Commerce and the Mineral County Development Authority as well as the Allegany County Chamber of Commerce. We have met so many wonderful friends in the last 30 years, our family has been very blessed being able to raise our children in an atmosphere of friends and family. 
The "Wyck" is a true family business and every one has input! Small family run businesses are truly a driving force in Americas economy today! We are so pleased to be able to continue to do what we do everyday. Thank you for joining us today for lunch or dinner and please let us know if we can do anything for you while you are here with us."
Candlewyck InnMmm! I ordered "Fred's Party Chicken," because how fun does that sound? It's a boneless chicken breast stuff with creamed cheese, chipped beef, and wrapped in bacon, grilled and baked, topped with a sour cream sauce. I learned this was the owner's favorite.

Candlewyck InnBut, first, let's start with the salad. This was a solid salad - fresh greens, a few nice toppings. The dressing with thick and sweet. I like my French a bit on the tangier side, but all in all tasty.

Candlewyck InnThe bread was tasty. I love a decent roll. I could go for a bite now.

Candlewyck InnAnd the main entree was different. It was a bit on the well-done side, but I appreciated how different it was. You won't see something like this on every menu. It's indulgent - with that creamy sauce and creamy filling. Tasty. I also loved the baked potato and veggie side - helped balance it all out.

Candlewyck InnAnd, I couldn't leave without one of their famous beesting cakes. I got this small one - Vanilla Beesting Cake: ​Two layers of vanilla rum cake with toasted caramel pecans and whipped cream filling and icing. These are super tasty! And, you can get them to go!

So, overall, definitely make a stop at this place if you find yourself in Keyser. It's a great little place for a bite to eat -- and a drink!

Have you been? What do you think?

Grade: A
Candlewyck Inn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, April 21, 2017

Shepherdstown Edition: Town Run Brewing Company

Town Run BrewingTown Run Brewing Company is a restaurant with hopes of becoming a brewery.  Or, according to their Facebook - 

Town Run Brewing is:
Vintage arcade and pinball parlor
Live music venue
Art gallery 
Cocktail lounge
Community space
Event rental space

Town Run Brewing
While I didn't realize this upon entering, I took solace in the fact that they had lots of delicious craft brews available - even if they weren't ones brewed on site. In addition, they have lots of yummy food available. 

Town Run Brewing
When I entered, I took a seat at the bar and looked over the menu. People were dining outside, so occasionally a pup would walk through on its way to join then. It was pretty family-friendly, as opposed to a bar scene in the middle of the day. Inside, it's a large open space with some arcade games and a stage area for music. Definitely seems like it could have a cool vibe in the evenings.

Town Run Brewing
The menu had a few tasty options - I especially wanted a meat, cheese & pickle plate. But, I was just in for a snack this day. So I went for the "pub cheese," which was spicy pimento cheese style spread made with aged white New York cheddar and roasted jalapenos.

Town Run BrewingThe spread was thick - and a bit tough to "spread" - but good! It definitely had some kick to it, and it didn't have the creaminess of some other pimento cheese spreads. Instead, it was a bit more piecey and fresh. I was happy with this - something different, it was a nice quick bite and it woke my taste buds up. I wouldn't mind pairing this with a solid beverage next time!

Town Run BrewingHave you been? What's your favorite?

Town Run Brewing

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

Unicorn FrappuccinoSo, I had to. I gave in and tried the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino.

The new drink that came out yesterday and is only available through this weekend. It is capitalizing on the unicorn/rainbow craze that harkens back - for us former '90s kids - to the Lisa Frank era. Unicorns are everywhere now. There are unicorn noodles, lattes, toast, macarons, pancakes and Pop-Tarts.

Unicorn FrappuccinoAnd, I partially did this because I wanted to see what it was like (and literally do not care if it's ~ugh~ basic), partially for work, and partially because it's kind of an incredible case study. This is the first mass-marketed product literally made for Instagram. We've hit a new level, folks. We're creating food - on a massive scale - simply for Instagram. That's kind of incredible.

Yesterday was so busy for this drink that both standalone Starbucks in Morgantown sold out. On the first day. Luckily, I work next door to the Starbucks in the Waterfront, and they had ample supplies. The barista, however, was clearly over making them.

Either way, I actually thought it was good (though many others didn't). It was fruity, and mine only had a hint of sour.

Have you tried it yet? What did you think?

Unicorn Frappuccino

Shepherdstown Edition: Mountaineer Popcorn Company

Mountaineer PopcornA shop that specializes in popcorn is a trendy, welcome addition to cities. It's fun and a little whimsical. Wheeling has its own, and Pittsburgh has one. And, Shepherdstown has one, too: Mountaineer Popcorn Company.

Mountaineer PopcornLocated along German Street, Mountaineer Popcorn Company has a really adorable storefront with a simple, cool design and chalkboard out front. As soon as you walk in, you see tons of flavors of popcorn.

Mountaineer Popcorn
Flavors include birthday cake, buffalo cheddar, buffalo wing, caramel, caramel cashew, cheddar, chesapeake, chocolate drizzled caramel, cookies & cream, dill pickle, garlic parmesan, jalapeno white cheddar, kettle corn, peanut butter cup, salt & vinegar, sea salt & black pepper, s'mores, sriracha, theater butter, and white cheddar.

Mountaineer Popcorn
We are a small company with big ambitions. The two of us (Mike and Erin Valasek) decided in April of 2015 that we wanted to start up a locally-grown popcorn business in beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  Not only did we want to produce great-tasting popcorn, but as parents of four young children, we wanted to give them the opportunity to see how businesses are created, successfully-maintained and grown. We knew that this would be an invaluable experience and, as you can see, they love advertising Mountaineer Popcorn!  We hope you enjoy our popcorn as much as our family does! (ABOUT)
Mountaineer PopcornI got the sour cream & onion mixed with cookies & cream in just a mini bag. It's a unique mixture, and it was really good! They both had those signature tastes, and the combination of the two was different but I dug the sweet and savory.

Mountaineer PopcornHave you been? What's your favorite flavor?