Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fairmont Edition: The Poky Dot

Quirky. Whimsical. Unique. Those are just three words that help set the tone for The Poky Dot. It has a local reputation for being fun, tasty, and serving up larger-than-life portions. It's on WV's list of 101 most unique places to dine. Located in Fairmont, it's a little commute from Morgantown. But once we arrived, seeing spots (literally), I knew this would be a fun experience.

There's a good bit of parking, as they have a few different areas. Many spots were taken up. I saw their iconic, red telephone booth next to the large sign. The building has bright turquoise, red and yellow polka dots scattered around. This diner has been around since the '50s, and that theme carries into the interior of the building.


Bright turquoise blue booths with yellow piping line the dining room. Those colors continue to the the tables, as well as the counter seating. If you're lucky, maybe you can snag a seat by Marvin and Martha. The whimsy takes form in their heavy-handed decorating, with items you'd imagine being in your grandma's home decor. Random pink and yellow fabric butterflies, dolls, etc. dotted the walls. It was their spring embellishments, and apparently the restaurant's decorations change constantly. A jukebox sits in the corner. Oh, and the bathroom wallpaper was lined with paintings of women's undergarments and "girly" things. The ceiling was made of fabric.

They do, however, have another room toward the back that caters to a more sophisticated, private party. I didn't see it, but the "Laurel Room" could not be as fun as the main dining area.

The atmosphere and ambiance, I think, is what initially draws people here. It's eclectic, cluttered, tacky, bright, and different. We made our way to a booth and opened up the menus. I ordered a water, and when our server brought out the cups, I was pleased. Even the cups are huge!

They do have a "He-Man Breakfast," which was featured in Food Network Magazine as the best breakfast in the state. The dish, served up on a fresh garbage can lid, includes four eggs, four pancakes, bacon, sausage, biscuits and gravy, ham, fried potatoes, and toast. If you can eat it all in under 60 minutes, you get a free shirt.

Their "Original Poky Burger" seemed to be their specialty: "A yummy jaw-stretching feast, Fairmont's first choice! We're serious about serving the best burger in town ... We start with a full half pound of fresh ground sirloin, grilled just right and served on a fresh roll trimmed with lettuce, onion, tomato and pickles. Go for bacon or cheese or both!" I got the regular, and substituted fries for onion rings.

But their menu is incredible, and they definitely put some love into it. They serve breakfast, appetizers, burgers, croissants, wraps, sides, big bites (homestyle - like pork barbecue, meatball hoagie, reuben), soup, salad, supper suppers (meatloaf, country fried steak, chicken parmesan), kids meals, and their famous desserts.

Every item on their menu has some sort of description. For example, under the kid's breakfast - french toast, it says "Kid's French toast lightly dusted with powdered sugar. No crust. Kids hate crust. Served with a slice of bacon." They get creative with the descriptions, and I can imagine they've taken a lot of time to expand, refine, and edit this menu over time. Every item has something special.

My food came out, and it was like everything was blow up to double the size - like giant portions. I took a huge bite of my burger. All the flavors were so distinct and clean. Hearty burger with a slice of cheese and fresh lettuce, tomato and onion. I put some ketchup to top off this little beefy slice of heaven. The onion rings were fried to perfection and added the perfect complement to my burger.

That was a huge burger, but it was so good, I polished it off. And then we couldn't skip dessert. See, the thing about this place, is that they go big or go home. So, they have desserts like cheesecakes, s'mores you can make right at your table, and a "humongous" banana split that contains so much ice cream, you need more than three people to eat it. I'ts been featured on WBOY's TV's Restaurant Road Show and showcased in the Dominion Post. They have old-fashioned milkshake machines and a cabinet bursting with delectable sweets. They have more than 80 kinds of cheesecake, but only a dozen or so are available at a time. But they include things like M&M cheesecake, Butterfinger, and Cosmic Browner. The last two I tried, as my friends ordered them, and they were delicious.

I, however, opted for their peanut butter pie: Walnut crust smothered with a layer of chocolate gouache, mounds of creamy peanut filling topped with a sprinkle of crushed peanuts and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Boy was it rich and decadent and indulgent ... it was very similar to a Reese's pie, if you've ever made one of those.

We ended up spending around $20 for our meals, which by the way came out on one old-school ticket. The food was excellent, the atmosphere was fun, the service was excellent. I recommend this for a fun experience.

The diner is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on the weekends from 7 a.m. to midnight. The Poky Dot, 1111 Fairmont Avenue, Fairmont, WV 26554; 304.366.3271

Grade: A
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