Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mediterranean Market and Deli

I've had to have passed the Mediterranean Market more than 100 times while living here in town. Located right on High Street, it's a prime location for college kids, young professionals and more who pass this location daily. It is just one of those restaurants that slipped through. Until recently.

When you walk in the restaurant, it's almost as if you're not really downtown. It's enormous inside. It's so big, in fact, that I didn't even know exactly how to navigate it. Once I walked further inside, I saw the area where you can order, which is in the far back corner.

There is a menu up on the board behind the counter. They have lots of greasy fast food and more ... salads, appetizers, pita sandwiches, specialty sandwiches, wraps, paninis and desserts. While you can order things to go, we decided to stick around.

I got ordered the gyro platter, picked up a drink from the cooler, moved down toward the register to pay, and found a seat near the window.

I love having the ability to people watch from the comfort of an air conditioned place. Our food came over fairly quickly, and in front of me was some gyro meat, pita, as well as some hummus, tabouleh, feta and olives.

I made my own little sandwich with the meat and lettuce. I haven't had a gyro like this for a long, long time. Back when I lived in Wellsburg, the Applefest would have those food trucks and every year I would get a gyro. I looked forward to it because it was sensational. This one from Mediterranean Market rivals it.

The meat is perfectly seasoned, tender, moist and full of flavor. The thick pita bread housed the meat and salad. Perfecto. I would've liked some more dill and cucumber for that tzatziki sauce, but it was delicious none the less. The tabbouleh was fresh, and the hummus had a delightful slightly nutty, lemon/garlic flavor.

It was a tad on the pricey side, but I really enjoyed my meal, as well as the restaurant overall. The service could use some improvement, but overall a nice option for downtown dining.

Oh, and their desserts looked to die for. If I had any room, I would've been all over that.

Grade: A
Mediterranean Market & Deli on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mario's Fishbowl Suncrest

Mario's has recently opened a second location in the former Tailgators building along University Avenue in Star City. Tailgators is no more, but Mario's is bringing their stellar food and fun atmosphere to the other side of town, which I'm sure will delight customers from one end of town to the other.

Parking is way easier, and I think there's more room. It looks to be two levels, but I didn't venture to the bottom one. The top one has that more of a restaurant feel - separate tables is a pro for me. I am not a fan of the communal dining you sometimes get at the other location. I like my space, and I like that there are options for sitting, whereas the original location was oftentimes "standing room only."

The building itself has that old smoke smell. Nobody is currently smoking there, but after years of cigarettes, the interior smells of it.

You get a "restaurant" vibe more than the "bar" vibe at the other location. It's not cluttered, but I think they are on their way there. The walls have a few small paper plates with writing on them. I think they're going to take the same approach with this restaurant, which gives the current generation of restaurant-goers a hand in creating this place's history. If it turns out like the original location, you'll be happy if you had helped this one in the beginning.

It wasn't really busy when I went in, so the server came over to me right away. I ordered a frosty fishbowl and looked over the menu. Some paper menus are already sitting on the tables. It looked to feature the same grub - some subs, sandwiches, cheesesteaks, and, of course, their wings.

Mario's has somewhat of a reputation for their wings - they're fried so the outside is crispy. While that's all and good, I opted for some boneless ones in their honey bbq. I hear hot is the way to go, but not for me. I also ordered a side of pepperoni and cheese bites because that just sounds too good to pass up.

The wings were, as all boneless are, little nuggets of meat. This isn't bad in my book - in fact, I like it. The sweet and tangy sauce coated all the deeply fried morsels of meat. Lip-smackingly good, but not for the avid wing fan who prefers the bone-in, with meat falling off. I knew what I was ordering, and I was happy with the outcome. If you prefer the bone-in kind, they certainly have those and they come critically acclaimed.

The pepperoni and cheese bites were probably frozen and deep-fried. Not homemade or anything, but not a bad snack-tizer. They came with some marinara dipping sauce, which helped give that pizza taste to them almost. Think frozen pizza - it's not the best pizza, but it's still pizza. Little bites of cheese and chunks of pepperoni is always going to be good. I can only imagine if Mario's put their talent to work here and made them homemade, though. Mmmm. They weren't anything too fancy, and for $5, I think I'll skip them next time.

If you're expecting the original Mario's, this isn't exactly it. It is however, a spin on that version and is likely to be successful, if not only for the name alone.

Grade: B
Mario's Fishbowl Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Town Hill Tavern

Town Hill Tavern has always been on my radar. I lived on Willey Street for two years, and I never had the opportunity to check out Town Hill Tavern. It's on Willey Street, right in that awkward turn, beside the laundromat. I had steered clear of it before because I was warned of its smokiness. But with the ban, that's not a worry anymore. And with their "best chili dogs in town" sign out front, it was like an invitation to try it.

Despite its outward appearance, it's really quite small inside. Only a couple booths and a bar area are available. When a friend and I walked in this particular day, we were basically the only ones around. It did look as though they had a deck area, though. I didn't get a chance to check that out. There were a few paper menus folded up on the table, and we perused those as the bartender walked over to us.

I ordered a Bud Light while trying to nail down my food choices. No - not a tanker, which they're famous for. It was a light dinner. I realized they are cash only - the horror - but luckily I happened to have some cash on me. It's a rare occurrence, but it does happen from time to time.  The menu has about five special hotdogs to choose from, and you can of course make your own with their selection of toppings. But I went after their Triple Play - a dog topped with chili, cheese and slaw. Gasp! It's not a true WV-style hotdog. But hey, I like cheese, so it sounded good! I also got a side of Fritos. I honestly would have liked to see the WV hotdog as an option - chili, slaw, mustard and onions, but who am I to judge?

Our good was ushered out fairly quickly. My dog was filled with toppings, and they were all quite tasty. With those heavy toppings, it was almost a task to try to eat this without the toppings falling over. I instead tried a new methodology: scooping some of the toppings up with my Fritos and eating it that way until the dog was more manageable. All in all - a damn good hotdog.

It looks like they only do a few things, but they do them pretty well. And the atmosphere is cool, laidback and relaxed. I felt comfortable here, as we gabbed away long after our food was gone. The only big downfall is the cash-only part. But not too shabby.

Grade: B
Town Hill Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Flying Fish and Co.

Flying Fish used to be housed in the Seneca Center, next to its mother restaurant Glasshouse Grille. With Glasshouse out of business, it has moved locations to the Pierpont Landings area.

While this is the best place in town to purchase fresh fish and seafood, you can also get a good deal on lunch here. Soups, like crab and corn chowder or shrimp bisque, and sandwiches, like crab cake or salmon burgers, are main features. More items include slow roasted pork sandwich, oyster po boy, tuna salad wrap, cod sandwich and fish and chips. The menu is propped up on a board near the counter, but some takeout menus are on the side. I took one back to one of the tables and looked over the options.

I couldn't pass up the basic dish here: cod sandwich, beer battered, complete with lettuce, tomato and a side of tartar sauce with hand cut fries. All for a price of $7.95.

While there was a woman who noticed my friend Erin and I sitting and came over to check on us, we ended up going to the counter to order. So, I guess you could do it either way. Fountain drinks don't exist here; instead, they have a cooler with some cans of pop for purchase. After I plucked my can from the fridge, I assumed my seat. The dining area is larger than their last place, it seems. They have a few mismatched tables and chairs, but they somewhere make a cohesive space anyway. I liked the look - homey.

When our food came out, I kind of laughed at it. I didn't know what other reaction to have because it's simply so large. It's like they breaded an entire fish, threw it on a hoagie bun and called it a day. The cod is pretty good - I think some of their other fish/seafood is more fresh, but I don't think you can get anything close to it in town. I ended up using a fork and knife to eat it because I looked like a caveman attempting to pick it up.

I did, however, eat the entire thing. Boy, having a good piece of fish is like winning a (small) lottery here. Nice, flaky, fresh. It was tasty, the breading was seasoned well, I enjoyed the tartar sauce - not too much relish, but tangy and creamy. The bun was slightly steamed. All together, my sandwich was spot on.

I was okay with the fries. They were handcut. I'm just not big into fries - can't fault them there.

I think Flying Fish is one of those few restaurants in Morgantown who does one thing and does it really, really well. I can't even think of another fresh fish place in town that could compete. Pescatarians, rejoice. Everybody else should check it out, too.

Grade: A
Flying Fish & Co on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 20, 2012


Since I was already in the Sabraton area, a friend suggested we hit up Dari-Delite, a small ice cream shop past Sabraton and into Dellslow/Richmond area.

It's actually fairly big for an ice cream shop. They have a gravel lot for parking. When I walked inside, I first noticed the odd shape. It looked like it was three separate rooms, and they knocked down the walls to make it one large space. It's still in three separate areas, kinda.

They have daily specials - like actual meals - and they're posted on the sign out front. The one on this particular day was creamed chicken.

They have shakes, sundaes and cyclones. They also have some food too, even some breakfast sandwiches. The cyclone is their version of a blizzard, so I ordered a cookie dough one. The man made it right in front of me and handed it to me within a minute or so.

Katie ordered her cyclone, and we found a booth that was situated in front of the TV. They had a large TV, where you could actually change the channel, and it was on cartoons at the time. A few kids' games lined the walls, and some quarter machines were there, too.

I noticed they had a fridge full of condiments. They were all labeled, so it was like a communal condiment refrigerator if you order food, I suppose. That worries me. Just the same way buffets worry me. I don't trust people.

I've never had a blizzard-type ice cream dish that had so many toppings. Every single bite had cookie dough in it. I even got a huge chunk at one point, which was really exciting. And my medium was pretty big. So big that I couldn't finish it all. But if you want some soft serve and get your money's worth in the toppings, the Dari-Delite is for you. No frills, good service, cheap food.

Dari-Delite: 3837 Earl L Core Road  Morgantown, WV 26508; (304) 292-6912

Grade: B
Dells Low Dairy-Delite on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Haught Diggity Dogz - Rock Forge Inn

As much as I love trying new restaurants, I must admit, I'm not super stoked to go to a Hotdog joint. Sacrilegious, I know. But, it is a hotdog. One of the reasons I revel in going out to eat is because growing up very poor, I never had that luxury. Now that I can spare some extra dough, I try to treat myself once in a while. I had plenty of hotdogs at home. I crave that creativity and variety. But I ventured out to Haught Diggity Dogz.

However! I got some motivated when I saw how critically acclaimed it is (WV Hotdog blog - five weenies; WV Hotdog blog - Best Monongalia County Hot Dog 2008; WV Hotdog blog - Best Overall North Central Region Hot Dog 2008) If you don't follow the WV Hotdog Blog, do so immediately. These guys are great.

It has moved locations slightly from where it was a few years ago. It's now located along Earl Core Road in the Rock Forge Inn. You just keep going, toward Sabraton past the interchange area, and it's on your right (from downtown). Two separate signs for Haught Diggity Dogz and Rock Forge Inn are displayed outside. But when you walk in, it's a bar. And not just any bar, it's kind of a biker bar. It's pretty small, too. These two entities are forged into one now, but it seems like they want to keep the Haught Diggity Dogz name. Not sure how it came about, but it appears to be two identities operating out of one place.

When we walked in, nearly all the seats at the bar were taken up, but there were two small round tables that we seated ourselves at. We stood awkwardly at the bar for a moment, but one of the women at the bar said she would let the bartender know we were there. So we continued to sit down.

This looked like a very local, townie, biker bar. There was a pop-country station playing. It was a little uncomfortable at first because you could feel everyone looking at you. But then they started to crack jokes, and we loosened up. They were fun people. When the bartender walked back out, one of the customers started slow dancing with her. It was really cute. The woman said that two girls were wanting to order, and the bartender turned her gaze to us and began smiling and walked over. In a sweet, high-pitched voice, the woman asked what we wanted. Looking at the menu, they have few items but they are done well.

Their hotdogs are $1.75, regardless of what you stack it with, and there are some options: Chili (reg, med, hot), mustard, ketchup, cheese, onions, jalapenos, slaw, sauerkraut, and more. Other options include fries (with chili or cheese), salads, nachos and cheese, Frito pie, pepperoni rolls and drinks. I have learned that a true West Virginia hotdog includes the following: chili, mustard, slaw and onions. So I ordered one of those. And I also got a Frito pie because I had never heard of it, as well as a water. My total came out to $6.

In good-service-like-fashion, the sweet woman simply set our slips down and said to get around to it whenever we were finished. Our food came out so quickly, I don't even know how they had time to cook it. I was too excited to dive into my West Virginia hotdog. I must say: I've been missing out. Why don't I order all my hotdogs like this?  The bun was lightly steamed and laid home to a hot dog, perfect chili sauce, fresh, light slaw with some slightly sweet onions. I was hesitant about the chili because I was thinking the chili you eat with a spoon. This is a thinner consistency, but boy, it was my favorite part. I think I could eat that on anything. It was the opposite of offensive - it was slightly tangy but sweet and overall, I didn't think I'd have this much good stuff to say about a hotdog.

The bartender came over to check on us and genuinely cared about what we thought about the food. It wasn't that passing "Everything okay?" It was "What do you think? Do you like the hotdog? Do you need any more ___" stuff like that. I wonder if she is the same person who helped open Hot Diggity Dogz because it seems like she truly cares. That's really important when you're at a new place - you want to feel welcome. And she went out of her way to do that for us. She said "I hope you like the Frito pie! A lot of people seem to. Let me know what you think."

My Frito pie was also a pleasant surprise. It is a bowl of Fritos, with some of that fabulous chili, nacho cheese and some sour cream on top. I can't believe how good this is. The chili, again, phenomenal, lays right on top of the Fritos so they get slightly steamed, almost, which makes it easier to scoop them up with a spoon and enjoy with the other toppings. It was still crunchy, by all means, and the hot, slightly sweet chili, covered in nacho cheese and cool sour cream made for a junk food heaven. Deeelicious!

They do only take cash, though, so be sure to have some handy. The bartender came by to pick up our money and said "Your momma's don't have to worry about you coming here. I take care of you. I'll make sure your bellies are full and everyone here is really friendly. I hope you come back soon." I think I fell in love with her. That was really sweet and reassuring, too, considering we were probably the only people under 40 there.

I handed her a couple bucks for her help and then we were on our way, with a new restaurant under my belt, a good hotdog in my belly, and a new adventure to write about. I think everyone should give this place a shot - maybe you'll be surprised how decent a hotdog can be with the right, fresh ingredients.

Hot Diggity Dogz: (304) 291-DOGZ (3649)

Grade: A
Haught Diggity Dogz on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mario's Fishbowl Suncrest to open very, very soon

I inquired about the new Mario's location. Here's what I got:
Karen Furfari 3:21 PM (0 minutes ago) to me
Hi Candace,

The name of the business is now Mario's Fishbowl Suncrest....spread the word! We should be open within the next 1-3 days; we're waiting on licenses from the state. We purchased tailgators July 1 and have been remodeling and working on improvements for the new Fishbowl! We will be open 7 days a week, have the same menu and Frosty Fishbowls of beer. We will also be serving liquor. Thanks for inquiring.

Karen and Mark

Black Bear Burritos (Suncrest)

The new Black Bear location opened up in Suncrest. I found out via their announcement on Twitter. Being the devoted blogger I am, I headed over there after work to scope out the new place. It's located along University Avenue, near the party store. As you can imagine, this location is huge.

When we walked in, I was almost overwhelmed by the amount of space. Not only was it gigantic, but it was kind of sparse, which only added to that effect. The downtown location is, well, cluttered. This one is more streamlined and neat. That may also be because they haven't accumulated memorabilia yet.

There are menus up front and large paw prints that you can follow to the register to order. It guides you over to the orange wall. I already knew what I wanted: Fish Tacos. Black Bear has changed their menu slightly - I think they offer one or two less burritos than they had before. That's not to say you couldn't make it yourself; it's just not pre-suggested for you tied up in a cutesy name. But fish tacos are now a regular on the Black Bear Burrito. It used to only be a special (if you don't like Black Bear's Facebook page to see the specials, you aren't living), but I assume, after much positive feedback, it's now a regular. What better way to celebrate than to order it?

For $8.75, you get "two soft taco tortillas filled with Monterey Jack cheese, a crunchy cabbage blend, fresh roma tomatoes, and a generous portion of seasoned Tilapia. We add an awesome 'Best Coast' dill sauce...we serve 'em flat. You fold and eat!"

It's the same order-at-the-counter, get a toy, fill-your-drink-up-at-the-fountain, find a table and have the server come find you. Is it sad that I was excited to see a new crop of toys? For the record, we had a toy bus. The fountain machine is really tall, so if you're pretty short, you might actually have trouble reaching it. Our food came out fairly quickly, especially considering it was the first day. While one member of the group had a slight mix-up with her order, the rest of ours were perfect.

I hadn't had the fish tacos before, but I was happy with my decision. They were full of tender pieces of fish, and the dill sauce was a perfect complement. A little crunch with the cabbage added some more substance to this dish. I enjoyed it. I made a mess eating it, but it was worth it. I can see how this would be a big seller. I must say, though, I might have to stick with my Irie Member or Bear Trap or Good Calypso. Love them and can't get 'em anywhere else.

I hope this location does well. It seems like it can serve a different crowd. While we were there, there were lots of children. I don't know if that's any indication of the future, but it may seem more "restaurant" -like, as opposed to the sort of loungey/bar/restaurant the downtown location has going on. It still has local art and even some of the decor is locally produced. But only time will tell what this will morph itself into.

Grade: A
Black Bear Burritos on Urbanspoon